News is streaming across the iGaming industry regarding the possible permanent closure of NetEnt Live as Evolution officially puts its €1.8bn (£1.6bn) takeover plans into action.
So far, what we know is that the NetEnt slots and virtual table games are still fully operational at online casinos, but reports coming out of multiple casinos and news sources confirm that the NetEnt Live dealer games are currently unavailable. When attempting to open the still listed NetEnt games at casinos that host NetEnt Live tables, the streams would not open while the online slots from both NetEnt and Red Tiger seem perfectly normal.
Mostly news in circulation regarding the closure is coming out of Malta where staff and locals involved in the iGaming industry are confirming the NetEnt Live studio is indeed closed. However, there is no official heads-up from NetEnt or Evolution. The rumour mill also suggests that this closure of the NetEnt live studios may well be permanent.
On the ground, several sources claim that those who were working at the live studio are still receiving their staff salaries until Evolution reshuffles people’s job positions and decides which NetEnt personnel to release from employment. According to local laws, those laid off as a result of the takeover will receive a redundancy/severance package (should the studio close permanently).
NetEnt Live studio closure comes as a surprise
However, prior to the move most expected Evolution to capitalise on the current ‘NetEnt Live’ set up as the live table portfolio is not only popular but also grew considerably with new tables added over the course of 2020. Without official comment from either company, no one really knows for sure what will happen to the NetEnt suite of live dealer games.
Games such as Perfect Blackjack and the brand-new Azure blackjack and roulette tables were incredibly popular, while NetEnt recently expanded into the Baccarat live dealer market. That said, the overall catalogue of games was not huge, and this could be why Evolution sees the chance to close the NetEnt studio and live brand, which would invariably drive more traffic towards its Evolution and Ezugi brands.
Potential cost-saving of up to €30m (£27m)
From recent press releases by both NetEnt and Evolution, we know that NetEnt chief executive Therese Hillman will leave in 2021 Q1. Apparently, with Hillman’s exit plus the closure of the NetEnt Live studios, the cost-saving will amount to €30m (£27m).
Retention of NetEnt and Red Tiger
Weighing up the evidence, the closure makes some sense. The primary objective of Evolution is to enter the virtual casino gaming section with a key focus on expanding into the online slots industry. Evolution is set to retain the NetEnt slots brand while also continue with the NetEnt owned Red Tiger operations. If Evolution carries on in the same way as it did with the eZugi takeover, then the company will continue for the time being as Evolution, eZugi, Red Tiger, and NetEnt.
Eventually, we can expect Evolution to all these brands slowly under its wing, leaving the firm with a single brand name to market. Casino operators and aggregators will already be preparing for the changes to come with fewer live dealer tables on offer, while their slots and virtual table gaming sections should remain relatively unaffected as the delivery of NetEnt virtual games should remain the same.