The gambling, I mean, gaming industry is undergoing a process of corporatization. The companies are now often based offshore, but they are ultra-focused on business development and growth. Now, they are cashing in on the Web3 craze.
Lottoday.io is such a company, and even more so Lottoday’s owner. There’s not much information about Lottoday.io, but it seems to be associated with Lottoday.com, which is registered in the Isle of Man and owned by Betpoint Group Ltd. Casinos.
The island nations in the periphery of the USA and Europe tend to attract very unique low-key businesses that want to operate under the regulatory radar.
Lottoday’s parent company Betpoint announced its rebranding as PressEnter Group in May 2021. The move was announced as part of “its ongoing expansion strategy.”
PressEnter (formerly Betpoint) CEO, Lahcene Merzoug, said at the time in an official statement: “I am delighted to unveil our new brand identity which aligns perfectly with our ambitions to become a tier-one operator of online casino and sportsbook brands in the industry.”
Recently, an article on the website Cryptodaily announced that Lottoday plans to be the world’s largest Web3 gaming platform. Within this plan, they are integrating with a number of blockchain systems: Binance Smart Chain, Ethereum, Polygon, Tron, and Ultron Foundation.
Embedded in these web3 ambitions is the promise of decentralization and democratized access to the platform. While on the surface these ambitions are all well and good, the proof will be in the pudding whether they actually provide value to users or are mere aspirational buzzwords to draw people in.
Of all industries, the gaming industry would be the least expected to deliver on Web3 promises.
PressEnter cleans the slate
Newly rebranded PressEnter holds licenses in Malta, UK, and Curacao, and includes the subsidiary companies Eurowinner, Justspin, Rapid Casino, NitroCasino, NeonVegas, UltaCasino, and 21.com, among others.
Merzoug previously worked for ComeOn, the biggest casino operator in Sweden, and he managed a portfolio of brands that openly competed with each other, according to an interview with Trafficology.
However, we don’t actually know who owns PressEnter, or who used to own it. Merzoug announced a management buyout in November 2022. He became the executive chairman of the group. So, he walked into the building, convinced the staff to mutiny, and kicked out the old owner.
This was on the heels of the Group’s announcement that they were executing an entry into the North American market, in Ontario.
So, let me get this straight: there’s a conglomerate of online casinos all owned by the same offshore holding company, managed by a bunch of super-ambitious Scandinavians. Beware. Quick! Hide your competing offshore casino subsidiaries. PressEnter is on the move with new management.
According to Gambling Insider, Merzoug commented on the business’ North American debut: “We have an ambitious international expansion plan and entering Ontario is yet another step towards PressEnter Group becoming a truly global, top-tier operator.”
A Growing Offshore Empire
PressEnter is based in Malta, the smallest member of the EU, a country that has hosted a gaming industry boom that will likely go down next to Las Vegas in the history books.
Ever since the government loosened gambling restrictions, the builders of “igaming” have relocated to a string of little villages in Malta, where restaurants used to struggle in the absence of heavy tourism. Not anymore.
Residents on the island have few reasons to ask a lot of questions. However, it did raise eyebrows when a quarter of a billion euros was abruptly parked in Maltese banks around the time of the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, Malta has had to deport Italian mafiosi and Eastern European organized crime.
In their terms of service, Lottoday warns, “We are unable to accept accounts or offer any of our products or services to clients resident in the following countries: USA, France, The Netherlands, The Dutch Caribbean Islands, Curaçao, And Aruba.”
Based on their terms, the house usually wins, a good bet in the gaming industry. All prizes given by the company seem to be at the company’s discretion. How convenient.
Online Casino Marketing Strategy
On social media, the promises of profit are mixed with AI-generated animals with futuristic neon cyberpunk attire.
Merzoug was previously a CMO, so he’s had 2 years to craft the company’s marketing strategy, which is pretty sleek, although it may sound stupid.
Lottoday’s advertising strategy employs a fruit salad of standard crypto catchphrases. Cutting-edge Web3 technology will “harness the power of decentralization” and blockchain technology will make this gambling utopia accessible worldwide.
Another press release claims, “[Lottoday] is set to redefine the gaming industry, bringing unparalleled levels of transparency, security, and inclusivity to the table.”
It all sounds so inspiring. That’s the pernicious thing about Web3 propaganda. When you hear it, watch out. Someone is about to pick your pocket. Maybe, they’re going to democratize the internet, but let’s be real, 9 times out of 10, investors will never see one red cent.
Lottoday’s press release was reported by a couple of blockchain news hubs as a paid promotion without the usual editorial standards.
Similarly, it would be more than fair to say that most of the “buzz” on social media about Lottoday is inflated hype by sock puppet influencers.
Gaming hub NFTs (What could possibly go wrong?)
Lottoday was gearing up for a “thrilling prelaunch” billed as an “opportunity to secure Gaming Hub NFTs, opening up a unique chance to share in Lottoday’s revenue.” In the first 36 hours of their prelaunch, Lottoday sold 5Million USDT of their Gaming Hub NFTs.
This number went up to 10M USDT in the first 10 days, which prompted a second stage of the presale, during which Lottoday proclaimed, “Your Golden Ticket: Lottoday’s Stage 2 Presale is Now Open!”
The gaming industry always operates in the shadow of regulators, and that conflict continues to define the landscape for operators.
In March 2023, a group of 5 companies including PressEnter were found guilty of operating illegally in The Netherlands. De Kansspelautoriteit, the Gaming Authority in the Netherlands, fined the group more than 26 million euros.
PressEnter paid 1.7 million Euros in fines for allegedly “targeting” Dutch clients to use its platform without the proper license.
One of the 5 fined companies, Malta-based N1 Interactive prepared to fight the fines in what was described by specialized observers as an “uphill battle.”
One article noted that N1, utilizing a Curacao license for its iGaming platforms, “has a questionable history regarding its operations.”
PressEnter at your own risk
PressEnter represents a growing influence in the offshore gaming industry. Regulators are probably relieved, but it might take some of the fun out of investigations.
However, as grifters go, it’s probably better for gamblers to be dealing with a meritocratic, non-violent group of Swedes, rather than like in the early days of Vegas when you were dealing with a group of armed gangsters.
Iosif Galea is a listed director of Betpoint Group, and last year, he was sentenced to 30 months of prison in Germany for tax evasion. He was formerly a compliance officer at Malta’s Gaming Authority and two police officers later went to jail for allowing Galea to roam free, allegedly leaking sensitive information from the Gaming Authority’s internal deliberations to “interested parties” (read: industry insiders).
It’s odd that there isn’t more information on the previous owners of the company. That’s not an accident. Likely, they didn’t want to be known, which makes Merzoug’s coup all the more intriguing. That guy is privy to some unsavory details, to be sure. Hence the total rebrand.
The gaming industry is gunning for a “breakthrough.” The industry needs to avoid diverse international regulations and those tax-hungry G20 nation-states. That’s why it’s always been a Petri dish for gangsters looking for a cash-only money mill that can be operated on the down low. Digital assets and Web3 have changed the playing field.
PressEnter may make its money in a way that some of us may find undesirable, but its customers make the choice to play with the knowledge that they could lose. There is a line of offshore gaming jurisdictions that are ready to be the next host to industry heavyweights. Good for them.
PressEnter is knocking on doors, trying to get access. Expect them to acquire more brands outside of their established territory. Aruba and the others may outlaw foreign competition, so PressEnter may seek to buy a subsidiary as Walmart did in Mexico. We all know how that turned out.
Merzoug has been noisy about the Group’s desire to expand, so it’s a good bet that lots of jockeying has been happening behind closed doors.
Seen by some as the panacea to fix the failings of the internet and traditional finance, Web3 and the flow of money within DeFi platforms claiming to be part of it is not particularly regulated. That doesn’t mean it won’t provide a way forward. But it will doubtless leave some early investors flapping in the wind.
A sentence sticks out in the Harvard Business Review’s assessment of Web3: “Welcome to the confusing, contested, exciting, utopian, scam-ridden, disastrous, democratizing, (maybe) decentralized world of Web3.”
The same could be said for Lottaday and the company that owns it. For all the talk of how the platform will bring democratization and fairness to gaming, the platform itself runs on obfuscation and a lack of accountability.
Expect to hear more about PressEnter. If there is one thing we’ve learned about a group of Scandinavians united by a common purpose, they can take the market, and the world, by storm.
Author: Tim Tolka, writer, journalist, and BI researcher
The editorial team at #DisruptionBanking has taken all precautions to ensure that no persons or organizations have been adversely affected or offered any sort of financial advice in this article. This article is most definitely not financial advice.