Take Macau as an example. The Special Administrative Region is only just beginning to look to a future free from China’s zero-covid policy, after posting its lowest annual revenue figures since the concession system for casinos was launched in 2002.
This allowed the US, thanks to the casino sector’s resurgence and the rampant spread of sports betting, to become the industry’s focal point, especially as the climate in Europe and Great Britain became frostier for online operators.
But as the pace of state sports betting launches slows, and economic conditions worsen, operators are looking further afield, to Latin America and Africa in the hunt for growth. To help readers plot a path through the evolution of gaming around the globe, we’ve gathered local experts to share their thoughts on what 2023 will bring.
This is complemented by insights from subject matter experts, spanning marketing, technology and investment. On the supply side, Richard Brown from Gaming Innovation Group discusses how he has built out a business that competes on multiple fronts, in multiple markets, and how developments in its target markets and verticals will evolve over the coming 12 months.
A huge thanks to GiG for sponsoring this report, and to the iGB editorial team for their efforts in compiling our most comprehensive set of predictions to date.
Jamie Mitchell, co-founder and CEO, Low6
Sergio Muscat, founder, Oxygia
Eric Frank, founder Odds on Compliance
What will be the most important technological trend of 2023?
Jamie Mitchell: The metaverse has been doing the rounds on buzzword bingo for pretty much all of 2022 and we have seen some interesting ideas of what that future space could look like. The upcoming year will really start to define the underlying foundations of web3 as we move into that more immersive world. Blockchain will undoubtedly be at the forefront and we’ll start seeing NFTs being better applied as practical value-adds.
Eric Frank: How the economic downturn will impact the industry remains top of our mind going into 2023. The sports betting and igaming industries are not immune from the potential implications of an economic slowdown.
Therefore, the ability to integrate technology to work smarter, more efficiently and cost-effectively will be the most crucial trend in 2023. Doing more with less and continuing to expand jurisdictional reach while limiting cost increases will be paramount to competing in 2023.
Sergio Muscat: I think that, despite (or maybe also party due to) the ups and downs, crashes and scandals surrounding blockchain, it will remain a very important focus for 2023. The crashes have started the process of weeding out the trash, de-hyping and maturing the technology, so finally maybe we can start seeing its real value and the potential.
In 2023 and beyond, I believe there will also be a strong drive towards regulation of the field – whether that is good or not is still to be seen – and this could possibly start winning some favour from the general public to feel safer touching the space. I think the combination of de-hyping, regulatory effort and innovation in a practical direction will most likely allow for the technology to be integrated into new industries and provide new experiences.
What technology do you believe is perhaps overhyped and will fail to meet expectations next year?
Jamie Mitchell: Virtual reality (VR). Whilst it’s very much championed as part of the future metaverse, I’m just not convinced that we’ll see mass adoption of this technology any time soon. I’m sure Zuckerberg would probably say otherwise but let’s take Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms- it’s pure novelty for virtual meeting software. I don’t need to stick on a headset and have a 360° mock-office space to have a successful online meeting. I get more human interaction from a Zoom call.
Eric Frank: As a technology company, it’s hard to be overly critical because trying and failing leads to more innovation and new ideas. We keep this in mind whenever we see both downtrends and upticks in technology as a whole.
Sergio Muscat: I have to say that, although we are already seeing clear signs, social media and the metaverse could be something we might see as being a general disappointment. We have already seen huge investments in the development of social media and Meta’s shift into pushing for the metaverse.
I think that there is (maybe like blockchain) a lot of noise with little results. Social media will not, clearly, disappear – rather, it may change and evolve, but not in the directions we might be expecting. I think that the metaverse, for one, will go into hibernation for some time. It will emerge eventually as a tool for gaming, and probably igaming. However I believe we’re maybe a couple of years away.
How should business be thinking of its relationship with technology in 2023?
Jamie Mitchell: Leaders need to think more holistically with their tech strategy. Specifically businesses that have established themselves in the “physical world” first and foremost. They may well have launched a successful online store but I see so many cases of tech advancements being siloed to either physical or digital. It needs to be about bricks and clicks. How can we enhance the customer experience with technology to bridge both of these worlds.
Eric Frank: Any company that isn’t constantly evaluating its use of technology – both internal technology and external resources – will have difficulty competing. Our team at Odds On Compliance builds and develops tools inspired out of necessity to improve efficiency in the industry, which will help those who lean in on technology win in 2023.
Sergio Muscat: As always, technology should be seen as a tool, rather than a solution. This has not changed, and throughout the years I believe that the fluctuations we have seen were mainly due to seeing technology as the solution, ignoring the human factor.
We cannot ignore the drive towards net zero, and there is a huge push towards that, so any relationship with technology needs to keep that in mind. This does not exclude any industry, as it is a change that is happening at the human mindset level and will therefore reflect in choices that people make in every aspect of their life.
In general, I believe that in the use of technology, especially through 2023 and beyond, it will be important to not forget the human interaction aspect of technology – both between the provider and client – and also interactivity between clients. The job of technology, in the end, is to make life easier.