An upturn in sports betting – including online as a result of the disruption to casinos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – could be a “springboard” for greater adoption by casino regulators, of online technology in the sector, says Renato Ascoli (pictured).
The chief executive for global gaming at casino and lottery equipment supplier International Game Technology Plc (IGT) was speaking in an online interview with Frank Fantini, of Fantini Research, a gaming industry news provider and consultancy.
In-casino sports betting has been seen in some land-based markets in Asia, but not in Macau.
Mr Ascoli, who previously launched a sports betting operation in Italy, stated: “The experience from Europe – and I see this happening repeatedly in North America – is that this piece of the business is not cannibalising anything from land-based casinos. In fact it’s an opportunity for casinos to retain players, and increase the loyalty to their brands.”
The IGT executive noted that for his company during the pandemic, “anything we offer on the Internet has been skyrocketing so far. Even now that casinos are back to semi-normal operations, the digital space is going strong.”
He observed: “This is telling me… we are probably approaching a new player base… and that the [existing] player base is still enjoying playing on the Internet.”
Mr Ascoli, whose appointment was announced in July, worked previously as IGT’s CEO for North America.
In the United States, Latin America, Europe and parts of Asia, the company offers a business-to-business sports betting platform called IGT PlaySports.
In some gaming markets it also offers its CrystalBetting Terminal, providing a sportsbook that allows players to make in-play wagers during actual events.
The IGT executive also said the pandemic had led to increased interest among casino operators, in technology that could enable people to play traditional casino games such as slot machines, without handling cash.
IGT mentioned a number of its products in that cashless-technology field – including IGT Resort Wallet – in a recent announcement.
Mr Ascoli told Fantini Research that IGT had started investing in cashless-gaming product development in 2016.
The firm had since then been “adding feature after feature… persuading regulators that what we are providing was sound, and was actually improving the level of control, of [the] money – not creating additional ‘buckets’, or mysterious areas where regulators may have a level of concern.”
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