Darko Gacov: Is the growth of virtuals here to stay

Darko Gacov: Is the growth of virtuals here to stay
Darko Gacov: Is the growth of virtuals here to stay

Originally published on 5Star Media.

Singular co-founder Darko Gacov shares his insights into the latest market trends and how these will influence the company’s growth this year.

What will be the biggest challenges for the iGaming industry this year?

It is inevitable to speak about the COVID-19 outbreak. This poses a challenge across many industries, and iGaming is not an exception. The intensity of effects will be directly proportional to the duration of the lockdowns. Managing this period of stillness and the after-effects will require a proactive approach on the business level, but also from a macro perspective. In general, the economies will be shaken up and that will lead to a period filled with challenges and opportunities.

The initial and most direct short-term impact comes from the fact that the majority of the sports events got canceled. How quickly the sports betting sector gets back to its earlier dynamics will depend highly on the stability of the economy, but also of certain policy changes in proactive regulation which can stimulate the economies. We have to be mindful of these types of proactive measures, since as a result of increased online gambling, player protection will continue to be in focus. We are also witnessing a short term reaction to the lack of sport events and there are quite innovative approaches aside from the virtual solutions to filling this gap.

Nevertheless, the situation will also stimulate the liberalization and the regulation of many markets, some of which will have significant positive effects on the industry. Also, at the beginning of the recovery there will be further consolidation of the market through M&As – because of the size some will be visible, others not that much.

Operators would benefit from a flexible platform that can boost cross-product selling campaigns, as well as the swift conversion of offline to online players. 

How is Singular positioned to meet these challenges?

The foundation of our business model lies in the flexibility and modularity of our solutions. Every client of ours will have a unique way of dealing with this situation, depending on their operational focus (sportsbook vs casino), channel (online vs retail), market (regulation and competition). I can not say that one solution will fit them all. True, we are seeing some general trends in regard to alternative products that are entertained by operators to combat the lack of sport events. Online casinos are stable with even an increased activity. Operators would benefit from a flexible platform that can boost cross-product selling campaigns, as well as the swift conversion of offline to online players. However, some of the biggest sports betting players will be less likely to make the switch. This is where virtual sports offering can play a crucial role.

How would you describe the current demand for virtual sports on a global scale?

Considering the situation the demand is increasing because of the lack of sports events and operators are looking into game alternatives to offer. Also, we have to mention the increased interest in e-sports which has been soaring even before the pandemic. It will be interesting to see if the current situation will attract new players. On the virtual sports side, we are witnessing a rise of options not only in typical virtual sports but many different derivatives. This may be the perfect period for companies to step out of the box, innovate and test the market. Consequently, we may discover some new directions or trends. Not to mention the array of possibilities for further enhancing certain social aspects of the games or even VR (which still needs a lot of maturity to pick up, if ever).

Suppliers and operators should focus on retention tactics for long-term success. 

How much scope for growth do you think virtual sports has moving forward?

There are some amazing companies doing virtuals, both as standard solutions, and some that are challenging the creative potential within the iGaming industry. Graphics still play a big role in attracting players, however, the key lies in the creation of an immersive experience that can truly reflect the excitement from betting on real sports events. Looking ahead, suppliers and operators should focus on retention tactics for long-term success. First, a rich offering with a variety of sports and games will provide attractive options for a wider audience. The type and number of markets are also just as important to create a more realistic betting experience. Especially in the following period we will witness an interesting fusion of past real sport events and virtualization.

As long as there are limited sports events, the operators will be more relaxed when discussing new concepts and inclined towards testing the same. Once sports events are back, virtuals will slowly gravitate towards their original share in this vertical, even though it might end up being slightly higher than it has been prior to the pandemic. It really depends on what the virtual sports providers will come up with – if it is something that does NOT truly create genuine excitement and real-life feel, then we will be looking at virtuals going back to the place where they were before this began.

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