UK Gambling Roundtable: Quotes from Director of New Business and Markets, Fiona Hickey

Push Gaming's Director of New Business and Markets, Fiona Hickey took part in a GamblingNews panel of industry leaders to discuss the future of the future of UK gambling. 

To get the ball rolling, what’s your current outlook for the UK market and do you expect it to retain the crown of Europe’s biggest over the coming decade?


Regulation is constantly evolving and changing, we only need to look to other markets to see that. For example, in Ontario, they decided to regulate very quickly whereas in the Netherlands they have been discussing regulation for over 12 years. Looking at the overall landscape will give more of an insight into where the UK will be in the future. What is known is that the UK is a huge and well-established market and undoubtedly the largest market in Europe, because of that it won’t disappear because of tighter regulations.


The UK exemplifies issues around regulation that affect the industry as a whole. Regulatory measures that protect customers’ safety are welcomed by all. However, if the overall customer experience is hindered by tightening regulations they may choose to go to unregulated partners where they may not face these barriers. As a global industry, we want to provide both safe and engaging experiences for our customers whether that’s via sports betting, poker, slots or any of the varying forms of entertainment on offer.


The UK will continue to be among the biggest gambling markets in the next decade, but it will be interesting to see how that starts to evolve. We have always led with a player-first mentality at Push Gaming. This means we want to provide fun experiences for customers and that is fundamentally our overall goal and underpins our development of products and ourselves as a company. Creating these entertainment experiences will keep the player engaged despite regulation. Evolving and growing this entertainment led medium with the rest of the industry whilst focusing on engagement will keep players involved and enjoying our games regardless of regulation and this will be key to the UK’s continued growth in the future.


Given the diverse range of gaming verticals taking part in our roundtable, what potential do you see for your vertical over other competing sectors?
 
In the casino space, be that from a live casino, slots or arcade perspective it is an ever-evolving industry, but true innovation is difficult to find. What is in store for the casino space, must be innovation and pivoting towards creating experiences that are entertainment led. We want our players to spend years with us and this is done by creating entertainment first products filled with mechanics and features that players want to play periodically and not just during the initial release window of a game.
 
It isn’t about gaining a customer and getting them to spend their deposit as quickly as possible. It’s truly for us about bringing in customers that are going to spend years with our products. This is achievable via the vast amount of diverse, fun, and appealing titles we release that are unique to our vertical. If we look to other verticals like bingo, it has always been very community heavy and therefore led and we are seeing this being integrated into many other verticals driving innovation. From a provider standpoint, our games attract players and entertain them over a prolonged period and this distinction in our vertical is difficult to find when compared to others.
 
It has been argued that UK sports betting fans have been traditionally hard to cross-sell to beyond the likes of poker and live casino – do you see that changing with the new generation of players coming online?


It isn’t as easy as looking at a player as only using one type of betting vertical. A sports bettor, a casino player, a poker fan or a bingo enthusiast are obviously very different types of players. However, within each demographic, there are nuances for example some sports betting fans are also poker players or bingo fans may enjoy slots on top of their usual games.


Operaters must provide enough products to attract a wider range of players. They must endeavour to have the right mix of slots within their slots portfolio or enough live casino games with a varying amount of minimum and maximum stakes to appeal to an array of customers. Attracting a VIP player may seem advantageous but what operators want is the longevity of casual players and having them return to their casino time and time again. The best way of doing this is by providing choice. Perhaps cross-selling opportunities aren’t reliant on a new generation of players but more so on providing customers with more choice than ever.  


The UK is arguably far less restricted as a market compared to the likes of Italy, Spain and Germany which have far tighter regulations – do you see the expected UK restrictions to take a similar direction?


New restrictions being implemented understandably won’t make the UK a looser market and we as an industry want to have a safer ecosystem for all players. No operator or supplier is saying we want to have no regulations or changes but what we need to be mindful of is inhibiting gameplay and entertainment and therefore how a player wants to spend their time. We fundamentally don’t want to drive them to a black market or casinos only accessible via a VPN as these don’t have tight controls or UKGC regulations behind them.


I do think we will see tighter restrictions in line with other European countries. I hope regulators begin to work more with operators and providers to ensure these regulations are fit for purpose and aren’t going to drive players to sites that will take advantage of them. We need a hybrid model of balancing between things that must be strict but also allow players the opportunity to make their own decisions.  

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