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HELLO 2020! Simon Hammon


Chief Product Officer, Relax Gaming


What was the most exciting occurrence for you in 2019?


We’ve had great success across the board this year, so it’s difficult to single out a specific highlight. A major strategic focus in 2019 was to boost investment in our in-house studios, resulting in a string of proprietary releases that have carved out a new stream of commercial success for the company. Our top performing release, Temple Tumble, established Relax Gaming’s slot portfolio as a major contender and assisted the enhancement of our reputation. Over 60 new studios, other aggregators and leading operators joined our partner base this year, underlining the attractiveness of Relax Gaming’s proposition: an open and collaborative approach to business. The year has also seen us make a flying


start in Sweden when the online market opened in January. Thanks to our comprehensive preparations and talented compliance team, we were primed and ready for business a month prior to regulation taking effect. The success of our Poker platform on the French market has also been remarkable. Against the backdrop of a declining sector, our product has delivered consistent growth for our partner Kindred since launching in Q2.


What are you most excited about for yourselves in 2020?


To continue with the momentum and growth that we’ve experienced over the last 12 months and establish even bigger strategic partnerships that benefit all our aggregation partners. We are going live with several major deals next year which we expect will open new doors for all concerned. With Tommi Maijala appointed as Chief Executive in November and Daniel Eskola heading up the commercial side of the business, we’re in a fantastic position to fast-track the expansion of our distribution network. We have some exciting new studios in the pipeline, and, in terms of our proprietary portfolio, we have some great releases scheduled. We anticipate that these will build on the success of Temple Tumble and cement our position as an industry leader in game development and distribution. With so many suppliers


Thomas Stark Media Manager, EMEA, Akamai Technologies


What are you predicting for the iGaming sector in 2020?


In 2020, we’ll see new and inventive experiences come to digital betting. Firstly, the long awaited 5G rollout will see the arrival of the first “smart stadiums”. Sporting grounds will be covered by a 5G ‘mesh’ thanks to masts dotted around the stadium that boost connectivity. The speed and bandwidth will not only support the load of thousands of fans’ mobile devices, but will connect sensors, cameras and digital signs, as well as support data heavy technologies like AR and VR – bringing new social and digital gaming experiences into the heart of our stadiums. The UK will likely be first to seize upon this opportunity, thanks to the strong triangular relationship between top football clubs, telco operators and sports-betting vendors. eSports are set to enter the iGaming arena in the coming year, too. These multiplayer computer gaming events attract crowds and


player prize money that rival the biggest sports. Unique wagers, such as round-by- round betting on first person shooter games, will drive consumer interest, while the continuous conveyor belt of new game releases promises to keep the market fresh. It presents an exciting opportunity for new vendors too. In traditional sports, established players can set better odds in because they’re able to buy up store after store of historical data. Due to eSports’


very sudden rise, it’s not yet possible to monopolise such data and the odds are mostly based on gamer reputation. As operators transition towards these new platforms, bookies will rely on AI tools to wring insights from vast pools of tournament and customer data that will enable them to set odds and build engaging digital gaming experiences, all in real time. As a result, in 2020, we’ll also see vendors compete ruthlessly for AI and data talent.


focusing on quantity over quality in today’s market, we have concentrated on delivering titles that cut above the noise and offer a gaming experience to which players keep returning.


What are you looking predicting for the iGaming sector in 2020?


The aggregation market is heating up significantly with big names in the supplier world moving into the space. It’ll be interesting to see how increased competition moves the industry forward. We’re expecting another year of tightening regulation and scrutiny, which will also continue to separate those with means from those that struggle to resource the necessary requirements across multiple markets. Arguably, this will increase the appeal of aggregators and with the surge in M&A activity over the last year I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some big transaction announcements in 2020.


GIO JANUARY 2020 121


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