'More of the Same Is Not Going to Work,' 888's Levy Says

3 October 2007

888 Chief Executive Gigi Levy kicked off this year's installment of the European i-Gaming Conference and Expo (EiG) with a keynote address that covered several emerging trends and challenged the industry to reexamine its current heading in relation to these trends.

Levy was preceded by Clarion Gaming River City Group CEO Sue Schneider, who reflected briefly on the last year.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs," she said. "The industry reeled from a significant market cap loss but is rebounding and gravitating toward South America and Asia--there are many, many opportunities left."

When Levy took the stage, he surprised many attendees by deviating from the speech topic that was listed in the program guide.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Levy said. "It's boring."

In lieu of discussing his last nine months at the helm of the Gibraltar-based group, Levy pointed out that while certain sectors of the industry had been successful this year, the industry as a whole has been slow in adapting to the most recent, community-laden incarnation of the Internet known as Web 2.0.

Levy said that between 2003 and 2006, the industry had been "too successful," and that that success has led to a lull in staying on the sharp end of emerging Internet-based trends.

"When profits grow 100 percent three years in a row, there's no reason to look around at trends," he said. "Web 2.0 is happening now, and we're sort of missing it."

Schneider, who moderated the session, likewise acknowledged that the industry had been "fat, happy and could afford to miss those trends."

Levy noted that I-gaming businesses could also benefit from segmentation, which he called a "major trend," adding that too often operators still take a "one-size-fits-all approach."

Along this line, Levy pointed to the baby boomers as one group that has been largely ignored, calling it "a lucrative segment we've done nothing about." Levy said slower games, larger cards and richer graphics, for example, could be among a number of solutions devised to suit this contingent.

Further, efforts to localize products have been slow in developing, he said, quipping that product adaptation for non-native environments involved more than "just translating the site" and that, so far, "it's been a copy-and-paste job."

Levy also addressed the more recent phenomena of Web communities and social networks, citing a 2006 study from the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for the Digital Future that said 43 percent of Internet users who are members of online communities "feel as strongly" about their virtual community as they do about their real-world communities.

"We missed a huge retention tool," he said of the cyber-communities. "More of the same is not going to work."

Related Links
European iGaming Congress & Expo (EiG) 2007

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.