What product, service or technology do you believe will have the greatest impact on your business and the igaming industry in 2019 and beyond?
In 2018, we have seen “no account” casinos and “live” products gain considerable momentum. This is about customers wanting to get to the play as soon as possible. I think customers will continue to want to spend a greater proportion of their time on “play” and will demand more and more engaging products.
The industry has been attracting increased attention and scrutiny with operators facing a relentless escalation in fines and penalties. How should the industry move from here to show that it is serious about tackling issues such as player protection, compliance and anti-money laundering issues?
I have been involved in the gaming sector for over 25 years, and I have always considered myself to be in a leisure or entertainment role. Somehow, in the last few years, aggressive acquisition marketing, concerns over theoretical losses, and a belief that more people are having gaming problems, mean that the industry is no longer classified as entertainment and is now considered a “sin” industry. Nobody in the industry wants children to play or customers to spend beyond their means. The industry needs to agree how realistically this can be achieved and then communicate it. However, while there is a competitive advantage to be gained from one company interpreting responsible gaming differently than another, it will be difficult to deliver. Whether it’s possible for that to be done by the industry itself or whether it needs regulatory intervention is a moot point.
At Jackpotjoy we are firmly at the “responsible” end of the spectrum. We still have the same challenge of persuading customers to provide us with intimate, personal information to allow them to remain our customers. This usually only happens when the supplier is providing a product and bearing the risk, for example a mortgage. I can’t imagine my local football club asking me to prove that I can afford our family season tickets.
The iGaming industry has been enjoying a period of rapid growth. What are the major challenges you are facing and how are you dealing with them?
Globalisation is alive and well but when you get down to actually trying to run businesses in different countries, you realise just how local the world still is. "McLocalisation”, as it’s known, is the biggest challenge to our mission of bringing the Jackpotjoy winning feeling to the world. Building flexibility into the organisation with regard to talent, technology and marketing is the best way to address it.
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Simon Wykes has been CEO of Jackpotjoy Group since November 1, 2017. He was previously CEO at Gala Leisure and Managing Director at Gala Coral Group, and has completed an external consultancy role with Ladbrokes Coral on their merger integration plans. He also worked for Mecca Bingo, Leisure Parcs, Gala Group and First Leisure.