It appeared to be full steam ahead for the acquisition of NetEnt on the part of Evolution Gaming, however the decision of the live casino behemoth to make mass redundancies at the software developer could yet come back to haunt them.
More than 300 workers were told they no longer had jobs to go to as part of a reshuffle that saw NetEnt’s live studio in Qormi, Malta closed down, but now a disgruntled group of former employees have come together to launch legal action against Evolution.
They have clubbed together and have spoken to the General Workers’ Union (GWU) in the country, putting together an industrial dispute claim against Evolution on the basis of alleged broken laws on collective redundancies.
And an injunction presented by the GWU to Malta’s Superior Courts would prevent a single redundancy being made by the firm valued at €2 billion, with those job losses frozen until the courts have decided the next step.
The alleged rule breaks refer to a failure to recognise a worker’s union, a lack of consultation or written statement when the redundancies were made and, in the lawsuit’s wording, a ‘wholesale’ breach of common redundancy regulations.
Evolution had insinuated would be likely when they took over NetEnt, particularly as they have their own comprehensive live casino platform in place already. However, the GWU believes that fair compensation has not been paid, and so the situation looks set to rumble on for a while yet with a preliminary hearing to be held on December 17.
“Thanks to the court’s intervention following our urgent request, 324 illegal dismissals have now been put on hold,” a statement from the GWU read.
“We will continue to insist that NetEnt and Evolution Gaming honour their consultation obligations in full, and we will do our utmost to ensure that jobs are saved, and, where that is not possible, that appropriate compensation is paid.”
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The extraordinary fallout of this rather unprofessional scenario has not exactly painted Evolution in the best of lights.
According to some employees of the firm, senior execs at Evolution were drinking champagne and tucking into takeaway pizza to celebrate the £1.7 billion acquisition immediately after the announcement of redundancies had been made, with affected workers – without a job leading up to Christmas – left tearful and angry as they left the building.
“It was very emotional, people were crying and shouting when they heard the news,” one of them said. “Like others, I have a family I need to take care of and my mind went through the ways I was going to tell my children that I had no job.”
This is the beginning of the end for NetEnt, who have today delisted their shares from the Nasdaq stock exchange. Their content and production teams have been kept on, and they will continue to produce slots and table games for Evolution, who have dropped the ‘Gaming’ from their name to reflect the new dawn.