GamCrowd hosted its debut event at London Technology Week at the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square yesterday with the speakers and participants tackling the issues around innovation and the implementation of technology within the gambling sector.
Chris North launched proceedings by putting the case that the gambling industry should be more outward facing when it comes to its tech successes. “This conference is designed to showcase the work that is being done within London’s gamtech community,” he told delegates. “As the home of innovation in the gambling industry, we are looking forward to moving the conversation forward and helping to forge the links between the gambling industry and the wider tech world.”
Introducing the first panel, David Sargeant from iGaming Ideas put the questions to Will Mace, head of innovation at Unibet who suggested that although there was always room for new ideas in the sector, “a lot of it is incremental innovation”. He said that explained the issue that has been widely identified of a lot of gambling product being “more of the same”.
“On a transformational level, the industry is a lot less innovative,” he said.
Somewhat countering this point of view, Dominic Hawken, the chief technology officer at Grand Parade, said however that there have been some very big transformational innovations in the sector in recent years. In particular, he mentioned Betfair, the introduction across the sports-betting industry of cash out and the move toward in-play. “Those were all game changers,” he added.
The first panel all agreed that integration of new ideas was always a problem for the industry. “Two years’ of integration will kill off an idea,” said Mace.
Phill Graham, the chief technology officer at Gamesys, said that innovation in the gambling sector should be viewed through “two lens’ – product and technology”. “As a whole, I don’t think ther eis enough product innovation as we would like,” he said. “But we have some huge technology challenges, and we have to deal with regulation. We have to come up with some smart solutions to some tough problems.”
Later in the day, a panel looked at the issues that have been brought into focus by the rise of blockchain. Though much of the focus with regard to this technology has focused on the rise of Bitcoin and what that might mean in terms of payments, Adam Vaziri, a partner at Diacle, pointed that that it was blockchain possible uses in terms of prediction markets and potentially sports-betting that represented the true innovation. “It has the potential to disintermediate the betting world,” he said.
A later payments panel also addressed the issue of whether gambling regulators should look to the example of the UK Financial Conduct Authority and its approach to innovation which recently included the institution of a regulatory sandbox which potentially allows start-ups to release an idea to the wider world without having to go through a full regulatory process. “I think it would be an excellent idea for the gambling industry,” said Marc Wood, founder at Gambler Analytics.
North said of the day that it had exceeded his expectation. “I’m pleased not only that we got some great reaction from the participants to the day and had some really good presentations, but also that we managed to push gambling and gambling technology onto the wider London Tech Week agenda.”