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How Gaming Industry Is Dealing with COVID-19 Pandemic

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How Gaming Industry Is Dealing with COVID-19 Pandemic
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“There is nothing in the world that is not in this.”

Mahabharata, the Indian mythological epic

Well, the Hindu epic was certainly not referring to Corona. (In fact, it was referring to itself.)

If there is anything that merits such a claim at the moment, it has to be the COVID-19 virus. There is nothing indeed in the world right now that is not in the Corona-induced-fear-triggered crisis.

Its human toll is immeasurable and still growing. Businesses have been crippled. The betting and gambling industry is not immune to its effects either.

All the sports leagues in the world have been ground to a halt, suspending the entire spectrum of betting activities. Even the Olympics has been postponed. Many land-based casinos have been closed. Even those functioning are offering only limited access.

Multi-pronged Crisis

The economic impact on the gaming industry is going to be severe. Bill Miller, American Gaming Association President and CEO, has already called for government support. He listed the many sections of the gambling vertical that will be affected by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak in a statement:

“An estimated 616,000 casino gaming employees are prevented from working because of the important health and safety decisions made by state governments… The impact on our employees, their families, and communities is staggering, and the implications extend far beyond the casino floor. Leading technology companies that supply the industry, and the nearly 350,000 small business employees that rely on gaming for their livelihood, are also feeling the devastating blow of this unprecedented public health crisis.”

He predicted a grim economic situation if the government remains inactive in the near future:

“The federal government must act swiftly and comprehensively to get America’s hospitality employees, and the small businesses that support them, back to work…. In total, these mass closures will rob the U.S. economy of $43.5 billion in economic activity if American casinos remain closed for the next eight weeks.”

While he was talking about the US scenario, the situation is not much different in European and Asian countries. None of the industry experts would disagree with him on his following assessment of the industry:

“Gaming is an economic engine, employing millions of local residents, generating community investment through vital tax revenue, and supporting small businesses in communities…”

Bloom Amidst Gloom

It is not all one-way traffic of bad news either.

The e-sports sector has seemingly received a boost, with locked-down people flocking to e-sports and betting based on these games in the absence of traditional betting avenues.

Some of the gaming companies have found a sudden surge in traffic. Peter Ivanov, the head of trading at Bulgaria-based UltraPlay, says the customer interest towards its e-sports offerings is growing per day.

He says optimistically:

“We experienced a 30% increased turnover only in the first 5 days after the traditional sports shutdown. This is growing on a day-to-day basis as more people get involved. We expect this to get in 100’s% once all eSports leagues restart playing online.”

Ian Hills, general manager of Blexr, a Malta-based digital marketing and media company catering to the gaming sector, also reports similar trends:

“With the cancellation of much of the world’s sporting calendar we’ve naturally felt the effects in our sports revenues but results in our core competency of casino are holding fast, with our flagship brand recording several all-time highs over the last few weeks.”

How Industry People Are Coping

As there is a renewed buzz around e-gaming, online casinos and other internet-based activities, there cannot be a total shut down of the gaming industry.

Almost all companies have migrated to a work-from-home mode. Blexr’s Hills sums up how his company responded to the pandemic:

“We acted quickly and decisively in the face of growing anxiety about COVID-19, which is why we are entering our second week of being an entirely remote organisation. We wanted to adhere to government advice over social distancing and also we felt our collective responsibility to lessen the impact of the disease.”

Diana Rotaru, co-founder of Vegas Slots, says the best approach is to look for alternate products and support everyone around, especially the employees. She suggests:

“Regarding COVID-19, I understand that we are facing new and uncertain times. However I think people need to remain rational and try to think of the next steps and the best solution for their businesses , employees and the ones around us. It is also very important for companies to remain supportive and understanding with their employees and the people around them.”

It helped that online processes and operations can lend themselves to such quick and flexible transformation from office to home. In fact, the work-from-home option has been in vogue in several companies. Hills adds:

“Blexr has offered unlimited remote working as a flexible option for employees for over a year so we’ve got lots of battle-hardened experience at virtual meetings, VPN connections and maintaining the human interaction necessary for teams to work together.”

How Technology Companies Reacted

The technology service providers, though largely invisible to the public eye, are the rock around which the gaming industry is built. How are they doing?

Igor Markovic, a director board member at NSoft, a technology provider to betting industry based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, says his company has announced an unprecedented rescue package to the partners:

“In order to mitigate this demanding period, we have come up with a rescue package that will help our partners at this very moment and consequently, after all this is over, increase their business operation results. NSoft is ready to provide full support to its partners offering its virtual and draw-based games portfolio completely free of charge from 1 April to 1 June. Having no setup fees, no minimum monthly fees and no monthly revenue share invoices for two months will certainly help our partners to overcome these difficult months.”

Rarely do you find such remarkably generous gestures in the betting and gambling industry, where words like cut-throat and competition are more frequently used than the words like chivalry.

Be sure of that: Corona – another C-word – is bringing in some previously unheard-of positive changes too.

What’s in Store in Future?

The situation at present is such that the future can only be bright. There is no other way. But how bright it is going to be? And for whom it will shine the brightest?

There is a widely held view that e-sports and online casinos will thrive. Rotaru clearly subscribes to that view. She says:

“While live betting and live dealers are affected, there are alternative products that are unaffected by the existing situation, mainly e-sports like Call of Duty, DOTA and online Casinos games like table games and slots.”

Tim Grice, the Chief Executive Officer of Connective3, a UK-based digital marketing agency in the gaming sector, acknowledges the increased traffic towards the igaming platforms:

“We have seen an increased amount of traffic and conversions across igaming (casino/poker/bingo) as well as certain financial products and services … but there is no doubt some serious pain across multiple sectors.”

However, he expects the business to bounce back across all sectors and predicts a growth wave once the crisis is over.

“The best piece of advice I can give is to … have enough in the bank to see your business through 6 months of no revenue … and the funds to invest when the world wakes up. We’re anticipating a huge wave of growth when normality returns and as a business, we want to be in position to take full advantage.”

While COVID-19 is still wrecking its havoc, industry leaders are already planning ahead. They are clearly betting on the crisis to end – sooner rather than later.

Perhaps the real battle of epic, Mahabharata proportions will start in the gaming industry when the Corona outbreak is subsumed. Now is the time to prepare for the battle –mostly from home though.

Industry News

GLI’s Joseph Marchetti Named an Emerging Leader of Gaming

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Gaming Laboratories International’s Director of Systems and Audit Joseph Marchetti has been named to the ELG 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 by Emerging Leaders of Gaming (ELG) and Global Gaming Business (GGB) magazine.

“We are thrilled for the industry to recognize Joseph as an Emerging Leader in Gaming. For more than 15 years, Joseph has led teams in creating innovative solutions for GLI’s clients, helping clients discover new paths forward, and providing valuable consultative advice on their integrated compliance journey,” Sangeeta Reddy, Vice President of Engineering at GLI, said.

Since assuming his new role in May 2021, Marchetti has led his team of systems testers, auditors and automation developers as they work closely with regulators, operators and suppliers, paving the way in the ever-evolving world of gaming systems. He has also streamlined processes and created automation tools which expedite the time to market while also reducing clients’ costs.

He has been with GLI for more than 15 years, previously serving as Technical Group Manager. Over that time, he has developed an enviable and proven record of success as an engineer, as a manager and in developing engineers for multiple aspects of testing.

Over the past 15 years, Marchetti has grown from an entry-level Test Engineer to his current role. Along the way, he has reached a high level of expertise in the regulatory compliance testing of multiple game types, platforms, progressive controllers, shufflers/shoes as well as casino management systems.

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Industry News

SoftGamings to Attend iGB Live! in Amsterdam

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The iGB Live! conference and expo slated for 28 September – 1 October 2021 is back on after a two-year COVID-19-induced hiatus.

iGB Live! is one of the biggest events in the iGaming industry that connects the most prominent operators and suppliers in the business and brings them an opportunity to share their ideas and visions with their live audience. iGB Live! is being held at the Amsterdam RAI, the biggest exhibition space in the Netherlands from 28 September to 1 October 2021.

The organisers of the event are expecting 4000+ attendees and 120+ exhibitors. All those in attendance will be able to discover the latest tech advancements in the industry, connect with the best providers in the business, and get exclusive insight into the minds of the leading experts at the panel discussions.

Among those exhibitors, experts, and proud sponsors of the event, stand H10 is reserved for SoftGamings and its portfolio of products and services that include a unified API integration platform, White Label and Turnkey products, and many others.

“iGB Live! is definitely the place to be to learn about the latest developments in the iGaming industry, and we are very excited to meet our peers for some good-quality networking and business opportunities. We invite you to meet our team at stand H10 where you can learn more about our products and services and see what we can do to take your online gambling business to the next level,” Irina Sazonova, Director of Partnerships at SoftGamings, said.

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Industry News

Patrick Svensk Resigns as Chairman of Betsson

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Patrick Svensk, Chairman of the Board of Betsson AB (publ), has informed the Nomination Committee that he is resigning from Betsson’s Board of Directors and the assignment as Chairman with immediate effect. The Board has appointed Johan Lundberg, currently a member of Betsson’s Board, as the new Chairman.

Patrick Svensk has been a member of Betsson’s Board of Directors since 2005, and Chairman of the Board since 2017. The decision to resign from Betsson’s Board of Directors is based on the fact that the company’s major shareholders have stated that they no longer have full confidence in Patrick Svensk as Chairman of the Board. The lack of full trust is due to how the dismissal of the CEO was handled, which the company communicated in a press release on September 17, 2021.

“It is very sad, and I am sorry that I have disappointed our major owners, but I have done what I thought was best for the company. I am proud of what we have achieved during these years and wish everyone at Betsson great luck in the future,” Patrick Svensk said.

Johan Lundberg, who has been appointed as new Chairman by the Board, has been a member of Betsson’s Board since 2018. Johan Lundberg is the founder of NFT Ventures and a Board Member of Loomis, Svolder and Ölands Bank.

“I would like to extend a warm thank you to Patrick Svensk for his valuable contributions to the Board for almost 17 years. I look forward to continuing the work with the rest of the board to recruit the next generation of international leader to Betsson and at the same time complete the strategic work that is going on with renewal and growth,” Johan Lundberg said.

The Chairman of the Nomination Committee Michael Knutsson has expressed full confidence and support for the remaining Board members and its election of a new Chairman and supports the decision to seek the next generation of international leader for Betsson.

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