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Exclusive interview with Stuart Godfree, Managing Director and co-founder, mkodo

George Miller

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Exclusive interview with Stuart Godfree, Managing Director and co-founder, mkodo
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Stuart Godfree co-founded mkodo with Sue Yoxall in 2001, taking the opportunity to bring an innovative technology-based service to the rapidly developing gaming market. Recently, Stuart founded mkodo’s Evolve Scheme, a graduate scheme investing in the next generation of talented individuals who want to progress a career in the mobile applications technology field.

 

You offer apps and digital products to the betting, gaming and lottery sectors, what do you think is the most important thing operators need to consider in terms of their digital experience offering?

Having a strong digital offering is no longer an option but a necessity for all operators and suppliers in the gambling industry. We work with several lotteries and traditionally this has been a product popular with the older generation who would buy and check the outcome of the draw in a retail environment. But nowadays, people are using their mobile phones for everyday tasks and this includes leisure activities such as betting and gaming. People have got used to the convenience of having everything just one click away and expect an easy, effortless user experience. For the lottery industry, this could for example mean a fully transactable experience; an app that offers the functionality to log in, deposit funds, check lottery tickets and withdraw winnings without unnecessary friction.

You work with several National and State lotteries. Would you say they are falling behind in the fast-paced digital development?

Although it can be argued that lotteries were late to the party when it comes to adapting to the online environment, we’re now seeing a sizeable shift in attitudes. For lotteries to benefit from all the opportunities provided by the digital world, they must be bold in embracing new technologies and trends. This is particularly crucial to engage the mobile savvy younger generations. We have seen with our operating partners that with a slick and efficient online or mobile offering, no audience is unattainable. Of course, as with any industry, there is room for improvement and challenges remain. Regulators world-over are tightening up on legislation while Apple is following suit with its own restrictions on the App Store guidelines, troubling digitalisation. But the ambition is finally there, and that’s an important step in the right direction. We recently gained a membership to the World Lottery Association and are partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. It’s great to see that implementing an innovative digital strategy is a top priority for the lotteries we work with and operators have proven that they are able to keep up with rapidly changing consumer preferences in an online world.

You have recently worked on a project together with Teesside University, could you tell us a bit about that?

This was part of our “innovate together” competition that we launched to see if we could generate solutions to one of the biggest challenges that lotteries around the world are currently facing; attracting and retaining the younger generation. As mentioned, traditional lotteries are seen to be a preferred game of choice for older generations of 55-64, where 87% of lottery tickets are still bought in retail stores. So, who better to address the challenge of engaging a younger audience than millennials themselves? We asked students at Teesside University to come up with a solution that bridges the gap between traditional lotteries and the younger generations, in line with responsible gambling regulations and charitable beneficiary obligations. We heard four presentations packed with great ideas and well-developed arguments. We’re now developing these innovative ideas with the students and we’re excited to showcase them soon.

Apple has recently started enforcing their guidelines 4.2 and 4.7, could you tell us a bit more about the implications this could have for the betting and gaming industry?

Apple’s restrictions on nativity and real money games have served as a double blow to the industry. For a lot of operators, repacking a HTML website in a native container was standard practice for their mobile applications. But that approach will no longer work under the new guidelines and has the potential to impact the industry massively in terms of app re-development time and cost.

On top of that, the 4.7 restriction has potential to be even more damaging, particularly for operators that have a high level of native functionality but include third-party casino games. As Apple will no longer accept games that have been ‘side-loaded’, as we call it, operators are left with a difficult decision: either abandon their iOS application and move solely to website distribution channels, or work with game developers to embed top titles with the application code. Both options come with pitfalls, however, the full extent of how these restrictions will truly impact the industry is yet to be realised.

What can we expect from mkodo in 2019?

We’ve been helping our clients and partners understand their obligations and responsibilities with the revised Apple Guidelines, as well as developing strategies to minimise the impact amongst operators in the wider betting and gaming industry. We will continue to do this and will advise on what happens beyond the September 3rd deadline. More widely, our business in Canada and North America continues to go from strength to strength and we’re looking forward to making valuable new partnerships in the region.

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