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Gardening Is The Best Medicine For The Mind

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January is the time of year when, for us gardeners, a small ray of hope breaks through the grey skies. Not long now, I think, until I can start chitting my potatoes. A few early daffodils have bravely poked their necks above the soil. I know the snowdrops will soon be on their way. Especially with the mild, wet winter we have had, spring seems just around the corner. But I know the truth. The inevitable will happen: the cold will return, February always feels long, and winter will hang around like some kind of chronic illness.

For those of us who suffer from mental health problems, winter can be a difficult time. I had my own nervous breakdown last year. This culminated in me unable to do my job – I had to take a month off work and was confined, for long periods of anxious black time, to my house. Anyone who has gone to battle with their own inner demons knows it is a terrifying fight. You feel isolated, confused, angry, and unable to make yourself understood (especially to yourself). With the help of therapy, medication, pages of self-help books, and the desire to feel “normal” again, I started on my long path to recovery. While it has been a difficult journey, nothing has lifted my spirits more, or has made me feel saner, than my garden. Working with my hands in the soil, sowing seeds, or simply cutting my grass has improved my mental health more than I can express. Though it may sound cliched, my garden has been my sanctuary.

Therefore for me, this winter has been particularly rough. As the days have darkened my mental state has also become bleaker. There have been some reports lately about how beneficial gardening is for mental health. Gardening combines some of the best advice given to people with mental health problems: exercise more, interact with nature, engage in activities you find meaningful, be creative, and seek out people who have similar interests. In short, gardening ticks numerous boxes when it comes to improving the outcomes for those of us who struggle psychologically.

I can’t agree more with those studies which suggest that gardening lifts the mood and decreases anxiety. Last year I chose a particularly good time to have a shattered mind (as if there is ever really any right time to lose your mind). It was spring. The air was just beginning to warm up as the days stretched out their long amber arms. I remember sitting on an old and splinted wooden bench in the back garden. The buds on a nearby field maple tree were ready to burst into leaf. That’s when I saw it: the first bumblebee of spring. It wasn’t an epiphany, but it made me smile. And I hadn’t done that in a long time.

While I was off work, I threw myself into my garden. I felt like the world around me was a dangerous sea and my garden was a little green life raft. I cut a new, long bed out of the grass. I worked the soil until I couldn’t find a sliver of weed root. I barrelled tons of compost and poured it all over the garden to improve the structure of the heavy clay. I sowed seeds, bought more herbaceous perennials than I could afford, and scarified the grass like a man possessed. As I worked on the garden the garden worked on me. I could feel myself, for the first time in a long time, start to relax. As the days lengthened I could feel something inside me begin to lift – literally and metaphorically the clouds were breaking and more sun was touching the ground. I remember planting out pots of sweet peas to climb up a homemade wigwam. Nearby, my apple trees were in bloom. I was wearing a short sleeved shirt and my arms were warm in the sun. I knew then why I loved to garden and that, as long as I had access to a small patch of green, I would be okay.

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Yes, I am on medication which is meant to control both anxiety and depression. I have also had many sessions of therapy. Both of these things I have found invaluable to my recuperation. And no, I would never suggest that someone replaces a good doctor with a tray full of seedlings. However, there is definitely something in nature that heals the mind. Not only has gardening helped me to get through a difficult period in my life, it is something I can enjoy when life is good. What I find so wonderful about gardening is that it is both beneficial to my health and enjoyable. This seems like rare thing in life. For example, everyone wants an athlete’s body but few people want to spend five days a week in the gym. Gardening, on the other hand, is both salubrious and gratifying.

I can’t wait to properly get back out and into the garden. I can’t for the grass to dry out and the soil to become workable. I can’t wait to get my tools out of the garage and my pruning shears in my pocket. I can’t wait, because I know that the best medicine for what ails me, is right outside my back door.

Tom Smart is a secondary school teacher who found his passion for gardening in the drizzle and mists of Scotland.

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Canada

IGT PlaySports Wins Sportsbook Supplier of the Year at 2023 SBC Awards North America

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International Game Technology PLC announced that IGT PlaySports reinforced its sports betting industry leadership by being named Sportsbook Supplier of the Year at the 2023 SBC Awards North America last week in New York.

“There is no shortcut to success. Winning the Sportsbook Supplier of the Year award is a wonderful testament to the hard work our team members put in day after day, year after year,” said Joe Asher, IGT President of Sports Betting. “IGT PlaySports is supporting customers in 30 jurisdictions across North America. We are honored to be recognized by SBC and look forward to continuing to serve our many loyal customers.”

IGT’s award-winning PlaySports platform is one of the most influential technology stacks in the U.S. and Canadian sports betting market. The platform’s proven versatility, scalability, and market-readiness provide crucial benefits for operators, especially those that require quick installations. Additionally, IGT PlaySports’ trading advisory services team provides customers with around-the-clock support, including expert oddsmaking with localized pricing for pre-game and in-play bets, marketing and promotion, and on-call expertise for every aspect of day-to-day sportsbook operations.

The 2023 SBC Awards North America was held in conjunction with the 2023 SBC Summit North America and recognized the achievements of operators, affiliates and suppliers from all the major digital and sports betting disciplines including payments, marketing, platform providers and data.

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Canada

RUSH STREET INTERACTIVE ANNOUNCES FIRST QUARTER 2023 RESULTS

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First Quarter Revenue of $162.4 Million, up 20% Year-over-Year –

Rush Street Interactive, Inc., a leading online casino and sports betting company in the United States and the rest of the Americas, today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2023.

First Quarter 2023 Financial Highlights

  • Revenue was $162.4 million during the first quarter of 2023, an increase of 20%, compared to $134.9 million during the first quarter of 2022.
  • Net loss was $24.5 million during the first quarter of 2023, compared to a net loss of $52.3 million during the first quarter of 2022.
  • Adjusted EBITDA1 loss was $8.7 million during the first quarter of 2023, compared to an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $43.4 million during the first quarter of 2022.
  • Adjusted advertising and promotions expense1 was $49.4 million during the first quarter of 2023, compared to $66.3 million during the first quarter of 2022.
  • Average revenue per Monthly Active User (“ARPMAU”) in the United States and Canada was $325 during the first quarter of 2023, up 23% year-over-year.
  • Revenue grew by more than 100% year-over-year in Latin America and North American markets launched after 2020.
  • As of March 31, 2023, RSI had $147 million of unrestricted cash and cash equivalents.

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1
 This is a non-GAAP financial measure. Please see “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for more information about this non-GAAP financial measure and “Reconciliations of GAAP to Non-GAAP Financial Measures” for a reconciliation of the most comparable measure calculated in accordance with GAAP to this non-GAAP financial measure.

Richard Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of RSI, said, “We are pleased with our first quarter results as we made great strides towards profitability with much improved Adjusted EBITDA performance. Revenues grew 20% compared to last year, propelled by more than 100% growth in Latin America and new markets launched in North America after 2020. Results were strong across our business lines with revenue growth in both online casino and online sportsbook.”

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“On the back of these excellent results, we remain on track to achieving our goal of profitability for the second half of this year. We are staying disciplined in our approach and successfully balancing growth and profitability over the long run. Our results continue to show the approach is working well and we remain confident that our focused strategy will reward our shareholders over the long term.”

Guidance

RSI expects revenue for the full year ending December 31, 2023 to be between $630 and $700 million, unchanged from its previous expectations. At the midpoint of the range, revenue of $665 million represents 12% year-over-year growth when compared to $592 million of revenues for 2022.

This range is based on certain assumptions, including that (i) only operations in live jurisdictions as of today’s date are included, (ii) all professional and college sports calendars that have been announced come to fruition, including the completion of their 2023 seasons, and (iii) RSI continues to operate in markets in which it is live today, except for Connecticut.

Recent Business Highlights

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  • Launched the innovative BetRivers Michigan Million slot tournament, introducing the first-of-its-kind online casino experience.
  • Extended our proprietary squares engine to basketball, driving strong improvement in average bet size and more than doubling same-game parlays as a % of total bets.
  • Crowned Customer Service Operator of the Year at the EGR North America Awards 2023, earning this award for the fourth year in a row.
  • Added award winning sportscaster & reporter Julie Stewart-Binks to our growing roster of sports and gaming experts and content creators who connect and engage with fans.
  • Continued profitable growth in casino markets, including Ontario, Colombia, and West Virginia where we increased estimated market share sequentially during the first quarter.
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Canada

Gaming Laboratories International (GLI®) Elevates Key Leaders to Drive World-Class Customer Experience

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Gaming Laboratories International (GLI®) is pleased to announce the strategic promotions of four exceptional leaders within the organization: Mackenzie Haugh, Chief Delivery Officer; James Boje, Managing Director, EMEA; Devon Dalbock, Chief Operating Officer, EMEA; and Martin Britton, Chairman, EMEA. These promotions reflect GLI’s commitment to world-class delivery and outstanding customer service for all its nearly 2,000 clients globally.

“These are trusted, exceptional leaders within our organization; their contributions are vital to our ongoing efforts to drive global consistency, providing a world-class delivery and customer experience for each of our clients, no matter the size or volume of submissions,” said GLI President & CEO James Maida. “We maintain this ongoing commitment to our customers by tirelessly enhancing testing strategies, processes and tools, training, and innovative solutions, and ensuring we have the highest caliber leadership driving the business forward. This commitment allows us to continue to advance and enhance our client and customer experience well into the future.”

Mackenzie Haugh – Chief Delivery Officer
Mackenzie Haugh has been with GLI for more than 20 years and was previously Vice President of Engineering. Haugh has extensive hands-on experience in the regulatory compliance testing of games, platforms, systems, hardware, protocols and peripherals for land-based lottery, online, mobile, and sports betting products. He believes in customized service-delivery experiences for customers, and leads his teams with passion, skill, and innovation. In the January 2020 issue of Global Gaming Business, he was named one of its “25 people to watch.”

James Boje – Managing Director, EMEA
James Boje has more than 35 years of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry, was previously GLI’s Chief Operating Officer for the EMEA region, and has held key positions with IGT, CPI and Aristocrat. He came to GLI in 2021 and has been working with key stakeholders including commercial teams and key client accounts to ensure transparent and smooth support service across all geographies. He believes in driving excellent customer service through employee engagement and fostering collaboration with global partners internally to drive excellence.

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Devon Dalbock – Chief Operating Officer, EMEA
Devon Dalbock has been with GLI since 2016 as General Manager, where he was responsible for GLI’s African and Indian operations, working with regulators in various jurisdictions on current technical standards and new developments. He has over 35 years of senior executive and management experience, with the past 15 years in the gaming industry. He is also recognized as an award-winning speaker and spokesperson. He will serve as Chief Operating Officer to the EMEA region and is located in the Netherlands office.

Martin Britton – Chairman, EMEA
Martin Britton, former Managing Director of EMEA, will be moving to a new role as EMEA Chairman. He has been a cornerstone of the organization’s growth in EMEA through his tireless work in new acquisitions, his work in preparing newly promoted team members for their new roles, and his sincere dedication to every office and employee throughout GLI’s network of labs. He will continue to focus on GLI’s global strategic direction and provide counsel and insight as EMEA continues to advance.

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