Whereas the vast majority of companies across industries are still struggling to keep up with the times, Slotegrator has already adapted to all the critical shifts in the iGaming sector. In an interview with Focus Gaming News, Slotegrator’s Vendor Manager Maria Areshchenko shares her views on current business tendencies and the future of the online gambling sphere.
There have already been more than five months since the crisis outbreak upended the normalcy of our day-to-day life challenging quite an optimistic idea of the world without boundaries and borders. Meanwhile, the crisis has not only demonstrated the power of external forces uncontrolled by people but dispelled the myth about the stability of many vital industries that were set to face inevitable waves of the crisis’ consequences.
Speaking of the gambling business, while land-based activities across the globe had to shut their doors (either temporarily or permanently), the online environment saw an immediate surge in numbers of active users. The demand for online entertainment essentially had a ripple effect on the iGaming industry — many operators decided to break into the online gambling landscape, primarily, chasing an excellent business opportunity, while game content developers began producing such services as virtual sports, live dealers games, and video slots within tight deadlines to satisfy operators’ wants and needs.
As a result, the iGaming community sprang into action seeking new methods of acquiring different audiences as well as expanding their own portfolios of partners and games.
During times of instability, the Slotegrator company appeared to be resilient to the effects of the crisis. Keeping the head above water, we managed to save face as a reliable and trustworthy software developer. In an interview with Focus Gaming News, our Vendor Manager Maria Areshchenko talks about that turbulent period of life shedding light on some paradigm shifts in the iGaming industry and outlooks on the online gambling markets.
Focus Gaming News: You’ve recently struck some new partnership deals. Do you think the crisis and isolation measures led more companies to reach out to you?
Maria Areshchenko: First, I’d like to point out that Slotegrator is continuously expanding its portfolio of partners, regardless of the circumstances — that’s how we keep growing! In 2019, we sealed around 20 partnerships, and this year, we’re on a similar track. As everyone knows, new partners mean fresh takes on games and new angles from which the audience can view game content. This is what operators are searching for! So, it’s not all about the effects of the crisis, from my perspective. Moreover, when self-isolation became a part of our lives, most companies continued their normal day-to-day operations. It was only later on that it became clear that the crisis would have a significant impact on online gambling and there was no time to waste. As we all know, land-based casinos had to be temporarily shut down while people across the world were required to stay home as a preventive measure. Consequently, online gambling witnessed a sharp surge in activity — and so the amount of work we had did not decrease, to say the least. We’ve seen that many companies have become more active than usual in offering their products: for example, betting content suppliers began to sell more virtual sports products, making the most of the high demand they were experiencing while traditional sports had to take an indefinite pause. The same goes for esports betting data. Obviously, the crisis has left its mark on our industry’s growth, but we are on the same path as before — growing and expanding.
FGN: Where do you think the industry will go in the post-crisis era?
МА: There are many different roads, any of which might be our potential future. Now we can only guess what’s waiting for us around the corner, as trends change very quickly in the iGaming industry. Some of them gain a certain level of steam and then disappear, while others show their staying power and come to be seen as the shape of things to come. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that game content providers will always need to develop new types of games, methods of content supply, bonuses, features, etc., to stay on top and enthrall new players. I can definitely say that those companies who are able to respond to fast-evolving global trends in a timely manner are the ones who will be successful, especially now that the crisis has shown us the importance of combining mobility and agility. Companies must learn how to automate and scale their businesses while working remotely, as well as how to be prepared for unexpected circumstances, as there is no knowing what the future holds.
FGN: Countries have started turning their attention to iGaming regulation after witnessing the segment at full steam in recent months. How important is it for iGaming companies to work in a regulated market?
МА: The growing number of countries where online gambling is picking up in popularity means operators don’t have to depend on offshore jurisdictions and their particular regulations. Bureaucracies can be very complicated and frustrating, especially compared to the relative ease of operating in an unregulated market. Meanwhile, as an aggregator, we are certainly focused on expanding our portfolio of providers with developers who obtain not only international licenses but domestic ones, as well as offering license acquisition services to operators, making everyone’s spectrum of opportunities incomparably wider. I would call regulated markets the firm ground under your feet that gives you confidence and grants your business legitimacy. At the same time, we should mention that the governments of many countries have finally realized the economic potential of the iGaming industry, which is a great sign for all concerned, as regulations lead to the creation of white markets in place of black and grey ones. So, really, “Is it important to work in a regulated market?” seems to me like a rhetorical question.
FGN: What is the biggest challenge for Slotegrator going into the future? What about the challenges facing iGaming as a segment?
МА: At present, it’s important for us to continue establishing our position as one of the industry’s leaders. Some might say that there is no greater challenge. Slotegrator as a brand is becoming more and more renowned, and we are extremely pleased with our reputation as a successful and rapidly growing company. However, it’s also a good thing to stay grounded, and we’re constantly working on improving our products and services so that we don’t lose our momentum. Speaking of iGaming’s challenges, it looks to me like the biggest one is the lack of diversity when it comes to products, quality, methods, and strategies. And the crisis has provided an example of the kind of changes the industry needs to make – new, creative ways of thinking have to be adopted, as the world, people, and trends change. In our industry, it is crucial to lead the pack when it comes to entering new markets, as well as providing high-quality products and services. However, even once you’ve climbed to the top, you have to discover how to keep on developing yourself further. This is a critical challenge that shouldn't be ignored.
FGN: Which markets are you keeping an eye on, and which ones do you have the strongest presence in at the moment?
МА: It wouldn’t be wise to solely rely on just a few markets, as our industry is fast-changing and quickly growing, and as more and more untapped regions are choosing to regulate their markets and enter the world of iGaming. However, it’s fair to mention that we have a huge presence in the Eastern European market. We are also constantly building up strategic connections in Europe, piece by piece, placing ourselves on a sound and stable footing. That’s why operators and developers looking for help with making their business bloom reach out to us. We are also always keeping our fingers on the pulse of the African and Latin American regions, both of which have already proved the longevity, sustainability, and profitability of their business opportunities.
And yet, there’s an unpolished diamond left in the industry, which is the Indian market. Several industry giants have already set foot in the country’s online niche, but a majority of both global and local operators of a smaller caliber are struggling to establish their presence in India. Our aim is to make this market accessible to everyone who wants a piece of the pie by bridging the gap between the Indian network of software providers and operators and the rest of the iGaming world.