In 2020, the betting industry took the biggest step it has ever taken in integrating innovation and new technologies. Together with Artur Ashyrov, Head of Engineering Parimatch Tech, we explain the causes of this technological leap, how the market’s titans adapted to it, and what awaits the industry in the next year or two.
Why the Betting Industry Is Stirring
Everyone is tired of this topic, but 2020 was the year of COVID-19. In just a couple of months, consumption habits changed completely, and we could confidently say that offline business was dead or almost dead.
The entertainment and betting industries were no exception. Record drops in the stocks of industry giants such as William Hill due to retail closures will remain in the memory for a long time. A company’s technological competence was no longer just words in its marketing campaign; it became a means of survival. Innovation in betting has traditionally been clumsy and backward, but the pandemic forced a rethink. From smaller operators to enormous giants, companies focused on their technological resources.
This happened because people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment online. Online is growing, and load profiles are changing: outdated platforms have failed to cope with the new realities, and the UX requires alternative solutions tailored to mobile devices. Those who managed to catch the wave are now on top. For example, compare the cost of Netflix or Zoom before and during quarantine.
Anyway, let’s get back to the world of betting and inspect the technological trends within the industry.
Trend # 1: Migration to the Cloud
William Hill recently completed an Amazon Cloud Migration project with a total budget of £4.7 million. They completed the move in a year and a half, which is pretty fast for such volumes.
The William Hill case shows the general trend in the tech industry. The online load is growing, so old, monolithic architectures lacking automatic horizontal scaling will become a thing of the past. Quickly adding disks or other resources to the cluster, the availability of out-of-the-box security groups, managed instances of databases, and other tools will become a must. Given these factors, it is highly likely that migration to the cloud will be a priority, especially for prominent market players.
It should be noted that this trend will not only affect the platforms of large operators — the need to work with seamless wallet services in the cloud will hook all market counterparties. Game providers who can’t whitelist the entire range of IP Cloud Flare should prepare for operational surprises and long hours of infrastructure refactoring.
Trend # 2: Working Out the Risks of Hosting in the Cloud
Parimatch Tech and other technology companies with a long history of using cloud services will focus on the risks of hosting in the cloud. The recent case of the Parler ban in AWS — no matter how correct it was with all due respect to the Amazon AWS team — showed that the principle of network neutrality in the cloud is too hypothetical.
The ability to move to a backup cloud provider or back to a personal data center can become a competitive advantage, when under growing pressure from regulators, for example.
In the next couple of years, we will see an increase in interest in technologies like Google Anthos, which will allow us to keep parts of computing clusters in different cloud providers and data centers.
Trend # 3: Automation
As maintenance and hosting overheads rise in the cloud, companies will look for ways to automate operations. The essence of the automation trend is to maximize net profit for every dollar spent.
Introducing machine learning technologies to personalize events, games, and other entertainment content, anti-fraud and product analytics at Parimatch Tech has allowed us to grow despite the pandemic crisis. The automation of 80% of conclusions through automatic verification in nonlinear growing business has helped us save millions in operating costs. And most importantly, automation scales horizontally, which you can’t say about manual work during the lockdown. What used to take days now happens in real-time and is entirely invisible to the player.
Building models for recommending the correct placement of games or the proper settings for bonus campaigns can give the operator additional profit that wasn’t previously obvious or accessible without laborious analysis.
Another aspect of the automation trend will include automating the
processes of deploying environments and reducing downtime. Introducing continuous deployment on some services of the Parimatch Tech platform made it possible to reach the uptime of such services at the desired 99.999%, with the growing load from online. The cost of this very 0.001% for our business naturally grows with the increase in load and turnover.
Parimatch Tech has also launched the Environment by Click project — automatic deployment of a cheap on-demand environment in the cloud. In the future, the project will allow us to deploy temporary environments for standard and particular tests of a platform without having to break our usual stage.
Trend # 4: ML Models for Responsible Gambling
We can apply ML models not only to automate operational activities. At Parimatch Tech, we believe that using ML to meet Responsible Gaming standards is the next big thing.
Developing predictive ML models based on gaming activity can identify and prevent many problems for players. For example, if a player makes an unusually frequent number of bets within a short time. Classic rule-based models of limits may not work in time, but a well-trained ML model can easily cope with tasks like this and send the player an invitation to take a break.
Trend # 5: Cryptocurrencies and Decentralization
Many bans on replenishing fiat accounts through large payment systems, such as Visa & Master Card, in individual states and the largest archives, have pushed the development of crypto payments as part of a decentralization strategy to deal with regulatory risks.
If regulation previously ended at the state level, now, some corporations own technologies, such as Mastercard or AWS. They can also react to events while acting as a regulator at another level.
Native use of the crypto goes from the category of an optional feature to one of readiness to operate in emergencies. Our research shows that being able to replenish with crypto opens up the additional market volume. The peculiarities of blockchain technologies will push the development of new funnels and approaches to account replenishment.
It is already clear that the market for crypto users will require additional research into inherent patterns of behavior and preferences.
The Bottom Line
In the next year or two, the industry will see major technological breakthroughs. Companies that master the growing online market will get a bite of the pie. The principle of “and that’s the way it is,” inherent in the gambling industry throughout the 2010s, is already a thing of the past. It has given way to modern technological solutions that will help businesses grow in the face of slowing global economic growth and new patterns of customer behavior.
Technologies that used to be characteristic of the FAANG group of companies will become commonplace in the industry within a year. Parimatch Tech has already adapted to these realities. We expect that at ICE 2022, we’ll be discussing ad hoc operating issues and algorithms, technologies, and new technological approaches to operating in a B2B environment at a totally new quality level.