HomeIn-depthItai Zak: “Do not dismiss the industry’s capacity for adaptation and innovation”

Itai Zak: “Do not dismiss the industry’s capacity for adaptation and innovation”

14 min. read
Itai Zak, Digicode

The gambling industry is in a constant state of flux. And, if change is not always fluid or even organic, businesses are forced to leave their comfort zones and embrace it, nevertheless. We sat down with Itai Zak, Executive Director at Digicode, and Former CEO of SBTech, to observe how the industry has changed and what its motivators for that change are.

As one of the most formidable industry veterans, Zak walked us through some of the biggest innovations in the industry and insightfully noted that the industry itself thrives on a dynamic interplay between reactive responses to external changes and proactive innovation initiatives of its own. How Digicode comes into all of this and what the bigger lessons to draw here are, we set to find out with Zak.

Q: Itai, let’s start with some of the biggest predictions that came true about the gambling industry over the past, let’s say 5 years. What do you think industry stakeholders were prescient enough to foresee?

The gambling industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, with several key predictions proving remarkably accurate.

1. Regulatory Shift: Industry stakeholders foresaw a crucial shift towards regulated markets, differentiating them from the black market. This foresight has become a reality, reshaping the landscape. Regulation offers not only legal clarity for operators but also fosters player trust in the fairness and security of their experience. As more jurisdictions embrace regulation, the industry anticipates continued growth and maturity. Consequently, black-market operators face mounting pressure and challenges.

2. Live Dealer Boom: Stakeholders accurately predicted the explosive growth of live dealer games, fueled by the desire for immersive experiences. This trend has revolutionized online gambling, offering an authentic casino experience from the comfort of home. Live dealer games bridge the gap between virtual and physical casinos, providing the social interaction and real-time gameplay that resonates with players. With technological advancements, the quality and accessibility of live dealer offerings will continue to improve, solidifying their position as an industry mainstay.

3. Content as King: A fundamental shift has been the commodification of content. With a saturated market, operators recognized the importance of offering diverse and engaging content to stand out. This competitive landscape has driven innovation and creativity among game developers, resulting in a proliferation of high-quality and immersive games. By prioritizing content acquisition and development, operators can effectively differentiate their brands and become industry leaders.

4. Player-Centric Design: The industry has witnessed a paradigm shift towards a player-centric approach. Recognizing the importance of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, operators are now optimizing interfaces for a seamless and intuitive experience. This includes streamlining navigation, enhancing gameplay mechanics, and personalizing features to cater to individual preferences. By prioritizing player satisfaction and engagement, operators can foster long-term loyalty and retention, driving sustainable growth in a competitive market.

5. Crypto's Impact: Finally, the rise of cryptocurrencies has given rise to crypto-based betting and casinos. As digital currencies gain wider acceptance, industry leaders anticipated an increase in operators embracing crypto payments and integrating blockchain technology. Crypto-based gambling offers advantages like enhanced security, privacy, transparency, and faster transactions. As players seek alternative payment methods and greater anonymity, crypto-based betting and casinos are expected to gain traction, propelling innovation and competition within the industry.

Q: Do you think that the industry is "reactive" to changes, whether those are regulatory or technological, or do you think that companies from our sector actually lead the charge when it comes to innovation?

The gambling industry thrives on a dynamic interplay between reactive responses to external changes and proactive innovation initiatives. While regulations and technological advancements often necessitate adjustments, several companies within the sector are leading the innovation charge, setting new standards and shaping the industry's future.

So let’s look at Examples of Pioneering Companies:

Live Dealer Innovation: Evolution Gaming stands out as a true pioneer in live dealer gaming. Their unwavering commitment to pushing technological boundaries has redefined player expectations and elevated the online gambling experience. State-of-the-art studios, cutting-edge streaming, and a vast live dealer game portfolio have revolutionized how players interact with online casino games. By consistently introducing new game variations, innovative features, and immersive environments, Evolution has solidified its position as the industry leader in live dealer experiences.

Personalized Experiences: Other companies are at the forefront of true personalization. Leveraging sophisticated data analytics and machine learning algorithms, they have developed advanced player segmentation tools. These tools allow operators to deliver highly tailored gaming experiences to individual players. From personalized game recommendations to targeted promotions and bonuses, these solutions empower operators to enhance player engagement, retention, and satisfaction, ultimately driving business growth in a competitive market.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: Companies like Bitcasino.io are emerging as pioneers in the realm of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. They leverage decentralized digital currencies to offer secure, transparent, and fair gambling experiences. By embracing cryptocurrencies as payment methods and integrating blockchain technology, Bitcasino.io has eliminated many pain points associated with online gambling, such as slow transactions and lack of transparency. This translates to seamless and secure gaming experiences for players, while operators benefit from reduced costs and enhanced trust and credibility.

Responsible Gambling with AI: Companies like BetBuddy are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to promote responsible gambling practices. Their innovative tools monitor player behavior and can intervene if risky patterns emerge. This ensures that gambling remains fun and safe for everyone.

However, with AI's vast opportunities comes the responsibility to navigate privacy and regulatory complexities. Companies need to ensure they are compliant and respectful of user privacy when implementing AI solutions in online gambling.

So, while it's exciting, there's also a need for caution and careful management.

Q: Speaking about Digicode specifically, how does the solution help iGaming operators and suppliers, and how can they benefit from collaborating with Digicode?

Headquartered in the US with a global presence, Digicode has been a trusted partner for iGaming operators and suppliers since 2008. Our team of over 400 skilled professionals leverages extensive experience and cutting-edge solutions - this is Digicode's main strategy for iGaming.

To be more specific, let’s talk about the Benefits of Partnering with Digicode:

Independent Expertise: As an independent technology partner, Digicode offers a comprehensive suite of services tailored to the specific needs of iGaming businesses.

Cutting-Edge Solutions: We focus on developing innovative solutions to address key industry challenges. Our expertise allows us to design and implement state-of-the-art platforms – flexible, adaptable, cost-effective, and efficient – for casinos, sportsbooks, lotteries, payment gateways, or any other iGaming vertical.

Enhanced Personalization: We understand the power of personalization. Digicode helps you tailor gaming experiences to individual player preferences, fostering deeper engagement and loyalty.

Seamless Integrations: Our powerful integration hub simplifies the integration of third-party vendors into your core platform. This hub enables easy integration of game providers, marketing solutions, payment service providers (PSPs), and other valuable third-party solutions. By streamlining and transparently facilitating these integrations, operators can efficiently enhance their offerings and provide added value to their players.

Game Development Solutions: For game providers, Digicode tackles the challenge of high development costs and complex market adaptations. We offer cost-effective services that help providers expand their roadmap by developing more games for diverse markets. Additionally, we can assist with exclusive game branding, meeting all unique requirements, and strengthening the brand identity. Our expertise empowers game providers to scale operations, maximize reach, and deliver innovative gaming experiences to a global audience.

Compliance Navigation: Regulatory complexities can be a hurdle. Each market and jurisdiction has its own licensing and compliance requirements, creating significant overhead for operators.

Digicode assists operators in adjusting their platforms to meet the specific technical and product requirements of each jurisdiction, ensuring compliance and facilitating efficient market entry.

By partnering with Digicode, you gain a trusted advisor with the expertise to navigate the ever-evolving iGaming landscape. We focus on delivering solutions that empower the success and propel businesses forward.

Q: Do you think the industry is change-averse and would much rather preserve a sort of status quo rather than change things too quickly?

While some elements of the gambling industry may exhibit resistance to rapid change due to regulations and risk factors, it would be inaccurate to label the entire sector as change-averse. The industry is dynamic and multifaceted, with different companies and segments displaying varying attitudes towards change.

Like many others, the gambling industry has a complex relationship with change. While certain elements may display a degree of aversion to rapid change, characterizing the entire sector that way is an oversimplification.

Firstly, the gambling industry operates within a highly regulated environment, where compliance with legal frameworks and licensing requirements is crucial. This regulatory landscape often necessitates a cautious approach to change. Operators must ensure any modifications to their offerings adhere to strict regulations and do not compromise compliance. As a result, some companies may prioritize stability and continuity over rapid innovation to avoid regulatory risks and maintain their market position.

The gambling industry is inherently risk-averse due to the significant financial stakes involved. Operators invest substantial resources in developing and marketing their products. Any sudden or drastic changes that disrupt established revenue streams could have adverse financial consequences. Therefore, some industry players may tend to remain cautious and preserve the status quo rather than risk upheaval.

However, it would be remiss to dismiss the industry's capacity for adaptation and innovation. In recent years, there's been a growing recognition among industry stakeholders of the need to embrace change. This is in response to shifting consumer preferences, technological advancements, and regulatory developments. Companies that remain stagnant risk being left behind in an increasingly competitive market, where innovation is key to staying relevant and maintaining a competitive edge.

Furthermore, certain segments of the industry have demonstrated a remarkable willingness to embrace change and drive innovation. For example, the online gambling sector has seen rapid evolution and disruption driven by advancements in technology and changing consumer behavior. Companies operating in this space are often at the forefront of innovation, leveraging cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain to enhance the gaming experience and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Additionally, the emergence of new market opportunities, such as the legalization of sports betting in certain jurisdictions, has spurred industry players to adapt and capitalize on changing market dynamics. In these instances, companies have demonstrated a proactive approach to change, seizing opportunities for growth and expansion in new markets.

Q: Is the gambling industry a place for true innovation where groundbreaking technology has an actual impact on the way we approach various aspects of gambling?

The gambling industry is a dynamic arena where cutting-edge technology continuously reshapes how we approach gambling. Online gambling, in particular, has been fundamentally transformed by these advancements, offering players around the world unprecedented convenience, accessibility, and variety.

Cloud-based solutions have emerged as a game-changer, revolutionizing online gambling platform operations. By leveraging cloud infrastructure, operators can scale efficiently, reducing costs and improving performance. This shift to the cloud enables seamless access to games and services from any internet-connected device, enhancing the overall user experience. Additionally, cloud solutions facilitate regulatory compliance by providing secure storage and access controls for sensitive player data, ensuring adherence to strict data protection regulations.

Gamification and personalization have become key strategies for keeping players engaged. Platforms now incorporate game-like elements like challenges, achievements, tournaments, and rewards, creating a more immersive and entertaining experience. Personalization tailors offerings to individual preferences and behavior, increasing player satisfaction and loyalty. Advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms further aid in identifying and addressing potential problem gambling behavior, promoting responsible practices and ensuring player safety.

Innovative payment methods and gateways are another driver of industry innovation. The integration of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum offers players fast, secure, and anonymous payment options, while blockchain technology adds a layer of trust and transparency to financial transactions. Additionally, mobile payment solutions and digital wallets provide convenient and seamless ways for players to fund their accounts and withdraw winnings, further enhancing the user experience.

Technology plays a huge role in promoting responsible gambling practices. Robust identity and age verification processes ensure compliance with regulations and prevent underage gambling. Sophisticated geolocation technologies restrict access based on players' geographic locations, ensuring compliance with jurisdictional regulations. Furthermore, real-time monitoring tools and reporting systems enable operators to detect and respond to suspicious activity, mitigating the risk of money laundering and fraud.

Q: What do you think the next big thing in gambling is – and do you think people are paying close attention to it?

The gambling industry is buzzing with transformative developments poised to redefine the player experience and reshape the landscape.

One such trend is the pursuit of true personalized player experiences, where online gambling platforms leverage advanced data analytics and machine learning algorithms to tailor gaming experiences according to each player's unique preferences and behavior. For example, operators may analyze player data to offer customized game recommendations, personalized bonuses, and targeted promotions, creating a more engaging and tailored experience for each player.

The evolution of true gamification and recommendation engines is upon us. Platforms will seamlessly integrate game-like elements such as challenges, achievements, and rewards, all tailored to your preferences. AI algorithms will analyze player data to deliver personalized game recommendations and content suggestions, maximizing player satisfaction and loyalty.

AI is rapidly transforming online gambling. Operators are leveraging AI-powered solutions to optimize everything from customer service and marketing to responsible gambling measures and game development. This translates to enhanced player experiences, improved operational efficiency, and a stronger focus on responsible gaming practices.

In the US, sweepstakes casinos are emerging as a unique innovation. This model allows players to participate in casino-style games and win prizes without risking real money. It has the potential to reshape the US gambling market by offering online gambling experiences in states where traditional online gambling remains illegal.

Live dealer games are taking a giant leap forward. Technological advancements in display, sound, speed, and capacity, along with the potential of VR and AR integration, are poised to unlock the full potential of live dealer experiences. Imagine digital casinos in 2024 rivaling the immersive experience of brick-and-mortar establishments, offering unparalleled player engagement and interactivity.

Blockchain Revolution: Get ready for secure, transparent, and efficient financial transactions! Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are poised to revolutionize the industry. By leveraging blockchain, operators can ensure the integrity of gaming outcomes, facilitate faster and more secure payments, and build greater player trust and confidence in online gambling platforms.

Industry stakeholders, including players, operators, and regulators, are closely monitoring these trends. The increasing adoption of gamification, personalized experiences, and live dealer games is a clear sign that the industry is committed to innovation and player engagement.

Additionally, the widespread media coverage and industry discussions surrounding these trends confirm that they are capturing the attention of both professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Summing up, the gambling industry's forward momentum, fueled by technological innovation and regulatory adjustments, heralds a future marked by enhanced experiences and opportunities for players and operators alike.

Thank you.

Image credit: Casino Guru News

23 May 2024
14 min. read
Nobody has commented on this article yet. Be the first one to leave a comment.
Stay up to date
Would you like to be notified about latest gambling news and updates?