International operators are doing a poor job of understanding region markets says Daniel Graetzer Director and Deputy CEO of Mediatech Solutions
It feels like the gaming conference circuit is becoming more demanding by the year. Long gone are the days when a yearly visit to London, Amsterdam and perhaps Macau sufficed. Nowadays there is an important summit taking place somewhere in the world on practically a weekly basis.
Over the past few months and weeks I’ve travelled on behalf of Mediatech Solutions to a number of diverse emerging markets, including Panama, Romania, Philippines, Peru, Nigeria and most recently Kenya. What I am seeing is a breadth of opportunity which is unprecedented in our industry’s history, but one which is, I’m afraid to say, being poorly addressed by most major European and North American providers.
Think globally, act locally
Something I’m starting to see in many of these regional markets, particularly those in Africa and South America, is an ever increasing demand for local investment from suppliers. This goes against much of the traditional thinking of providers who are used to supplying a one-size-fits-all turnkey solution to operators, in the expectation that these markets will eventually fall into line with the most "advanced" European jurisdictions. This is a fatally flawed way of thinking, and any provider pursuing it is unlikely to find success. While the major European markets may be bigger and more established, this does not mean the competitive environments across Africa and LatAm can be disregarded. There is still intense competition and labyrinthine regulation to negotiate before this market potential can be realised.
It seems strange to me that while personalisation and customisation are industry-favourite buzzwords at the moment in Europe, few seem to understand their importance in other markets. The uncertainty surrounding many emerging jurisdictions, particularly those in the process of passing new legislation, has made the local approach more important than ever.
Things can change in these markets remarkable quickly. Take the example of Nigeria, where new regulation has led to evolving player preferences. Verticals including lottery, sports betting and virtual sports are now challenging the traditional retail pool-betting which used to dominate.
To make the most of these opportunities providers must be ready to plug into local business networks. Sure, your platform might offer 30 different payment solutions, but if you want to make an impact in Kenya, that number better include M-Pesa.
Those which do ultimately succeed will be those who offer the flexibility required to operate in new markets which look very different to what most in our industry are used to.
Once again, the days of the turnkey solution have long past. We now have unprecedented access to reporting and data analytics tools, and these need to be used to full effect to gain an in-depth understanding of new markets. Once we better understand the markets and the players, products need to be tailored to meet these new demands.
In the face of often restrictive legislation, the temptation has been to water down core products and hope for the best. But we are seeing swathes of new, locally-focused content emerging from a number of developers. This needs to be integrated intelligently so it reaches the right audiences, and this can only be achieved with both a flexible platform and a flexible mentality.
The same applies to the omnichannel side, which is a big focus for Mediatech. Many of the markets currently passing online gaming legislation already have a strong land-based heritage. It will be those who can best forge partnerships in the omnichannel space with these existing land-based operators who enjoy most success, so platforms need to be able to adapt to the challenge.
But more than anything, to succeed will require an entirely new way of thinking. Markets like Kenya are not simply places where existing products, ideas and strategies which have worked in Spain or the UK can be rolled out. Certainly those of us who are established in major European markets are well placed to capitalise on these new opportunities, but first it is critical to understand that the path to global success begins with a local approach.
Daniel Graetzer is the executive director and deputy CEO of Mediatech Solutions, where he is responsible for overseeing the company's global strategy as part of an executive management team. He joined Mediatech in 2013 as the firm’s chief strategy and product officer and previously served as a director of MCM Entertainment Group