Being up to date with the latest technological developments in the gaming industry is of paramount importance. Issues around the latest changes in gaming technology, how these changes will impact the gaming industry, and how technology can improve operations, increase revenue and control costs were discussed at this year’s BIG Africa Summit 2013 organised by Eventus International Ltd. and held at the Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre, Fourways in South Africa, 4-6 November 2013.
The keynote opening presentation was delivered by Advocate Themba Ngobese, CEO for the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA). Ngobese’s presentation reviewed the South African gambling industry and its regulation. Ngobese said: “CASA members have to date invested in excess of R30 billion in infrastructure leading to the development of work class entertainment destinations incorporating more than 7800 hotel rooms, convention centres, tourist attractions, theme parks, sports facilities, restaurants etc.” He furthermore mentioned that CASA members have created in excess of 63 000 direct jobs, many of which give employment to people with no previous work experience.
At the summit, Nikki Forster, Leader of the Hospitality and Gaming industry at PricewaterhouseCoopers discussed the second edition of their Gambling Outlook report that was launched on the 6th of November 2013. According to Forster the report focus on segments within South African gambling industry including casinos, limited payout machines, sports betting and bingo, plus the national lottery. The report portrays detailed forecasts and trends for each segment.
Furthermore, Forster talked about the gross gambling revenue as per segment and revealed the following staggering statistics:
- Casino gambling – R16.4bn (79%)
- Sports betting – R2.6bn (12%)
- Limited payout machines – R1.5bn (7%)
- Bingo – R437m (2%)
Forster also mentioned that gambling is a major source of revenue for the South African Government and can be estimated as R2.1bn revenue in gambling taxes and levies. Gross gambling revenue increased by 13.4% in 2012 to R20.9bn and it is forecasted that it will increase to R29.8bn in 2017. Forster was confident that online gambling will be legalised in the next 5 years.
With these future growth prospects in mind, where does it leave the gaming and gambling industry? What role does technology play to help gaming companies move their business forward to share in the success? Andrew Crone, IT Portfolio and Quality Manager at Sun International addressed these questions during his presentation at the summit. Crone said: “Gaming companies need to link IT strategy to the business strategy and start driving the innovation curve.”
Furthermore, Crone warns that gaming companies should get rid of legacy thinking. Focus on the competitors and make sure that your organisation is positioned and ready for the competition. Crone argued that if gaming companies want to succeed they should work on key strengths and give their customer base what they want. Gaming companies must realise that operational efficiency in these economic times can only be possible through successful technology implementation. This is the key to carry the industry into the future.
“The focus is shifting to what the customer want”, said Stuart Wing, Chief Operating Officer from Sun International. Wing’s presentation at the summit emphasised the global trends in gaming and he talked about how consumer preferences are changing. Wing is further of the opinion that on line gaming and remote gaming will become an extension of and part of the traditional casino offering.
Wing said: “Transactions and loyalty programs will become seamless between Casino loyalty clubs and the on line environment. Gaming machines and table games will be played away from the device / table on tablet style devices thereby reducing costs and expanding distribution points within the casino. Social gaming will become an integral part of a companies offering. Games of skill will be commercialised and become part of the total gaming offering.”
Mark Jakins, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, Peermont Hotel Casinos Resorts expressed a very interesting view on creating a more integrated proposition by introducing cross-marketing and cross sell initiatives. He pointed out that this can be a gateway to new players and retaining existing customers in the gaming and gambling industry.
According to Daniel Kustelski, Managing Director, Sunbet (previously Voltbet) the shift is clearly towards social media and online gaming. This is also where new revenue streams are.
John Hoehler, Head of Buisness Line, Net 1 Mobile solutions stated that according to the GSMA, Africa is now the world’s second largest mobile market by connections after Asia, and the fastest growing mobile market in the world.
“Africa has become a vital growth market for many organisations focusing on providing services especially via mobile devices”, said Hoehler. He added that it is a fact that gaming is increasingly becoming a mobile activity. He noted that the mobile device remains many subscribers’ only connectivity point to the Internet in Africa, while the mobile gaming industry continues to grow. All over Africa, he said, smartphone usage continues to grow and mobile gaming is available across multiple channels.
Other speakers at this year’s summit included, Tyrone Dobbin, Co-founder/Managing Director, Sportingbest South Africa; Anli Kotze, COO, BetTech Gaming; Greg Parsons, Director Sales Africa, Sportsradar; Ian Barnes, CTO, BetTech Gaming; Wayne Lurie, Director, Lurie Inc; Evan Hoff, Director, Velo Partners UK; and Tashie Moodley, Sales and Account Manager, BMM Testlabs.
The summit was very successful and the organisers are already planning the second annual summit, scheduled to take place for 6 – 8 October 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Keep a look out in the press for more information on the 2nd Annual BIG Africa Summit. If your organisation is serious about the gaming and gambling industry in Africa, this is an event not to be missed.