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Exclusive Interview with Tomas Draksas (Co-founder of Edgeless.io) speaker at Vienna International Gaming Expo 2018

Zoltan Tundik

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Our latest interviewee has an impressive gambler background. Tomas Draksas is the Co-founder of Edgeless, Professional Poker Player & Gambler.
In 2008 – 2013, online poker was on the rise and a lot of new players were jumping into the game. At that time, Tomas decided to study the math of probability and poker. Later on, his direction changed to investing, cryptocurrency and digital marketing. He is the CEO of a conversion rate design company (Convi Design) which provides solutions to start-ups in the field of conversion rates and sales funnels. Additionally, he is investing into other start-ups. Right now Tomas is a Co-founder of Edgeless.io first fully transparent decentralised Ethereum casino.

Tomas will be among the speakers at the second edition of Vienna International Gaming Expo, held on the 31st of May at Melia Vienna. More details about the event can be found here.

Thank you very much for answering our questions. First I would like to ask you to shortly introduce yourself and tell us when and why you started working in this industry.

Tomas: Hey, I am Tomas, co-founder of Edgeless blockchain based casino. Well it’s not a coincidence for me to be in such an industry. In 2011 I used to play online poker professionally as my full time occupation. Even before my poker career, gambling was an activity which I love and have positive relationship with. So naturally I collected decent amount of knowledge on entire online gambling industry.

And what about blockchain?

Tomas: I am millennial. Personal computer was introduced to me in an early childhood. I got hooked immediately, spending tons of time learning how to use it. After my poker career, I launched an IT and digital marketing business which is still running up to day. It happened to be that most of my friends are into IT and computers too. So we tend to follow latest IT sector trends. In 2012 a friend of mine introduced me bitcoin as ‘something cool in IT”. Since then I follow everything related to blockchains up to day.

So here you go, that’s how I got into blockchain gambling industry.

You are the co-founder of Edgeless.io, a first fully transparent decentralised Ethereum casino. What makes this casino different and what services does it offer?

Tomas: There is a decent amount of online gambling customers who do not trust casinos they are playing at. And not without a reason – casino industry is full of cheating scandals. If player loses, they immediately assume that casino is cheating.

We solve this problem connecting our casino infrastructure to Ethereum ‘smart-contracts’. Using this system we entirely get rid of a ‘trust-problem’.

“Smart-contract” automatically uploads random number inputs a blockchain. That becomes publicly visible. After that people can take these inputs and recreate an outcome of past games.

That means our casino cannot cheat without being spotted on a blockchain. And that makes us incredibly transparent gambling service provider.

In a long run we aim to build most transparent and user-friendly online casino brand.

You are very much interested in investing, cryptocurrency and digital marketing. Please tell us more about the state of gambling industry in Europe considering these important issues you have experience in.

Tomas: In last 5 years, online gambling has its own peak/ prime moments. It expanded rapidly to almost every country making it incredibly profitable industry. However, more than half of an industry operates illegally breaching most gambling laws. That creates huge problems for local governments. So now the trend is: heavy regulations on gambling industry and no mercy for operators. Local governments create local gambling laws and prevent outsiders from entering the market.

As an operator I understand that, because most of these shady gambling platforms offer incredibly poor service, no transparency and allow minors gambling.

From tech perspective: gambling industry has many new interesting products such as fantasy sports and e-sports betting tournaments. There games have much more interesting gaming experience that classical casino games such as roulette. It seems like in the future we will have more advanced games and betting element.

It is believed that cryptocurrencies are digital gold. Sound money that is secure from political influence, money that promises to preserve and increase its value over time. Cryptocurrencies are also a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous enough to serve as a means of payment for black markets and any other outlawed economic activity. Do you agree with this? How secure do you think is paying with cryptocurrency?

Tomas: It depends. As an industry insider, I can easily see that blockchain tech is just in its infant state. It’s not ready yet and still being under development. I think that it went viral slightly too early than it should.

So now it is NOT fast enough to fuel dapps at a large scale. It is not comfortable to use, crypto service payment infrastructure is not developed yet. It doesn’t provide the anonymity everyone thinks it has. And it is HEAVILY influenced by political environment.

However blockchain developers are addressing each issue and improving blockchains every day. Keep in mind that is incredibly complex programming challenge. My guess would be that after 2 – 3 years, we will have something more tangible which can have all benefits you mentioned.

Can this method of payment have huge effect on the gaming industry, either positive or negative?

Tomas: Yes, it gives incredible improvement on a service. Gambling operators tend to abuse payment methods to trick people into trapping their assets. Let’s say a player wins 10k USD. Most small operators would freeze their money and say something like “it might take 2 – 4 days to withdraw your money”.

Gladly with a cryptocurrency, we do not have this ‘2 – 4’ days’ withdrawal conditions for “some reasons”.

I would say now players will feel more secure depositing assets to an online casino.

What is your opinion about the perspectives the use of cryptocurrency can mean for the industry? What advantages would this bring to the industry?

Tomas: Most important: fast deposits/ withdrawal systems and casino transparency using ‘smart-contracts’.

If you could change anything in the world of gambling what would that be?

Tomas: Now gambling industry is living in some sort of a ‘shadow’; having incredibly negative outlook from environment, being blocked from banking services and marketing networks. Secondly gambling activities get tons of judgement from average citizens.

That’s pretty sad. I gamble from time to time, having no issues what’s so ever. That’s one of oldest forms of entertainment humankind enjoyed. Games combined with betting have existed since a start of human civilization. And it will not disappear.

I would love to change overall ‘image of a gambling’ industry into something more transparent, consumer orientated and capable of providing high quality entertainment products without being judged by environment.

Which were the most difficult periods in your career so far and what do you consider your biggest success and what are your future plans?

Tomas: Most difficult part was to program a scalable mass consumer product on a blockchain infrastructure. We launched our 1.0 version in 2018 Q1. As I mentioned before, today blockchain does not have the necessary functionality which we need to deliver our promise. During our journey, we had to make a ‘lot of work-arounds’ and compromises.

Gladly blockchain tech is improving allowing to move forward, even if that is just by small incremental steps.

I still laugh at other ICO promises and their ‘road-maps’. It seems like most newcomers have no idea at what state blockchain technology is and what problems it has.

If you want to meet Tomas in person or networking with the biggest names of the Sports betting, Casino, VR/AR, Marketing, eSports, DFS, Virtual Sports and Crypto industry, make sure you attend the Vienna International Gaming Expo.

After starting out as an affiliate in 2009 and developing some recognized review portals, I have moved deeper into journalism and media. My experience has lead me to move into the B2B sector and write about compliance updates and report around the happenings of the online and land based gaming sector.

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Baltics

Lolita Sumskaite (Head of Unit at Ministry of Finance, Lithuania) to speak at MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit 2

Zoltan Tundik

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Leading industry expert responsible for designing the national gambling policy in Lithuania through legislation for more than 17 years, set to join the “Gambling Industry in Lithuania” (Compliance Panel Discussion) at the second edition of the most important gambling industry conference in the Baltic and Scandinavian region.

We are honoured to announce that Ms Lolita Sumskaite will represent the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania at MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit 2019, which will take place on 9 May 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel.

Lolita Šumskaitė is working for the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania and was responsible for designing the national gambling policy in Lithuania through legislation for more than 17 years. She was the main author of the first Law on Gambling, which was adopted in 2001. Lolita is a member of EC Expert Group of Gambling Services.

Since 2010, her responsibilities also include insurance – designing insurance policy through legislation and her main responsibility is to implement EU regulation into national legislation.

Starting 2013, she is responsible for anti-money laundering acts – following and participating in the negotiations in the EU Council on the text of Anti Money Laundering Directive, preparing LT positions. Lolita was Chair of the EU Council’s Working Party discussing fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive during LT Presidency of the EC.

MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit will once again bring together the leading companies in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for a full day of quality learning and networking with local regulators and industry experts.

You can find more details about the Agenda here or you can register here!

Browse the official event website here: www.marebalticumgaming.com

You can view the photo gallery from the inaugural event on the following this link.

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Conferences in Europe

BETEGY announced as AI BRIEFING SPONSOR at Prague Gaming Summit 3

Zoltan Tundik

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Without any doubt, 2019 is the year which will have many discussion that involves the use of AI in Big Data, sports betting, casino, lottery, analytics, responsible gambling, and many more verticals.

The recently announced sponsor at Prague Gaming Summit stands out in the crowd of software and service suppliers of the online and land-based gambling industry.

BETEGY is the sports data analytics company, which works on the intersection of sports, technology, and gaming. It provides various B2C and B2B products. BETEGY licenses the data and visualization systems to global sports betting and media companies like ESPN (USA), Turkcell (Turkey), Ringier Axel Springer (Eastern Europe), Wozhongla.com (China), Yahoo Sports (UK), Bwin (Russia) and others

Do not miss this exciting opportunity to meet the team at Prague Gaming Summit 3 and discuss collaboration possibilities! You can Register here or View the Agenda

The conference is held on a yearly basis and it is a “must-attend” gathering for all industry shareholders who are looking for top quality learning and networking having the online and land-based gambling industry in focus.

Prague Gaming Summit offers the opportunity for both new companies and veterans, to learn about industry insights and compliance update, while also being part of a group that is at the forefront of the gambling industry in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Liechtenstein.

The Summit will approach all regulatory and compliance related aspects of the mentioned markets and will also highlight some trending topics such as the relationships between Regulators, Operators – Affiliates, MasterCard’s new requirements for Online Merchants (CFD, FX, Gaming, Crypto), understanding millennials (with emphasis on eSports, Daily Fantasy Sports an Virtual Sports), outsourcing for gaming companies, IT security, AML, KYC, CSR.

The program will also include a very important IMGL MasterClass that will aim to share the latest insights by the International Masters of Gaming Law experts about advertisement banning.

Full details about the event can be found on the official event website: www.praguegamingsummit.com

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Baltics

Early Bird Rate and Nominations expire in two weeks for the Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit and Awards

Zoltan Tundik

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There are only two weeks to register at the Early Bird Rate for MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit and save 100 EUR for your ticket(s).

The second edition of the conference will take place on 9 May 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel and as announced earlier, the conference will include the inaugural edition of the BSG Awards (Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Awards). The awards ceremony will celebrate the leading companies for their respective categories from the Baltics and Nordics.

You can find more details about the nominations and categories on the following link.

In terms of the content and networking, some of the leading industry experts from the region, which includes regulators, lawyers, gambling operators, and supplier representatives, will supply the continuous presentation.

Some of the leading names have already been added to the speakers lineup, which include Andrius Gabnys (Founder at Gabnys Law Firm) – Conference Ambassador, Lolita Sumskaite (Head of Unit at Ministry of Finance, Lithuania),  Signe Birne (Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of the Republic of Latvia), Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia), Valts Nerets (Senior Associate, attorney-at-law at Sorainen), Viktorija Antanaviciute (Managing Director at TonyBet), Morten Ronde (CEO at Danish Online Gambling Association and Managing Partner at Nordic Gambling), Sissel Weitzhandler (Group Compliance Manager), Gustaf Hoffstedt (General Secretary at the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling), Tal Itzhak Ron (Chairman & CEO at Tal Ron, Drihem & Co., Law Firm), Dr. Joerg Hofmann (Partner, MELCHERS LAW), Pieter Remmers (CEO, Assissa), Dr. Simon Planzer (Partner at PLANZER LAW, Zurich), and many more.

MARE BALTICUM 2 will once again bring together the leading companies in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for a full day of quality learning and networking with local regulators and industry experts.

You can register here!

Browse the official event website here: www.marebalticumgaming.com

You can view the photo gallery from the inaugural event on the following this link.

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