After one of the gaming industry’s biggest acquisitions in recent years, GI sits down with Scientific Games’ Chief Executive, Digital, Matt Davey to discuss the new division he will be spearheading and how this new gaming conglomerate will strive to dominate the digital market
You have recently taken over as Group Chief Executive, Digital. How has your first month at the helm been?
It’s been an exciting journey so far. There is substantial potential for the new Digital division to drive the growth of the larger Scientific Games organisation.
Newly launched at ICE, SG Digital as a division is poised to lead the industry in online gaming and sports betting. Together, we are working collaboratively to enhance and fully capitalise on our complementary offerings to ensure we continue to support our customers’ business growth.
The acquisition of NYX was a landmark deal for the group. How will the combination affect both entities, both immediately and throughout 2018?
Starting now, the SGI B2B business and NYX have been combined to form a leader in digital gaming and sports: SG Digital.
Our customers will now benefit from the expansion of our product portfolio of real-money gaming platforms and content. Our library has expanded into a combined offering of player-favourite titles and an expansive library of amazing licensed
brands. Customers and players can expect to see more world-class content from our nine game studios.
The NYX OpenBet platform is also an impactful proposition for existing SG customers. Its leading technology has incredible potential as more jurisdictions begin to legalise.
SG can now leverage the NYX third-party programme that makes 2000+ games available to operators for their players on our reliable, award-winning gaming platforms.
Our employee base has increased to over 1,300, empowering large-scale innovation, product improvement, better customer service and new content development.
SG just launched its first games in Italy at the end of 2017. How did this come about, and do you think Italy will become an important market for the business?
Italy was a natural extension of SG’s existing real-money business. NYX entered Italy in 2016 with the acquisition of Game 360, one of our nine gaming studios. It is an important market for the combined group and we are committed strategically to deliver our newly expanded portfolio to the Italian operators.
The SG Digital strategy team constantly seeks out new markets that align with our product offerings and monitor the status of where they are in the regulation process. It’s important to be one of the first, most trusted providers in any new digital jurisdiction.
Every new geographic demographic for us is an opportunity to learn about how players differ between regions, thus enabling us to create engaging games for the wider population. Italy is a great example of a market that will drive revenue and provide feedback to enhance our products for players globally.
Speaking of new markets, Colombia has recently legalised online gaming – is this a jurisdiction you think will bring benefits for SG?
As with Italy, we view any newly regulated market as a potential opportunity. Colombia is particularly intriguing as the Latin American market represents a new market to learn player preferences and to expand SG Digital’s global reach
for our customers.
The popularity of social gaming has derived significant revenue for SGI; is this something you plan to build on in 2018?
Our SG Universe product suite, which includes the Play4Fun social casino, is a key pillar in our B2B product offering. The SGU suite brings our games to players whenever and wherever they please, and it is particularly popular in markets where real-money online gaming is not yet legalised.
The B2C social aspect of Scientific Games is now its own division, with SG Digital focusing on B2B interactive offerings. There will be a great deal of collaboration between digital and social, each contributing a wealth of knowledge to, contribute for our customers’ growth and player enjoyment.
How do you expect the world of sports betting to evolve over the next few years?
OpenBet is the leader and is well known for being one of the most stable and reliable sportsbook platforms in the industry. The market for sports-betting products is large, and we’re already a leader in the space. The sports-betting community is focused on the potential legalisation in the states, which would instantly expand opportunities and ignite innovation and growth within the existing sports product portfolio.
What do you think of the growing number of skill games now on the market? Will this form of gaming ever take off?
Skill-based gaming is an intriguing concept and will certainly become a subcategory in the gaming space. Overall, we see that digital distribution has surpassed the growth we’re seeing in comparison to distribution through land-based operations. Within the current spaces in which SG Digital operates, overall, there’s plenty of opportunity for skill-based games, and I expect that the skill game land-based and digital distribution channels will begin to merge going forward.
What do you think about the entry of traditional computer games companies, such as SEGA, into the market?
Traditional and console game creators have a distinct perspective on what makes a game fun to play. I’d be curious to see how their knowledge translates into the gambling industry. Companies like SEGA can jumpstart innovation on a massive scale.
As part of a longtime manufacturer in this space, SG Digital will continue to adapt to new player needs and view any new competitor as an opportunity to improve our portfolio.
Do you have any non-financial targets for the year?
Strategically speaking, the internal focus is a fully functional and integrated SG Digital team by the end of 2018. We look forward to leveraging the combined skill of these two companies to enhance and expand our product portfolio for our customers as SG Digital.