Sylvain Boniver, GAMING1 Co-Founder and COO

Digital transformations can be quite the undertaking for any organisation, however, for GAMING1, born as a pure land-based operator in 1992, a digital perspective very quickly presented itself.

Despite the numerous benefits of branching out to the digital domain, this quandary was one that faced the Belgian firm over a decade ago in the shape of a keep versus share predicament.

In the first of a two-part CasinoBeats special, Sylvain Boniver, GAMING1 Co-Founder and COO, takes a look back at the company’s online progression, examines the role of data science within B2C operations and explores how you can attract the correct employee.

Land-based legacy to online vision

Despite starting life out as a traditional casino operator under the Circus brand in 1992, it took some 19 years for the group to make its maiden steps to achieving its digital ambitions due to a key development within its home nation.

This “pivotal moment”, as described by Boniver, saw Belgium legalise online gaming, and followed a significant period of Gaming1 closely monitoring the .com domain. However, “we were committed to not operating without a proper local licence”, the CEO noted.

Due to this regulatory development, a tech company was formed and immediately tasked with developing the igaming entity, in addition to crafting casino games tailored to the market.

“Our primary goal was to forge an omnichannel experience, creating a win-win situation for both players and ourselves, bridging our land-based and online operations,” explained Boniver. 

“We focused on enabling interactions such as the ability to deposit and withdraw money across our land-based network, offering consistent content, and implementing a unified loyalty system across both channels.

“Initially, the roadmap for our digital transformation was simply to establish a B2C operation, recognising that online platforms would inevitably cannibalise a portion of the sector’s growth. 

“However, buoyed by the success of our own operation and in response to requests from other Belgian operators, we decided to expand. 

“Our expansion in Belgium and into various other countries followed a unique partnership model, tailored to each market’s specific needs and regulations. The group Gaming1 operates exclusively on regulated markets.”

Online acceleration

After Gaming1 was officially born in 2011, the company’s online strategy was really accelerated in 2012 through the introduction of eight sites. However, upon receiving requests from multiple operators in Belgium, the aforementioned dilemma reared its head.

This, Boniver noted, related to an internal decision to either keep its technology exclusive, or, alternatively, enter into a number of collaborations.

We chose to adopt a multi brand strategy, recognising that online players generally exhibit less loyalty than land-based players,” the CEO continued. 

“This lower loyalty is understandable in the online sphere, where players are always just one click away from another site. It’s common for most online players to be regular customers of two or three brands, periodically switching between them.

“This multi brand strategy underpinned our decision to forge partnerships with other operators in Belgium. Now, 11 years later, we are proud to still be serving those initial eight partners. 

“It’s a significant achievement for us to have maintained the trust of our earliest partners in Belgium, especially considering the substantial evolution of the market. 

“This enduring relationship is a testament to our commitment to both our technology and our partners, adapting and growing together in a dynamic industry.”

The rise and rise of data

The increasing influence of data is certainly one that cannot be ignored, with this being a route that GAMING1 has been looking to utilise to swell its operations for quite some time.

This approach, which is highlighted as “proactive and strategic”, saw GAMING1 establish a dedicated data science team, which has subsequently swelled to ten full-time employees, that plays a “pivotal role” in shaping future strategies.

“A key focus of our data science efforts is to ensure safer gaming experiences through our responsible gaming tools, which are powered by AI,” said Boniver

“By analysing player data in real time, we can identify patterns that indicate potentially problematic gambling behaviour. 

“This capability allows us to take proactive measures, initiating targeted communications to sensitise the player and assist them in maintaining their gaming activities within the fun zone. The psychological dimension is also very important in the quality of exchanges with our players. 

“This not only helps in promoting responsible gaming but also builds trust and loyalty among our customers.”

Furthermore, the importance of leveraging deeper insights into player preferences, behaviours, and trends is also hailed as critical for enhancing personalisation via the delivery of increasingly tailored gaming experiences.

“We are now moving towards offering more personalised experiences in both casino gaming and betting,” noted Boniver

“Personalisation is key in the gaming industry, as it enhances player engagement and satisfaction. 

“By delivering content and experiences that resonate with individual preferences, we not only improve the user experience but also increase the likelihood of customer retention.”

This can be achieved through being more responsive to customers’ needs, adapting to changing market dynamics and maintaining a competitive edge. Factors hailed as integral in keeping ahead in such a fast paced industry.

“We see data science as a cornerstone of our future developments, continuing to innovate and enhance the gaming experience for all our players,” he noted.

Identifying the right candidate

A dynamic, open, entrepreneurial and audacious nature, as well as a fun corporate culture, are all cited by the company as critical factors in being an appealing choice for employees.

One of the largest employers in its home region of Wallonia, Belgium, GAMING1 has also broadened its international reach via a “strategically significant” and “crucial” Maltese hub. This, it was added, was a necessary step due to the presence of a number of key stakeholders within the sector.

“We are committed to ensuring that our team members work in the best possible conditions, focusing on their personal development and understanding their individual impact on the success of the group,” Boniver explained.

“This commitment to our employees’ growth and well-being has made word-of-mouth an effective tool for us. Our employees are our best ambassadors, enthusiastically sharing their positive experiences and attracting new talent to our organisation.”

He concluded: “In the ideal candidate, we look for individuals who align with our dynamic culture and share our values of innovation and audaciousness. 

“We value team members who are not only skilled in their respective fields but also demonstrate a strong understanding of our strategic goals and are committed to contributing to our group’s success. It’s this combination of skill, cultural fit, and strategic alignment that we believe makes the ideal candidate at Gaming1.”