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IN-DEPTH 30 July 2018
GiG's sportsbook platform seeks to give operators more freedom
The Fifa World Cup is truly a worldwide phenomenon for all spectators. When the thrill of football’s biggest international competition returns to our screens every four years, it is often a great chance for not only fans to sit and enjoy, but for bookmakers to use new tools designed for sports-betting purposes.
By Islam Soliman

This year, sports-betting supplier Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) launched a new sportsbook that gives operators the freedom to choose their odds for every sporting event and market.

Now that the World Cup has come to an end, Gambling Insider had a chance to speak to Endre Nesset, Director of GiG’s sports betting services, about why this year’s World Cup was so important and how the company plans to use its new sportsbook product to stay ahead of the curve.

World Cup
How did your new sportsbook perform during the World Cup? How much revenue did this generate and how does that compare to what you predict will happen in the coming months?

The World Cup is a time when traffic and online activity increases across the industry. We’ve seen quite a lot of upsets and surprises in this tournament, which is normally very positive for the margins for all bookmakers. We’ve seen the largest number of unique players going online during this period as football is the most engaging sector in sports betting. We cannot comment on revenues specifically and we don’t yet offer the new sportsbook to any external operators, but the new sportsbook we launched with our internal brand Rizk just before the start of the World Cup has performed to our expectations.

How do you plan to market your sportsbook for upcoming sporting events?

The next big thing will be the start of the European football leagues. A benchmark event will be the start of the English Premier League in mid-August, as it’s the biggest league in the world. We're excited to be offering the end users our new state-of-the-art sportsbook for these events and the sportsbook service will also be sold to external operators, available from August.

Competition
What was the reason for introducing a new sportsbook into such a highly competitive market?

It is a competitive market, but the whole sportsbook market is based on just a few providers. We think there’s room for improvements in the market. There is also room for innovation with a scalable product that can really drive revenues for the operators and offer an exciting and relevant user experience for the players. Our sportsbook is a B2B product and we have focused on the opportunity for the operators to have the freedom they want and they deserve in order to tailor their offerings to suit their individual needs. We don’t want to tie anyone’s hands, and we want to give the operators the opportunity to differentiate themselves and personalise their offering.

How does GiG Goal, your middleware and front-end service,enhance mobile users experience?

It’s not even ‘mobile first’ anymore; it’s just ‘mobile’. We regularly see up to 70% usage on mobile and that makes sense. Technology is getting better all the time and availability of network coverage is better. You could be on top of a mountain and still be able to place a bet. With Rizk.com, we essentially created a mobile site, so the platform is centred around the mobile offering. It’s all about having the possibilities to build your own front-end and push mobile usage.

Why would you recommend your sportsbook platform to both sports betting and casino operators ahead of other sportsbook platforms?

It’s all about innovation and making everything possible. Our sportsbook gives the operators all the opportunities to offer a betting experience unique to its players and its brand and they can then focus on marketing and retention.

Can you explain in more detail how the GiG Sports Connect module provides operators with the freedom to choose odds for any event and market?

GiG Sports Connect is an odds aggregator too, so we can integrate multiple odds feeds and then we map them together through our system. Then we have a set up where the operator can subscribe all the way down to market level to whichever feed it would like to use. We’re currently working with a third-party provider and launched our own outright feed for the World Cup. It’s all about flexibility.

What makes GiG’s trading tool more responsive than other offerings?

Firstly, it’s built from scratch. GiG’s sports-betting service is built from the first line of code upwards, which is very rare these days. We used all the in-house knowledge that we have. The traders have played a major part in describing and designing the new trading tools, so they get it exactly how they want it. We have some really neat solutions which will significantly improve the user experience for the traders and will effectively result in a better all-round performance. Obviously, it’s also more responsive because it’s built on newer, quicker technology.

Future plans
Your website says you are planning to release a range of games for customers and operators in Q3 2018. What games or services can your customers and clients look forward to in the coming months?

GiG Games is our proprietary casino games studio. We have developed a games engine and a remote gaming server, which allows us to rapidly produce innovative casino games such as table games and slots. These games will be distributed and sold using the RGS to any operator in the industry. There are currently a few games under development, with launch starting before the end of Q3 until the end of the year.

What trends will affect your relationship with your customers and clients in the future?

Mobile first is already beyond a trend - it’s now just best practice that GiG follows with sites like Rizk.com, which are reverse responsive - built for mobile, but responsive to desktop mode. There will also be more and more emphasis on compliance and responsible gaming in the market in general, together with the worldwide trend of re-regulation. GiG has put compliance at the heart of the business and it’s a cornerstone of our strategy. We are investing in offering a compliant service where we work closely together with our partners to help and support our customers and their end users.

What are you doing to make sure that you maintain a strong relationship with your clients?

For the sportsbook, they will get full flexibility and as an operator, you can’t really ask for more than that. This level of flexibility is something that isn’t yet an industry standard, but GiG hopes to lead the way in this respect, so operators will have the opportunity to go whichever direction they want with their sportsbook offerings, and smaller operators won’t have to follow what the larger guys do. Everyone can approach this with their own preferences in mind.

How do you plan to improve your overall position in the market?

We just launched our new sportsbook, so we’re confident we are already ahead of the curve, but of course there are always things we can improve, and we’ll be adding functionality both to the trading tools and to the frontend as we learn from the results following the World Cup. Again, it’s all about flexibility and level of differentiation to create an outstanding user experience. These are the key pillars of what GiG’s sports-betting service has been built on.

Find out more about GiG's sports-betting services: www.gig.com
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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.

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