In light of SBC Digital Italy 2021, which is only 2 days away, our COO George Fotopoulos talked with SBC News about the emerging challenges along with opportunities that arise in the Italian betting landscape.
What are you looking forward to at SBC Digital Italy 2021?
Getting together with other industry experts is an absolute pleasure and a great opportunity to get the business moving again in a Covid world.
Our sector has to face multiple challenges, from pandemic-related issues to regulations reforms and increased taxation revisions. The same applies to the Italian betting market, which is among the most advanced and mature in Europe. That is why the time couldn’t be more proper for SBC Digital Italy 2021 to unfold.
Vermantia has a dynamic presence in the Italian market that goes from strength-to-strength and we simply cannot miss this industry event. I am really looking forward to diving into all these urgent matters with other fellow participants, and seeing how we can rise to the opportunities presented by online gambling, shifted player behaviors and retail recovery in general. By touching base, we can draw potential lessons of what has worked well in the past and plan our next steps to achieve optimal players’ experiences in this ever-evolving landscape.
What are your predictions for the gaming industry in 2021?
2020 was a year full of challenges. With the global lockdowns and the lack of real-life sporting events for players to bet on for a quite long period, operators had to quickly adapt and close the gap between players’ expectations and available betting options. But there were a few eye-widening potentials along the way for the international betting arena and of course Italy. Moving on from traditional sports to virtuals and next-gen hybrid games as well as with live horse racing, the industry managed to minimize the losses. And all these types of betting emerged as strong trends and as data suggests, they are here to stay.
I would bet on the industry’s resilience. Even with major changes that are reshaping the gaming landscape right now, I am quite confident to say that during 2021 gaming will be back on track to provide players with the thrill they seek, ensuring their safety at the same time. We simply have to remember that stability needs flexibility and that the only way to make a fresh re-start is to always keep your fingers to the pulse and to what your customers are asking from us. We, at Vermantia, enjoy reaping the customisation reward and that is what keeps us going forward.
What are you promoting at SBC Digital Italy 2021?
Both here from our broadcast and content hub in Athens and our local product team in Italy, we are focused on finding new ways to improve the end-user experience and it is our job to do the R&D to meet our customers’ requirements.
Digital, mobile-first, automated, bespoke, cashless, real-time are just some of the unique selling points of our product offering for a quite long time now, and all of them accelerated by the pandemic.
Think that real-time streaming and mobile betting have taken a starring role this year. Our operators partners had to leverage new technology options in record time to provide more interactive betting experiences and we are extremely happy that we are here to support them with our services with a sole purpose: to help them grow efficiently under any conditions. From our real-time streaming solution and our powerful CONNECT platform which is a forming part of our fully-customisable solutions, to our bespoke racing and sporting channels, as well as our brand new mobile-optimised Virtual Football League, all are there to give a fast response to market needs.
What industry innovation will capture the most attention in 2021?
The shift to mobile betting is becoming more and more apparent, and 5G will also bring massive changes and revolutionise the gaming industry. How does this will work? Better internet connectivity will lead to higher mobile activity, impacting also the live events and respectively transform the fun experience for the players.
Being 10 times faster than 4G, 5G is the answer to players’ quest since through higher speeds and the elimination of lags it will enable operators to offer more powerful and compelling betting experiences. We’ve started our research and we are sure that the fifth-generation technology will enable us to bring even better quality, bespoke content to our partners.
Which operator has impressed you the most over the last 12 months?
There were many remarkable initiatives from betting operators globally the past year. However, the one that struck me most is located in my home market. Kaizen Gaming mobilised to support the Greek society and alleviate the effects of COVID-19 with many initiatives, but the most impressive was the speed of their efforts.
This didn’t come to me as a surprise since Kaizen Gaming has long incorporated a variety of pillars into its CSR activities from the sports industry to highlighting the needs but also the strengthening of the remote local communities of our country.
Aligning with society’s ethics and taking a stand on important issues is a bid we can’t afford to lose as an industry these days. Making a positive impact by giving back to the community and those in need, is now more vital than ever since players are constantly raising the bar. I’m really proud and happy to see that in our home-market there are many operators that follow suit.
What partnership has stood out in the past 12 months?
We highly value partnerships that foster innovation and increase the reach of prime sports content at the international betting markets.
Having this in mind, I consider the recent sports betting partnership of NBA with William Hill a bright example, a partnership that will make William Hill an authorised sports betting operator of the NBA in the United States.
It’s remarkable that a globally respected brand that has set an early standard for sports betting in the U.S. market now have the right to use official NBA betting data and league marks across its mobile platforms and in its sports books throughout the United States, to provide a world-class experience to players and NBA fans.
Which parts of the conference agenda have caught your eye?
The whole day includes compelling topics, but I must say that I am anticipating both the “Recovery, Retreat or Restart?” panel and the Regulation one.
It will be interesting to gain an overview from industry experts about the recovery of the Italian market, and what growth prospects remain for Italy’s heritage operators? I’m looking forward to hearing our CEO, Filippos Antonopoulos along with other executives, where the Italian market is headed.
In addition, regulation is an integral part of the landscape and the country needs both genuine reforms to address the bureaucracy and drastic changes to the business responsibility of operators. This is why I cannot miss the regulation panel. I am confident that the country’s government is determined to bring new life into the domestic regulatory landscape and that it has turned its attention towards shaping a more favorable environment for all the stakeholders.