Alastair Cleland, Managing Director of Pentasia, offers our analysis and predictions for the year ahead, including the biggest opportunities for both employers and ambitious professionals in 2019.
2019 is set to be a huge year for iGaming, making it an exciting space for any ambitious professional to be building their career. New markets, enhanced technologies and an influx of capital investment is all fuelling growth.
For employers, effective talent management is fundamental to success – and in iGaming it’s a resource that’s in increasingly short supply. Leadership expertise and specialist skills are required at every level for business plans to become reality. And with a global iGaming skills shortage that’s growing ever-more acute, talent is likely to be a key battleground for the industry in the coming year.
Here are our key predictions for the iGaming talent market in 2019:
Trend #01: New Markets Drive Up Talent Demand Globally
Newly opening and regulated markets, particularly the USA, will add pressure to the already-strained global iGaming talent market.
Last year’s PASPA repeal – which effectively legalised sports betting - threw the US market wide open. Even as the ruling rolls out state-by-state, operators and suppliers alike are pivoting focus towards the states and almost all of the industry’s biggest global players are looking to get their slice of the action.
Such an immediate influx to the US market will inevitably leave talent vacuums in other territories around the world. It will exacerbate already talent-short regions like the UK, Malta and elsewhere.
Compounding the effect further still, the US is far from the only high-growth market, with areas of LATAM, Africa and Asia all earning their share of attention and adding competition for world-class iGaming talent.
Read our interview with Pentasia's VP of Recruitment - North America, Marwa Mitchell here on Pentasia.com
Trend #02: The Remote Skills Gap
A huge surge in candidate demand for remote working has not yet been harnessed by employers – will 2019 be the year this changes?
In our 2018 Ambitions Survey, 43% of respondents expressed a desire to work remotely. High speed internet, cloud computing and online collaboration tools now make remote work entirely possible…
And yet, the iGaming sector hasn’t yet embraced the (potential) remote revolution. Some hard barriers exist, particularly when it comes to data security, but with such a huge proportion of professionals requesting remote options, lingering doubts about management or trustworthiness may soon need to be overcome.
The potential of iGaming’s remote workforce is certainly huge, so any company who’s willing to adapt their roles to suit remote work would benefit from a hugely increased talent pool.
Trend #03: Startups Energised by Investment Backing
Expect to see increased and intensified hiring activity from iGaming’s startup scene following increased backing from VC and PE backers.
Growth in iGaming’s startup scene is increasingly being backed by both venture capital and private equity investors, creating a lively and energised market.
This energy creates exciting new opportunities for ambitious professionals – particularly those favouring a faster-paced work environment. In 2018, we saw multiple high tech startups able to offer meaty packages that caught the eye of globally-experienced talent. Equally, capital injections allowed for rapid build out of specialist teams.
We’re glad to see that 2019 looks especially healthy with multiple smaller operations with secured funding already ramping up hiring plans.
Trend #04: Cross-Pollination Of Specialist Talent
The boundaries are blurring between iGaming and related industries – and cross-pollination of skills can benefit candidates and employers alike.
iGaming is truly a unique sector, where success requires a balance of passion for games or sports, technical ability and commercial sense.
Yet, whilst many of our professional community’s skills and expertise apply exclusively to iGaming, there’s a growing specialism overlap with other industries. Fintech, payments, ecommerce, video gaming, AI and blockchain technology; there’s growing competition for iGaming talent creeping in from other areas.
The benefits are there too, as iGaming employers can look out of market to fill their talent pipelines, offering the relevant iGaming training to bring out-of-sector recruits up to speed.
Last year’s acquisition by Pentasia of Headcount Recruitment, a fintech and payments specialist, is already proving extremely fruitful for many of our clients who’ve been plugged into a new and highly relevant market.
Trend #05: iGaming Professionals Exiting Big Names
Offering a big opportunity for challenger brands and smaller competitors, the effect of M&A and consolidation is likely to bring more senior and experienced candidates to market this year.
As consolidation grows apace, and with challenging market conditions affecting the bricks-and-mortar aspect of many larger operators’ business, we’ll expect to be bringing some very senior and experienced professionals back to market this year.
Hiring an experienced professional brings not only talent but a huge quantity of valuable intellectual property so would-be employers will have to work hard to attract those exiting the big firms. These individuals, though, could be the making of big plans for 2019.
Most valuable of all will be the rare set of sector-experienced business people with truly global commercial credentials; understanding of markets, territories or audiences where their iGaming experience can be applied.
Trend #06 Senior Salary Differential Widening
Those at the top are earning substantially more than their more junior counterparts, and with talent shortages heightening, the differential could become wider still.
As reported in our collaborative Salary Survey 2018 with iGaming Business, the differential between mid and senior salaries is significant and growing. Salaries in excess of £100,000 are increasingly commonplace, and many bosses earn over double that of their direct reports.
Scarcity of leadership talent is driving up the top tier salaries, so with demand set to increase further still in 2019, we could see senior salaries growing further still.
Yet large salary differentials can be toxic for companies, and those with long term growth plans will likely prefer to develop and promote their mid-level employees rather than paying over the odds for external talent.
Trend #07 Diversity Prioritised: Board And Beyond
No longer a fringe issue, diversity will continue to command attention in our industry. The benefits of diversity – even beyond its moral case – are now crystal clear.
The industry’s getting louder every year on the issue of diversity. The All-In Diversity Project is now entering its third year as the industry’s diversity voice, KPMG’s #WeAllWantToPlay initiative continues to exhibit at conferences around the world, and the Women in Gaming Awards celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Finding’s from All-In’s first industry report debunked some widely-held assumptions, evidencing a 28% rate of women on boards – higher than both the UK and US average.
But clearly there’s still a way to go, and both the commercial and the moral case for diversity is stronger than ever. McKinsey research, in fact, found that 66% of companies with diverse boards performed better in terms of return on capital invested. Increasingly occupying a place in the public consciousness, diversity could even become a PR issue in 2019, adding yet further incentive to change.
Trend #08 Specialist Contractors of Growing Importance
Adapting to a contract-centric workforce will be a key requirement for many in 2019, as niche technologies and agile business growth necessitate a more flexible approach to talent.
Demand for specialist contractors looks set to grow significantly in 2019, buoyed by a number of key factors – and compounded by the overall talent shortage.
First, the ever-more-sophisticated technology involved with our industry often cannot be fully covered by in-house teams, and suits external contracting talent. Second, new markets will require short-term specialist expertise at the entry and growth stages before transitioning to permanent staff. Lastly, the contracting model often proves popular from a financial perspective, allowing greater flexibility and reduced risk for employers.
At Pentasia, we’ve expanded our contract provision significantly in 2018 and welcome discussion of any upcoming recruitment plans.
What to expect from Pentasia in 2019...
Now in our 18th year of business, Pentasia is stronger than ever positioned to help you achieve your ambitions in 2019 and beyond.
Our core offer includes:
Access to world-class and exclusive job opportunities (for candidates)
Access to an unrivalled network of talented candidates (for employers)
Skill-specialist consultants aligned to employer departments for optimum service and delivery
The #01 recognised name in iGaming recruitment – senior candidates’ first point of call
Extensive commercial network as part of The Conexus Group – gaming, fintech, payments, ecommerce and tech
Truly global reach with offices covering Europe, USA, LATAM, Asia and beyond
Expanded contract offeringheaded by Yianna Florides, providing flexible contracting solutions for iGaming clients
Talent market mapping and insight services for confidence in business planning
Plus a wide range of bespoke service offerings to suit every requirement
Planning growth for 2019? Contact Pentasia for a consultation to discuss your hiring plans, and to learn more about how we can provide your competitive advantage.