Salary Survey 2020: Part 1

Welcome to the third annual iGB-Pentasia salary survey, the industry’s most comprehensive benchmarking of igaming sector pay. In Parts 2 and 3, the Pentasia team break down how compensation has changed by region, department and role, but first Alastair Cleland introduces this year’s edition with an overview and analysis of the headline findings


Considering everything that 2020 has thrown at us, the picture this year’s survey paints could have been substantially worse. The headline average salary rate fell, but only by 1% compared with 2019 and it is still far above 2018 levels.

The industry has shown true resilience and commitment to its workforce, making redundancies only as a last resort and at far lower rates than many other hard-hit industries. That’s not to say there haven’t been painful losses, but on the whole the outlook for 2021 seems increasingly strong as confidence in growth plans returns.

Our data shows leadership salaries once again peaking - now up to an average of £130,000, with many clearly hitting far higher levels. These sometimes dizzy heights are encouraging companies to look further down the ranks for future leaders. In fact, it’s the ‘new wave’ of up-and-coming talent that’s been in highest demand recently.

Future leaders will be necessary for the industry’s evolution, both in maturing (mostly European) markets and younger regions including the USA. As the world faces a period of widespread economic downturn, perhaps now is the ideal time to develop longer-term talent pipelines and support those with the potential to lead.

In the more immediate term, demand for talent in many areas barely dropped for a moment. Compliance, tech and data professionals are as sought after as ever, if not more so. Average tech salaries are up 5%, and analyst salaries by 7%, bucking the broader trend. The whole world is digitalising, so competition for talent in these areas is tougher than ever.

It’s been a harder year for those in sales and marketing, who have experienced average salary declines of 15% and 7% respectively. These departments have felt the sharpest pain in terms of job reductions, but there is cause for some optimism; the industry’s return to confidence about 2021 growth is already showing, with early signs of a jobs rebound.

Will rising unemployment end the igaming skills shortage? Only for those who take a long-term approach to talent acquisition. Short term, even higher applicant numbers are unlikely to increase the ‘qualified’ candidate pool. In the longer term, with patience and adequate training, the industry has a clear opportunity to grow by hiring from beyond its walls.

43% of the igaming leaders we surveyed this summer rated “hiring high-quality talent” as a top priority for their business. We hope that the insight provided in this survey enables your business to go into 2021 with a clear picture of what’s needed to achieve this goal.

In addition to the main salary survey, gaming employers were also surveyed as part of the Conexus Skills & Employment survey. Will Sawney identifies three main trends

  • Demand remains high, but salaries may have peaked

For a few months at the height of the 2020 lockdowns, many employers initiated a ‘critical hires only’ policy. Most of these policies were quickly relaxed and demand isn’t far off pre-Covid levels in many areas. Hiring budgets, though, have far less headroom than before. Employers are focused on achieving productivity at the best possible rate, so while attracting talent remains a high priority, it’s unlikely we’ll see salaries increasing significantly just yet.

  • Hiring continued, but remote is no true substitute

Essential recruitment processes continued throughout lockdown, with 60% of employers interviewing candidates remotely in 2020. However, while remote hiring is entirely possible, there are drawbacks. Processes have been significantly slower this year. The experience of a face-to-face interview is difficult to properly replicate, and it can be especially hard for both sides to judge commitment levels.

  • Employees love working from home, employers... not so much

Candidate requests for remote working options have risen fast since 2018. This year the efficacy was proven, with employers rating productivity 22% < higher> in the largely remote periods of lockdown. Nevertheless, many of the big employers were still quick to return staff to their desks and are palpably hesitant about long-term remote working.

Alastair Cleland is managing director - Pentasia and Will Sawney, head of marketing - The Conexus Group

In Part 2, Pentasia’s regional experts provide detailed analysis of the trends and drivers of salaries in their respective territories