Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

London: ICE Totally Gaming 2018 Re-cap

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

ICE Totally Gaming likes to style itself asthe only B2B gaming event that truly brings together the international online and offline gaming sectors”, here is some future thinking about the sector fresh from last week’s annual event.

  • The biggest event headline was a pointed article in The Guardian questioning the industry’s evolution in a #MeToo world (overt sexualisation of products). For a sector, whose branding has heavily relied on testosterone-fueled excitement, it is an awkward question with few, if any, obvious answers. When for example, over 50% of Las Vegas revenues arise from non-gaming tourism and events, “what happens in Vegas may no longer stay in Vegas” might need to be the new logo, at least in the corporate events market.
  • Caesar’s Entertainment, arguably the must public US corporate casualty in the 2007/8 financial crisis, is back on the front foot. After 10 difficult years, the Mark Frissora-led business has a spring in its’ step. The ex Hertz and GE executive is exuding confidence, exploring multiple partnerships and projects. Often in ways the Caesar’s brand has never successfully been positioned in adjacent markets internationally.
  • Italy remains a gaming paradox. Wrapped in regulation and taxation issues like many US markets, operators and investors can see ripe apples hanging on the trees but their attempts to grab them are constantly frustrated.
  • US sports betting and the US Supreme Court judgement. Everyone is gearing up to get in on the act, not least the US tribes, who with smaller, more entrepreneurial business models may be ideally-placed to bring the most innovative ideas.
  • UK sports betting is approaching a huge fork in the road, ahead of the Government’s ruling on fixed odds betting terminals or “pokies” to my Australian friends.  Stick with limits of four machines per betting shop and a £100 stake per play, a ferocious political and media wind (Daily Mail front page hardship stories. Restrict stakes to £2 per play (prevalence of social welfare issues), see sports betting “majors” (Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill) and others dependent on their largesse (UK horse racing, UK government tax take) face a seismic change to their business models (30% reduction in gross gaming revenues, closures of 30-40% of their betting shops, 1000 of redundancies). Should we care? That depends on your view as to who is responsible for an individual’s actions. My personal opinion is that I am firmly against any form of gambling where there is not a fair and equitable chance of the punter winning long-term. If you applied my principle, we’d be closing down swathes of automated gaming machines, online card/roulette games and pools betting in casinos, bookies and so forth, where the “house” has a huge advantage (size of take out). We’d have more revenues directed to “equitable gaming and betting”.
  • 2018 is arguably the most profound and volatile year for gaming and betting’s adaption to changing societal mores, regulation and tax.  Yet for the smartest investors and regulators, this might well be the greatest year of opportunity (upturn in incumbents business models and branding, new markets, new value propositions, new ways to attract and retain customers, new ways to adapt to regulation and tax risks).

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Global Gaming and Lotteries To Twist

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Here is a few reflections from the largest global casino, lottery, mobile and social gaming event, ICE Totally Gaming 2015, held in London this week:

  • With regulation on a par to the nuclear and energy sectors, can investors really be sure that the valuations for most gaming businesses today have adequately priced changes in regulatory risk?
  • Industry faces unparalleled level of intrusion. In the next 5 years a prominent gaming or lottery business will be a target of cyber terrorism from those whose values conflict with gaming and lottery operators.
  • When the overt marketing message is pushing girls in skimpy outfits with bad fake tans rather like a tired 197os porn film, does it really create a seductive rapport to your brand and its’ products and services or signal that your business has runs out of new ideas and excitement?
  • The sector doesn’t lack for people with abundant enthusiasm but it does lack abundant leadership prowess. Crossing that divide arguably biggest challenge.
  • When the immersive mobile and social gaming experience is so life-like why get on a plane or train to travel to Las Vegas or a London casino with the added cost of rooms, food and beverage and transport?
  • The future of gaming and lotteries is either (1)  a fully immersive gaming offering or (2) fully immersive gamification
  • Expect a significant rise in strategic collaboration, particularly additional services added to the lottery’s offerings
  • “Live” gaming experiences (casinos, sports betting, and so on) will close in even bigger numbers this year, when the consumer can find more excitement and value at home or in other pursuits.
  • The failure of major casino, sports betting and lottery operators to embrace innovation within their business will preface exponential growth in reactive/defensive investment in early-stage growth business this year.
  • Technology vendors in the sector face an increasing gulf between the “have’s” (knowledge, capital and scale) and the “have nots” predicating increased merger and acquisition activity in 2015. (IGT-GTech, Amaya and Scientific Games just the start).
  • Government agencies that are tethered to outdated legislation (Canada, US, Europe) are accelerating the irrelevance of regulated gaming and lottery products as the market diverges with changing customer preferences, demographics and so on. Expect greater friction and legal disputes in the next 12 months.
  • With few barriers to entry, the sector doesn’t lack for entrepreneurs wanting to create and build businesses but how many really “cash out” with a meaningful cheque? Expert a rise in incubators, accelerators and corporate venturing in the next 12-24 months.
  • While ICE like G2E has positioned itself as a “go to” trade show event, the learning opportunities (seminars and conferences) and the value derived from them are still no greater than 4/10. Organisers, sponsors and participants have a lot of work to do to attract a more impressive crowd. Expect the smarter exhibitors to fill this thought leadership “gap” in the next 12-24 months.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.