Online gaming, preeminent figure of the multi-channel

22 April 2023 - 11:51

Online gaming in Italy continues to experience the excellent time generated by the tidal wave of the time of Covid-19.

Written by Cesare Antonini

With the experts of the sector and with the association of the main Italian iGaming concessionaires, we wanted to understand what is the current state of the sector and what are the prospects for further growth or stability, always with the rising chart but with much less verticals than two years ago.

As mentioned, the president Moreno Marasco takes stock of the Logico association (League of online gaming operators), still at the forefront in the reality that deals with protecting the interests of companies that mainly deal with online gaming. Three years after the Covid-19 pandemic, what is the positioning of online gaming after the boom during the pandemic? Is the growth curve continuing to rise or has it stabilized? “The pandemic has accelerated the penetration of digital compared to traditional methods, in commerce and beyond. Gaming has followed this macro-trend, while taking into account the important differences, both regulatory and related to radically different user profiles, above all for the methods of use and, lastly, for the economic contribution (with particular reference to the use of cash ). If during the first lockdown there was a timid growth of online compared to the same period of the previous year, during the second lockdown the growth was more sensitive, due to the strategic repositioning of multi-channel companies. These, in fact, had finally identified in the digital channel their only anchor of operational resilience. With the pandemic behind us, the positioning of online gaming continues to be relevant.”

What are the medium-long term prospects for iGaming, in Italy and internationally?

“First of all, a consolidation of the players (understood as M&A), a trend in line with the times. Then, there is the need to enhance the protections of online gaming, also with a view to applying strategies that are truly omni-channel, for which we hope there will be regulatory homogenization, in the reorganization text".

It seemed that the new government could work on the advertising ban, finally being able to give more scope to new player acquisitions. Actually, the sector is growing all the same. Even thinking about the self-regulatory code that you proposed before the Dignity Decree, what is your position on the matter, as regards the current legislative and political situation?

“Logico has already ensured the necessary visibility of the sector with its contributions to the guidelines. Undoubtedly, the landscape has changed, and we hope for leaving behind the ban on advertising. However, there is no willingness - and we reiterated this to Minister Andrea Abodi - to obtain what is due in exchange for further increases in taxation, to the detriment of consumers and the channeling of gaming demand on the legal circuit, our main goal”.

The top management of the Adm changes, the regulator changes, but the extension regime remains the only modus operandi that does not seem to want to stop: what is your position at the regulatory level in the online gaming sector?

"The extensions causes de facto barriers to market entry, just like the latest tender provided for by the legislator, with only 40 online rights and an auction base of €2.5 million, for which a regulatory review is urgently needed. Furthermore, tenders must be subordinated to reorganization to date: it is not possible to commit companies with nine-year industrial plans (this is the duration of the concessions) and then turn the tables".

Is there a risk of split between physical and remote gaming?

“The pandemic has taught us that the operational resilience of companies, in any sector, depends on multi-channelling. Basically, it should converge in an omnichannel perspective, providing a heterogeneous experience through all sales channels, through the adoption of tools for unique identification of users. The current legislation prescribes greater protections for remote gaming, as also repeatedly established several times by the legislator: procedures and identification of players, aimed at controlling the emergence of problems related to compulsive, underage gaming and money laundering, through the player identification. Rather, the main concern is that in order to homogenize the treatment of customers, online gaming suffers an impoverishment of the protections that distinguish it from physical gaming."

Retail is recovering within the global channel

At Enada Rimini, Gioco News launched a discussion on the "new form of gaming", between online gaming and retail which, as Moreno Marasco of Logico has just pointed out, are now to be considered in a single body, under the omnichannel.
But how was 2022? “The Italian market is one of the most dynamic and most regulated markets, with excellent results compared to the trend at European and international level. After the drop in volume recorded in the retail sector in the pandemic period, in 2022 we returned to an overall picture that allows us to recover and exceed the volumes of 2019", Mauro De Fabritiis, founder of Mdf Partners, points out.
Here's how to read the data: “If we look at the retail or online statistics in detail - he continues - we see how important the drop in sales following the closures of the pandemic is. However, the 2022 results confirm that retail has sufficiently recovered the deficit that existed in the years of the pandemic with a minus 6 percent compared to volumes prior to 2019. Therefore, after the decline in the pandemic period, in 2022 we returned to a framework that allows us to recover and even exceed 2019. In fact, if we look at retail and online we see that the 2022 result sufficiently recovers the years impacted by the pandemic".

According to De Fabritiis, promotions have played a fundamental role in this growth: “The use of promotions as an information tool for the player – he explains - has been a strong push that has driven online and betting, in the context of a responsible gaming oriented codification. As regards betting, in fact, it is important to see how the recovery of retail has been interesting starting from the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, returning to pre-pandemic levels, a sign that the online consumer has returned to play on retail , even if online has maintained its sustainability. However, if we talk about acquisitions, there have been many in this period and many more there will be, a phenomenon that concerns the concentration of a market that has reached a certain maturity”.

As for payment tools, “the credit card resists and is adopted by 90 percent of operators, while wallets have a lower incidence. Furthermore, the trend in casino games is linked not only to the closures during in the pandemic, but also to the dynamism of the segment in the following years. Some of the latest news come from innovations in both online casinos and betting.”

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