Whilst bingo halls in England will remain closed until May 17th, it's exciting times in the online bingo world. A raft of new bingo sites opened at the end of 2020 and most of the top bingo sites have been agreeing on content distribution deals to enhance and improve their offering.
Most recently, Broadway Gaming, the operator of one of the largest UK Bingo networks which include Butlers Bingo and Glossy Bingo, agreed to a content deal with Eyecon which will see Eyecon's games, including the flagship “Fluffy Favourites”, made available to all five of Broadway Gaming's bingo sites and two casino sites.
BingoDaily took the opportunity to exclusively interview Mark Cleary, COO of Broadway Gaming, and get his thoughts on what is happening in the UK bingo scene and beyond
BD It’s been nearly two months since the Bede migration, what impact has it had upon Broadway Gaming?
The announcement we made two months ago was that we had signed the contract to migrate to Bede. A complex migration project like this takes quite a while to carefully execute so it won’t be until the later part of 2021 before we complete the project.
BD What has been the reaction from the existing player base? And in terms of new player acquisition and player retention how does January 2021’s stats compare to that of Jan 2020?
Customers won’t have noticed any difference so far. However, we do seek out and listen intently to customer feedback and I know based on their suggestions so far, they will be very happy on the new platform with the range of additional features that it will offer them.
BD This month the UGC announced major changes to online slots. What more can be done to protect problem gamblers?
The latest set of changes are quite extensive, and they follow hot on the heels of a range of changes already made in 2020 due to the work of the Betting and Gaming Council, game manufacturers and operators on slot game design. I believe that time is needed to properly evaluate the impact of all these changes on player behaviour and on the industry. The review of the Gambling Act hopefully creates the environment for that evaluation to take place before further changes are made.
BD There was a high-profile partnership with Pragmatic Play last year. Are other partnerships on the horizon?
Yes, in the last few months we’ve announced partnerships with Pragmatic Play and with Bede, and just this week we are announcing a new content partnership with Eyecon which will further widen game choice and innovation for our customers. There will be more partnerships to announce in 2021 so watch this space for further announcements in the months ahead.
BD Now, through Pragmatic Play your players have access to some innovative new games like Bingo Blast, what can we expect in the way of product innovation over the coming year?
Our customers want and expect new content and game constructs like Bingo Blast, and we are very happy to bring it to them. Apart from a range of new games thanks to Eyecon and Pragmatic Play, we can also expect further innovation in broader areas like greatly accelerating the deposit and withdrawals process and in the crucial area of responsible gaming.
BD A look back at a challenging 2020, what were the biggest operational challenges and lessons learned from a year dominated by the pandemic and lockdowns?
2020 was certainly a year we will never forget due to Covid-19 and its impacts across the world. In our business, we started planning early for a worst-case scenario so that we could continue to successfully run our operation from outside of the normal office environment. Thankfully, that worked tremendously well, and we continued to service our players, deliver projects, and take care of the welfare of our staff without missing a beat. As the lockdown situation has continued for a prolonged period of time, I would say that the importance of effective communication amongst our remote teams is more vital than ever, and it needs constant focus.
BD With trends and changes, what do you see for the online bingo scene over the next year? More brands opening than closing?
I think the online bingo scene will continue to be an exciting and dynamic gaming sector. We find that its characteristics make it a lower-risk sector that is grounded on a social construct of playing with and against other people. With the lockdown lots of traditional land-based bingo players have tried online bingo for the first time and based on the feedback we have received from them they seem to be really enjoying the socially distanced interaction and entertainment it offers them.
In terms of more brands opening or closing, I think we will most likely see more industry consolidation which will probably result in fewer brands but bigger operators.
BD Lastly, what can we expect from Broadway Gaming and its brands?
We hope to continue to grow and develop our business in a sustainable way. We have built a very loyal customer base with many players enjoying our brands like Butlers Bingo for quite a number of years now. We will continue to obsess about the standard of customer experience we offer these players, and we are very proud to see that bearing fruit via rating platforms like Trust Pilot who rate us as one of the leading bingo sites for customer satisfaction.
We believe that happy customers will lead to better business performance and so our key focus is to ensure our customers stay as satisfied as possible so that they will spread positive word of mouth to others.
Thank you, Mark and we look forward to seeing more innovation and more partnerships in the UK bingo scene from the team at Broadway Gaming.