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How Europe’s iGaming leaders are paving the way forward for gaming innovation

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Internationally speaking, gambling legislation takes many different forms. Some of the most forward-thinking countries regarding internet gambling are situated in Europe. Therefore, it’s not just the casino companies operating from the European continent but the game designers who help to fuel this demand. By keeping up with consumer demand and continually innovating in the sector, the gambling industry has emerged as one of the fastest-growing sectors of the last decade. This innovation continues to fuel the multibillion-pound profit margins, and economists are convinced that this industry is here to stay and will continue to expand in size and scope.

European innovations

Other than Las Vegas, American legislation within the gambling sector has been restrictive for the last 75 years. However, there were small pockets where you could gamble in America, such as in Atlantic City, New Jersey and South Dakota. For the most part, you couldn’t bet across large sections of the United States, and casino players would flock to the Nevada desert in the millions to play poker, roulette, blackjack, craps and slot machine games. Although there’s been a sharp U-turn in this mentality and approach, some European countries have had a liberal and clear set of gambling laws for decades, and it has helped associated industries flourish both directly and indirectly.

The United Kingdom has long been an advocate and example of solid, fair and transparent regulation. It’s the exception to the rule when compared to its counterparts. Even Ireland, which neighbours England, is becoming more open to the idea of casino gambling. Although land-based casino gaming in Ireland is still outlawed, the Irish enjoy online casino games as much as any other European country. It is the innovation in this area and the continuing profit margins that are inspiring leaders to innovate. A solid concentration of ingenious iGaming companies striving for brighter ideas and more significant sections of the market is fuelling more creativity and ultimately providing casino players with a better product.

The mobile casino era

Identifying growing trends within a sector is one of the most important and valuable tools any successful business possesses. If a large corporation isn’t flexible enough to adapt and move with the times, they risk being left behind in a more interconnected world than ever. Our global economy is more connected than ever because of mobile phones and the internet. However, instead of shying away from this fact, the casino industry spotted this trend coming into focus over a decade ago. Many groundbreaking iGaming companies operating out of Europe positioned themselves within the market accordingly.

Given that a lot of these companies were able to set a foundation for themselves to work from, they established a market presence a lot earlier than their competition. Changes to the clarity of digital casino gaming in huge markets such as the United States and Canada have allowed millions more gamblers from these countries to play casino games legally. This has resulted in an impressive level of profit, particularly in vast areas such as Ontario.

As millions more customers enter the market from prominent economies, adding billions to the market, iGaming leaders use these substantial profits to continue fuelling innovation. These impressive numbers have brought in game designers who specialise in various games. Ten years ago, the idea of console game designers moving into the casino industry wouldn’t have been viable. However, this has become commonplace due to the number of new customers in the United States and Canada and existing markets fuelled by greater brand visibility in European markets.

Innovations in all areas

It’s not just one particular sector that has benefitted from this growth. Although the casino industry has seen massive gains, sports betting has witnessed similar growth thanks to the ingenuity of Europe’s iGaming leaders. Following the emergence of mobile casino gaming as a frontrunner for a new, modern gambling style, profits have continued expanding. It has indirectly opened the door to several new markets that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

The most profitable example is the in-play market, which has allowed sports gamblers to place bets in-play and cash out of their bets. Not only has this created a much higher level of engagement with sports betting apps, but it has also resulted in the iGaming companies developing this incredibly sophisticated software to generate unbelievable profits. Ultimately, the payoff in this sector has created a snowball effect, resulting in more profits going into design, which results in better games and helps customer numbers to continue rising.

Continuing to find angles

With the incredible expansion the iGaming industry has experienced over the last two decades, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the industry plateau or for iGaming providers to take their foot off the gas. However, the innovations haven’t stopped. Whether it’s the initial rise of internet gambling, mobile casinos or gambling with cryptocurrencies and new payment methods, the industry continues to find new angles.

Finding a business model that works is indispensable for any successful enterprise. Any business that can genuinely innovate in a sector with an international market will reap the rewards of its creativity. World-renowned European iGaming companies that have found incredible success over the last 20 years continue to come up with fresh ideas to stay ahead of the ferocious competition.

Whether it’s variants on existing popular digital casino games or brand-new angles in minigames, slot machine themes or payment methods you can use to deposit your cash, this endless appetite to innovate is fuelling the golden era we’re currently witnessing in casino gaming.

Future developments

This is a combination of a few points we have already raised today, but there are multiple examples of the casino industry continuing to pioneer. Cryptocurrency is one element we have touched on, but with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) making huge headlines recently, the more prominent names in the casino industry will not slow down and allow challenger casinos to make up ground.

As the competition is so strong, slowing down in this industry is essentially the same as moving backward. With the biggest names in the industry able to generate multibillion-pound profits, they have used this financial muscle to employ the best game designers and brightest minds to continue coming up with fresh ideas and experiences for online casino customers.

Expect cryptocurrency, AI and VR to play a more prominent role over the next decade as innovations in various industries converge on the gambling sector. As ever in society, innovation and money go hand in hand, and few industries are currently generating the sort of consistent profit that we see in the gambling industry.

The excitement building in the sector is expected to continue accelerating, stimulating and encouraging innovation. For companies that are only just entering the sector, any innovation within the casino gaming industry could quickly net them millions of pounds of profit. Many economists expect the profit in the gambling industry to continue spiralling until at least 2030. This gives iGaming companies plenty of time to generate more profitable ideas, particularly those in Europe that have already designed a blueprint that allows them to keep innovating and making profits in an incredibly competitive, global industry.

Gaming

Application Start for Gamecity Hamburg Prototype Funding on March 7 – 400,000 Euros for Games from Hamburg and New Diversity Checklist

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“In the context of paused federal funding, we are pleased to reliably support game developers in Hamburg once again with up to 400,000 euros with the Prototype Funding 2024. In this funding round, we’re adding a diversity checklist to our application documents to encourage our applicants to examine their own structures and processes while developing. Games are the leading medium of our time and can showcase diverse voices, perspectives, and stories,” comments Dennis Schoubye, Head of Gamecity Hamburg.

Starting this year, answering the diversity checklist is mandatory when applying for Prototype Funding. Applicants’ answers can optionally be used by the awarding committee when evaluating projects. Applicants whose team and/or project enriches the diversity of Hamburg’s games landscape can receive a bonus in the evaluation by the awarding committee. On the contrary, applicants are not disadvantaged in the evaluation process if that is not the case for their team and/or project. The awarding committee consists of Nina Müller (Head of Publishing, Goodgame Studios), Jonas Hüsges (Publishing Director, Daedalic Entertainment), Valentina Birke (Director, Indie Arena Booth), Jens Unrau (Head of the Media and Digital Economy Department of the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media) and Dennis Schoubye (Head of Gamecity Hamburg). They will decide on the granted funding after the end of the application phase on the basis of the submitted projects and a subsequent pitch by the applicants.

The Application Process

Eligible to apply for Prototype Funding are: 

  • developers and developer groups
  • or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 
  • who are based in Hamburg
  • or which relocate their registered office to Hamburg
  • or open a branch office/business location in Hamburg

 A consultation with Gamecity Hamburg is mandatory and is recommended at least two weeks before the submission deadline on April 8, to prepare applicants optimally for their submission. Interested parties please contact [email protected] to arrange an appointment.

Projects funded through the Prototype Funding program

Since the start of the first funding round in 2020, the Prototype Funding has so far supported 26 games projects with more than 1,450,000 euros. Among the funding recipients are, for example, the indie studio Tiny Roar, which received prototype funding in 2022 for its dreamlike world-builder game “Wanderful”. The serious game “Mambio” by neurodactics, an educational game to make arithmetic understandable for primary school children, received the Prototype Funding in 2021 and was able to secure over 1,100,000 million euros in additional federal computer games funding in 2022. The virtual reality game “Crumbling”, in which your own controller becomes an action figure, was part of the first prototype funding round as well and found a strong partner alongside investors in Meta. Crumbling celebrated its successful release in February 2024.

Further funding programs for Hamburg games industry by Gamecity Hamburg

Every year, the Games Lift Incubator supports five teams, developers and start-ups in the development of digital games and projects. In addition to 15,000 euros in start-up funding, the recipients receive a comprehensive coaching and mentoring program featuring international experts as well as workshops and subsequent individual support. The application phase for this year’s Games Lift runs from May 2 to June 10, 2024.

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Gaming

The 2024 BAFTA Games Nominations Host and Panel have been announced!

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BAFTA’s team of panellists will announce and discuss the nominations live, give their opinions on the outstanding games we’ve seen from the industry in 2023 and recognise the creative talent who made them.

Lucy James said: “I’m so excited to be returning to host the BAFTA Games Awards nominations stream for the 2024 Games Awards. BAFTA’s commitment to uplifting and celebrating the people who make the games we love is an incredibly important endeavour: now more than ever. 2023 will go down in history as one of the greatest years for video game releases ever, but also for being one of the worst for the industry. Sadly, 2024 looks to be continuing this trend with multiple project cancellations, studio closures, and mass layoffs. It’s important for us to take a moment to band together to recognise the contributions and achievements of our hard-working and talented peers.”

Luke Hebblethwaite, Head of Games at BAFTA, said: “We’re hugely excited to be revealing the nominees for this year’s BAFTA Games Awards and couldn’t be happier than to have five such energetic and knowledgeable voices to lead us through the big moment. I’m looking forward to their lively and insightful reactions and a great conversation as we celebrate the amazing talent, creativity and hard work behind the best games of the year.”

The world’s most prestigious annual celebration of excellence and creative achievement in games, the 20th BAFTA Games Awards, will take place on Thursday 11 April at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London and will be livestreamed on BAFTA’s YouTube, Twitch and X channels at 19.00 BST / 14.00 ET / 11.00 PT.

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Sportradar publishes third annual integrity report

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Sportradar Integrity Services, a unit of Sportradar (NASDAQ: SRAD), today published its annual report, ‘Betting Corruption and Match-fixing in 2023’, detailing the company’s findings into suspicious betting on global sport. Based on the monitoring of approximately 850,000 events and matches across 70 sports, the report highlights a total of 1,329 suspicious matches in 2023, occurring in 11 sports in 105 countries.

Compared to 2022, the data indicates the suspected manipulation rate in all sports remained steady at 0.21%, or one in every 467 matches in 2023. Similarly, the analysis has marked no single sport having a suspicious match ratio greater than 1%, confirming that 99.5% of sporting events monitored had no suspicious betting detected.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted in detecting almost three quarters (73% or 977 instances) of all suspicious matches in 2023, representing a 123% increase when compared to 2022. While AI integration into Sportradar’s Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS) has boosted detection rates, analysis by our integrity experts is essential to ensure accurate interpretation of data. Sportradar is committed to advancing both AI capabilities and human oversight to protect the integrity of sports.

Key findings in 2023:

· As the world’s most popular sport for betting, soccer continued to be the most affected by match fixing with 880 suspicious matches, followed by basketball with 205 matches, then table tennis with 70 matches.

· Account-level betting data was used to detect 85% of suspicious matches in volleyball, and 100% of suspicious matches in tennis and table tennis, underscoring the importance of collaborating closely with the sports betting industry to combat match-fixing and integrity threats.

· Europe had the highest number of suspicious matches (667 vs 630 in 2022), followed by Asia (302 vs 240 in 2022) and South America (217 vs 225 in 2022).

· 1,295 suspicious matches came from men’s sporting events, while 34 came from women’s sporting events.

Data and reporting from Sportradar Integrity Services last year contributed to a total of 147 sporting and criminal sanctions, spanning 10 sports in 23 countries across 39 cases, underlining the company’s credentials as the established market leader in integrity services. By supporting over 220 partners globally including sports organisations, state authorities, national platforms and law enforcement agencies, Sportradar is committed to keeping sport clean from threats such as match-fixing, doping and other forms of fraud and corruption.

Andreas Krannich, EVP, Integrity, Rights Protection and Regulatory Services, said: “Continued investment in the development of technology is key to detecting otherwise hard-to-find occurrences of match-fixing. In combination with access to account-level data, collaboration across the industry and human experts, we have a suite of powerful tools to help both prevent and detect risks to sports integrity. Further advancements in the fight against match-fixing will be possible as the AI models continue to learn and we will keep honing our expertise to protect sport from manipulation.”

Sportradar takes a holistic, multi-faceted approach to match-fixing detection, powered by its market-leading technology and expert Integrity Services unit. As well as account-level data, the UFDS analyses 30 billion odds changes across 600 global betting operators in real-time and uses advanced AI to detect and flag suspicious matches to Sportradar’s global team of integrity analysts. Supporting this effort is also the Sportradar Integrity Exchange (SIE), where more than 70 betting operators proactively submit suspicious betting information, using account-level betting data to detect and flag suspicious matches.

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