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IN-DEPTH 17 July 2017
GAMING1 CEO Sylvain Boniver: "Any regulating territory is a target for us"
Sylvain Boniver speaks to Gambling Insider about GAMING1’s approach to platform provision and plans for expansion into new markets
By Tom Lewis

Please give us a summary of your history in gaming to this point. Why did you choose the gaming industry as where you wanted to position your career?

I entered the betting and gaming industry back in 2011 when I helped to co-found GAMING1, and have been CEO of the company ever since. It’s certainly an exciting sector to be involved with, and during my time in the industry GAMING1 has grown to become one of the leading platform providers.

I’m extremely passionate about the work that we do at GAMING1. We have developed great working relationships with customers, as rather than being a standard provider for them, we see ourselves as more of a partner.

GAMING1’s mission statement is “more than a provider, a partner”. How is this reflected in your approach to platform provision?

At GAMING1, we specialise in the convergence of land-based casino operators in regulated markets around the world who are ready to take their business to the next level by moving online. Moving your business to the internet for the first time can be a daunting prospect for some, particularly as the online world leaves very little room for error.

We have a highly flexible platform which allows us to customise options for our partners to suit the demands of the players in a certain market, as well as meeting regulatory requirements. We can integrate quickly and efficiently which gives our partners peace of mind.

By forming a partnership with land-based firms we believe a joint-venture company is the best approach where we can share the investment, risks and profits. These joint-venture deals are a win-win situation, as they require the full involvement of both parties and bring both companies closer together to achieve the same goal.

What are your targets for the remainder of the year?

The previous 12 months has been an eventful period for GAMING1. We helped to launch Portugal’s first ever licensed online casino through a joint-venture with land-based group Estoril Sol. We also partnered with Spain’s biggest land-based company, the Orenes Group, to launch its first online site.

The coming months will see us work hard with a number of new partners to help make the transition from the land-based market to the online space for the first time, following the launch of several new regulated markets including Colombia, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

GAMING1 places emphasis on building synergy between online and offline. Can you expand on the importance of this, and how you go about implementing this kind of optimisation?

For us, it’s important to make sure everything that is great about a land-based firm’s operations is replicated when launching a new online site. Players who are already familiar with the outstanding gaming experience they receive on the casino floor will want the same online. Customers who are unimpressed with your offering can quickly switch to a rival site, which isn’t always the case when your next land-based casino could be many kilometres away.

Technology plays a key role in making sure our offering is both flexible and scalable, while also providing a seamless integration to provide partners with peace of mind.

We offer very specific features such as instant deposit and withdrawal in premises, which provides a huge competitive advantage to the land-based operator versus the pure online player, shared loyalty program and CRM between online and offline.

Are there any particular geographic markets that you are currently targeting? How do you adapt to local markets and deal with regulatory requirements?

The Latin American market is very interesting for us at this moment in time, with many regions looking to legalise online gambling. Colombia is setting the benchmark by introducing a robust framework similar to those seen in the European market. Our platform and games are certified and we’re about to launch the first casino and sports betting website in Colombia in a couple of weeks in partnership with VICCA, a leading land-based casino group.

Elsewhere, there’s a lot of movement in Europe to regulate new territories such as The Netherlands where we have a partnership, and Switzerland where we’ve just launched a social casino in partnership with Gran Casino Baden in prevision of the future regulation.

As a pure regulated market player, any regulating territory is a target for us.

How does GAMING1 look to differentiate itself from the many other platform providers which currently operate in the market?

You’re quite right, there are a large number of platform providers in the industry right now. It’s great news for operators, who can pick and choose the best one which will work best for their business model. The platform providers which are flexible and can meet the demands of regulation in multiple jurisdictions will prosper.

At GAMING1, we believe our passion for partnering with land-based operators and helping them make the transition to the online space is what helps us stand out from the crowd. It’s in our DNA, we have the expertise to help those firms make the first steps into a new sector.
IN-DEPTH 4 September 2019
Virtual reality: Creating next-gen experiences for players

Singular CEO George Shamugia discusses a new revenue stream for casino operators

The competition in online gaming is intensifying, with players becoming more and more demanding. In some markets, single-customer acquisition costs can reach up to €400 ($440) alongside growing churn rates. Furthermore, the online gaming sector struggles to attract one of the most lucrative groups of players – millennials. The experience provided by casinos no longer appeals to the younger generation.

On  the other hand, the video gaming industry perfectly understands the needs of millennials and by introducing elements of luck in their games offers the best of both worlds. With the launch of loot box systems and Grand Theft Auto’s in-game casino, we have seen their first successful steps in targeting the online gaming sector. GTA V online, with 33 million active players, recently opened an in-game casino, where players gamble real money on games such as poker, roulette, slots, etc. As a result, churn users returned and GTA Online reached the highest number of active players since its launch in 2013.

The online gaming industry has almost fully utilised the potential of the mobile medium. The time has come to look for new, innovative ways of delivering a next-gen experience to customers.

The potential of VR

Could the next big thing for online gaming be a fully fledged virtual reality (VR) casino delivering an immersive experience and limitless new opportunities?

Although not widely adopted yet, VR has a sizable number of customers. Analysts predict it’s poised for explosive growth to become mainstream in about five years. According to market intelligence firms, the VR market will be worth $117bn by 2022, and according to Juniper Research bets made through VR will reach $520 billion by 2021. Upcoming 5G mobile network technology will propel VR’s mass adoption by allowing the development of fully portable untethered and affordable VR headsets.

Different level of social interaction

The captivating nature of gambling comes from its social aspect. Unfortunately, personal interaction is widely missing from online gambling sites. VR technology creates multiple opportunities to bring back and even enhance that social moment. The ability to connect with other players is one of the main reasons behind Fortnite’s popularity. This form of co-experience is the next generation of entertainment. Research conducted by Facebook has found participants spend more time on VR compared to any other medium. This directly translates into increased profits for casinos.

Pokerstars has made efforts in this direction by implementing Voice UI. Instead of using hand controllers to make a call, pass, or raise, players give voice commands.

Another opportunity for bringing in the social element are the players’ avatars. They enable players to build their identity reflected in the avatars’ appearance, but also the avatar's social, competitive and community status. For instance, players are willing to pay real money for virtual drinks at the bar. Operators can offer these social touchpoints for free to VIP customers as an act of appreciation.

VR also brings a new dimension to customer support. Customer support can also be represented with avatars to assist the player in person. The social moment increases the LTV of players and contributes towards lower churn rates.

Rethinking game design

VR is a way more capable medium than a 2D mobile or desktop screen. Instead of copying the existing online experience, games must be redesigned from the ground up for a competitive advantage with VR. For example, a VR slot game can become fully immersive by teleporting the user into the slots’ world of Ancient Egypt. Next, enrich the experience with high-fidelity graphics, realistic spatial sounds and animations. When betting on virtual race cars, the user can be teleported inside the car he/she made a bet on and experience the race firsthand.

New revenue streams

VR casino lobbies create new revenue stream opportunities: ad placement of brands on the venue walls, company logos decorating the bar etc. This kind of branding is not intrusive in the VR space and feels natural from the user's perspective. VR also gives users the ability to change venues from a Las Vegas casino today, to Macau or even Mars casino, the very next day. The dynamic and diverse experience increases retention rates.

The majority of profits for online gaming operators come from their high-roller players. Although they represent a small subset of active players, an operator can launch a separate VR casino brand for them. Providing exclusive VR gaming experiences to high rollers/VIPs, the operator can minimise churn and maximise VR efforts for these player demographics.

The catch with VR is to focus on quality, rather than scale. The target audience might be limited yet, once these players experience it, they will become ambassadors for your offering.

Surely, the opportunities and possibilities offered by the VR medium truly exceed anything offered by mobile and desktop. VR is a new frontier not just for gaming but for every industry, and it’s exciting to see where it takes the industry and what kind of innovation it brings upon us.