In the saturated social casino game market, it isn’t easy to battle the big brands. But that’s the challenge that Murka, a smaller player in Ukraine, has undertaken with some success. Through growth that accelerated this year, Murka has become a top 10 player with five million monthly active users.
While it still has a tiny share of the $6.2 billion social casino game market, Murka has grown 40% this year as users play more during the pandemic, partly because its slot machine games are more like role-playing games.
Over a decade, the Kyiv, Ukraine-based company has emerged from a small startup to more than 550 employees across five offices. It was acquired last year by mega investor Blackstone Group, a private equity firm. Blackstone also owns casino properties such as The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas as well as Vungle, a performance marketing firm. Blackstone’s revenues last year were $7.3 billion.
“You can understand why it’s exploding right now,” said Barak David, Murka’s chief operating officer, in an interview with GamesBeat. “There was a pandemic effect. On the positive side, people were staying home and playing. They can play our games to relax a little.”
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The company started in 2011, and it created social casino games such as Slots Journey, Slots Journey 2, TX Poker, S&H Casino, Vegas Slots, Royal Fortune Slots, Bubbla Cadabra, and Scatter Slots. The company doesn’t report its revenues, but its estimated social casino game revenue in the second quarter was $40.5 million, ranking it at No. 10 in the industry, according to analyst firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
That’s far smaller than $503 million in estimated
Northern California’s Cache Creek Casino Resort, which has been shut down since Sept. 20 because of what it called a “systems infrastructure failure,” confirmed Wednesday that its computer systems were the target of an outside attack and that the incident is under investigation.
“While our investigation is ongoing, we have confirmed the cause was an external attack on our computer network,” the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, owners of the casino, said in response to questions from The Sacramento Bee. “The privacy of our guests and employees is our highest priority and we want to make certain they have some peace-of-mind.
“We are working closely with independent experts who regularly investigate incidents of this type to determine any risks to data security. Attacks like these are significant and can take weeks to research thoroughly.
“If it is determined the personal information of guests or employees was exposed, we will notify affected individuals in writing. To further reassure our community, we repeat our commitment to continued full pay and benefits for our employees during this time, whether they have been asked to report for their regular shifts or not.”
Sources, not at liberty to speak on the matter, told The Bee that the FBI is looking into whether the incident is a ransomware attack aimed at holding Cache Creek’s network and information hostage in return for payment, but a casino spokesman declined to comment further than the statement.
The casino, located in Brooks about an hour east of Sacramento, remains closed for now while officials bolster its internal security measures.
“Cache Creek Casino Resort will remain closed while we fortify our infrastructure and restore all operations,” the tribe’s statement said. “Unfortunately, and as reported in the news, these computer attacks are becoming increasingly frequent, with major banks, a large healthcare company