2023: Famous Five Predict A Challenging Future, But Those Who Dare Will Flourish
“Those Who Dare Will Flourish.”
As our name so graphically illustrates, we good folks at iGaming Future believe most positively in the future, with all the opportunities, excitement and challenges that moving forward brings.
So at the dawn of this New Year 2023, as we put pandemic and lockdown firmly behind us, we thought it apposite–and, hopefully, advantageous–to ask five of our favourite iGaming leaders their key predictions for the next 12-months.
We kicked off by asking Mark McGinley, CEO at FunFair Games:
iGF: What do you think will be the biggest trend in our industry in 2023?
MM: I think the biggest industry trend in 2023 will be the continued rise of non-traditional content. I would even go as far as saying that I expect to see this genre of games break into the industry’s Top 20, or maybe even Top 10, of most popular content. The vertical has expanded quickly in recent times, and with emerging demographics wanting fresh concepts, I feel the meteoric rise and demand for unique content will get even bigger.
As a result, more suppliers will introduce non-traditional content, as naturally, they want to cater to this demand. This will also encourage more operators to incorporate this genre, and hopefully show a greater interest for other types of gambling content.
Crash games and multiplayer titles have already proven to be very popular with players. So, in 2023, we should see this space further develop.
New concepts and designs will be introduced, taking this vertical to the next level and offering something new that gives players the short burst of entertainment that they are after. Part of this is fast, or turbo style games, which will become more prevalent as the industry competes for the attention of younger demographics who are engaging with different types of entertainment from their mobile devices.
As slots have long reigned supreme in the majority of established iGaming markets, it’s exciting to see new game formats break into the industry, and we are looking forward to seeing how the space will unfold in 2023.
Next we spoke to Sergei Belikov, CEO at Mobinc:
iGF: How do you see Tech impacting and influencing the iGaming space?
SB: With continuous technological advancements we can expect artificial intelligence to play a big part in 2023.
The development and industry-wide implementation of machine learning, or data analysis, will significantly improve operations by facilitating better fraud detection, optimised marketing campaigns and helping prevent abuse. With the aid of these technologies, operators will have the business intelligence insights to improve player experience and increase retention by tailoring content to each user – resulting in better game suggestions and bonuses.
At Mobinc, we take player safety very seriously and we’re hoping that the New Year will provide a more proactive and transparent approach to anti-money laundering.
Currently, there’s a disconnect between regulation and information available. For example, regulators demand a thorough understanding of the financial circumstances of a player, but counter-intuitively the banking networks largely refuse to share this information with gambling companies. As this is one of the industry’s greatest issues, we’re hopeful this will be addressed more in 2023. With OpenBanking becoming more popular, we will see an improvement on this and be able to maintain proper anti-money laundering and responsible gambling obligations.
Additionally, more sophisticated tools and solutions will strengthen the industry’s ability to protect player data. This will not only create a more secure gambling experience but increase the trust players put into different or new casino brands. Alongside the technical developments, we should also look to educate operators and customers in ways they can prevent breaches and protect the data of players.
We then knocked on the door of Michele Fischer, VP at SIS Content Services:
iGF: Looking across the Atlantic, please tell us about the big predicted moves in US sports betting:
MF: Looking at sports betting from a U.S. perspective, this could be the year that fixed-odds horse racing starts to gain traction.
It represents a wonderful opportunity to put racing in front of a mass market, through a format that is simple to understand for sports bettors.
In our view, maintaining only the current pari-mutuel model is not financially viable for the industry in the long-term, whereas fixed-odds racing has a proven record globally of attracting new audiences on board who may never have engaged with the sport previously. We have seen how US bettors have fully embraced fixed-odds betting on other sports through mobile apps, and the time is right for the racing industry to move to offer a similar model.
At SIS, we have the advantage of being able to offer over 30,000 international horse races to operators who want to take advantage of the opportunities that fixed-odds racing brings.
The sheer volume of betting opportunities we can offer in time zones around the world means that US operators can give their customers truly round-the-clock content.
We continued our Stateside perspective with Alex Dubin, Founder and CEO of BettorOff:
iGF: And how do you see the US market evolving?
AD: Since the repeal of PASPA, sportsbook operators have focused on growth – to the exclusion of nearly everything else.
This ‘Derby Days’ style of player acquisition has cost the sportsbooks millions in marketing and promotional giveaways, as brands seek to capitalise on the land-grab each time a new state legalises online sports betting.
The books see this short term spend as defensible as a result of an industry-wide assertion of an LTV/CAC ratio in the neighbourhood of US$2,500/US$371. And while the larger books look to continue their aggressive spends, this model has proven too costly for many of the smaller putative operators, who have been forced to abandon their sportsbook initiatives.
Although these larger books will no doubt continue to spend aggressively on player acquisition, 2023 could mark the beginning of a shift in focus from the ‘spend-at-all-costs’ user acquisition model, to one which factors-in profitability.
Since the major books (or their parent companies) are all publicly traded, shareholder pressure to pay some attention to the near-term bottom line has become more vocal.
This shift presents opportunities for third-party service providers, as well as community aggregation and engagement platforms, to partner with the books, who will now be even more open to working with outside companies to handle anything outside of their two specific areas of focus: User acquisition and the road to profitability.
Leigh Nissim, CEO at Future Anthem, ended our round-up on a challenging but positive note:
iGF: What tune do you think we’ll be playing in 2023?
LN: I believe, the biggest industry trend in 2023 is going to be personalisation – and more specifically real time personalisation of the player experience. The next phase of industry winners will be those that work in real time, not based on yesterday’s performance.
This is the only way to optimise performance and enhance customer experience, while significantly raising responsible gambling and player protection levels.
To truly personalise requires a highly strategic, data-driven approach that processes hundreds of billions of data points. Over the next 12 months–and beyond–data-driven companies will continue to pull away. Operators and suppliers that get their data strategy right and, vitally, put it at the heart of their business, will extract maximum gain away from those who don’t.
Personalisation is tied into another key focus area: Sustainability. A strong focus on operating ethically and responsibly will win more clients and increase engagement with their teams.
From a broader perspective, within sports betting and iGaming, in a coming tougher economic environment, it’s time to innovate or die.
There’s no choice but to innovate rapidly across all operational areas. Ask yourself: ‘Is your company truly pushing the boundaries of what is possible?’
Those who dare will flourish.