Andrew Morgan, International Director at Independent Content Services, says that Eastern Europe has just as much potential as the USA but content and translation hold the key to unlocking it
The global online gambling industry has had its collective head very much turned by the legalisation of sports betting in the USA, with operators, suppliers and affiliates getting their elbows out in the fight to claim their slice of the pie.
However, there are huge opportunities in other markets all over the world, from Asia to Africa and in particular Eastern Europe. While some of the region remains grey, other markets such as the Czech Republic and Poland are regulated and licensed.
With momentum also building behind regulation and licensing in other countries, there is just as much potential on the table in Eastern Europe and countries such as Russia as there is in the USA and further afield.
That said, as more operators come to understand the opportunities available across the region, those already live or those just launching are going to have to up their game and deliver a superior player experience if they are to stand out from their rivals.
This, of course, is easier said than done, particularly for online sports betting operators where the main point of differentiation is often via the markets and odds offered to players. That aside, bonuses and loyalty schemes are also heavily used.
But as more operators and brands enter the fray, these methods have much less impact, so it is important to think outside the box and come up with new ways of acquiring and, more importantly, retaining punters in the long-run.
One way this can be achieved is to provide punters with content that a) draws them to your brand and then b) keeps them coming back for more. This can be done across written, audio and video content through a range of cost-effective solutions.
Let me explain by way of examples:
Sportsbook operators in established markets such as the UK have achieved high acquisition and retention rates by effectively transforming into sports media publishers while also remaining a sports betting provider.
By publishing news, interviews, match previews and reviews, data and stats on a daily basis, they have been able to acquire readers wishing to keep up to speed with the latest sports updates. This content is written in such a way that it also drives conversions.
While readers may not wager every time they visit the site to access content, when they are ready to bet, they are significantly more likely to do so with that brand. Written content also helps establish the operator as an authority and builds trust with readers and punters.
Audio content takes many forms, from score blasts to podcasts via live match commentary. The latter is particularly strong at driving player retention because it allows users to listen to matches live even if they are unable to attend in person or watch on TV.
The broadcasts can be accessed on mobile via the sportsbook site in web-browser or app and are launched as a radio player. The broadcast can also be used to drive betting activity by updating listeners about the latest odds and markets, accompanying in-play betting perfectly as the visual senses are not compromised.
Broadcasts can cover a huge range of sports from football to rugby via golf and more, and can be tailored to meet the preferences of players in individual markets.
Video content is becoming increasingly popular and online sportsbook operators can leverage this by posting their own match previews, live stream betting analysis, off-tube match commentary and more. This feeds into the second screening phenomenon and also drives engagement, particularly on social networks.
Just like with audio content, video can also be used to drive betting activity with updates about the changing odds, markets and any special offers that come in during the game.
Don’t forget to properly translate content, too:
Of course, it is not just important to create and publish high-value country-specific bespoke content but to also ensure that sites have been properly translated for the audience that will be accessing them. This is particularly important for operators from established markets moving into new Eastern European jurisdictions.
It is vital for operators to ensure that all aspects of their sites – from the homepage to bonus offers via terms and conditions – are accurately translated and localised. If not, they run the risk of losing trust among consumers.
Online gambling operators and brands that prioritise content and translation will find themselves in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the exciting Eastern European market and without having to overcome the huge barriers to entry found in the USA.
Andrew Morgan has been International Director and Senior Editor at ICS for eight years. He ran fanzines at university which operated in parallel with a number of betting companies before moving to ICS in 2010. He has a background in freelance journalism. ICS will be attending Russia Gaming Week in Moscow in June.
Key Trends in the Gambling Industry 2020
- Mobile gambling: new horizons
- The letter of the law: what about the legalization of the gambling business?
- The best of the best: gambling industry leaders
- What will change in payment systems?
- Blockchain and gambling
- Artificial intelligence: gambling getting smarter
- Final word
Gambling is an area that always will be popular. And we look at how rapidly online gambling develops itself, it becomes clear that this area not only feels great but gains new positions. Just look at the revenues in gambling: according to published data from H2 Gambling Capital, the global gambling industry revenue amounted to 45 billion euros for 2018. For comparison, in 2009 this amount reached 17 billion euros.
This means that the gambling industry is improving, following new trends and introducing technology. And in 2020, new trends in the gaming industry, which will raise it to a level higher, are coming.
Mobile gambling: new horizons
To begin with, 2020 promises to be a year of improvements in mobile gambling. Improving communication standards and developing ever newer mobile devices has already done its job. Now about 60% of users of gaming platforms use mobile devices.
Just a couple of years ago, the percentage of visitors using the phone was only 10%. And the mentioned H2 Gambling Capital predicts that already in 2023, half of the gross income of the gambling sector will be provided just due to mobile gambling. Developers even came up with a “mobile-first” trend when the mobile casino platform is primarily created, and only then the desktop one.
But these are not all the expected trends of mobile gambling. The developers also want to introduce VR technology and artificial intelligence. Of course, it won’t be easy. But such a step will transform the world of gambling drastically, making it even more convenient and atmospheric.
The letter of the law: what about the legalization of the gambling business?
A positive trend is observed from the side of the legislation. More and more countries are concluding that gambling should not be fought, but regulated. Firstly, it will be beneficial for the state, as another revenue item. Secondly, people will still play, so why not provide a more secure environment for this? So, what does this year bring for the gambling industry:
- The legalization of the gambling business in Ukraine is coming.
- Belarus has already legalized online casinos.
- Bookmakers of Russia have simplified the rules for identifying visitors.
At the same time, other countries have somewhat tightened the rules for gambling. For example, Armenia has limited online casino advertising, and the UK has made the rules for identifying players stricter.
The trend of legalization of the gambling sector means opportunities for business. It will not only grow but also become more secure and transparent.
The best of the best: gambling industry leaders
Many providers have already adopted the latest trends. Someone began to actively use blockchain technology, someone is working on the playability and design of their products, and someone uses an integrated approach. This has turned the usual competition of gambling developers into a real technological race.
The tops of the best gambling providers are updated almost every month. But some companies continue to keep the brand and others change their status. Thus, to maintain leadership positions, the providers need to keep up with the trends. Well-known mastodons of the gaming industry successfully cope with this task:
- Play’n Go
The secret of success lies in the application of the latest digital technologies, orientation to cryptocurrencies and competent marketing.
What will change in payment systems?
The market for payment systems is constantly on the move. And to remain out of competition, the technologies and trends are in priority. As a result, those systems that keep pace with the development of technology and customer requirements are in the lead. In turn, online casinos like Betboys and Queenofluck try to cooperate only with advanced payment systems. What is expected in the market of financial transaction systems:
- Enhanced security thanks to artificial intelligence.
- Voice payment management.
- More new mobile wallets.
- The growing demand for mPOS or mobile access points.
- The transition from cards to digital codes.
That is, every year smart payments are becoming more popular. Users are trying to find the fastest and safest transaction method that can also provide maximum anonymity.
Blockchain and gambling
Everyone knows about Bitcoin. But do everyone understand the importance of cryptocurrencies and everything that is about them? Don’t forget about such a thing as blockchain, as this year it will play a key role in the development of gambling.
Simply put, blockchain is a technology that includes records with timestamps and non-editable blocks managed by a network of computers. This means that the blockchain doesn’t have any central location, and cryptography is used to protect data. The popularity of the blockchain has increased markedly in the gambling sector. More and more casinos began to use blockchain technologies and accept cryptocurrencies. The pros of this technology are more than obvious:
- Data is recorded and stored in the registry and is not amenable to change.
- Blockchain is practically unbreakable. And even hacking attempts are almost doomed to failure.
- Transparency in operations, game processes and transactions is guaranteed.
Let’s add to this also complete anonymity for the player, the ability to check the honesty of the game due to the provable fair technology, meager commissions or even their absence. It becomes clear why blockchain will play a main role in the development of the gaming industry for a long time.
Artificial intelligence: gambling getting smarter
The introduction of two trends awaits online casinos and bookmakers: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Often these concepts are identified, although this is erroneous. AI involves performing tasks at the level of the human brain. And this happens due to the given algorithms. ML complements artificial intelligence, providing self-correction of the computer during the execution of tasks, as well as analysis and processing of the collected data.
What does this mean for online casinos and other gambling platforms:
- The introduction of chatbots can solve more complex problems with the player’s account.
- Improving and complicating the gameplay.
- Analysis of the activity of players on the sites and forecasts about their further actions.
- Enhanced control against scammers, bonus hunters and ludomania.
- Detailed analysis of the platform’s customer base.
- Adaptation to the individual characteristics of each client: a selection of offers, games and new products for a specific player.
So, the online casino will become smarter and will be able to reach a larger audience with an individual approach to each player. This will allow the income to increase and not to miss the slightest threat from fraudsters.
The gambling industry is associated with many with kinda a gold mine or an endless klondike. And this is not surprising: while economists are
preparing for the global crisis, the projected income of the gaming industry by 2024 is 94 (!) billion US dollars. This means that despite crises and other world upheavals, people always crave impressions and excitement.
Therefore, the gambling industry is not even going to slow down. On the contrary, this sector expects the introduction of new technologies. Thanks to which gambling will become smarter, and online casinos more functional. The main development trends for 2020 are:
- The introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- Application of blockchain technology.
- Focus on mobile gambling.
- Improving payment systems.
- Legalization and regulation of the gambling business.
The best online casinos will follow these trends and apply the latest technology. One thing is clear: 2020 promises amazing changes in the gaming sector. Players will have more opportunities, while the business will get guarantees and at the same time challenges. Gambling operators have to be on the alert and keep an eye on technology.
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