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From one-click gambling to waning enthusiasm for AI, NEXT.io curates insights from leading B2B executives to spotlight the latest trends transforming the industry and identify those that are losing momentum.

We’ll explore the driving forces behind these changes, from emerging technologies to shifting consumer preferences, and touch upon the current state of the iGaming B2B ecosystem.

Here’s what they have to say about pivotal market and industry trends:

The state of competition

The iGaming B2B sector is vibrant but increasingly crowded, EveryMatrix’s head of casino account management Irina Sazonova told NEXT.io in an interview.

“We do see many iGaming providers today offering similar products and services, and several smaller companies, including B2Cs, branching out into the space, too,” Sazonova said.

“In a way, the market is oversaturated, but new territories regularly emerge so there’s room to grow.

“These newly regulating markets provide more opportunities to service local players, while equally there are complex markets such as the US that take time to enter and often longer to penetrate.”

She believes that managing B2B operations effectively requires prioritising certain aspects.

“The sector,” she said, “is also splitting regionally”, with some companies focusing on the US and/or Europe, while others are turning to Asia or dotcom regions.

The next big market

Emerging markets are a big topic in the industry – not only for B2C firms but also for B2B providers. But when does a burgeoning market cease to be new?

For EvenBet CEO Dmitry Starostenkov, the US market is already losing its appeal.

Speaking at NEXT Summit Valletta ’24, he remarked that entering the regulated US market has become very challenging due to the high costs of player acquisition and the presence of well-established big companies.

Latin America, particularly Brazil, is now attracting significant attention.

“Everyone is going to Brazil now. I hear it from European operators, I hear it from Asian operators. They’re all seeking traffic from Brazil,” Starostenkov said.

Softswiss CEO Vitali Matsukevich echoed this sentiment, noting: “As a B2B provider, we are there. The regulations were just published, and we are okay with that.”

Dinos Stranomitis, director and COO of Altenar, offered a different perspective. “If you’re not already in Brazil, don’t go there. It’s probably too late,” he advised.

EveryMatrix’s Sazonova also highlighted Latin America as an emerging market.

Recognising its potential, Sazonova believes for B2B providers success will hinge on the ability to navigate complex regulatory requirements.

“The big question is, how complex are the regulatory requirements?” she said. “Is it a simple plug-and-play situation, or does the market have unique requirements that demand specific knowledge and additional resources to operate there?”

When asked about the potential of Africa as another emerging region, Sazonova emphasised that the continent presents unique challenges, particularly regarding internet speed.

“Africa is a very particular market,” she noted. “While there are significant bet volumes, a player’s single bet value is lower. You need to be prepared for the fact that the population cannot bet in the same amounts as players in the US or regulated European countries, like the Scandinavian countries.”

Sazonova highlighted the need for a tailored content strategy to meet these conditions. “The content you offer will need to adapt. You must be mindful of reaching the audience with something simple that does not require a lot of data to load due to internet speed, quality, as well as bet values.”

The need for speed

Not only in Africa, but globally, a slow-loading game can significantly impact an operator’s conversion rates, according to Christos Zoulianitis, director of market strategy at Playson.

“Loading time and spin time are really important,” he said. “If a game takes too long to load or the spins aren’t smooth, players will leave within 20 or 30 seconds.”

Zoulianitis also underscored the importance of robust server capacity, particularly in sizeable emerging markets like Brazil, to manage the surge in player traffic effectively.

He illustrated the potential consequences, suggesting that if a game crashed during play with a new operator in Brazil, it is unlikely that players would offer a second or third chance. “It’s an easy kill for a provider,” he said.

Demand for casual gaming

So, what does a game need to have to engage today’s players?

EvenBet CEO Starostenkov predicts a growing demand for casual gaming experiences.

“With the surge of prize games and sweepstakes models, consumers will expect quick, engaging experiences lasting three to five minutes — ideal for moments like waiting in queues or during appointments,” he explained.

Gaming providers, he stressed, must adapt by incorporating innovative game mechanics.

Starostenkov highlighted the significance of one-click gaming, inspired by the seamless experience offered by platforms like Netflix.

This approach, fuelled by data profiling and big data analysis, aims to match players with tailored games effortlessly.

Additionally, he underscored the importance of bite-sized gaming experiences, particularly in sports betting and poker, where gradual skill development is crucial. Creating accessible learning pathways for new players is imperative, he suggested.

Starostenkov also emphasised the value of shared player experiences, such as video chats and live communication during gameplay, akin to a “friends’ party” atmosphere — a trend particularly appealing to Gen Z and Millennials.

On the other hand, Sazonova emphasised gamification as an enduring industry trend, applicable across various markets.

“Gamification has become a vital aspect of player entertainment beyond mere gameplay,” she noted.

EveryMatrix focuses on providing gamification tools compatible across all vendors, aiming to keep audiences engaged with innovative concepts and features, regardless of their chosen platform.

Costs and complexity

Operators frequently highlight the escalating costs of their operations, implying that service providers should adjust their fees accordingly.

Sazonova, speaking to NEXT.io, acknowledged operators’ desire for deductions but stressed the need to balance pricing against resource expenses.

“In our industry, there’s a hidden complexity,” Sazonova explained. “From certifying games for various markets to managing the intricacies of different game types, finding a middle ground is key.”

“Quality content comes at a price,” she noted. “Ensuring reliability means investing in content quality, thorough testing, compliance checks, and ongoing support.”

Sazonova also highlighted fresh additional burdens on B2B providers, including licensing and local presence requirements in several regions.

No love for AI

Talking about B2B market trends and developments inevitably involves mentioning AI.

Softswiss CEO Matsukevich reflects on its status: “AI was hot 12 months ago, but it’s cooled off now.

“Let’s be realistic, the industry isn’t using AI a lot. Human brains are still essential for the job. So, it’s definitely not ‘hot’.”

He further explains: “Sure, there are examples like using AI for game design or image generation, but I’m sceptical about its effectiveness.”

Regarding the future of AI, Matsukevich admits: “AI can assist with tasks like customer support automation, but I’m not the best person to ask about its future. I don’t believe in it.”

Zoulianitis from Playson echoed similar sentiments, emphasising that AI still has a long way to go before truly leaving a mark on the sector.

“AI isn’t some divine, all-powerful computer system,” he explained.

“It requires time to mature. While there are developer tools and games being developed with AI, we haven’t seen any blockbusters yet.

“It’s simply not mature enough. We need time to teach AI how to develop games,” he concluded.  

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