Over the last few months, we amongst the iGaming Future community, have observed how the pandemic has irreversibly impacted markets across the globe and what it means for the future of iGaming in those regions. Italy has one of the biggest online markets in Europe but has notoriously been under increasing regulatory pressure also, forcing the operators to find new products and routes to market. The added input of Covid 19 has given this market another intricate layer of complexity that pose a continual challenge for operators in this region.
Alessandro Allara is the Chief Digital Officer of Gamenet, one of the largest operators in the Italian market, and he spoke with us recently to share his perspective on the key challenges he faces on home turf and where the opportunities for growth can be cultivated.
What was the biggest lesson you learnt about the digital customer last year and how will you use it to your advantage going forward?
“The last 12 months have been extremely challenging, not only because of the restrictions applied to the Retail network but also because of the pause in major Sports occurred between March and May 2020. This situation brought to us some key learnings and it would be crazy not to catch them. The first one is resilience: transforming problems into opportunities. Multi-channel Gaming companies have accelerated their digital transformation, tailoring the digital strategy with levels of commitments never seen before. The second learning? Adaptation is key. Unexpected changes in the business environment can generate unexpected behavioural changes in consumers: what you need here is not process and procedures but efficacy in adapting your strategy. ”
What impact did the lack of top tier live sports have on the Italian market? What does this mean for future product trends in online casino-style games?
“The Big Freeze has been an Earthquake for our Market: a new season of glory for Poker, Skill Games and Bingo and consolidation for Casino. Virtual Sports compensated partially the lack of real sports driven by innovative ideas within Sportsbook frontends (like Virtual events within the in-play section of some Operators). Novelty bets, on the other side, couldn’t generate incremental revenues mostly because of regulatory restrictions (in Italy we couldn’t accept bets on vaccine date, for example).”
You recently launched a new affiliate programme, Goldbet Partners. What role do you think affiliates will play in the future of the Italian market’s digital transformation and improving the customer experience?
“In my view, Digital PR in general is the future of our brand journey because advertising is more and more complicated across different Geographies; to be frank, I don’t see a concrete opportunity of roll-back on the Regulatory side. Organic traffic, brand trustworthiness, innovation will be our fuel for growth: that’s why we decided to launch our own Affiliate Programme and engaged publishers mostly on product and features. I would definitely say that the future is not built on Call-to-actions but on Product Propositions. ”
The Italian iGaming regulatory framework has become increasingly strict and has put certain limits on what gaming companies can do, in the name of player protection. How do these regulatory obligations impact the ability to innovate and introduce new products or processes to market? What can be done to improve this in the future?
“I truly believe that the Italian market has been a tremendous laboratory for Gambling Operators. It’s not an easy market, for sure, extremely competitive and built on boundaries that sometimes impose a dramatic change in Companies Policies. I wouldn’t say that this scenario reduced the ability to innovate, it simply drove Industry experts to additional levels of complexity. A couple of examples: bonus on accumulators were born here because of limitations on the legacy bonus architecture; skill games, in particular traditional (or even Regional) card games, found here a unique success even if Poker was a mature market.”
Editor’s Note: From speaking with Alessandro, it’s clear that although the Italian market has experienced many challenges from the pandemic within an already tough environment caused by strict regulatory frameworks there are still many opportunities for growth.
New, and not so new, products such as Poker and Virtual Sports are providing online safe havens for online traffic. Even with the regulatory limitations, innovation is still thriving and pushing the market forward with popular products such as ‘Bonus on Accumulators’. This suggests that true success in this particular iGaming market will come from having the best product proposition, calls-to-action alone will not be enough to keep players engaged. A trend we expect to see continue in Italy and throughout the European iGaming landscape going forward.