Sunday, 16 December 2007

Casino Gaming/gambling/betting format(trust) war: "on vs offline"

--- this happened last week.. This blog thing is taking much longer for me to send out.. ---

I had a lovely lunch with an ex CEO of a poker network, didn't ask him if I can use his name, maybe I should have as I and no doubt him have nothing to hide. But just in case, I shall not reveal unless I got prior agreements.

Saying that, I didn't thought I would want to blog about this, I still can't believe how people can make time to blog, I certainly feel like its a chore.. But I promised myself that I would persist.. Although very sporatically...

Here it goes...

We had a lovely lunch and touched on various occassion where our remote gaming gambling sector will go. (I should only touch on the business stuff.. )

I'm soooo surprised and pleased that unlike many contempories of our sector, he totally agrees with me regarding the future developments of our sector:

Namely when some external event(s) happen, most likely a G8 nation start regulating the remote gaming properly, then most major household brands will jump in the bandwagon and the present "big name online" brands might be blown out of the water... By likes of online establishments like Yahoo/google or offline casino household names like Hurrahs/Cesars, Venetian, etc.

However, we stopped agreeing when he thinks offline and online gaming would diverge, rather than converge due to dramatic difference in gaming experiences (social vs solitude, fast vs slow, not dressed up vs dressed up) general expectations etc.

He reckons that online (I would call it remote, namely via internet, mobile or TV) has so much more different experience that its a totally different addressable market.

I would agree in so long that he is STILL talking about existing gaming gambling audience! I'm referring to the majority of population who don't yet do casino gaming, gambling... They would still need to be convinced/educated via online/physical or via TV means.

Therefore I would argue that the real and biggest opportunity is for those that can bridge the trust & confidence gap (maybe by brand, physical location, or sheer fact that a trusted celebrity already do it!).

Consequently, its more likely for brands that has BOTH on and offline real estates rather than pure online/remote play...

No time to check/double check grammar.. Do give me your thoughts.. And yes, I might be wrong, but its what I believe firmly on so far.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Consolidation challenge in the remote gaming (or eGaming) sector

I got a call from a VC friend of mine asking for my opinion regarding 'why' the consolidation of the remote gaming sector has not really arrived yet. I told him what I thought, and since I went to Paul Walsh's BIMA drinks last night, I realised that how 'slag' I have been in my blogging (to be honest, this is hard work).. and hope its worthwhile of sharing with the world our thoughts (intermittently).

below is what I already told my friend Sam:

Reason for not much 'real actions' happening in the consolidation space yet for the remote gaming market (no particular order):

* lack of transparency of how big 'really' the market is, therefore difficult to quantify the real 'worth' of the company, made worst by their usual secrecy..

#(I founded GamBond® to work with governments/regulators, gaming firms, banks and payment processors to exactly address that issue, as we will hopefully have a handle on the 'exact' size of the whole market anonymously)

* constantly changing regulations internationally

* blurring line for some gaming operators and vendors

* lack of convergence into other more acceptable 'entertainment' or 'offline/asset rich' operations.

* lack of understanding of the gaming world from outside industries (that was the reason why I founded Gambit ).

However, this is mostly due to the fact that like the 'premium rate' market, most companies despite making millions, they are still mostly playing a 'short-term' game.. which means that given the points mentioned above, it does not make sense to take 'chances' nor 'invest' for the future by consolidating..

However, there is a wave of change, as likes of Gigi Levy of (with backgrounds in telecoms like myself) are keen to work on the medium to long term goals.. by doing what they do better, like real CRM, reaching new audiences etc.

Challenge for us in the sector is how to become a more respectable and 'understood' sector... I humbly submit that it can only be achieved by being more transparent and communicate.

I hope that GamBond® and Gambit can play a part going forward.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Key to success for mobile gambling

This was my answer to a question post on the LinkedIn network.

Key for mobile gambling success: 1.) game that works (format, entertainment, device) 2.) fit (time, place, purpose) 3.) trust (brand, parties involved, channel tomarket) 4.) innovation (not present product extension only) and most importantly 5.) education & change of culture (need substantial investment into product development and finding out what the customers' real needs are).

I had not got time to revise the mobile gambling report this year, but the last one on mobile and iTV are still pretty valid, maybe except the market report numbers.

For those of interest, our next Gambit event is focusing on mobile and iTV development in the gaming sector, on 7th Nov. in central London, hope to see you guys there, Gambit is a grass root initiative supported by the senior figures of the sector, we mainly only need to have our cost covered.

The 2005 version of the mobile gambling report is free on my website, link below.


Friday, 5 October 2007

Adopting a true 'professional' esteem for all industries

Having trained as an Engineer.. back in the 90s, I fully understand the reason why Engineers work hard to be a 'chartered' IMechE, IEE or IEEE.. etc. its a badge, respect and I guess, responsiblities, and probably money.

Same goes for Doctors .. Lawyers etc...

there is rarely something similar, yes, there are Chartered manager that recognise people's 'management achievements', but sadly, most people have never heard of it. I only came across them when I was finishing my executive MBA.. and was told that now I can also have that..

I have been observing that for various top end, ivy league business schools, their alumni would mainly (and proudly) give out their alumni emails (e.g. Harvard, Insead etc.).. I did not know previously that however, non-MBAs get them also.. so, it now devaluate somewhat in my mind..

Generally, technology employees etc. previously mainly give out their corporate emails (which changes rather often sadly)... and we kept losing in touch.. but thanks to likes of LinkedIn, Plaxo etc. and now maybe facebook, we can all be 'in touch' with the business contacts (moved onto become personal contacts) and keep in touch via their personal email...

Are we observing that people now are getting a more 'professional' esteem in their own right therefore still proud to be giving out their personal business cards/ contacts, some like myself have their own domain etc.

I certainly get a lot of funny looks in the previous years... but lately, I am getting feedback like, 'thats a great idea... I should get one too'...

After spoken to Graham Brown from w2forum last night, I just reminded myself to write a piece/entry on my blog..

I hope this entry check all those points that I see.. but ultimately.. its pure ranting.. and erm. not much of a punch line... ;)

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Financing for growth in the gaming gambling sector, Synergies with offline gaming

finally, things are starting to get normal.

Got sometime to finish integrating Mark's report to the Gambit website. Many thanks for the fantastic speakers that contributed!

You may find the report on the Financing for growth, Private equity vs. public market, of the last Gambit public forum on finance of interest. full report here.

In terms of strategic fit, I am still surprised that our remote gaming market sector despite the risk nature is sooo risk averse, I guess this is partly due to the comparatively smaller capital expenditure and the constant flux of legal changes internationally, top management are forced to think short term to maximise on the return 'whilst you still can'...

I trust that is the wrong way of thinking about it, as it is a no brainer, that if any of the 'top brands' and 'market leaders' of our remote gaming sector, as soon as they buy some offline (not be bought!) gaming interests, or even gaming group, they would automatically gained a huge amount of trust, and therefore move the basis of competition away from the FMCG, you are as good as your last campaign type of scenario.

But hey, the later they do that, the better from my view, as I maybe able to pull off some deals before that happens. fingers crossed.

Do you agree?

Friday, 31 August 2007

Advertising market challenge, debate, win or losing "digital", summer debates series of IAB

I went to a fantastic debate organised by IAB last week.

I have learnt a lot that evening. But my thought of the biggest challenge for the advertising market still exist (as I mentioned in various opinion articles & trade journals before), which is that digital is key for the future of the advertising market, BUT the budget holders invariably are from the old school (above-the-line, TV, award and St. Tropez types). Therefore, invariably most of them would prefer to stay in the comfort zone, and leave the digital part separate (under someone else that report to them but have to fight for the budget), rather than devising a totally integrated campaign.

Naturally, some agencies would prefer to keep the relationships than 'rock the boat' too much... hence, therefore, the debate of 'whether to' ditch the word 'digital' was maybe asked at the wrong time, as the question of 'whether and when' the money man would 'adopt' digital (namely, online, mobile, interactive TV) to their overall brief/requirements....

I trust that we may still be mentioning this challenge for the next 10 years or so, as the market would only adopt a new habit when the new generation arrive at the position of power...

This is very much like the mobile telecom sector that still mainly follow ARPU as their overriding business drivers... when the real growth is on the value added services and most importantly 'off deck' or 'off portal' services..

Thats another blog piece altogether...