Online Gambling Industry – an Introduction

Gaming industry 2Online Gaming, eGaming, iGaming or Online Gambling? Isn’t it obvious what we are into? This is Online Gambling indeed and if you are working within our industry, don’t you dare to be ashamed of it. Being ashamed of the name of what you are doing is such a crazy hypocrisy that I just can’t stand it. 

The industry of online gambling is always very fragile. There are very few other industries out there that are as dependent on the environment and the factors more or less beyond clear control as the iGaming industry is. It depends largely on two factors:

1. current and expected legislation of the areas that an iGaming company is setting as “high-priority” for its operations, and

2. the path of technical development that determines how the company should move forward with packaging and improving its products.

Building a “perfect” product that becomes obsolete due to rapid change in technology preferred by the customer and the partners is more than common. Going “all-in” on the market that gets regulated within six months after launch is another “deadly” mistake that some companies have made throughout the course of yet quite short history of the iGaming industry.

It is not easy to determine what the successful factors are that make a great online casino in long-term perspective. The stagnation of is a good example of how a giant actor can lose the ground in a matter of a couple of years.

My opinion is that a profitable online casino should not put too much focus on the bench-marking and self-image within the industry. There are in other words 5 main mistakes that a company should avoid in order not to fail:

1. Copying from “The Best”

Honestly, fuck the competitors and what they are doing. You are in the industry where everything changes randomly and rapidly. One or two customers can make a giant difference for your company. Are you sure that those VIP-guys will be attracted by your offering if you are simply copying the market leaders? Trust me, this market leaders have their managers based in Mediterranean or in a small and isolated Brittish village and are in many cases on the verge of becoming “white trash”. Don’t copy from an Average Joe. Create something unique instead and think outside the box.

Remember one simple fact: very few good professionals in our industry are employed by a company. Online Gambling industry is a “money-intensive” industry and, in case you are good, it is easy to find ways to earn a heck lot more than you would doing a 9 to 5 job.

2. Having “Exit” written on your eyeballs

Come on guys, do you really believe that it is easy to build a new company from scratch when all that you think about is selling your shares as soon as the moment is right? Of course, there are many rich idiots out there investing into projects that are not that profitable yet. Many of the industry giants actually do blindly believe in synergy effects through mergers and the market often reacts positively no matter how big the failure the merger will eventually become. This is a topic for a separate post that I will for sure cover in the future. For now all I have to say is that you have to work as if you will always own the company. Thinking of the exit will not lead you to a long-term success. You might manage to fool the industry and be remembered as a successful start-up millionaire. The trend is, however, that the profitability is what makes the difference. Gone are the days of IT-bubbles and you have to find power in you to work on creating the next bet365 rather than

3. Chasing respect of the iGaming lads

It is for sure nice to attend all these award galas, conferences, know the lingo of top executives and be aware of the latest trends. In many cases the industry folks go completely overboard with the importance of what the industry colleagues think. You are into online gambling business, for sure. But the customer is the king. This is the rule that by no means should be forgotten. So stop checking the sanity of your ideas with people around. They should not even know anything about what you are intending to do. Don’t worry about them and focus on your customer base.

Every company operating an online casino is mainly catering for their existing users. They check preferences of their existing users without taking into consideration the vital question they should ask themselves. Why did the players that have NOT registered on their site leave?

This is a clear example of the collective blindness of our industry. And, believe me, there are many more.

4. Being a sucker for buzz words

If you have attended any iGaming conferences, you might have heard a lot about Social Gaming, Gamification of Gambling and Going Mobile. Some years ago you might have noticed the focus on Bingo and Lotteries. The truth is that Social Gaming has pretty much proven to be a failure in terms of profitability. There is virtually no cross-sell between Social Games and the Casino Product. Bingo is on the path of decline without showing any signs of resurrection. Online lotteries? Forget about it! Gamification? This is just another way of bringing in the aspect of Social Gaming into Casino universe. Will it work? For sure it will. But only for the customers that are not bringing you any profit!

Run your own race. Create your own opportunities. There are endless opportunities when you do your business online. You are tied by neither opening times nor physical brick and mortar facilities.

Did the giants such as Bet365, Betfair and Pokerstars invest a lot in gamification and social gaming? Not really. Maybe there is a reason for that?

Main buzz word today is Mobile. All suppliers are working hard on creating the HTML5 versions of their Flash games. The quality of those games is lower. The experience is worse. This is a good thing, though, as HTML5 is the new standard.  Every operator at the same time is into going Mobile. The percentage of customers playing on the mobile device is today considered to be one of the main KPIs. Isn’t this crazy? Did anyone manage to successfully calculate the cannibalization rate of Mobile? Not really. The experience of playing mobile is and will always be a worse one.

Going tablet might be a good thing to do. But going mobile and, as some operators do, forcing their players to switch to mobile for getting more bonuses, is a utopia created by the buzz word within online gambling industry.

5. Indulging in inefficiency

Things happen in our industry quick as fuck. You have no time to waste on having long meetings and discussions. The decision making process must in many cases be a matter of some minutes or hours.  You will employ many tech and design people. These are special folks. Normally they don’t care about money. They care about being listened and how professional they are perceived by their colleagues. They want to feel smart and truly believe that they are smarter than you and anyone else in the company. Give them the opportunity to continue thinking like that. It will make things a lot easier for you. This should however not affect the productivity of your company. Hire a good CTO and Head of Design who are great at delegating your ideas. Don’t mix the business teams with the “besserwisser” departments. The risk is that you will get all your teams stuck in endless meetings. And when these meetings are over, your business team will not only feel stupid, but also will learn and appreciate counting the hours they are spending on their projects instead of working nights with no extra pay. Tech and design people will after those meetings continue thinking they are smartest in the world, but might also get an idea that they are underpaid.

Don’t get me wrong. Team work is a great concept that helps you as a company owner or executive suck out all the juices from your employees without needing to pay anything extra. Keep the team work concept advantageous to yourself at all stages. There are actually situations where the team work should be executed carefully. In one of my next blog posts I will write a bit more on the concept of team work and how you can earn on building the internal “communism” within the most liberal industry in the world.