Uncovering iGaming Market: Business Insights from SBC Summit 2023 in Barcelona

11 October 2023
Adam Gontarz
Adam Gontarz
CEO
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Contents

  • Intro

Technological innovation has become the lifeblood of success in iGaming. As a gambling operator or software supplier, you probably realize that keeping pace with the latest trends and breakthroughs is no longer a choice, but rather a necessity. Yet, it might be challenging considering that new developments come to life almost daily.

Industry conferences offer an excellent remedy for simplifying the navigation of this constantly evolving maze. Among the prominent players in this sphere, including SiGMA, ICE, EGR, G2A, and SBC, today’s spotlight will be on the last one.

Year after year, the SBC Summit has demonstrated its value as a wellspring of knowledge, guiding industry leaders through the ever-shifting tides of gambling news. And the 2023 edition was no exception.

That’s why here, I’m going to run through the insights from this particular event to get you a hint of what novelties have been discussed there, or if you participated yourself, remind you of the key takeaways. 

Keep reading to explore how breakthrough technologies such as Web3, NFTs, AI, and the Metaverse are currently reshaping iGaming businesses as well as the magical influence personalization and gamification can have on your platform.

SBC Summit – The Doors to iGaming Market Insights

In the bustling hub of Fira de Barcelona Montjuïc, the SBC Summit 2023 emerged as a transformative milestone for the iGaming community. The enthusiasm of thousands of participants hung in the air, so I instantly felt this was a gathering of people deeply engaged in the iGaming future.

Amidst the diverse and insightful panels, where industry experts dissected topics ranging from sports betting to casinos, I got quite captivated by the narrative of the evolving gambling industry.

Yet, it was the networking that let me truly dive into the current iGaming dynamics. Engaging in intense discussions with iGaming visionaries from across the globe, I seized the chance to uncover the intricate threads weaving the fabric of the industry’s future firsthand.

In the midst of these exchanges, I discovered the pulse of innovation, strategy, and vision that will most probably define the iGaming landscape in the times to come. Here’s a glimpse into the trends set to leave a mark on the online gambling arena.

The Power of Personalization in the iGaming Industry

In 2021, the worldwide online gambling and betting sector had a market size of 61.5 billion USD. Projections indicate that by 2028, it is expected to surge to 114.4 billion USD. A growth of over 86%. That means more iGaming platforms and even more fierce competition than ever before.

So the question arises – how can one stand out from the crowd of operators offering more or less the same content? The answer is not so straightforward, as there’s a variety of solutions that can differentiate a brand and attract thousands of players, like, for instance, ‘free money’ or welcome bonuses.

However, in such a saturated industry like iGaming, focusing on price superiority and discounts is a highly unsustainable approach in the long run. A true difference should be sought in other spheres, like uniquely crafted interface and well-thought-out User Experience. And here’s where personalization comes into play.

This year’s SBC Summit placed significant emphasis on this particular aspect of gambling platforms, highlighting a gap that can be readily addressed.

Exceptional Look & Feel – A Custom Frontend at its Finest

When considering personalization in the realm of iGaming, the initial thought that may come to mind is a bespoke User Interface. Certainly, harnessing the potential of a tailored UI that aligns with the company’s branding is a valid part of the personalization strategy.

BETFAN custom front-end

A custom frontend can give a business the strategic advantage to stand out and succeed in the market. However, it does not only distinguish the brand with visual appeal. It allows operators to craft a gambling experience that resonates with their audience leading to increased retention rates.

For those aiming to establish a strong presence in the iGaming market a custom frontend stands as an indispensable asset. By precisely aligning with a company’s requirements and objectives, it offers a degree of flexibility, adaptability, and distinctiveness that proves challenging to attain with off-the-shelf solutions.

However, the SBC panelists highlighted the importance of interface personalization not just from the operator’s perspective, but even more from the player’s point of view. 

At the end of the day, an intelligently designed User Interface enhances the platform’s user-friendliness, making it simpler for players to browse, discover their favorite games, and access crucial functionalities. This, in turn, can enhance their satisfaction, converting them into loyal customers.

Numerous iGaming brands have already invested in highly customized solutions shaping their products in alignment with their specific requirements and user preferences. If you want to join them, CrustLab is ready to assist you. We’ve delivered several bespoke casino and sportsbook UIs for well-recognized brands, contributing to their profit growth. In case of any questions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

AI-based Recommendations in Online Casinos and Sportsbooks

Customizing the UI and UX to meet particular user preferences is closely intertwined with the concept of personal recommendations. As mentioned previously, this customization significantly impacts the platform’s user-friendliness and, consequently, elevates the overall satisfaction level of users.

Many companies either ignore users’ previous actions or expect them to manually select their favorite content. This approach may not be ideal, especially when we have a wealth of user activity trails readily available for collection and analysis, all of which can significantly enhance usability. How can we gather this data effectively?

AI and ML come to the rescue. Given the ongoing rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the future of personalization is anchored in algorithm-driven recommendations.

At the core of AI-driven platforms for sports betting and casino gaming lies a foundation of advanced machine-learning models. They process data to furnish users with tailored recommendations and predictions. Below, I delve into the pivotal models underpinning these platforms:

  1. Collaborative Filtering

This model analyzes the preferences and behavior of users who share similarities with a given user. It then suggests sports events or wagers that align with the tastes and choices of these similar users. Collaborative Filtering harnesses the collective wisdom of the platform’s diverse user base, enhancing the precision of recommendations and bets.

  1. Content-Based Filtering

By considering various attributes such as team statistics, player performance, historical data, and more, this model aligns its suggestions with the unique interests of each user. It ensures that players receive personalized recommendations that align with their specific preferences.

  1. Hybrid Models

These models leverage the strengths of both Collaborative and Content-Based Filtering approaches. By combining user behavior with event attributes, they provide users with even more pertinent and accurate suggestions.

  1. Predictive Models

These utilize historical data and predictive analytics to forecast match outcomes and identify favorable betting opportunities, empowering users with data-driven insights.

During the panel named “The Steps to Success in Player Retention: Obtaining an Edge as an iGaming Operator” Oren Cohen Shwartz, the CEO of Delasport, stressed the key role of AI-based recommendations in leveraging customer experience and increasing player retention, which is a vital indicator of the platform’s success.

Other participants highlighted that personalization in iGaming software development is compatible with a popular and effective customer-centric approach that puts the player in the middle of attention.

Gamification – Leveling Up the Online Gambling Experience

While personalization undoubtedly holds the key to capturing and retaining players in the fiercely competitive iGaming market, another trend that dominated discussions at the SBC Summit 2023 was gamification. It has truly evolved from a buzzword to a game-changer in the online gambling landscape.

The rationale behind this trend is simple yet profound – humans are inherently drawn to games. By incorporating gamified elements into your offering, you can tap into players’ natural inclination for competition, achievement, and enjoyment, making their experience more engaging and immersive.

Gamification serves multiple purposes within the iGaming industry. Below you will find the most prominent ones.

The Power of Gamification in iGaming
  1. Player Retention

In an industry where player churn can be high, gamification provides an effective means to keep players coming back. Challenges, rewards, and leaderboards create a sense of achievement and competition, motivating players to stay engaged or revisit after a longer period. At the end of the day, nobody wants to lose their progress and potential prize, right?

  1. Enhanced User Experience

Gamified features add an extra layer of excitement to the gaming experience. Whether it’s unlocking achievements or participating in tournaments, players are more likely to enjoy themselves, leading to longer sessions and increased loyalty.

  1. Customer Loyalty 

When players feel a connection with your platform beyond the games themselves, they are more likely to become loyal customers. Gamification builds this connection by fostering a sense of community and achievement.

  1. Data Collection and Personalization

Gamification allows you to collect valuable data on player preferences and behaviors. This data can be used to further personalize the gaming experience, offering tailored challenges and rewards that resonate with individual players.

  1. Marketing and Promotion 

Gamified promotions and tournaments are highly shareable and can go viral on social media, attracting new players to your platform. They also provide an opportunity for cross-promotion with partners and sponsors.

The SBC Summit 2023 was a game-changer, spotlighting how gamification is revolutionizing the online gambling landscape. The industry is rapidly evolving from traditional betting paradigms to experiences that echo the immersive world of gaming. Esports is leading the charge here. Take SiS, for instance; they’re not just offering game stream previews but also enabling player-vs-player tournament setups.

Crypto casinos like BetFury, Rollbit, and Stake are also upping the ante, integrating gaming-centric features such as daily rewards, head-to-head betting, and slot battles. Even the sports betting arena is getting a facelift. Companies like ParleyBay are introducing a Tinder-esque betting model, borrowing the swipe-and-match mechanics from gaming apps. While some operators with custom front-end solutions are already incorporating these gamification elements, platforms as a whole are still catching up. But make no mistake, this is a trend set to explode in the near future.

Uncovering iGaming Market - Tip From The Gaming World

The key conclusion here is that gamification is not merely a trend. It’s a strategic approach to engage and retain players in an industry that’s constantly evolving. As the iGaming market becomes more competitive, integrating gamified features into your platform could be the differentiating factor that sets you apart from the competition.

Streaming – The Gamification Frontier in Sports Betting

The SBC Summit 2023 also delved into the integration of streaming directly within betting apps, ushering in a new era of gamification within the betting landscape

Among the most eye-opening statistics shared during one of the panels was the projection that the sports streaming market is set to soar to a staggering $223 billion by 2028. This meteoric rise is indicative of the evolving ways in which fans engage with sports.

The discussion acknowledged the paradigm shift in how users consume sports events, leaving traditional TV broadcasting for more convenient live streams. Thus, streaming sports events within betting apps has become a must.

What makes the convergence of betting and viewing truly remarkable is the seamless integration of streaming content within betting apps, allowing users to watch live matches, monitor odds, place bets, and engage with gamified features – all from one place.

This combo not only simplifies the user experience but also adds a layer of interactivity and excitement to online sports betting.

If your sportsbook doesn’t yet include this feature, it’s high time to seriously consider integrating it. The market demand for this feature is steadily growing each year, and addressing it sooner rather than later can be vital for your business.

Technology Shaping the Future of Global Online Gambling

The gaming landscape is evolving at a breakneck pace, with exciting technologies from Web3 and AI to the Metaverse taking center stage. But how will these innovations translate into the world of casino software and sportsbooks? And what happens when the Metaverse meets traditional gaming? The SBC Summit 2023 tackled these questions head-on, offering a glimpse into the future of the gaming sector.

The Impact of Web3 on Gaming

Often dubbed the “next generation” of the internet, Web3 is poised to leave a lasting imprint on the iGaming sector. You’ll learn in-depth what Web3 is in our other post.

At its core, it embraces blockchain technology and decentralization, fostering transparency, security, and trust.

With a solid blockchain foundation, Web3 is going to revolutionize the casinos and sports betting market, offering players unparalleled security. Classic games like poker and bingo are harnessing the power of Web3 technologies to craft gaming experiences that are not only more immersive and engaging but also more inclusive.

Beyond blockchain, the conference panels delved into the various facets of Web3 like NFTs and cryptocurrencies, shedding light on their profound impact on the global online gambling market. Let’s explore these aspects in detail.

Blockchain-Powered Platforms

Blockchain is fundamentally altering how gaming and sports betting platforms operate. Through transparent, tamper-proof ledgers, blockchain ensures fair play and trustworthiness. Every transaction, bet, or game outcome is immutably recorded, assuring gamblers of a level playing field.

Numerous well-known brands in the iGaming market have already leveraged the power of blockchain development, bringing forth innovative opportunities for both players and bettors. As an illustration, FunFair employs blockchain to establish casinos based on this technology, ensuring the mathematical provability of game fairness. Meanwhile, other platforms harness blockchain for swift, secure transactions and asset management.

The possibilities of blockchain technology are boundless, particularly in the realms of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Speaking of which…

Cryptocurrency Integration

In case you’re not aware, cryptocurrencies, a crucial element of the Web3 landscape, are gaining significant traction in the online gambling market. Players and bettors are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum for their wagering activities.

The tight integration between blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies has empowered online casinos to facilitate swift and secure transactions across various crypto assets. Gone are the days of enduring extended waiting times; now, players can relish seamless and fortified transactions.

For all casino operators out there, this is certainly a factor worth taking into account.

Digital Assets in the form of NFTs

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), an integral part of Web3, are also making their mark in casino and sports betting development. These unique, tradable digital assets are adding a layer of excitement to games and betting. Whether it’s rare skins, collectible cards, unique bingo daubers in gaming, or exclusive sports memorabilia and virtual team ownership in sports betting, NFTs offer players and bettors valuable in-game assets. Coupled with gamification elements like leaderboards and challenges, NFTs are driving player and bettor engagement to new heights.

In an interview with Casino Beats a month prior to the Barcelona conference, Brian Christner, the Chief Online Gaming Officer at Grand Casino Baden, shared his insights on the application of Web3 technology within the context of online casinos. At that time, he remarked: 

“There are some really exciting use cases developing in the Web3 and online casino space. For example, Red Tiger launched the NFT Megaways slot with Crypto Punks as the game’s symbols, one of the first movers in the space to incorporate NFTs into games. Now, we are seeing NFTs as player profiles and NFT collectibles being part of gamification elements.”

Having an opportunity to have a quick word with him during the event, we explored this topic a bit more deeply.

Per Brian, Web3 isn’t just a fortress for data and payment security; it’s a bridge that can seamlessly connect online and retail experiences. Imagine playing online and earning a crypto voucher that you can redeem in a physical store – or vice versa. While this could be done using traditional methods, Web3 and NFTs offer an indisputable layer of authenticity, ensuring that a specific token is uniquely tied to an individual user.

Another groundbreaking application lies in the realm of slot game development. By leveraging an NFT-based asset-sharing system, the cost and potential of creating these games can be radically transformed. Ever fancied owning a particular symbol in a slot game? With this model, you can – and you’ll even earn a 1% revenue share as a return on your investment. The possibilities are virtually limitless. While the tech may still be in its infancy, rest assured, it’s on the fast track to maturity.

Embracing the Metaverse – Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and iGaming

Outside of the technologies discussed earlier, the horizon of the iGaming market is prone to change as it ventures into the territories of the Metaverse. At the forefront of this groundbreaking evolution are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), both offering innovative ways to engage and monetize in this ever-expanding digital realm.

Augmented and Virtual Realities

The introduction of AR and VR into the iGaming business blurs the lines between reality and the virtual world. AR enhances the player’s real-world surroundings, integrating virtual casino games into their environment. VR, on the other hand, immerses players in entirely digital landscapes, replicating the luxury of physical casinos or crafting entirely new gaming environments. These technologies collectively deliver an unparalleled level of realism and excitement.

Within the Metaverse, iGaming experiences become interconnected, offering players a seamless transition between AR and VR worlds. Imagine effortlessly shifting from a virtual casino suite to an augmented reality live dealer game.

Casinos, sports betting platforms, and online games coexist within this virtual ecosystem. This interrelation not only amplifies player engagement but also introduces innovative monetization strategies. From virtual real estate to NFT-based assets and social interactions, the Metaverse unlocks a world of possibilities for iGaming businesses.

At CrustLab, we fully recognize the influence of the Metaverse and other innovations on gambling and sports apps. In fact, we’ve recently dived headfirst into developing a chess platform that’s all about embracing these cutting-edge technologies. Checkmate is a bold leap into the world of esports accompanied by Web3, AI, and the Metaverse, all within the context of a classic game of chess. It’s a totally pioneering concept and unlike anything you’ve seen before. If you’re curious to learn more about this exciting project, stay tuned for our upcoming article where we’ll spill more details.

Key Takeaways from the Summit

This year’s SBC conference made it abundantly clear that the future of web and mobile gaming is an exciting and dynamic landscape where innovation knows no bounds. The fusion of Web3 technologies, AI-driven enhancements, Metaverse, personalization, and gamification is reshaping the player experience, providing a wealth of options that ensure gaming remains an enthralling and inclusive pursuit. 

As I wrap up our exploration of this conference, it’s crucial to refine the key themes that emerged, offering strategic advice for iGaming businesses looking to adapt them.

Uncovering iGaming Market - Key Takeaways
  1. Embrace Technological Advancements

The resounding message from SBC Summit 2023 is that technology remains the lifeblood of success in iGaming. Web3, blockchain, AI, and the Metaverse are reshaping the player experience, enhancing trust, and unlocking novel monetization strategies.

  1. Personalization and Engagement are Paramount

The iGaming market is increasingly competitive, making it vital for operators to differentiate themselves. Personalization, through customized interfaces and AI-driven recommendations, offers a strategic edge.

  1. Gamification is the Game-Changer

Gamification emerged as a potent tool for elevating user engagement and retention. Implementing gamified elements like leaderboards, incentives, and challenges can transform the player’s journey into an exciting adventure.

  1. NFTs pioneer Digital Ownership within Web3

The rise of NFTs within the decentralized Web3 landscape introduces a revolutionary concept of digital ownership. Exploring innovative ways to incorporate NFTs into gaming ecosystems adds tangible value, fostering a profound sense of ownership and exclusivity among players within the decentralized Web3 paradigm.

  1. The Metaverse Beckons

The Metaverse represents a thrilling frontier for the iGaming market. AR and VR technologies redefine player interactions, offering immersive and interconnected experiences. As the Metaverse continues to evolve, iGaming companies should keep a watchful eye on its potential and explore ways to participate in this digital revolution.

Up to You

As the iGaming market continues to grow, with projections reaching staggering figures, the road to success lies in harnessing the power of the above trends. Whether you’re an industry veteran or a newcomer, embracing personalization and gamification with the aid of cutting-edge technologies could be your winning combination in the world of iGaming. The SBC Summit 2023 held in Barcelona has shown us the way, and it’s up to you to seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

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