NEXT.io caught up with the company’s CEO, Dmitry Starostenkov, to look more closely at the trends impacting the sector as told by iGaming professionals through this independent research.
NEXT: Hi, Dmitry. Let’s start with the report itself – what were your hopes and intentions in carrying out this research?
DS: I felt it was prime time for a comprehensive, data-driven perspective on the core trends, regional distinctions, and strategic priorities shaping the global iGaming ecosystem.
While ample analysis exists on particular niches, an overview from industry leaders was lacking. We saw an opportunity to deliver immense value to stakeholders by aggregating real-world insights in one place.
Our vision was to conduct broad, in-depth primary research across events worldwide to produce an authentic pulse check. The e-book provides an accurate lens into the industry’s evolution straight from the source.
By compiling this goldmine of perspectives spanning regions and verticals, we empower firms to benchmark strategies and identify blind spots.
NEXT: One of the many interesting findings to emerge from this e-book is the regional differences between Asia and Europe. Why do you think these differences exist?
DS: I believe these regional splits likely come down to a few key factors. Asia represents a huge potential growth market for iGaming, with countries like the Philippines poised to open up further.
Asian companies are hyper-focused on their local markets, so they aim to attract customers through superior technology and targeted marketing.
In contrast, Europe consists of more mature markets. Companies there need to get creative with emerging capabilities like AI to gain an edge. Many European providers are looking beyond saturated home markets, turning their strategic sights towards Asia for untapped opportunities.
The regional splits make sense given the dynamics of each market. Asia is earlier in the adoption curve, so tech and marketing for acquisition reign supreme. Europe’s growth relies more on operational efficiency via AI and geographic expansion.
It will be interesting to see if these focuses shift as the market matures in Asia and new frontiers open up for Europe.
NEXT: The report states a lack of regulation clarity poses challenges in less regulated markets. What specific issues arise from this ambiguity, and how can companies mitigate risk?
DS: From an operator’s perspective, the lack of regulatory clarity in emerging markets certainly poses some unique challenges that require careful navigation.
In India, for example, their iGaming market has grown by a staggering 500% since 2018, with an active demographic of over 300 million card players and 40 million poker players. However, the changes to the country’s GST regulations posed an enormous threat to every iGaming company operating in the market.
There were instances of wide-spanning staff layoffs, with up to 50% of companies’ workforces being dismissed, the development of several projects was halted and local industry events were largely cancelled. The industry is trying to fight back against these drastic changes, but I believe it’s in vain.
When regulations are ambiguous or absent, it leads to uncertainty around the legal frameworks and compliance standards we must adhere to. Despite the risks, there are steps companies can take to mitigate uncertainty.Adopting global best practices around compliance helps avoid problems down the road. Starting with small investments or partnerships with established local operators can test the waters.
NEXT: 7% of respondents predict a crypto resurgence in response to regulation. How key will crypto innovation be for the industry?
DS: While only 7% of respondents specifically predicted a crypto resurgence due to regulation in 2024, I do see the growth potential for appropriate crypto integration in the gaming ecosystem.
Cryptocurrencies can provide benefits like faster payouts, increased transparency, and access to a broader player base beyond traditional fiat currency markets.
However, regulatory uncertainty persists, especially as governments catch up to provide guardrails for crypto gambling. We have to be thoughtful about compliance in regulated jurisdictions.
While we won’t compromise on compliance, we are keeping a close eye on crypto advances to assess where prudent applications could provide an advantage. Crypto won’t overhaul the industry overnight, but may open rewarding niches.
NEXT: Social media topped the list of the most important marketing channels. How should companies balance investment between social and other channels, such as events and SEO?
DS: As the report indicates, social media has become an indispensable marketing channel for iGaming companies given restrictions around traditional advertising and the global reach of platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
LinkedIn has grown hugely in terms of brand visibility, too – it’s a fantastic platform to network with peers in the industry, as well as giving CEOs the chance to share updates, both personally and professionally.
However, while social should be a core pillar of any operator’s strategy, diversification is still key for effective player acquisition and brand building.
At EvenBet Gaming, we employ a balanced omni-channel approach, leveraging the unique advantages of social, events, SEO, PR and other avenues. The right mix depends on the business as well as the target markets.
NEXT: Finally, if you could give one key piece of strategic advice to iGaming companies for 2024 based on this report, what would it be?
DS: Based on the insightful findings from our extensive industry research, my top strategic advice to iGaming companies for 2024 is simply to stay nimble.
The sheer pace of change, whether from regulation, technology disruption, competitive forces, or customer evolution means firms must build agility into their DNA to thrive.
While solidifying core capabilities, companies should avoid rigid plans or structures. They will need fluid processes and empowered talent to respond decisively to both challenges and chances.
Providers will also need to skilfully balance resources between established markets and expanding into new high-potential regions.
Above all, taking a sophisticated, analytical approach is key – this report provides the valuable intelligence needed to make smart bets.
Combined with agility, research-backed insight gives an essential edge. The future will likely hold both turbulence and openings, so remaining dynamic and informed is the best preparation to ride the waves ahead and pursue progress.
Dmitry has been leading EvenBet Gaming since 2001, growing it into a world-renowned online poker software brand with a team of more than 150 developers. He has over 15 years of expertise in the online poker market and appears frequently as an expert in industry conferences, summits, and media.