End of .COM, innovation, M&A consolidation, CTDs and casino games in my personal predictions for the gaming sector in 2015.
Here are my personal list of gaming predictions for 2015!
1. End of .COM in Europe
EU gaming regulators have set up in most of the European jurisdictions a .COUNTRY gaming regulatory regime setting a landscape that is just the opposite of a few years ago when only Italy required a local license. This approach is being followed by further countries like the Netherlands and Romania and hopefully by Germany with the consequence that the so called EU license will allow to operate in almost no jurisdiction. In order to avoid that this shift represents a major cost for operators, EU regulators will work in order to ensure consistency between their regulations and mutual recognition of gaming certifications.
2. Major shift towards innovation
The crisis that affected games like poker and the entire online gaming sector in some jurisdictions already pushed and will incrementally push operators to launch new products/technologies in order to differentiate their offering and attract new players. At the same time, the growth of new channels of communication such as wearable technologies will generate new opportunities for operators that will be able to keep up with innovation.
3. M&A consolidation
The need for operators to be competitive in all the markets where they offer their games and to approach new markets as soon as they are regulated will inevitably push them towards M&A consolidation. This might lead to “mergers of equals“, but it is more likely that operators will take advantage of their liquidity to acquire competitors or that game suppliers will move to the B2C market through major acquisitions.
4. End of gaming CTDs
The approach of the Italian Government is to put an end to the so called CTDs i.e. Internet cafes operated under a non-Italian EU license as betting shops on the basis of the EU principle of freedom of services. The Government is trying to find a solution aimed at pushing those CTDs under the umbrella of Italian gaming licenses by means of extraordinary measures. My sole concern is that such move might lead to considerable disputes.
5. Growth of casino games
The Italian gaming regulator together with major European gambling regulators are adopting stronger measures against foreign licensed websites targeting their players. These measures are expected to bring considerable results in the Italian gaming market since the beginning of next year and I expect that the same example will be followed by other jurisdictions.