Founded in 1999, at time the internet and PCs were becoming commonplace in homes around the globe, Playtech quickly became one of the world leaders in casino software solutions. Over the last two decades the company has covered all bases in the industry, providing games and software for online casinos, poker rooms, bingo games and a variety of other tech solutions for the online gaming world.

A company at the forefront of software development and a large player in the creation of games in the gambling industry, Playtech has been a huge success story. In fact, its founder Teddy Sagi, an Israeli entrepreneur who partnered up with big players from the casino, software engineering and multimedia industries to help turn his vision into a reality, listed the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, with Playtech now a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Moreover, its customer base now contains many of the biggest online casino operators in the UK, Europe and Canada.

Branded games have been source of success for Playtech

One of the company’s calling cards is to create casino games based on various elements of pop culture: movies, television shows and so on. Everything from Rocky to the Flintstones to Top Gun has been turned into an officially licensed casino slot. Indeed, one of Playtech’s biggest coups was the agreement with DC Comic’s parent, Time Warner, to create dozens of superhero themed slot games based on the likes of Batman and Superman.

Playtech is not the only software company to create games in such a manner. For example, you can find different versions of a Baywatch online slot game made by both Playtech and rival gaming developers. Yet, Playtech is arguably the developer that has perfected the art of bringing movies and pop culture figures to online casinos. The games are big, bold and brash, with many having interconnected progressive jackpots.

US market is seen as ‘holy grail’ for casino software developers 

Today, Playtech’s share price on the LSE is less than half of what it was a couple of years ago. Yet, could it be an opportune moment for investment in Playtech stocks, and perhaps in other casino developers’ stocks, such as 24/7 Gaming? There are a number of reasons why they should interest investors, but the continuing push to open up the gambling laws in the United States seems to be looming above the rest. Several states have pushed to legalize gambling, and there has been some headline moves of late with the likes of Fox entering the sports betting market.

The point is that there is potent, potentially a very big market in the United States, which could help companies like Playtech and Microgaming outstrip what they have achieved in Europe and Canada. Playtech has a sound business model, one where it often signs exclusive deals with online casino operators to stock its games alone. But it is also a boundary pusher, always looking to steal a march on its rivals when it comes to developing new technology for casino platforms.

The current CEO, Mor Weizer, has recently signalled that the company has designs of building its presence in the US gaming market, which was backed up by the fact it acquired its first casino licence in New Jersey last year. If a dynamic, ambitious company like Playtech really flexes its muscles in the US, investors could benefit by getting on board early. It’s one to keep an eye on.

By Jon Dela Cruz

Investing, to some degree, is like gambling. You continue to take calculated risks and determine at different stages when you should invest more or hold on for some time. People who invest in the forex market, or are planning to, are now looking at what crypto trading has to offer. While there are similarities between the two, there are differences that you should know about before taking the plunge.

Variety and Volatility

With over 2,500 cryptocurrencies on offer, selecting one or more based on future performance can be a daunting task. Forex trading, on the other hand, often involves trading in a few major currency pairs along with some minor or exotic currencies. Besides, while forex trading has been around for a while, the crypto market is relatively new, and typically more vulnerable to volatility. Investing in both requires that you keep a close eye on the markets. Alternatively, you may consider getting trading bots to do the work for you.

The Time Factor

Forex trading usually requires that you make short-term investments. In several scenarios, you may wait no more than a few days to capitalize on the small profit margins that come your way. With forex trading, you tend to make more money when you trade more. Given the higher volatility that cryptocurrencies tend to experience – with their prices skyrocketing or plummeting in a few hours – you need to look at your investments from a long-term perspective. This could be several months to even a year or more.

Liquidity

The forex market is highly liquid, and you may look forward to completing trades in near real-time. However, when it comes to cryptocurrencies, especially the ones that are not very popular, you may find a significant gap when it comes to liquidity. This might expose you to a noticeable bid-ask spread. However, following the right kind of trading strategies ensures that you do not suffer because of higher spreads.

Middlemen

When you trade in forex, you typically end up using the services of a broker or a trading firm, which comes at a cost. With crypto trading, there is no need for a middleman and you may carry out your trades directly through a cryptocurrency exchange. This makes your trades more cost-effective in terms of fees and charges. (more…)

By Charlie Brown

Real estate is a promising industrial sector. There can be a few market fluctuations, but it is a flourishing domain for investors to invest. Today, several opportunity zones can support lucrative retail and residential projects. A smart private real estate investment firm analyzes the future scopes of opportunity zones and invests accordingly. To know more about it, you can get in touch with Ricardo Rubiano . However, there are several advantages of real estate investments. The important ones are as follows:

1. It is simple to understand

The moment you start investing , it might seem slightly perplexing having a holistic view of the overall project. Several investment types depend on complicated algorithms and abstract concepts that can be somewhat challenging to grasp. However, when it comes to real estate, it includes buying physical properties. Also, the majority of people know about the nature of the real estate. Furthermore, making real estate investments is simpler to understand than difficult investments which get developed by the ace mathematicians.

2. There’s a scope to enhance real estate

Right after you purchase a stock, you keep it on hold for a while and then sell it for some profit. The stock success is based on company management as well as their corporate success, which you can’t control. Private real estate investments are qualitatively different.  You can exercise your control here. Even though it’s difficult to control the economic and demographic changes, you have a chance to manage several aspects of property management. If you properly maintain your real estate portfolio, you can enhance the entire value of your real estate investment and generate wealth.

3. It does not promote inflation

Simply put, real estate responds adequately to inflation. When inflation increases, the housing rents and values increase. Usually, real estate can be considered as a favorable hedge against inflation. The rental properties that get released annually are efficient. Hence, real estate investments are considered one of the ideal ways to avert an investment portfolio against inflation.

4. The real estate properties can work when the market is ineffective  (more…)

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As of January 1st, 2018, the Canadian federal government has introduced tougher standards on mortgage lending. Along with mandatory stress tests, these new standards reduce the amortization period for new mortgages from 30 years to 25 years, and reduce the amount of financing that banks can provide — from 85 percent of the home’s total value to 80 percent.

These new standards make lending less risky for banks, but they’ve also made it a lot harder for some Canadians to qualify for bank mortgages. In Ontario, many people are turning to non-bank lenders. According to a recent report, the number of mortgages refinanced through alternative lenders in the Toronto area rose by 67 percent between 2016 and 2018.

How Hard is It to Get Approved by a Bank?

Banks are required to put mortgage applicants through a stress test. To do this, the bank collects information about your total household income, the value of your existing assets, and any major outstanding debts that you have. The stress test determines whether you can reasonably afford a mortgage by applying your income and assets to a hypothetical mortgage with a similar structure to the one you applied for.

The bank will also use your household income and monthly expenses to calculate your gross and total debt service ratios. A debt service ratio shows how much of your total income is available to put toward mortgage payments. Your maximum gross debt service (that is, the gross amount you’re paying on a monthly basis) shouldn’t be more than 32 percent of your total income.

While stress tests are good for ensuring that you can afford your mortgage in the long term, they also project a worst-case scenario with a high interest rate. Under the tighter regulations, a stress test might disqualify you for the mortgage you’ve applied for, even if you can reasonably afford it at its current interest. Since a shorter amortization period means higher monthly payments, your gross debt service might have slipped above that 32 percent threshold if your income hasn’t changed in the past few years.

Banks may turn you down if you have bad credit, or if the property you want to mortgage doesn’t meet certain subjective standards. Getting approved for a mortgage can also be tough if you have non-T4 income — for example, if you run a business or are self-employed.


What Are the Alternatives?

The government regulations introduced in 2018 only apply to banks. While other credit lenders can utilize these regulations, they aren’t legally required to. Because of this, if you were turned away from a bank, there’s a good chance that you can still get approved for a mortgage loan through an alternative lender.

Alternative lenders are a good option if you need short-term refinancing to cover living expenses or renovation costs; if you’re looking for a second mortgage; or if you need a bad credit mortgage loan.

Because alternative mortgage lenders deal with riskier loans, their interest rates tend to be higher. But if you can’t get approved by a bank, paying higher interest rates over a shorter period may be a viable tradeoff.


Private Lenders

A private lender can be a small investment firm or an individual. Private lenders can offer short-term private loans, usually with a term between 1 and 3 years.

Because the individual mortgage loans are smaller, private lenders can afford a bit more risk. They often look at the suitability of the property being mortgaged before looking into your personal finances, something that can be advantageous if you have outstanding debts or uncertain income. Properties that aren’t eligible for bank mortgages, like small condos, can be mortgaged through alternative lenders.

Bridge Loans

If your long-term goal is still to qualify for a bank mortgage, private lenders can also offer short-term loans called bridge loans. These are especially useful if you have bad credit and are in the process of buying a home. A bridge loan is a small, temporary loan that can be taken out in the event that your purchase of a new home closes before you’ve managed to sell your old one. This loan “bridges” the gap between the price of a mortgage on a new home, and the sale price of the old home.


Research Your Lenders

When discussing alternative mortgage options, it’s a good idea to do some research and make sure that your lender is reputable. Look for reviews and compare rates with similar lenders. It is important to fully understand the terms of your mortgage commitment and ideally have a lawyer explain all the documents to you. Make sure you plan for the future, as well. If you are unable to afford a high-rate alternative mortgage in the long term, it may be best to sell the property before the lender can. A good lender will listen to your concerns and will be able to customize the mortgage to meet your unique needs.