Swiping in 2021: Zorica Smallwood eyes ‘new era’ for ESA Gaming

SBC News sat down with Zorica Smallwood, Director at ESA Gaming, to discuss the highlights of the year for the company and some predictions for 2021. 

One of the high points in 2020 for ESA Gaming, she said, has been the launch of cross-selling games, EasySwipe™, alongside the consolidation of its content aggregator system and poker network.

EasySwipe is a lightweight HTML5 mobile-first game family that allows users to enjoy the best quality casino games without disrupting the sports betting experience. 

Smallwood explained: “The games’ proven cross-selling capacity, without cannibalisation, helps sportsbooks to prolong brand loyalty and add revenue. We have launched a handful of games and have now gone live with a number of operators and aggregators. 

“The content has been very well-received by operators and players alike and we are thrilled that the hard work is paying off. Without the backing of investors it is never easy for smaller companies to build new products and work on doing something different as it effectively means trusting the judgement of a talented team with a new idea over what has been tried and tested before.” 

Despite the success of the games, next year marks the start of a ‘new era’ for ESA Gaming, said Smallwood, who admitted that the company is fortunate to have had the chance to expand its team at a time when much of the world is staring at a recession and economic hardship.

Zorica Smallwood, ESA Gaming
Zorica Smallwood, ESA Gaming

“With most of the foundation being laid in 2020, we should see the fruit of our labour over the next 12 months and expect our games to go live on at least a dozen platforms as well as many operators in numerous jurisdictions,” she continued.

“Our game portfolio will be expanded to offer a complete variety of Swipe-in games to reach out to a wider variety of players. These will range from reworkings of classic table games to a new Egyptian-themed title and more sports-based games like our football-inspired GoalMine.”

So, we’ve heard about additions to the EasySwipe portfolio, but where are they going to market? For ESA Gaming, emerging markets in Europe and Latin America might be the best bet.

“It is impossible to narrow down where the next ‘big market’ will be, as the so-called rush to online, as well as increased regulation in more developed markets, means that more brands are looking to alternative markets across the globe,” Smallwood replied.

“As a result, emerging markets will look to mimic European regulatory frameworks to capitalise on this interest. Smaller companies will look to make a name for themselves in new territories, establishing new revenue streams and/or making themselves acquisition targets for industry giants. 

“Generally, the US market will continue to be of interest for most suppliers as several states look at ways to regulate online gaming as well as sports betting. We are also seeing continued interest in Latin America as steps are taken there to capitalise on gambling.”

Casting your eyes over emerging territories is an increasingly prudent step to take for slot providers, and those supplying add-on services to the market, particularly as it becomes more localised.

“We expect the slot market to get even more diversified,” said Smallwood. “We are coming to a stage where suppliers will aim to cater to those niches of clientele that have not yet been reached. Rather than a one size fits all approach we will see more experimenting in the sector. Consequently, there will be a constant increase in terms of the turnover of content.”

And what about some closing thoughts on 2020, a year so many will be delighted to see the back of. “This year has been all about how Covid has impacted the industry and how it has responded to adapt to the situation,” she concluded. “How next year pans out will depend on how the pandemic progresses. 

“Overall, the industry coped well with the challenges it faced this year which bodes well for the future. We are an industry known for its resilience and ability to adjust to different conditions and circumstances.

“After getting a lot of public criticism from country decision makers down to regulators in many jurisdictions, we are confident that there will be a recovery in consumer confidence across the board next year and gaming will be positively affected.”

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