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Exclusive Interview with Jospeh Borg

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Exclusive interview with Joseph Borg
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Our colleague, Szaló Réka interviewed Joseph Borg who is Vice-President of Bitmalta, and also a senior advisor at WH Partners, a law firm specializing in Gaming, Corporate, IT, Telecoms and Intellectual Property Law. He also lectures Gaming Law at the University of Malta and is the Secretary General of the Malta IT Law Association.

 

Thank you for being available and accepting this interview. First of all will you please introduce yourself and the company you represent?

Borg: Thank you for inviting me to give this interview. It is my pleasure. I am an advocate by profession, and I’m currently a Senior Advisor to WH Partners, practising mainly in the areas of Gaming, Blockchain, Esports, Corporate, IT, Telecoms and Intellectual Property Law. I also lecture Gaming Law at the University of Malta. Currently I’m also the Vice-President of Bitmalta, which is a non-profit organization that I co-founded, with a mission to promoting and stimulating discussion about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Malta. Before joining WH Partners I occupied the post of Chief Regulatory Officer of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority – Malta (now the Malta Gaming Authority), where I worked for almost 7 years. During my tenure at the MGA, I was elected as a Member on the Board of Trustees of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR). 

You have rich experience in providing advice to the Gaming industry. Why did you choose gaming, or may I ask: did the industry choose you?

Borg: I believe the industry chose me when I joined the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in Malta in 2017. The MGA (then known as the LGA), was set up in 2004 and became fully operational by 2006. I was one of its first employees and I witnessed the growth of the industry in Malta first hand. I was coming from a telecoms and IT law background after obtaining a Masters degree in the subject and 3 years experience as Legal Counsel to Vodafone Malta. Coming from a vibrant and dynamic industry like the telecoms industry I thought that this is as interesting and exciting as it can get. But when I got into the gaming industry I felt that this is the industry I want to focus on. If the telecoms industry is vibrant, dynamic and exciting, the gaming industry is all of that ten times over.

What is your personal opinion about the European gambling industry and could you make a comparison with the market that you know better and the European situation in terms of gaming and gambling?

Borg: Unfortunately the fragmentation of the European market is bad news for the industry and players. It is next to impossible for the industry to grow across the European market and we have situations where customers from different European Union member states are not able to obtain their services legally from their preferred provider. It has created first class and 2nd class EU citizens where 1st class citizens where some citizens are spoilt for choice in terms of which operator they want to play with while 2nd class citizens are bound to choose from a few operators that have little or no competition and that can take the attitude of ‘take it or leave it’ or worse still that would like to offer a better product but cannot because they are stifled by outrages taxes and irrational limitations. It is a ridiculous situation, where in a common market that is supposed to present equal opportunities to everyone.

What advice would you give for those investors who are planning to set up a business in the gaming and gambling sector in Europe?

Borg: It is difficult to set up a new gaming business and succeed in Europe at the moment, unless you come up with an innovative business model or innovative products that will give you the edge. Currently I see room for growth in the Esports betting sectors, blockchain technology based products, virtual reality and augmented reality products, as well as niche operators. Most successful startups will be taken over by the big boys in the industry. But that’s a lifecycle we have to adapt to.

According to you which are the values of Bitcoin that can make it very effective and due to which it will enhance the gaming industry?

Borg: The technology behind Bitcoin is the real game changer. Blockchain technology brings with it massive advantages to the gaming offerings especially when it comes to security, trust, player protection and cost efficiency.

With this technology everyone is a winner. Operators benefit from security and cost efficiency, customers befit from added security, trust and player protection while the regulator benefits from all of the above as well as a higher degree of monitoring possibilities.

With blockchain technology, everyone is a winner!

Cryptocurrencies are the blood running to the blockchain veins. Cryptocurrencies bring a number of challenges and opportunities. But all the challenges can be overcome with a little bit of effort and common sense from all parties involved.

You are Co-Founder and Vice-President at Bitmalta, a non-profit organisation. What mission does this organisation undertake? Will you please tell us more about this organisation?

Borg: I set up Bitmalta together with Jonathan Galea, who has been actively involved in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies for over 5 years, when very few people had any idea of what this technology entails.

It is a non-profit organization that I co-founded, with a mission to promoting and stimulating discussion about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Malta. The aim is to lobby in favour of the adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies with the government as well as with regulatory authorities. It also aims at educating people through seminars and other initiatives about this revolutionary technology.

What is your main hobby?

Borg: My passion is football. I am a big Juventus fan, a season ticket holder at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. I was also the President and Co-Founder of the largest Juventus official fan club outside of Italy. Unfortunately, due to work and family commitments (I’m a father of 2 year old twins) I had to resign from the club and I travel to Turin less frequently. However, I would not miss a Juventus match, irrespectively of where I am in the world and on which time zone I am in.

I also try to go to the gym 3 times a week, when possible.

Where would you travel the most in Central Europe?

Borg: My favourite cities are Turin (for obvious reasons), Stockholm and Edinburgh. However, my most memorable travels have been to the wilderness of the countryside of Sweden, Ireland, Scotland and Alaska.

Reka is an Experienced English second language teacher with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Microsoft Excel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Translation, Foreign Languages, and Lecturing. Strong education professional with a Bachelor’s Degree majored in English Language and Literature/Letters. Reka is in charge of conducting the exclusive interviews on European Gaming and our printed magazine

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Interviews

When responsible gaming fails, problem gambling takes over, then there’s Gamban!

George Miller

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When responsible gaming fails, problem gambling takes over, then there’s Gamban!
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

2018 was the year in which gambling operators and regulators moved up a gear in how they ensure responsible gaming is fully supported. 2019 is the year that software lends a helping hand. While many players enjoy betting on slot games, sports events and online casinos, problem gambling is a very real condition that can affect millions of people around the world.

In this iGaming Q & A session, Slotsquad looks at how software and technology can play its part in assisting problem gamblers online. Speaking with Gamban, we learn about the smartest and most effective software in the world for blocking online gambling sites and apps. Designed to block gambling and nothing else, it is the least intrusive, most intelligent and simple to install blocking software of its kind.

As we continue our journey to understand the iGaming industry, everything from how games are built to how casinos are regulated, we talk with the software experts fighting in the corner when responsible gaming fails. In a much anticipated Q & A with founder and CEO of Gamban, Jack Symons, we talk about the product, the future and how casino sites can do more to support players.

10 Questions with Gamban Founder and CEO, Jack Symons

Q1. Firstly, thanks for talking with Slotsquad. While most players know about online casinos, slot games and welcome bonuses, they don’t necessarily know about this side of the industry. Can you tell us about Gamban and how the software is making a difference?

Absolutely! Gamban blocks access to online gambling. You install the software on any and all of your devices and it stops your from accessing all gambling sites and applications – everything from bingo and poker to slots, skins gambling and casual trading. It’s designed to be as lightweight and effective as possible. Thousands of people are using the software and we are pleased that overall the software is helping so many people.

Q2. It’s very clever how Gamban is able to block thousands of online gambling sites, how does this part of the software work?

There are two approaches to this – and we have spent considerable time researching and developing different technologies. I should start by saying that each platform is considerably different as we work within the confines of what is and isn’t possible on each operating system.

However, underpinning each application is a powerful DNS system that automatically identifies gambling URLs, in addition to manual checking. We are always prepared to radically change the approach depending on what will make a better, simpler and more efficient product.

Q3. Do you ever come across websites that are wrongly designated as gambling domains? I guess this could be frustrating.

It’s not common. This was a bugbear of previous alternatives when I was setting up Gamban. What annoyed me most was finding I was blocked from [for example] restaurant websites, presumably because they, like casinos, use ‘chips’ – maybe that’s why? But sometimes the most innocuous sites were blocked and this was unacceptable.

On the rare occasion someone finds an inaccurately blocked site with Gamban, we can change this very quickly. We spend considerable time debating sites that fall between gambling and investing and regularly review the blacklist and whitelist.

Q4. Given the rise of internet gambling and mobile casinos now providing all-access around the clock, responsible gaming is being tested more than ever. Does Gamban provide one account that blocks access to gambling sites on multiple devices, including mobile phones?

Gamban can be installed on multiple devices – iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. We are exploring other emerging platforms, including Oculus (virtual reality), Playstation and Xbox. We aren’t intent on replacing willpower altogether but applying friction from the on-demand, omnipresent online gambling, where willpower alone isn’t enough for many.

Q5. Self-exclusion software can help problem gamblers and potential problem gamblers avoid contact with gambling websites, but it requires self-exclusion. Is Gamban a type of self-exclusion software and how does it differ from other types of this technology? Is it the best?

Gamban is self-exclusion software. It was designed knowing that individual operator self-exclusion is meaningless when there are thousands of other sites you can sign up and play on. However, the general consensus is that layering multiple self-exclusion tools (specifically financial spend blocking, the self exclusion register and gambling-blocking software) protection is more effective.

Gamban, Gamstop, Monzo. It works for me – I use all three and I cannot gamble online.

Q6. Gamban is independently evaluated with very good results. Can you please translate this for players, what does it mean and who evaluates Gamban?

Towards the end of last year, GambleAware commissioned an evaluation into the effectiveness of gambling-blocking software. The evaluation was undertaken by an agency in Birmingham and investigated Gamban, Betfilter, Gamblock and a number of similar but tangential tools in the access control space (parental control software). Gamban scored well in blocking functionality, yet cost was considered a barrier for some.

Q7. I see that Gamban software was selected by GambleAware to provide blocking software to its gambling support network. This is quite an achievement and a great endorsement that shows the capability of Gamban, you must have been pleased? And it’s free for players in the UK!

I’m very pleased with the results but our challenge is constantly evolving and we need to ensure our product is optimised for all platforms and updates to operating systems. The product has never been in better shape than it is today – and we have several major updates coming soon. Gamban is indeed free for players in the UK – people just need to contact one of the network of Gamcare treatment providers, including Gamcare and the National Gambling Helpline.

Q8. According to the UK Gambling Commission, tougher ID checks will be brought in to make sure self-excluded gamblers cannot cheat the system to place bets. Is it difficult to manoeuvre around the software in cases like this and if so, how do you see future updates improving Gamban?

This is essential for Gamstop to operate effectively and we fully support tougher ID checks to prevent gambling harm. If this fails, as it may do, Gamban provides a good level of protection. It’s been designed to be difficult to circumvent but we cannot stop someone buying a new phone or factory resetting.

As far as self-exclusion goes, our challenge is to create enough friction to stop people acting on impulse. But this is where financial spend blocking comes in useful too. If I ever want to gamble with three self-exclusion tools applied, I would have to apply a lot of creativity to act on impulse. Device, bank and ID – these are three difficult things to bypass.

Q9. Every year, the iGaming industry holds numerous events to promote marketing strategies, games development and online casino networking. Does Gamban get invited to these events? After all, casino operators and regulators support responsible gaming, don’t they?

Yes, we are always happy to be part of the discussion but we are keen to see change. What we want is more consistency in the way self-exclusion is delivered. We are pushing for a standardisation in the way self-exclusion is distributed and managed. Gamban has a role to play in this but we fully respect that fact that other systems add a lot of value to the individual trying to stop gambling. A lot of the events we go to seem to pay lip-service to the problem but I’ve seen quite a change over the past three years in the industry’s attitude towards responsible gambling.

One of the more interesting conversations I’ve been involved in is with the banking industry as a whole. Internet Service Providers, banks and other verticals have an opportunity to help individuals struggling with gambling addiction, as well as operators and regulators.

Q10. Lastly, how do you feel the future of online casinos and gaming sites looks from your perspective? Do you see Gamban and other self-exclusion technologies moving more towards operators and perhaps integrating with casino sites? For instance, name recognition etc to prevent players from signing up once they have chosen to bypass self-exclusion rules?

I’m surprised by how little innovation there has been in iGaming over the past five years, to be honest. Where I see a lot of industry focus on predictive behaviour, player insight and security, I feel the iGaming industry is in a position to be so far ahead of this – and yet, there is little that distinguishes one site from another. So little consistency. So much proprietary development is derailing effective cross-platform solution development and results in fragmented and disjointed support mechanisms for individuals going through one of the hardest processes imaginable.

What I would like to see is more engagement with the current self-exclusion ‘eco-system’ – more sharing, more collaboration and more integration of existing solutions. Until the bare minimum is achieved (an individual spelling out ‘I HAVE A PROBLEM’ to an operator and being offered anything close to a helpful, practical and effective strategy), I find it hard to take operator-funded ‘innovation hubs’ and ‘incubators’ little more than a ‘innovation’ branding exercise.

Once the bare minimum is being achieved, there’s potentially light at the end of the tunnel for the industry. Thousands of children who are playing games with gambling elements combined – I often wonder what will happen in a decade – are these children going to be playing on slot machines or will they continue playing games? Will gambling be able to compete with gaming or are the two products sufficiently different.

The point here is that a lot of innovation is going into responsible gambling technology – would it not be better to concentrate on making the products more engaging, interesting and powerful? The market will provide RG solutions to problem gamblers – operators just need to support and get behind these tools.

 

Source: Slotsquad 

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Interviews

Enteractive to bring player reactivation to the stage at ICE London 2019

George Miller

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Enteractive to bring player reactivation to the stage at ICE London 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Enteractive CEO Mikael Hansson talks to European Gaming about his company’s first ever appearance at ICE and why adding the human touch to customer engagement along with new technology will drive players to re-deposit with operators

 

European Gaming: This year marks the first time that Enteractive will be exhibiting at ICE London, what was the thinking taking a stand at the ExCeL London?

Mikael Hansson (MH): Strategically, and along with us celebrating our 10th anniversary, it’s the perfect time for us to showcase our leading player retention solutions to the wider industry. The company has grown considerably in recent times with our recently launched (Re)activation Cloud now live with many operators across Europe, and ICE London gives us the ideal platform to speak to a wider audience.

Our debut appearance at the exhibition also comes at a time when regulatory changes are having a major impact on the global gaming industry, and we feel that our products can make a real difference for operators. We specialise in player reactivation, which will become a major focus in the marketplace over the coming months as regulators introduce stricter marketing procedures that will make it even harder to attract and acquire new customers.

European Gaming: What will Enteractive be exhibiting at stand N9-252? Do you have an exciting new product that you are showcasing?

MH: We’ll be exhibiting our innovative new (Re)activation Cloud service, which is an AI-driven platform built for large-scale personal player retention, as well as strengthening customer loyalty and improving responsible gambling measures. Through (Re)activation Cloud, operators can re-engage their player base with our industry leading one-to-one personal player conversations, resulting in up to 50% of players re-depositing.

Following a seamless API integration, CRM managers will have access to a real-time dashboard that gives them the ability to monitor player survey results, as well as responsible gambling measures, while all scheduling and optimisation is AI-driven.

European Gaming: What sets Enteractive’s approach to player reactivation apart from your competition?

MH: We’ve been specialising in player reactivation and retention for more than 10 years and implementing the human touch to our approach has been a major factor in our success. This personal approach helps operators to understand exactly what their players want from their gaming experience. Rather than send them a generic email bonus offer, we find that talking to them directly can be beneficial in finding out their likes and dislikes, as well as other circumstances that may influence their gaming habits.

Along with this, we have invested many resources into our technology, which complements our personal approach. Our (Re)activation Cloud, gives an operator full control of their reactivation campaign, whilst investing in full security and responsible gaming.

European Gaming: How will new technology like artificial intelligence enhance the process of player reactivation?

MH: Leaning on a cloud platform that incorporates artificial intelligence will significantly improve the method of player reactivation. Operator marketing teams will be able to deploy a procedure where they can automate how players are approached, pinpointing exactly who should be contacted, at the ideal time, and understanding why they are being approached in the first place.

New technology will also help to enhance security measures when contacting players. The introduction of GDPR means proper procedures need to be in place to handle sensitive customer information and storing such data via a cloud platform ensures it is safeguarded.

We firmly believe that incorporating modern technology, alongside the traditional human touch to player reactivation, will drive engagement and revenues for operators, as well as securing the long-term

Enteractive will be at stand N9-252, exhibiting its full range of player retention solutions. To find out more or to book a meeting, please contact info@enteractive.com.

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Industry News

EveryMatrix is showcasing ‘Unlimited Creativity’ in London this February

Zoltan Tundik

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

EveryMatrix showcases their portfolio of iGaming B2B products at ICE London (5-7 February, ExCeL London, UK). The products were rebuilt from the ground up in the last couple of years. The common theme is modularity, giving unprecedented flexibility for clients and catering for some of the largest companies in the industry. Ebbe Groes, CEO, EveryMatrix, discusses the company’s approach to achieving success and profitability for EveryMatrix clients.

How do you feel ICE London helps develop iGaming and your company?

ICE starts the iGaming year with all the major names in the industry joining together. This event is a great opportunity to consolidate existing partnerships and secure new business contacts. Obviously, our focus is on securing new clients, but we also come to interact with other B2B providers. Our main products, across Casino, Sports, Payments, are all based on the common principle of aggregation of the best products and services within each vertical, so keeping up to date with these is vital.

How are you standing out from the crowd in an increasingly crowded market?

We today stand out thanks to our vision to shift progressively from “boxed” platform ecosystems to specialised, modular and platform independent products. In the past few years, we’ve rebuilt all our products from scratch with a strong focus on using state of the art technology, and we’re excited to showcase this at ICE.
By splitting up our core applications into many smaller applications we have been able to cater for a much wider set of clients than before – and I believe, wider than our competitors. We today span the entire range from completely servicing smaller companies, including start-ups, to the largest operators in the industry. This is because almost everything we do can be isolated and delivered independently yet also delivered jointly in a full turn-key solution.
Our products today allow deep integrations with any platforms and can be adapted to different clients’ needs, depending on the size of their business, goals, technical and legal requirements in the jurisdictions they work in. This flexibility has in only a single year increased our set of clients by fifty percent, including some of the largest companies in the industry.

The EveryMatrix platform offers operators individualised front ends. What that EveryMatrix does are key elements to increase variation, personalisation and gamification across different operators and markets?

The design and functionality of both casino and sportsbook front-ends is key to success and profitability. This is not only about usability but also about retention, personalization, localization, and promoting the most profitable games and bets. Even further, it’s about conversion of visitors to sign-ups or conversion of players from casino to sports or the other way around. Having a template front-end, like tens of others, will not cut it in the long run.

EveryMatrix realized this early and today have many casino operators on our platform who fully control their front-end. Now the time has come to bring this revolution to sports. Our Casino, Sports, and Payments WebAPIs offer the easiest way in the entire industry for you to build and control your own front-end and have complete freedom without the restrictions normally imposed by a platform provider.

To support even more customization and to help operators increase conversions, we have launched a second generation of bonus system, another industry first. This is a stand-alone system to create, manage and report on bonusing for both casino and sports products and helps operators to combine bonus programs and promotional packages that are activated by various triggers. It can even be delivered to clients on their own platform, it is neither tied to the system of the game provider nor to the EveryMatrix platform and wallet service as all other bonus systems are.

Overall, between bespoke front-end, real-time delivery of data to bespoke CRM systems of clients, API driven applications, an extremely flexible bonus system, we achieve the overall goal of Unlimited Creativity for gaming operators in terms of player experience. The key for us as B2B provider is not to limit or even guide the clients but to help them implement their own ideas and unleash their own creativity!

What genius solutions will you be showing at ICE London?

We’ll exhibit our full product suite which covers Casino, Payments, Sports, Platform, and Affiliate systems.
Our flagship product CasinoEngine is the largest casino content aggregator in the world with 8,000+ across more than 140 vendors and sub-vendors. CasinoEngine is a true next generation solution thanks to its unified back office and services integrated into many specialized APIs. We have followed our long-term vision to solve key operational and product offering issues affecting operators and we’re pleased to present at ICE 2019 a robust solution that is already used by market leading operators such as Norsk Tipping, Tipico, Wunderino, Adjarabet, the Genesis group, and many others. Activity for CasinoEngine clients more than doubled in 2018, with record volumes month after month. We look forward to showing at ICE the key reasons why CasinoEngine clients grow faster than the market as a whole.

MoneyMatrix team joins ICE 2019 as well. MoneyMatrix can provide automated payment routing, risk management and KYC solutions globally. MoneyMatrix is not just an EveryMatrix software service, but a Malta licensed regulated financial institution within its own right with the ability to provide payment processing to any merchant operating within the e-commerce space. In our first full year of operation, we signed more than 20 new clients and today process hundreds of millions of euros monthly. We’ve won Best Payments Aggregator Award (Malta Gaming Awards) and Best in Business Payment Processing and Risk Management Company Award (Malta’s Best in Business Award).

Not forgetting about our sport products, OddsMatrix is gearing up to join ICE to showcase our latest OddsMatrix Sports Data Feeds products, including the recently launched OddsMatrix Aggregator – a powerful and unique tool which allows bookmakers to combine odds, settlement, and score feeds from multiple providers into a single aggregated feed, all processed in real-time! The Aggregator is itself a key component of the refactored fully managed sportsbook, the OddsMatrix Sportsbook.

Last but not least, our PartnerMatrix team will join ICE 2019 as well and will showcase a complex Affiliate Software Solution and Agent Management System, including the newly launched features such as the Reactivation Rewards for affiliates, Server to Server (S2S) tracking that improves accuracy of the conversion, and Player Segmentation for better optimization of the affiliate rewards. PartnerMatrix also delivers feeds and APIs for affiliates to obtain reports and data automatically. Catena Media is just one of several companies using this new service.

What is it about ICE London which sets it apart for EveryMatrix?

ICE represents innovation and new business so it’s easy to understand why it’s attracting established companies from all over the world. That’s why ICE London is the perfect meeting spot for all major players in the industry and has gained the reputation of being THE place to network within the international gaming community.

This event is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with clients and suppliers and that’s why our delegation includes representatives from all our offices, from sales, marketing, product management to development and top management. London is a major mark on the iGaming map and ICE is testament to that.

Join EveryMatrix at ICE London 2019 at Stand N6-310, where the company will exhibit its next generation of B2B iGaming solutions and herald exclusive news for the coming year.

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