CCO, Bobby Longhurst, gave an interview to discuss how the pandemic has impacted the global gaming industry
In what way will the current situation impact the gaming industry in the short and medium term, in both online and land-based segments?
The gambling industry is a resilient one and it’s important it remains that way both in the short term and going forward as it’s unlikely we’ll return to a normal period of activity anytime soon. As a platform provider that covers a wide range of verticals, we have already seen the effects the ban on live sport has had across a multitude of markets, seriously hampering the working days of a number of operators who rely on their sportsbook to provide a service to its players. It has been a case of ‘needs must’ in many areas, including the transition of traditional land-based players moving their play to online. It’s been a very tricky time for everyone and while many businesses have evolved to keep their customer bases engaged, there are many challenges to overcome yet.
How did it impact on your daily operations?
Given the lack of live sport available, we’ve worked hard to make sure that our sportsbook customers have received the best possible service by introducing new products to our offering. It has been our number one priority to do everything we can to ensure our clients are still generating sufficient revenues to remain in a healthy position. Pronet Gaming prides itself on supplying an industry-leading portfolio, so we were already armed with casino offerings, virtual sports and Esports for those looking to take them on. Though fully equipped to work with the industry’s biggest operators, we continue to be highly flexible when it comes to making the necessary changes when needed. For example, we were quick to action and implement extensive changes including a complete redesign of our UI, allowing us to promote our virtual and Esport offerings as though they were live Premier League matches or national hunt races. This dynamism enabled us to be among the industry’s first to ensure that virtuals and Esports were at the top of all of our sites.
With the shutdown of land-based casinos, has the demand for online gaming services increased?
It obviously differs from market to market, but it’s safe to say that online casino and other gaming services have seen a dramatic increase in engagement in recent times. We were fortunate that our hard-working teams and pro-active nature allowed us to put pen to paper on content deals with virtual sports providers Kiron Interactive and Golden Race prior to the suspension of live action to help minimise fluctuations in our partner revenues across verticals. While on the casino side, we have also recently agreed new deals with a multitude of suppliers including Red Tiger, so the appetite is still there as we continue to offer our operators an industry-leading platform and further enabling us to support their players.
With live sports betting on hold, have other online gambling verticals seen an increase in player engagement?
Virtual sports including football, horse racing, table tennis and basketball have proved very popular as sport-mad fans look to replicate the excitement and entertainment they receive from betting on live sports. But equally, so has the live streaming of eGames such as FIFA, F1, DOTA and COD, with professional sportspeople and organisations around the world taking part to boost interaction and raise money for great causes. Of course, virtuals and the like are never going to fully replicate the thrill of watching the big game, but they are not designed to, and people are learning to love them for what they are. After all, virtual sports matches and races take place every couple of minutes across mobile and desktop and their RNG functionality means that no prior knowledge is needed. Virtual products already have their legion of fans, but a few more are likely to have been converted during this pandemic. While sports betting will one day become the dominant force again, the future of virtual sports remains healthy.