Before the advent of digital, gambling’s age old history has been predominantly dominated by land-based gaming operations.
Telephone betting in the mid-20th century was the first real innovation to have effected gambling, increasing bet volumes and automating betting processes and providing value to both business and consumer.
What’s more is that this could all be done from the comfort of customer’s homes.
The 21st century on the other hand has seen the rapid digitization of gambling on an unprecedented scale. Largely enabled by mobile, online gambling has grown at an unimaginable pace. Today it constitutes a multi-billion dollar industry.
Johan Styren, CEO of LeoVegas talks us through the changes.
HT: Why do you think there has been such a rapid digitization of gambling?
Advancements in technology has brought about a rapid digitization of gambling and virtually every other industry. Some have managed to exploit these developments more than others and I think that the gambling industry is at the forefront of how well technology can be applied to a domain.
Technology has come a long way since a decade ago. Back then the features available on mobile devices were a far cry from what we take for granted today. Nowadays it’s almost customary to have at least a couple of mobile devices – a smartphone and a tablet – which we interchangeably use for work, private and leisure.
Parallel to this, mobile data usage costs and device prices dropped to the point that nowadays there are more than 2 billion smartphone users in the world.
The gambling industry was quick to utilize this new reality and realize that gambling was now opening up to a new audience who were looking for entertainment while at home or on the move.
Mobile users were already getting used to playing games on their mobile devices and in that sense, when the industry started offering their games on mobile, it started competing with other forms of games and entertainment apps.
HT: What will the continued digitization look like?
I expect that further reduction in mobile related costs and the expansion into developing markets will see an upsurge in the amount of people using smart mobile devices. This, in combination with technological advancements, will mean that the definition of ‘mobile’ will broaden to encompass more devices and not be limited to smartphones and tablets.
In this regards I am following with interest how wearables, such as watches, glasses, and bracelets, are developing and adding innovation to the market. I’m also very interested in seeing how certain technologies, such as less power-hungry mobile chips, flawless speech recognition, and augmented reality will change the market.
As an industry we must be open to change and pro-actively look at how we can exploit such technologies to provide a better and more entertaining experience to our customers. For example, the progress in Touch ID has enabled us to allow LeoVegas iPhone app customers to log in to the casino using only their fingerprint.
HT: How are gambling companies optimizing their content for mobile?
Surprisingly, the industry is still lagging behind when it comes to mobile optimization. Whilst conducting competition analysis, I still get the feeling that I’m looking at squeezed desktop sites rather than proper mobile sites. A lot of companies still have to get right their provisioning of a more straightforward mobile solution that offers a quick signup, fast deposit and a straight into the game approach.
HT: How are gambling companies maximizing the reach of their digital communications with customers?
The way we communicate with one another has drastically changed and this should be reflected in how companies reach out to their customers. Mobile has introduced a whole new suite of communication tools and methods such as SMS and in-app messaging. We now have direct access to our customers through their mobile devices and the chances that they read our message has significantly increased.
More recently, smart watches have added a whole new dimension to communications as we’re realizing that people are now reading their messages straight away, even when for one reason or another they do not want to use their mobile phones. These new forms of communications offer huge opportunities and companies still have a lot to learn in using these tools.
HT: What are the key industry trends for 2016 that we should look out for?
As mentioned previously, I think that all the buzz around wearables will finally lead to some good content and supporting functions. Moreover, given the present operating landscape I think that the two top industry trends for 2016 will be data and personalization. Both of these will be driven by customer preferences and will see the advent of a new approach for customer interactions.
To different extents, the industry is already using data amassed to its advantage but I believe that there’s still room for improvement. We also know that more than ever, customers are seeking services that are personalized around them. Therefore, with a better understanding and application of data I believe that we should be able to truly provide our customers with unique, custom experiences.