Tapping into the next generation
How do you see platform providers driving innovation in iGaming and how will Comtrade and iCore contribute to this?
Platform providers play a key role in driving innovation, both directly and indirectly. An iGaming platform, or PAM as it’s known in the USA, touches every part of the gaming ecosystem. Much of the innovation sits directly in the platform, such as the latest bonusing or loyalty, and marketing tools. In other cases, the platform must support external innovation that it integrates with, like in-game promotions or advanced 3rd-party CRMs.
Speed is the critical thing with iGaming platforms, whether from an operational point of view, to develop new features, or speed to be able to get into new markets. We are constantly looking at how we can innovate in these areas to ensure our operators can execute their business plans.
New markets are a big area. Many operators are running multiple platforms across multiple jurisdictions, mainly because it is the quickest route to market. Using what we call “Country Adaptors,” we can support operators across multiple countries, all with different regulatory requirements, from a single backend.
How will flexibility and customisation of platforms help push forward new ways of thinking for operators and suppliers?
We have been in the gaming industry for 18 years and focused on platforms for the last 10 years. Whatever the size of the operator, one thing remains the same: they all have their ideas.
Our unique selling proposition (USP) in the industry is being able to cater to those individual ideas and deliver individual features and customizations quickly. Each of our clients has their own individual deployment of our core software, which is tailored to their requirements. Each client gets an upgrade to a new version every 3 weeks on a no-downtime basis. This upgrade includes the vanilla upgrades and the ones specific to each operator. This is not an easy thing to do, but we are able to manage this since Comtrade Group has over 25 years of experience in software development in many other industries. This process creates the best iGaming platforms available.
How is iCore helping drive sports betting innovations forward through its advanced sportsbook support?
We are not a sportsbook provider ourselves; we leave that to the companies who specialise in that. What we do, though, is ensure the tightest possible integration with an operator's chosen sportsbook provider, or in many cases, their in-house proprietary sportsbook. This means the operator can manage risk and trade events at the sportsbook, but everything to do with the player is handled at the platform. This means you can deliver cross-market bonuses from sports to casinos at an individual event or bet type level. It also makes it easier to have a multi-sportsbook approach, which many operators are now choosing. Events are running across multiple providers, but the valuable part—the players—and importantly, all that data, are all contained within one platform.
Quite often, when a new market opens, it is sportsbook-driven, and operators choose a one-stop solution where everything is done by one provider. As they grow or competition increases, they soon realize they need much better individual components to increase their market share. We specialise in letting operators have the components they want so they can maximise lifetime player values.
How big a role do data, business analytics, and reporting play in iGaming platform innovations and where does Comtrade fit in here?
Data is hugely important. From an operational point of view, the system must be able to handle the huge loads that can be placed on it. Our operators are typically quite large, and at peak times, they can be processing thousands of bets/spins per second. We are analysing hundreds of metrics on performance 24/7 from our support locations. We then have a strict 4-minute response time for any issues. Other data is used to deliver bonusing and loyalty based on their current gameplay and delivered in real-time, ensuring the player has the best experience while they are on the site.
The second-stage analysis comes post-game session, where an individual player's preferences or experiences are used to tailor the experience or offers that are presented to the player next time. We have a very rich set of tools with iCore for this, but we also integrate with many leading third parties in this area.
How is iCore helping with Comtrade’s responsible gaming and fraud and risk strategy?
Our platform has all the typical fraud risk tools you would expect for large tier 1 operators, and they are all customizable to suit any individual market. When it comes to responsible gaming, this is an area where there has been a huge focus from both government regulators and operators at a self-regulation level.
Using our platform, our operators can offer tools such as loss limit setting, reality checks, and access to external responsible gambling resources. We have player history and self-assessment tools, so players can review their history and assess their behaviour to make informed decisions. We also have monitoring and intervention. Our platform uses data analytics to identify unusual gambling patterns, and it can be configured to intervene if it detects problematic gambling behaviour.
Which key markets or sectors of the industry is Comtrade specifically looking towards as drivers of innovation in iGaming?
Gaming historically hasn’t been the most innovative industry mostly due to regulation and connected conservative and risk-averse attitude of the operators. But regulators can’t be used as an excuse every time and we are happy to work with operators that are open to try innovations. While we don’t produce games or betting software ourselves, we are often involved in the integration of innovations that other vendors introduce. We therefore can see which innovations are accepted by players and which are not.
On our RGS product, we are constantly adding new slot game mechanics and extending SDK to make it even faster for people to be able to build games and adapt to the latest trends.
Recently many innovations have integrated elements based on artificial intelligence, requiring buy-in from the operators first and if done properly get accepted by players without even noticing that AI was used. Gaming should be about player entertainment that can be improved with gamification side activities that make players more engaged than just playing games. Operators mostly offer the same products these days but can differentiate with these additional activities where we hope to see even more innovation in the future.
What challenges could iGaming platform providers face in looking for new ways to innovate and what potential solutions are out there?
If you look back over the 30 years of online gambling and how big it has grown, but how much it is still very similar to the early years. It is still all built around two things: players and products. Everything that has come since then has been either increasing product choice or enhancing player experience, and perhaps streamlining operations through automation.
AI is going to be the next phase of automation, whether that is chatbots for customer service, AI-driven personalization, dynamic odds adjustment via AI, fraud detection, predictive analytics, etc. There won't be an area where AI can't offer an improvement. But that is exactly what it will be: improvements, not innovation in the true form.
Innovation will be needed in new betting products to capture future generations that perhaps don't follow and bet on traditional sports like they do today.