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Vladimirs Remi: “EU gambling market shows steady growth but a share of illegal business is still pretty great”

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RGC2017 Remi
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The gambling business in the EU countries shows a steady growth, although a lot of operators prefer to work illegally. It was reported by Vladimirs Remi, a co-owner of MONT AZURE, providing services in financial consulting and developing fin-tech projects. In the interview for our media office, the expert listed difficulties faced by entrepreneurs when launching a business in Latvia and told us how the European gambling industry is developing.

 

Interviewer: Riga Gaming Congress (RGC)
Speaker: Vladimirs Remi (V.R.)

 

RGC: You are engaged in the development of fin-tech projects and regulation of the financial business within the EU and UK. Tell us about the gambling situation.

V.R.: Currently, a huge part of the gambling business is illegal. Customers interested in establishing a serious business with all required licenses are quite a rare phenomenon. Rather on the contrary, the majority part of market participants are constantly looking for a jurisdiction with tax remissions and simplified licensing. It is a short-term operation model. And the establishment of such a business requires the same amount of time and money as the establishment of a licensed casino.
We recommend our customers only the legal business model and try to show that it is not as difficult and expensive as it seems at first view. We help them to structure a legal base, choose an appropriate jurisdiction and operation model. Fortunately, more and more online gambling projects are launched today. It brings the industry to the high level and provides it with a new development line. We believe that regulators should have a more positive attitude to this market segment.
As to the financial business, leading countries are still the following: Great Britain, Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland. The rest EU states have a very bureaucratized and expensive business tax and regulation system. Lithuania is currently showing a strong position, but it is too early to make conclusions.

RGC: How can one license a gambling venue in Latvia? Does this process have any pitfalls?

V.R.: It is Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection (https://www.iaui.gov.lv/lv/) that regulates the gambling business and lottery segment in Latvia. There are a lot of pitfalls. For instance, international business representatives should overcome a language barrier. Unlike its neighbors considering documents in English (it is the EU official language), Latvia accepts all papers only in a state language. Consequently, one should find a specialist among local citizens. Besides, there are few specialists and their services are quite expensive.
Another significant aspect is civil servants. The Latvian Republic does not deal with businesses and their growth. Public officials very aggressively treat both businesses and citizens. They believe that they have a higher status and forget who pay for their work. The business licensing process is extremely expensive and requires lots of time and patient. Moreover, difficulties do not end after obtaining a license. One should get ready for a capital generation procedure and state duty payments. Beginning entrepreneurs have to confirm each cent attracted to the company for obtaining a license as well as to prove their financial solidity.
The gambling business in the country is hardly developed. There are several licensed market participants, working for the local community. Some years ago, the market regulator destroyed this segment in the acquiring sector by prohibiting banks and financial institutions to process gambling transactions. Many Latvian banks and other players were submitting petitions, arguing that transaction technical processing and money transferring were not related to the Gambling Inspection. However, everything was in vane. As the result, the lion’s share of profit left the country due to the incompetence and absolute indifference of civil servants.

RGC: Is it easy for a foreign operator to enter the Latvian gambling market?

V.R.: If operators have the EU license, they won’t face obvious difficulties. They will be able to obtain a permit for their activity in Latvia much easier than new market players. However, economic efficiency is a different story. The country has around 2 million people, although in fact there are 1.5 million citizens. Only a half of the population is economically active. So, let’s figure out how many people can provide venues with income. And do not forget about costs for starting and growing a business in Latvia.
I would recommend our customers not to waste money but rather consult the regulator in order to realize the whole situation.

RGC: In March 2017, the Ministry of Finance of Latvia offered to increase a gambling business tax by 30% and to recommence a wining tax. In fact, the government prevents the gambling business development.

V.R.: The government follows such a policy regarding all kinds of business in the country. It tries to increase its budget by means of taxes and does not understand that Latvian entrepreneurs actively establish their businesses in other EU countries with more favorable attitude to this activity and special beneficial zones for its growth.
And taxes aren’t the point. In Scandinavia and Central Europe, for example, the tax control is even stricter and fees are higher. What plays a significant role in this issue is the opportunity to run a business. The UK offers special zones for testing businesses as well as has transparent and clear licensing regulations. When entrepreneurs are able to earn money, they pay any taxes. Latvia does not provide them with such an opportunity.

RGC: In other words, establishing the gambling business in Latvia is unprofitable, isn’t it?

V.R.: Absolutely unprofitable. Government supervision, taxes and regulation will take a huge amount of income. Besides, one will have to compete with other advanced EU countries, for instance, with Great Britain, as well as to invest in marketing and company image two times larger than their colleagues.
It will be too hard to develop the gambling or any other business in Latvia until the government changes its attitude to entrepreneurs.

RGC: How rapidly does the EU gambling market grow? Can you confirm your words by figures?

V.R.: The gambling business shows a steady growth. However, it refers to such segments as online casinos and lotteries. There is still a great share of the illegal business due to various factors. Over the past 5 years, we have seen a reducing activity in the acquiring organization sector. Almost no new players of this segment were noticed.
This year, we have been surprised by the increasing interest to eSports competitions. ESports betting is a new stage of the gambling business development and opportunity for good incomes.
Unfortunately, we can’t share figures, as one part of such information is confidential and another one will be presented at the conference.

RGC: What will you tell about at Riga Gaming Congress 2017? What target audience will find your presentation especially interesting?

V.R.: The presentation will be dedicated to the current condition of the Latvian market and its regulation. I hope we will obtain official comments from the government regulator regarding the future and development of the market. I will try to describe the relevant situation as fair and square as possible so that all participants could decide whether it is worth to start a business within the Latvian Republic or not.
I will also provide official comments from Latvian banks, which I am going to interview.
The target audience of my presentation includes business owners and top managers, in other words, decision makers and those developing this industry.

Vladimirs Remi will speak on October 12 within the second part of the business section at Riga Gaming Congress 2017. You can register for the event following the link.

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Baltics

BETBY TO POWER ESTONIAN BRAND WINNERZ WITH SPORTSBOOK SOLUTION INCLUDING PROPRIETARY ESPORTS FEED SOLUTION

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BETBY TO POWER ESTONIAN BRAND WINNERZ WITH SPORTSBOOK SOLUTION INCLUDING PROPRIETARY ESPORTS FEED SOLUTION
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Betby, a leading provider of sportsbook solutions, has announced a long-term partnership with the Winnerz brand. The partnership entails the provision of Betby’s cutting-edge sportsbook solution and its proprietary esports feed solution to the Estonian online casino brand.

The inclusion of the Betby Games esports feed solution comes on the heels of Betby Games receiving approval earlier this year from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which allows the sports betting supplier to provide its esports odds feed comprising of pre-match and live odds, round-the-clock content coverage, statistics hub, and resulting, either as part of the Betby Sportsbook solution or as a separate esports data feed to all operators holding an MGA license and other licensed operators in jurisdictions which accept MGA license.

Players on Winnerz’s casino platform now have access to an enriched sportsbook content portfolio featuring over 210,000 monthly events covering as many as 125 sports. The Betby Games esports feed solution will further boost the content offering with a broader and more engaging esports content, including 11 Betby Games e-simulator titles. This includes Betby Games’ renowned customized leagues, enabling operators to offer customizable esoccer football tournaments which are fully tailored to any brand’s identity.

Chris Nikolopoulos, Betby’s Chief Commercial Officer said: “I am very pleased to have agreed a broad collaboration with the Winnerz brand, as together we seek to grow the brand’s local marketshare. By continuing to deliver our extremely strong esport vertical to noteworthy brands, we stay true to our growth strategy, and bring incredible betting experiences to the operator’s customers.”

Kevin Liivamägi, Winnerz’s Head of Sportsbook, said: “I’m thrilled to provide our players with a premium sportsbook solution featuring one of the most extensive content portfolios in the industry. Their extensive range of content is truly impressive, and we’re confident that Betby’s comprehensive sportsbook solution and products are in line with our mission to provide our players with a fully immersive and well-rounded betting experience.”

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Baltics

In gaming culture, phones are replacing computers: “Charge your dopamine for the whole day in 5 minutes”

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It is common to think that gaming culture and its best experiences are only associated with computers and consoles. However, the gaming environment has changed significantly over the past few years. Once considered quite niche, mobile devices have now become the dominant force in gaming. Games on smartphones now account for more than half (according to Statista, 51%) of the global gaming market revenue.

According to one of Lithuania’s most famous gaming community members and the country’s most popular streamer, Karolis Jankauskas (“LTU Republic”), whose broadcasts are followed by more than 130,000 followers on the “Twitch” channel, we are living in a time of transformation.

User engagement and the number of game downloads illustrate that gaming culture is rapidly migrating to phones. Do you think it is starting to catch up with traditional gaming among true enthusiasts?

In the Baltics, events for games with mobile devices are just beginning to be organized, but the number of interested participants and their level of engagement is rapidly growing. Observing this activity, we can assume that gaming culture on phones can not only match but in some cases even surpass the traditional one.

We used to have many various popular consoles and other devices — from “GameBoy” to “PSP.” Now, the experiences they created are also available on phones. Does gaming on a smartphone match the quality of gaming on consoles? How is the gaming community reacting to these technological changes?

Comparing mobile games and gaming on consoles or computers is quite difficult. I would say it’s like comparing a car to a motorcycle. Both move, but one offers more entertainment, excitement, and emotional experiences, while the other offers more practicality.

A similar situation exists with gaming devices. You could say that smartphones have worse graphics or a more superficial gameplay experience, but their simplicity and pace open up a completely different gaming experience. Additionally, they are accessible anywhere and anytime. You don’t have to play only at home.

Currently, true gamers who play on consoles or computers don’t yet consider themselves in the same category as mobile device players. However, I think this attitude will change over time.

At the end of May, you invite your community to meet at the “Brawl Stars” mobile game tournament “Gaming tournament by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.” Is it true that this is a gaming phenomenon? It is already estimated that “Brawl Stars”

downloads have exceeded 500 million. What is the secret of its popularity? How does this mobile game already have its own e-sports team today?

“Brawl Stars” stands out with its brilliantly designed combination. The game is extremely simple, and its concept is very straightforward. Defeat your opponent, and you will be the best. And the matches are super fast. You can play 3-5 matches in 5 minutes and charge your dopamine for the whole day. This is probably the main secret of the game’s success. Plus, there are various game accessories and special events that are very engaging.

Additionally, these are the reasons why this mobile game has its own e-sports team. It is competitive and easily understandable to a wide audience.

What will make the upcoming tournament of this game different from others?

For the gaming community, this “Gaming tournament by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra” is relevant because it gives us an impression of how many people are engaged in gaming with smart devices. “Brawl Stars” players have a unique opportunity to test themselves against the best players. Participants are also motivated by the impressive prize—a “Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra”.

In the qualifications and selections, players will play in teams of two, and in the finals, the teams will be changed—the players who make it will be assigned one of the Lithuania’s famous content creators participating in the event. This should add a lot of intrigue and excitement, as it will show how well the best players can communicate with content creators who may not be as good in the game as they are.

More and more gaming-oriented phones are being introduced to the market. For example, the new “Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra”. How do they help the culture of gaming on phones grow? Can a phone even influence game results?

Just like athletes or racers need the best equipment or gear, a powerful phone gives a player an advantage. The fewer technical issues you have in the game, the faster you can progress.

Meet the most famous gamers

All gaming enthusiasts and professionals will have the opportunity to experience the best gaming moments on May 24-26 in Vilnius at the largest popular culture event in the Baltic States, “Comic Con Baltics powered by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.”

The “Gaming tournament by Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra” will take place at the impressive “Galaxy AI” booth. Here, visitors will also meet K. Jankauskas (“LTU Republic”), Simas Anužis (“Svarbeuse dariti”), Edvisss, and other famous players in the Baltics. There will be an opportunity to get up close with the most advanced “Samsung” smart devices, discover new opportunities that innovative “Galaxy AI” artificial intelligence features open up for gaming.

At the beginning of this year, “Samsung” was the first to offer its users a smartphone with artificial intelligence features. These change many ways of using and controlling the phone, as well as the habits users have adopted until now. At the event, you will have the opportunity to get acquainted with and try out AI features such as “Search by highlighting,” “Photo editing,” “Notes assistance,” “Live translation,” “Chat assistance,” and others.

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Baltics

Hitting the Networking Jackpot: Iconic MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit Launch at Tallinn Olympic Park Casino

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Hitting the Networking Jackpot: Iconic MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit Launch at Tallinn Olympic Park Casino
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HIPTHER, leading event organizer and parent brand of online media outlets for Gaming and Technology, is thrilled to announce the iconic kick-off of their MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit at the flagship Olympic Park Casino!

The Welcome Meet, scheduled for 3 June 2024 from 18:30 to 22:00, promises to set the stage for an unforgettable experience! Attendees will gather at the renowned Olympic Park Casino, located in the heart of Tallinn at the Hilton Tallinn Park hotel, where the MARE BALTICUM Summit is scheduled to take place. This premier venue offers a stunning 1,600 square meters of Las Vegas-style entertainment and is open 24/7, ensuring a lively and engaging atmosphere for all participants.

Guests at the Welcome Meet will enjoy a stylish, warm reception with welcome drinks, snacks, a separate lounge area, and €10 play money to experience the casino’s exciting games. Olympic Park Casino boasts the city’s nicest cocktail bar and a comfortable lounge, along with 76 state-of-the-art slot machines from top manufacturers like IGT, Novomatic, and Aristocrat. The casino also features 14 table games, including Baccarat, Blackjack, Roulette, and various forms of Poker, with a 24-hour table hall, poker tournaments, multi-level jackpot systems, and a VIP room.

The #hipthers are proud to announce Olympic Casino and OlyBet as official Welcome Meet Sponsors of the MARE BALTICUM Summit 2024, and are excited to host the event at the prestigious and iconic venue of the Olympic Park Casino, setting the tone for an extraordinary summit promising insightful discussions, networking opportunities, and a deep dive into the future of gaming and technology.

Olympic Entertainment Group (OEG), the parent brand of Olympic Park Casino and online brand Olybet, is the leading sports betting and gaming services provider in the Baltics and operates casinos across Slovakia, Croatia, and Malta. With a presence in six countries and 145 casinos, OEG is renowned for its commitment to regulated markets and exceptional customer service.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to network in style with industry leaders and enjoy the luxurious amenities of the Olympic Park Casino. Register now for the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit 2024 and join us for an iconic kick-off in Tallinn!

For more information and to register, visit: https://hipther.com/events/tallinn/

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