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Dylan Slaney to lead Light & Wonder iGaming

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Dylan Slaney entered the igaming sector six years ago. Now, in his seventh year, he is responsible for a major component of a redesigned and refocused Light & Wonder. What drives Dylan Slaney to build the igaming division of one of industry’s largest suppliers?

Dylan Slaney, of Light & Wonder says: “When I entered the industry in October 2017 people told me how fast it was moving.” Since entering the industry, he hasn’t been slow either.

Slaney has risen quickly up the ladder of gaming since he began as Executive Vice-President Gaming at NYX Gaming Group. After Scientific Games bought NYX, he became senior vice president of gaming for SG Digital. Scientific Games underwent a major overhaul. The company divested its lottery and sports betting divisions, and underwent a major rebranding.

Light & Wonder is now a more lean, focused gaming company with three distinct divisions. Slaney reports to Matt Wilson, the group’s chief executive. The land-based social casino division SciPlay and iGaming – which Slaney heads as CEO – is a part of SciPlay.

Slaney, who has worked for one company since the beginning of his career, has seen three significant strategic changes and is now ready to move forward. He says, “I am proud to lead the igaming industry every day.”

Increased complexity of igaming

Light & Wonder is a completely different company and Slaney’s industry has changed dramatically since 2017. Dot.country regulations have reshaped a sector in which dot.com markets were once dominant. It is so much the case that countries like the US, Brazil and other previously considered off limits are now main growth areas.

Slaney says that because we only work in markets with regulations, we have to tailor our offerings for each market. This can include anything from bet limits to spin speeds and reporting.

Light & Wonder iGaming now has a whole new layer of complexity. Slaney explains that the goal is to better protect players. Slaney says that “keeping players safe from harm” is one of the greatest benefits to regulated markets. We offer full support for this endeavor.

He argues that balance is important. Too much regulation leads to the wrong result. For example, low stake limits drive players to the black market.

This is not good for the players, or even bad for the industry. “When it comes to the enhanced controls of responsible gaming such as affordability check which has been embraced by the industry, these again have to be measured and balanced,” says he. Only then will we be able to ensure that those who play responsibly continue to benefit from the amazing features of this industry.

Innovations around Regulation

Light & Wonder is a leader in Great Britain when it comes to developing the industry and reshaping its market. Together with Playtech, it led the Gambling Commission’s industry code working group for product design.

The Wonder 500 is relaunched with lIGHT and Wonder TitLES optimized for markets that are tightly regulated

It aims to create new products that reflect a new age of gambling in the UK by bringing in potential changes through the Gambling Act White Paper and subsequent consultations.

Slaney: “It was interesting to observe how the different types and brands of content were impacted, and how different players played different content types in terms of stake levels, session lengths and other factors.”

This research led to the Wonder 500 Series by Light & Wonder. The stakes per spin are restricted to 2 PS. The maximum win is also PS500, and the bonus rate increases to balance out the model of lower stakes. The impact of this game has been positive. Players have responded well to the new style.

The Igaming Races Forward

The industry is being reshaped by regulation, but the evolving expectations of players are adding a new layer of complexity. Dunnhumby, a customer data scientist whose projects include the Tesco Clubcard may be familiar to UK readers. He is aware of how sophisticated it takes in order to retain and engage consumers across other industries.

Slaney says that the biggest trend in igaming will be to enhance player engagement by adding features on top of core games. We have seen some of these features hit the market already, but players are going to expect more from igaming in terms of multiplayer, personalisation, and unique rewards.

ELK Studios’ Pirots is the perfect example of great content combining with innovative mechanics, Slaney says

They have it today in other digital sectors and they will be demanding more.

The content is still as important in gaming consoles or any other form of entertainment. He says that the ability to get or do more from an experience is what will define the future of gaming.

ELK Studios, a company acquired by Light & Wonder in 2012, had a record breaking year due to its CollectR payout mechanism. It is available in the Pirots and Pirots 2, titles.

Slaney states that “Both games have set records, and Pirots 2 has been the most successful launch in the UK or EU.” It was fascinating to see how the players reacted to this new gameplay mechanic. These games created a franchise, and it’s been interesting watching players for the first-time play Pirots.

Two forces are at work. To keep players engaged, strong content is combined with innovative mechanics.

Light & Wonder’s growth arm

Slaney, as CEO of Light & Wonder iGaming is tasked to drive this growth. Online is a major part of the supplier’s future plans, thanks to its refocused approach. It is the fastest-growing division with revenues up by 21% in Q3. This beats SciPlay (15%) and Gaming (11%).

By comparison, SciPlay’s Q3 revenues were $196 million, while Gaming generated $465 million. Slaney still has work to do with its strategy that combines unique content and new ways to engage consumers.

The distribution deals made with crash game pioneer Spribe, and the unique content such as Squid Game – Netflix’s first gaming license deal – which will be launched first on land-based machines – are certainly helpful. The market is also crowded with online only competitors who lack the compliance safeguards that a fully regulated company like Light & Wonder must adhere to.

Slaney is not afraid of a difficult road that his team and he will face. He says, “I am a strong believer in the fact that you can learn from each win and every good decision. But you also learn from failures and bad decisions.”

You must learn to go back, understand why things didn’t work and do it differently next time. Take responsibility for your actions. This is something I was taught very early by a mentor who has been a huge help to me in my career.

What motivates Light & Wonder iGaming CEO?

Slaney was raised with a belief in responsibility and the importance of treating both success and failures as learning experiences.

I’ve told this story to a few of my co-workers, but not publicly. “I have never met my father, but I grew up in a household with my mother, who was my inspiration and my sister, as a child of solitary parents,” says the man.

My mum was and is a woman of steel, who believes that one must earn their way in the world. It’s all about hard work and a determination to achieve your goals. “No one else defines you in this life.”

He says that this mindset has helped him in his career as well as his personal life. It’s something I want [my daughters] to have in their DNA, he says: Never take anything for given and always strive to be your best.

It’s also an ethos he uses to lead Light & Wonder iGaming. It’s this “never settle” value I gravitate to and that’s what drives our company and me forward.

This is especially true in the online gambling industry. Slaney’s sector has changed dramatically since he joined it in 2017. He says that the industry is evolving at a rapid pace. New regulations, markets, innovations, and competition are constantly appearing. It never stops, and you must learn to enjoy the speed.

Slaney admits that not everyone will enjoy the pace. “It isn’t for everybody.” It’s a positive, and it is one of my biggest arguments for people joining this industry.

It never ends and is always changing and challenging you.

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