As the festive season hits and 2019 draws to a close CasinoBeats is to roll-out a new series of feature articles reviewing the year that was and looking ahead to the 12 months that lie before us.

First up is Phil Parry, CEO of Iforium, who takes a look at M&A, addresses the increasing role of responsible gaming and makes a very bold footballing prediction.

CasinoBeats: It’s certainly been quite the year, what has been your casino high point for 2019?

Phil Parry: It’s been a fantastic year for us. We’ve broken new ground in so many areas including entering a large number of key strategic markets including the US, Sweden, Spain and LatAm. We’ve signed several landmark deals with both large providers and brands such as Greentube, Codere and William Hill and expanded our aggregator portfolio to more than 9,000 games from over 100 content suppliers.

On the other side of the pond, being directly involved in the increasing excitement for online casino post-PASPA has been a standout moment. New Jersey is proving to be an excellent regulatory framework for other states to follow, and our work there with DraftKings will enable us to replicate this success in soon to regulate states across the country.

Supporting the increasing role that aggregators play within the online casino ecosystem is also something I’m very proud of. As we’ve seen in Sweden this year, responsible aggregation and adherence to the regulator’s rulebook has never been important.

As the global market for gaming continues to expand, the need to provide an automatically compliant catalogue of thousands of games – across multiple regulatory markets is only going to become more essential.

CB: What’s in store for casino in 2020?

PP: The regulatory headwinds of 2019 will no doubt remain a challenge, none more so than in Europe, and I forecast a tightening of belts is on the horizon.

Responsible gambling will also continue to be high on the agenda, with more focus and investment than ever channelled towards player protection and harm minimisation. We’ve already seen regulators flex their muscles this year and I expect to see more of the same if companies fail to adhere to every nuance of the guidelines in regulated markets.

I also anticipate further M&A and consolidation as the B2B sector looks to hedge its exposure to risk, mirroring what we’re already seeing with B2C brands. The upcoming Apple iOS changes will also have serious implications across the entire supply chain, and we’ve already stepped in to provide a bridging solution between operators and game providers to ensure they don’t fall short.

However, there are unlikely to be any easy ways to circumvent Apple’s changes, and I strongly recommend suppliers and operators work together to try and solve a universal issue.

CB: And what about your boldest prediction for the year ahead?

PP: I predict the industry will remain just as unpredictable in 2020 as it has this year. After all, who saw NetEnt and Red Tiger happening? Those that plan and have confidence in their expectations for the market will prosper.

There’s also likely to be plenty of buzz around the latest must-have innovation(s). Whether that be around blockchain, aggregated jackpots, split screen game play, or new recommendation engines that are already showing impressive results – but I don’t see any of them being true disruptors.

For us, 2020 will be all about responsible aggregation across all markets and data, the processing of data and player personalisation and the communications that follow.

And finally, for my boldest prediction yet. After 30 years of hard work and dedication, get ready to watch Liverpool finally win the Premier League!