As new jurisdictions continue to open up, we can all agree that the opportunities for growth and expansion are promising, even abundant.
But, likewise, so too in the UK and across Europe, the regulatory landscape is evolving at breakneck speed, throwing up a significant conundrum: As we develop top quality, exciting games for multiple markets, how do we meet the challenge of remaining compliant?
Now, in the UK–with the recent release of the Gambling White Paper–the scene has been set for a future of even more stringent regulations and government intervention.
Against this exciting, but potentially-fraught, background, iGamingFuture caught up with Johan Törnqvist, Group CEO and Co-Founder of top slots playmaker Play’n GO, to hear his thoughts on the best ways to manage these ongoing compliance objectives – seamlessly, whilst still being able to deliver the most entertaining content to maximise the player experience.
The recently-released UK Gambling White Paper received mixed reviews from industry insiders regarding its potential impact on market growth. What are your thoughts on the White Paper? And how do you think it will affect the iGaming sector going forward?
“Things are far from settled or certain about the UK market as there are still too many critical issues that have gone back out to consultation, such as staking limits.
“What is clear, however, is the direction of travel. The UK, and the wider industry, are moving towards an era of increased regulation and there will be no going back.
“Undoubtedly this shift will present enormous challenges for many of our colleagues whose business models are not fully prepared for success in the fully-regulated era.
“But I believe the move towards increased regulation is an enormous opportunity for the industry to recast itself as a devoted member of the entertainment industry.”
“If we as an industry lose sight of the fact that games are meant to be fun and entertaining–and not predatory–then we simply won’t have much of an industry in the future.
“The recommendations in the UK White Paper shouldn’t really have surprised anyone, and for those in the iGaming space specifically who are eyeing up new markets that haven’t yet opened or fully regulated (such as some of the large US states), it would be worth remembering how influential the UKGC is around the world.
“The UK White Paper recommendations will be replicated elsewhere and those who are prepared to grab the opportunity the regulated market presents, will be winners over the next decade in our industry.”
Many of the recently-opened jurisdictions across the globe have come under scrutiny from industry stakeholders for imposing impractical regulatory frameworks. How can we, as an industry, work better together to improve this going forward and ensure the future growth of our sector?
“Increasing contact with regulators is something I’m particularly interested in, because I believe we at Play’n GO have a lot to offer when jurisdictions are looking at their regulations.
“I’m sure a one-size-fits-all approach would be the dream scenario for multi-national businesses in our industry. But, of course, there will always be variations in regulations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
“Those of us in the industry who want more regulation to be able to create a space that is safe for players and will encourage an entertainment-first approach need to be more vocal for sure. I want Play’n GO to lead more in this area and want us to use our considerable ability and experience to help regulators shape their thinking.
“The loudest voices haven’t always spoken with the best long-term health and interests of the industry in mind.”
How difficult is it to create the most fun and exciting games possible, while ensuring that the game features, or mechanics, are not regarded as predatory?
“There are few guarantees in game development.
“But something that is certain is that if players have a bad experience playing a game, they won’t come back to play it again.”
“That should worry game suppliers of course, but it should also be a focus for operators as well. Too often we see games featured and pushed to players that simply aren’t premium. That might work financially in the short term, but at what cost to player retention over the long term?
“Play’n GO has taken a clear approach to our game development over the past 20-years that revolves around entertainment first. Amazing graphics, the best sound in the industry, compelling stories and characters; these are the keys to ensuring players have fun.
“I think Play’n GO games are fantastic, but I also think that they can be even better in the future too. We’re working hard to make that vision become a reality.”
With the number of new jurisdictions opening–abetted by emerging tech advances, such as AI or Machine Learning–, opportunities for growth in iGaming appear boundless. Considering this, what do you believe will be the strongest growth-drivers for Play’n GO?
“Play’n GO doesn’t rest on its laurels. Just recently, we led the way on an industry first by rolling out our flagship game, Book of Dead, across William Hill’s retail estate. It’s our first foray into retail in the UK and it’s already proved a phenomenal success.
“To achieve this, we’ve developed technology that will allow us to roll-out our entire catalogue of games within the retail space to any machine, without the need for an internet connection.
“We’re excited about the opportunities this innovation will bring. And this is evidence not only of our continued commitment to the UK market, but also our ability to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities.”
After speaking with Johan it’s clear that the White Paper will have an irreversible impact on the iGaming and wider gambling industry.
Johan believes that the UK betting business is moving towards an era of increased regulation – and there will be no going back.
But amid the regulatory churn lie possibilities of enormous opportunity.
In order to stay competitive and provide the best playing experience, operators must ensure they focus on the core of “Entertainment First”.
Amazing graphics, top-quality sound, compelling stories and characters; these are the keys to ensuring players have fun and keep coming back for more, regardless of the market conditions.
All of these qualities are championed by the Play’n GO team and strongly reflected across the Play’n GO portfolio.