ave you seen an increased interest from media companies as they have expanded into the gaming and sports betting industries over the past couple of years, especially in the US?
In short, yes, but it’s not limited to just the US. To expand on that a little further, there are forces at play that are driving increased interest in “our '' sector, iGaming and sports betting. The biggest force driving this is regulation, we’re seeing the velocity of regulating countries/markets (as by state in the case of the US) increase rapidly, which offers those with brand equity and reach within these markets an opportunity to monetize and grow new revenue streams. At GiG, we’re in a great position to be able to support this as our tech stack is modern and flexible, which enables us to certify in a timely manner in order to offer our platform in the newly regulated markets.
What part is the ongoing pandemic playing in the global shift from offline to online? And what are your projections for this year in that sense? Do you see new demands from operators and players amid this shift? How are you working to meet these new demands?
In short, I would say it’s playing a big part in the increased velocity of land-based operators adding online to their offering. The majority of land-based casinos have had to close their doors at some point over the past year, with many still closed and at best facing stuttered re-openings, the impact of the pandemic has been harshly felt. It’s therefore been a natural reaction to look at online to help mitigate the loss of earnings and retain loyal players to the established land-based brand. Beyond the operators themselves, local governments have also felt the impact of these closures as they’ve lost out on any tax from the casinos which has therefore caused some that might have otherwise been adverse to it, to look to allow and regulate online gambling, in turn, the land-based operators then look to launch an online offering having been previously prohibited from doing so. Looking to the year ahead I believe that offline operators launching a digital offering to complement their land-based will continue, as will market regulation across the globe, in all honesty, I think we’ll see this continue for many years to come, as the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change.
Prior to the pandemic GiG had highlighted offline operators adding online to their portfolio as one of the key target partner types for us and had already gained experience delivering online operations to offline partners. Having developed a rich omnichannel product offering that seamlessly links both the offline and online environments with our single registration, wallet and loyalty offering, unifying the players experience, it is an area we excel within. As with any technology or product we continue to drive its development and enrich the offering further so that we continue to go beyond both player and operator expectations and ensure that all our partners have a leading engine to drive their business forward.
In recent months, GiG has signed a number of new partnerships for its marketing compliance tool, GiG Comply. Which factors do you attribute these new partnerships to?
GiG Comply has now been live since 2017, so the software and the name have had time to grow in the industry. We have also had a lot of positive support from the industry media around the new partnership agreements we have signed and also updates made to the software itself, which has definitely helped to promote the tool from a PR perspective. Essentially the key is in the results, we have a lot of positive feedback from our partners and many have signed up for the provision of GiG Comply for another year. We are very happy to have been onboarding a good handful of clients lately, and are proud to see GiG Comply becoming the go-to tool for operators who are interested in assisting their overall compliance efforts.
How do you manage to keep this software compatible with all the different jurisdictions, their changes and, in some cases, tougher restrictions amid the pandemic?
The software was built to be compatible and adaptable to an ever-changing regulatory landscape (as with all of GiG’s technology, we build to be flexible). The key was to build an agnostic foundation from which we’ve been able to then build flexible rule sets that are adaptable to multiple jurisdictions. We invest a lot of time in staying on top of the various jurisdictions in which our clients operate, understanding their specific needs within those, and how we can assist them in setting up checks to meet those requirements. A key factor in our success doesn’t just sit with the technology but also the high level of managed service that the team gives to each of our partners. Understanding both what they require and how they would like to work with the tool and what is required of them in the markets they operate in is an essential part of our onboarding process for GiG Comply.
What are the innovative technologies behind GiG Comply; what was the feedback and performance so far from those new additions?
The innovation lies in the way we have chosen to combine the components GiG Comply consists of, allowing it to be highly suited for assisting operators in their overall compliance efforts. When creating a product for a B2B segment, it is crucial to understand what your potential clients currently need and will need in the future. Therefore we have invested a lot of time in talking with our clients about their user experience with the tool and how they believe it can be better developed to accommodate their needs and it is our partners who help to drive our product roadmap. The innovative part then comes in understanding these needs and how they can be added to the tool, so they can become generically useful for any of our clients.
In 2020, GiG secured a vendor registration for WSN.com in Tennessee, whose sports betting market has seen positive numbers for its first two months. GiG also received a Vendor Minor sports betting license for WSN.com from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission. How would you assess your current presence, performance in the US sports betting market, and what are your plans and outlooks for 2021 as AGA expects at least 6 new states to legalize the vertical, following recent successful launches in Michigan and Virginia?
GiG Media is currently present in 10 states with our flagship affiliate site World Sports Net (wsn.com). The site was relaunched in september 2019 with the long term ambition to create a well known brand.
US sports sites are heavily dominated by the large networks, but regardless of this, wsn.com consistently challenges them and appears at the top of Google’s search results as well as their top stories section. We invest a lot in engaging with content mediums such as videos and podcasts in order to position ourselves with a brand that can capitalize on the now as well as future in the ever expanding regulated US market.
The US is an incredibly strong market and with no slowdown in the pace of state regulation GiG’s media arm will continue to keep pace. Our plan for WSN is to keep in step with sports legalisation and move into new states as and when they open up. WSN has a national approach and the ambition is to provide tailored organic sports betting to each and every licensed operator.
Are there any other plans, goals and expectations for this year you would like to share with us? Where will be your focus, and which new markets and partnerships would you be after?
As a topline we’re looking to continue on from the great work seen across the business through 2020, with both new product features and tech development as well as welcoming new partners to the platform. Being a leading platform partner for regulated operators means that our products are heavily certified in order to meet differing, global regulatory requirements and we will continue to add new markets to our list through 2021. We look at both regulated and soon to be regulated markets when scoping potential partnership opportunities and do not take a “one shoe fits all” approach to clients, analysing each opportunity on its own merit. From both incumbents with strong brand equity within their given market through to challengers with innovative ideas entering a newly regulated market, we look at the potential symbiosis between us as a foundation to explore the opportunities.
Which new challenges would you anticipate? Where do you see growth potential this year?
Most challenges come from regulatory changes or requirements and this will be no different in 2021. The key is to have the flexibility in your products to adapt to these as well as the foundation to build upon. We’re in a very strong position to address these challenges having built on a modern and agile tech stack. We hold multiple certifications from ISO 27001 security through to GLI33 & GLI16 as well as the platform being certified from the US (New Jersey, Iowa) through to the UK and Europe (UK, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Croatia, Malta, & Latvia).
As an industry, the growth this year will be seen globally, as you have multiple states set to regulate in the US as well as regulation in Canada covering North America, all eyes are on Brazil in South America along with further licensing in Argentina. Then in Europe both Germany and the Netherlands are two major markets set to regulate this year, there are also changes on the horizon through select Asian markets. It’s set to be a very busy and interesting year ahead for the entire industry, with advances in technology, changes in regulation and the increasing opportunities brought to light by the pandemic and fueled by innovation, there has never been a more exciting time for online gaming.