The world’s gaming executives gathered once more for the 11th gathering of the World Gaming Executive Summit (WGES) at the W Hotel, Barcelona. Such a great venue in a great city with wonderful warm weather and great food.

Mor Weizer, CEO of Playtech, said that every company that had dealt in unregulated markets had all won licences when those jurisdictions finally decided to regulate, including PokerStars, which is now licensed in the US.  As a part of their portfolio for operators he suggested a mix of regulated and non-regulated markets were essential.  He pointed to the Nordic countries where companies that are now trading in the unregulated market would be able to hit the ground running when regulation came. They had already established critical mass. 

The reasons were quite compelling. Mor said that William Hill and Paddy Power were citing the UK as a market under pressure through competition and ever-increasing regulation.

Tom Light from SBTech presented the company’s new omni-channel service whereby customers can seamlessly bet through shop, mobile and desktop with one account. A nice product that led to a 26% lower churn rate on internet. Tom was quite open and honest when he said to delegates that the channel would lower margins in shops due to the one price for all platforms but this was more than compensated for by a lower churn rate, customer approval and thus lower acquisition cost.

John Coleman from Microgaming said that the grocery trade was using big data in a more meaningful way to the consumers’ benefit than the gambling industry. Microgaming is investing in algorithms that would present to customers games they would like to play based on previous player patterns.  Amazon, of course, has been doing a similar thing this for years. 

John said the industry could do better on social responsibility and big data was a useful tool in identifying problem gamblers early in the cycle. 

Jan Jones from Caesars Entertainment said that new markets presented the industry with a challenge.  It should never be assumed that the regulators in those markets understand the gambling business. Pennsylvania proposed an internet gambling tax of fifty percent until regulators realised no one would apply for a licence! In such cases Jan said it was up to the industry to educate the regulators and to get ahead of the conversation. 

Johan Styren, the ex-CEO of Leo Vegas, said the company’s success was down to having first mover advantage in the provision of mobile apps for casino.  From the outset, they concentrated on mobile games. He said that data per user will increase 150% from 2017 to 2020 and the average user in Sweden consumes 13.1 GB per month in data.  He identified mobile registration as a problem, referring to big fingers on a small screen. However, this can be overcome by using the data already on the phone to tabulate fields. 

He cited cryptocurrency, augmented reality, mobile registration and social gaming as the future opportunities.

While the world is concentrating on millennials, Styren is already looking to the next generation – Centennials – born after 1995. They will become the biggest consumer group.  Last year 25% of Centennials left Facebook. Why? Could it be they do not want a service used by their parents?

By Warwick Bartlett