2022 has come to an end, and 2023 has begun with high expectations in the industry. As a new year starts, Yogonet spoke with GLI's President and CEO James R. Maida on what the closing year has meant for the gambling industry, as well as the challenges the testing and certification firm faced throughout the last 12 months. Additionally, Maida explains the main focus for Gaming Labs International in 2023.
As the industry starts to leave the pandemic behind and rebounds from Covid, what is your assessment of how the gaming sector developed in 2022? What role did GLI play within this context?
2022 was a year of recovery, and the tradeshows that were staged around the world served as powerful symbols of that recovery. From ICE London to G2E in Las Vegas, we had the pleasure of attending each show, supporting our clients and the industry as we move forward together. And, the more we are out in the field with customers, whether that’s at a tradeshow or in their offices, it cements my belief that this is a relationship industry.
Gaming is a part of the hospitality industry, so it makes sense that getting together in person, with people from across the industry spectrum, helps to build and strengthen the relationships we have with each other. What has really been exciting over the past year was listening to regulators, operators, and suppliers tell us about their plans for the future, and as everything is pointing to the idea that where 2022 was a year of recovery, 2023 will be a year of acceleration.
As we move toward that acceleration, GLI’s role will be what it has always been: that of a facilitator, where we help people and companies to move forward. What we do never has been about us; it has always been and will always be about our clients. We play an important supporting role, and we understand how deeply people rely on what we do. That’s why we are not slowing down. In fact, we are doubling down on our commitment to ensuring we always have the right number of resources to help our clients with anything and everything they need to power forward.
GLI's stand at G2E
This year also marked a general return of in-person industry events all over the world. What are your main takeaways from the events schedule in 2022?
The events have been wildly successful. We attended them all, and our takeaway is that business is better when we’re together. The other day, I was thinking about the tradeshows we’ve attended this year and what made them so powerful, and it occurred to me the reason is that when they didn’t happen, we realized what we had, and when we finally had a chance to reconvene as an industry and reignite our relationships face-to-face, we appreciated what we have.
You know, this is a fantastic industry, made up of the best people I’ve ever had the chance to work with, and I’m grateful for the hard work everyone puts into staging these events to give us all a platform to get together, plot a course for the future, and explore new territories and new technologies.
When it comes to new technologies, one way we help regulators understand what is happening now and what is coming down the pipeline in the future is with our Regulators Roundtable. This event offers in-depth training on new tech as well as many other facets of the industry. This year, we will be at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on April 19-20, and Yogonet readers can get the latest information by visiting our website.
James Maida at G2E
The industry is seeing new gaming verticals and technologies gain presence, including developments in iGaming, digital payments, crypto gambling, and Web3, among others. As an experienced lab, what new challenges do these areas bring in terms of compliance and regulation, and how prepared is GLI to navigate this changing landscape?
We’ve been talking a lot about tradeshows, and those events remind us that our industry is a global one, and jurisdictions can learn from each other and make the entire industry better. So, when it comes to new verticals and technologies, we can all learn a lot from each other in terms of best practices, potential pitfalls, and consumer behavior, both from what is happening inside our industry and what is happening outside of it.
Digital wallets are a major consumer trend in all sorts of industries, and many gaming jurisdictions are embracing them as well. It’s our opinion that digital wallets are good options for casinos to offer players because consumers are using them in other industries. These are becoming part of consumer expectations.
We are also seeing an interesting migration in how properties store their data, moving away from on-property data storage and solutions to a cloud-based situation. Enterprise operators might benefit from this the most because when data is locally stored, it can be challenging to access that data across the organization.
On the other hand, cloud storage provides cross-access and information-building, so operators have a more complete view of player activity and can reward player behavior appropriately based on a more fully realized picture of each player. When you add land-based and online gaming to the mix, knowing that complete player profile across the entire enterprise is even more important.
As to the second half of your question, this isn’t a challenge for us at GLI. We have been talking with suppliers, regulators, and operators about things like increased digitization and convergence for years, and we are 100 percent ready for these new technologies. We’re testing and certifying them now, we’re consulting with regulators and operators, and implementing best practices.
What does bring new challenges for the industry is that existing statutes, rules, and regulations must evolve on local, state, and national levels to allow for new technologies. Those evolutions take careful consideration, and that can take some time, and we are working with regulators worldwide to help them navigate changes.
GLI's stand at ICE London
What should we expect from GLI in 2023? Are there any new plans or announcements you could share with us?
The industry can expect us to help them power forward. We are doubling down on hiring, ensuring we are always ready to help any client with anything and everything they might need from us, and we are adding service offerings as our clients say they need them so that no customer need will go unmet.
My personal commitment to the industry is this: as long as there’s a customer with a need, we will require resources to meet those needs, no matter how big or how small. Knowing those needs and anticipating future needs comes from our being with clients at tradeshows and in their offices, meeting face-to-face, and really listening to what they need today and tomorrow.
Part of that means staffing up, and we have hired an additional 241 new personnel, including 25 new mathematicians, increasing the capability in that department alone by more than 33 percent. We will continue to hire at a rapid pace to stay ahead of demand and provide each and every service with the world-class standards our clients expect of us.
Bottom line? What the industry can expect from GLI is world-class services provided by the world’s leading experts to move the industry forward in this new year of acceleration.