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Vancouver iGaming Meetup: Reflecting on 2023 & Predictions for Industry Trends in 2024

Couldn’t attend the Vancouver iGaming Meetup at Segev LLP’s offices as 2023 came to a close? Not to worry, we compiled a summary of the most interesting insights overheard at this regular industry gathering, as summarized by our co-hosts, and are sharing them with you here.

We heard conversations about recent challenges, new developments, upcoming projects and generally, the future of the iGaming industry as a whole for 2024 and beyond.

Here were some of the major themes your hosts took note of during the networking event.

Vancouver iGaming Meetup: Reflecting on 2023 & Predictions for Industry Trends in 2024 - main image

Looking back at 2023, what were some of the major trends, challenges, and success stories in iGaming for the West Coast and globally?

Access to capital remained difficult for startups – startups were raising on down round valuations. However, these new lower valuations were likely well needed to reflect the true market value of a large number of companies in the iGaming industry especially startup companies that were raising considerably higher valuations prior to 2022 when the U.S. sports betting market in particular showed some irrational exuberance.

Mergers and acquisitions were on the rise, which bolstered the industry and was a sign of optimism that deals were to be found at these new lower and realistic valuations. Across the US, online sports betting was regulated in a number of new states which further supported the growth of the industry. Online sportsbooks were all spending less money on marketing and promotions to attract players which was an indication of a maturing industry with higher margins. Locally on the west coast, GeoComply continued to expand and opened an office in Ontario. Ontario has proven to be an extremely lucrative online sportsbook and casino market; although a number of operators who initially entered the marketplace have dropped out this year.

–     Alon Segev, Segev LLP

In 2023, the iGaming industry, particularly on the west coast, navigated through a landscape of both challenges and anticipation for future growth. The year was marked by significant events in California where sports betting measures failed to pass – the lack of support from key stakeholders being a major factor. This development highlighted the complex dynamics and challenges in expanding iGaming legislation in states with significant diverging opinions.

Aside from that, digital marketing strategies played a crucial role in engaging and retaining customers in the iGaming industry. Techniques like targeted advertising, targeted marketing and social media campaigns were essential in a highly competitive market.

In closing, 2023 was a year for strategic positioning and addressing legislative challenges within the iGaming industry with a significant focus on states like California.”

–     Haig Sakouyan, InclineBet

Seeing some companies introduce cool new ways to play/gamble this year was a little bittersweet; since, I was a bit early introducing our Bunfox brand of modern gambling games five years ago, but I think it’s the right time now! Companies doing shared play and multiplayer betting experiences and other companies creating non-traditional casino games like crash and casual/instant games gaining great traction this year shows that Gen-Z and Millennials are all grown up and ready and wanting to play. Let’s goooooooooooo!!

–     Mike Lee, MFC Games

“iGaming saw continued growth last year 2023, both on the West Coast and globally. Major trends included the increased adoption of virtual reality (VR) in gaming experiences and the steady rise of digital channel deployments, especially to facilitate mobile gaming and event wagering. In tangent, we also saw an increased focus on responsible gambling (RG) practices, something as a whole the industry has been pleased to see and invest further time, money and efforts into for the betterment of end consumers globally.

Probably the biggest challenge 2023 presented was the increased level of threat incidents and cybersecurity attacks to our industry, across both land-based and iGaming. The goal being for either ransomware payoffs, or sensitive data theft for malicious or financial gain.

Success stories featured the expansion of regulated online casinos, sports betting, cross-channel integrations (e.g.: omnichannel growth), and successful collaborations between iGaming companies and entertainment franchises.”

–     Salim Adatia, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI)

Looking forward to 2024, what are the trends, opportunities and challenges you see for the iGaming industry?

Looking forward to 2024 we are seeing more activity in private and public M&A and notably purse strings opening again as private financing picks up pace.”

Online sports betting will continue to be regulated in new states across the USA, albeit at a slower clip, and, more states may even allow online casino. Alberta may be a new regulated market mirroring the success of the Ontario market under AGCO and iGaming Ontario. Companies will continue to come out with fresh new and innovative products to support the growth of this industry. We are expecting a good year.

–     Alon Segev, Segev LLP

As we look forward to 2024, while no new iCasino spaces launched in 2023, the industry looks forward to potential expansions. The expectation is that more states will explore and potentially legalize iCasino recognizing their economic benefits and the need for an online gambling environment.

As the iGaming landscape continues to grow, the importance of sophisticated digital marketing strategies becomes more pronounced. In 2024, it will be crucial for iGaming businesses to leverage data driven marketing approaches to capture a larger market share and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

The industry remains poised for future expansion particularly in welcoming new iCasino states and continues to emphasize the importance of innovative digital marketing strategies for growth and customer engagement strategies in 2024.

–     Haig Sakouyan, InclineBet

Well… personally, I’d love to see BC open up similar to Ontario. That would bring some great energy to the local west coast iGaming scene. I don’t think it’ll happen in 2024, but let’s see if we can advance a little further down the field! Apart from this, I predict that we’ll see some very interesting product innovations and new business models come out of the social casino space this year!

–     Mike Lee, MFC Games

Looking forward to 2024, I would say anticipated trends for iGaming include further advancements in augmented reality integrations and experiences – both software and hardware, and an increased development on artificial intelligence (AI) gamified experiences.

Challenges include overcoming hurdles regarding the acceptability or expansion of iGaming in the U.S., which has not followed pace with Canada, Latin America, and Europe. Another continued challenge for suppliers, operators, and regulators, will be safeguarding against concerns related to privacy breaches, data theft, as well as ransomware and cybersecurity attacks.

Opportunities lie in expanding consumer bases through innovative marketing strategies and exploring emerging markets domestically and overseas. Additionally, the potential for novel collaborations between iGaming, land-based, entertainment, and tech companies may shape the industry’s landscape. In addition, the viability of an ‘Ontario-like’ iGaming operational model will continue to be up for serious debate for West Coast provinces. Not necessarily mirroring Ontario, but certainly taking a close look into the model’s ‘license and regulate’ principals for potential growth opportunities to meet consumer demands.

–     Salim Adatia, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI)

Expanding on the reflections shared by the aforementioned key industry leaders, iGaming stakeholders can anticipate shifts in global regulatory landscapes. These changes are poised to create a more stable market, opening avenues for emerging companies. Further, advancements in AI are expected to introduce new methods to approach various aspects of iGaming, spanning marketing, user experience and player safety. Additionally, we anticipate a greater emphasis on gamification, bridging the realms of gaming and gambling.

Segev LLP thanks everyone who attended the 2023 Vancouver iGaming Meetup and we look forward to more progress and success in the years to come!

If you have questions about Gaming laws in Canada, or would like to discuss how these changes may impact your business, our Gaming team would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-604-1312 or https://segev.ca/contact-us/.

Disclaimer

***The above blog post is provided for informational purposes only and has not been tailored to your specific circumstances. This blog post does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice and may not be relied upon as such.***