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Exclusive interview with GAMING1: “Our online operations in Belgium have grown beyond all expectations”

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Exclusive interview with GAMING1: “Our online operations in Belgium have grown beyond all expectations”
Exclusive interview with GAMING1: “Our online operations in Belgium have grown beyond all expectations”Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Belgian omni-channel expert GAMING1 has proven itself as a worthy partner during the pandemic, especially when it comes to transitioning operators’ offline operations to online. We sat down with Sylvain Boniver, COO and co-founder to talk through GAMING1’s market outlook for Europe over the coming months – this one’s not to be missed!

GAMING1’s services were certainly in demand during 2020 as land-based operators sought to establish their presence online – can you give us a quick snapshot of what that’s looked like? 

The outbreak of Covid-19 has accelerated the transition online for most businesses, and that includes the gambling industry. For us, helping partners navigate the unprecedented circumstances caused by the pandemic was priority number one.

Lockdown restrictions forced land-based casinos to shut up shop, and even in countries where they’ve reopened, visitor numbers remain a long way off their pre-pandemic levels. The longer outlets wait to go digital, the greater the loss of their market share – it really is that simple.

Fortunately, our model is designed to help facilitate that shift, allowing players to continue using their favourite brand in an online format. We help retail and land-based partners digitise their operations – a service which, for many, is urgently necessitated by the current situation, and we’re here to deliver.

How has the last year changed the European landscape? Comparing to the way the market looked last January, how much would say has shifted in terms of growth and expectations?

The widespread closure of land-based establishments has underlined the imperative for operators to expand their digital activities. Our partners have enjoyed tremendous success when it comes to re-directing offline customers online, thereby curbing the financial impact of the pandemic.

Self-evidently, operators without an online outlet are struggling to succeed right now. Those who have a synergised land-based and digital offering, on the other hand, are much better equipped to weather the storm that is sweeping the global economy. For those in the former category, our company is ready and waiting to help deliver an omnichannel experience to their players.

Where has growth been particularly strong for GAMING1 on the continent? Where should our readers be looking at for potential expansion?

Our online operations in Belgium have grown beyond expectations. Of course, that can partially be attributed to the Covid-induced shift of all land-based activities to the online sphere. But it also reflects the sky-high quality of our digital products, and the operational efficiency of which we are so proud.

In addition, our status as a Portuguese market-leader remains undisputed, with valued local partners Estoril continuing to grow at an impressive rate. Our Iberian reach has also expanded in Spain, with 777.ES going from strength to strength by outperforming the competition – a pattern which we are confident will continue in the year to come.

Your home markets are very much across Belgium and France – do you see the current French approach to online gaming changing anytime soon?

There’s a world of difference between the two markets. Looking at regulation, in Belgium you must own a land-based casino to open a betting shop, and there is a €500 weekly deposit limit in place. Neither of those rules apply in the French market – and yet, France is still the more restrictive of the two.

French laws prohibit the existence of any private sector in the entire gambling industry, except for land-based casinos. Little wonder, then, that the country’s black market is the most significant in Europe. Regulation would not provide an overnight solution, such is the scale of the exposure of unregulated sites. It would, however, be a giant leap in the right direction – not just for France’s gambling industry, but for its players and economy too.

Looking to the year ahead, a lot’s been talked about in terms of engagement and retention, as well as acquisition of land-based players to the online world – what should operators be spending their money on to make that happen?

As a land-based operator, having the right partner by your side is paramount. That’s how to deliver a world-class digital product to players, and marketing your offering in the most effective way possible is paramount.

Beyond the cross-selling acquisition and retention tools that we’ve implemented, my strongest recommendation is to develop a 360o strategy that maximises the synergy between your different channels. Ensuring that staff genuinely buy into your vision is also critical – without them on board, even the best-planned projects won’t get very far.

Last but not least, can you give us a few insights for staying ahead this year? What’s going to be the GAMING1 approach for ensuring your partners can succeed?

We strengthened our senior management team over the course of 2020 with an impressive string of industry heavyweights. Our peerless 50-50 business model, in which we win or lose alongside our partners, continues to reap the rewards, and we’ve got an ambitious set of expansion plans in place. I’m very proud by our hard-earned reputation for excellence, and we’re all very excited for the decade ahead. This is especially the case for the growth of our existing operations in Europe and Colombia, as well as developing markets such as France and Holland. Safe to say, we’re in for another busy year!

George Miller (Gyorgy Molnar) started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Stats Perform co-founder launches social gaming disruptor PickGuru with £2.6m investment round back by leading angels including Paddy Power.

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PickGuru, a brand new social gaming platform, has secured £2.6m in seed funding in their quest to revolutionise the interaction between real-money wagering and live sport. The new platform will allow friends and fans to challenge each other in a wide variety of exciting sports prediction games.

With a concept built and refined by some of the most successful sports entrepreneurs in the UK, PickGuru will allow users to test their knowledge to win big cash pots for small stakes in nationwide leagues or compete with their friends in mini-leagues. Powered by seamless real-time data feeds, PickGuru leaderboards will update dynamically as games progress and reward successful sports gurus with cash prizes.

The funding round will be used to launch and scale PickGuru, set for early 2022.

PickGuru is headed by an experienced founding team including Oliver Slipper (co-founder of Stats Perform/DAZN), Paul Cobley (founder of Matulo Software), Paul Watkins (ex-FP&A director at Stats Perform/DAZN, ex-finance director at Sportquake), Jon Owen and Jon Youell (founders of Pitch International) and Adam Perrin (co-founder of Masomo Games, ex-brand director at Paddy Power).

What began as a competition amongst friends is now set to change the way fans interact with live sports forever. As told by PickGuru’s founders, the platform’s origins started as a manual spreadsheet-based tipping competition which was shared with friends and colleagues during the 2020 Masters tournament. After the game spread across the UK and became a viral sensation, the idea for a new and innovative platform to bring sports fanatics together was born.

PickGuru, is currently looking to fill 10 roles across development, compliance and marketing with a view to recruit a further 20 roles over the next 12 months.

Speaking about the latest fund raise, Oliver Slipper, chairman and co-founder of PickGuru, said: “I certainly didn’t expect things to take off less than a year after sending out a simple game to friends but the massive popularity of it convinced me that I was onto something.

“Following months of hard graft and huge investment, we’re proud to be building the first UK-focused platform that uniquely combines elements of fantasy sports, gaming and live action, and strongly believe users will love the result.”

He continued: “I’m delighted that some of the most successful sports entrepreneurs shared our vision and I thank them for backing our ambitious plans for the business.”

Following a £6m pre-money valuation, PickGuru brought together a list of angel investors including Paddy Power (ex-communications director, Paddy Power), Simon Wear (founder and chairman of Global Cycling Network), Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham (founders of recent unicorn, Marshmallow) and Will Neale (founder of Grabyo).

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PLANETPAY365 BECOMES AS ROMA NEWEST OFFICIAL PARTNER!

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AS Roma is pleased to announce a new partnership with PlanetPay365, the multi-service platform owned by Planet Entertainment, the SKS365 division for value added services.

The brand will support the club throughout the 2021-22 season, enabling all Giallorossi supporters to benefit from the wide range of products on offer.

As an Official Partner, PlanetPay365 will be supporting AS Roma at all Serie A and Coppa Italia matches scheduled to take place at the Stadio Olimpico – not only through visibility on the sidelines, but also through various initiatives that Giallorossi fans will be able to take advantage of, involving PlanetPay365’s retail network.

PlanetPay365 will also enjoy visibility on the club’s online channels thanks to digital campaigns developed in collaboration with the club, the two parties working together in order to offer the best of its services to Giallorossi fans, from phone top-ups to the purchase of gift cards and digital content.

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Antstream Arcade brings world’s largest library of retro games to the Epic Games Store

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Global leader in cloud gaming Antstream Arcade launches on the Epic Games Store today, bringing its library of over 1200 games to millions of gamers world-wide. Epic’s users will be able to play iconic video games from the arcade era and beyond, for free, through Antstream Arcade’s dedicated platform.

The first pure cloud gaming platform to be added to the Epic Games Store, Antstream boasts the largest library of games of any cloud gaming service, with iconic classics including Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat. Antstream Arcade provides the best way for players to enjoy a huge range of retro and casual games – from definitive classics to obscure curios – for free, with no downloads or microtransactions.

As part of a 7-day offer to welcome new users to the platform, players will receive a free gem pack worth $14.99, which can be used to enter the many tournaments hosted on Antstream Arcade, and unlock new “challenge modes” for some of the best games of the last 40 years. Antstream will also be offering players a discount on its premium ad-free subscription option in December, with further details to be announced soon.

Steve Cottam, CEO at Antstream Arcade, said: “We are on a mission to bring some of the greatest games ever created to a socially connected global community using the latest in streaming technology. Today’s launch in the Epic Store is a huge step towards achieving that goal. We’re very excited to welcome a brand new audience to the Antstream Arcade platform, and to push the boundaries of what is possible with cloud gaming by making it accessible to everyone. Players can enjoy any of the games on Antstream Arcade for free, on almost any device. With over a thousand titles available and more being added every week, we’re confident everyone will be able to find something they enjoy.”

Antstream Arcade’s library of streamable games includes titles licenced from Disney, Warner Brothers Taito, Atari and Bandai-Namco, as well as a huge range of smaller indie developers and IP owners from across gaming history. Antstream Arcade represents not only the best way for gamers to legally play the games of the past, but also one of the only ways to continually support a game’s original creators and rights holders. In addition to providing gaming rights holders with a revenue stream for the use of their content, Antstream delivers a wealth of gameplay data from players allowing game owners to better decide how to shape their franchises for future audiences.

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