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Exclusive Q&A with Paul Witten, Product Director at SIS

George Miller



Exclusive Q&A with Paul Witten, Product Director at SIS
Reading Time: 4 minutes


Following a number of Eastern European operators introducing horse racing to their sportsbooks for the first time, we caught up with Paul Witten, Product Director at multi-channel supplier SIS, to find out why the sport is becoming a viable betting product for bookmakers in territories with relatively little racing heritage, and how the company is working closely with its operator partners to help attract new customers.

European Gaming (EG): Horse racing has not traditionally been a betting product within Eastern Europe, but we’re now seeing more operators in this territory expanding their offering in this space. What’s the reasoning behind this shift in strategy?

One of the key reasons why more operators in Eastern Europe are expanding their offering in this space is due to the way in which the overall product is now being presented to bettors. The availability of live horse racing events through SIS’s 24/7 channels means that online and retail customers now have access to a betting opportunity every three minutes.

Our ‘Watch and Bet’ betting model is proving to be valuable for operators, in helping to engage their customers with content which they’re not necessarily accustomed to. This approach which allows bettors to view live sporting events without the requirement of first placing a bet, increases engagement levels, particularly as we know that bettors are more likely to wager on events that they can see. Commentary and on-screen graphics with betting prompts help to inform the bettor about exactly what is happening before, during and after a race, which also drives interest in betting.

As is the case with other areas of betting and gaming, we’re increasingly agreeing revenue share deals with operators, and these agreements carry many benefits for bookmakers who are looking to introduce a new product such as horse racing to their customer base. These types of deals reduce the risk involved, while also prompting suppliers to work more closely with operators at launch, to leverage their expertise which is invaluable to ensuring that the product is as profitable as possible.

European Gaming: Is there a big enough audience out there for horse racing in Eastern Europe?

Absolutely, there are millions of potential bettors out there in the marketplace. The key is knowing how to turn these prospective customers into active depositing users. To make horse racing a successful betting product for operators in this territory, educating the audience on how to bet on the sport is a key part of the marketing strategy.

Although the sport holds a limited heritage in this part of the world, providing bettors with access to free-to-view pictures of the events via the Watch and Bet model is a great way to get them engaged with the sport, as well as ensuring that there is adequate information on the product for bettors.

European Gaming: How can operators attract new customers with this type of content?

Bettors are more inclined to wager on events that they understand, so it’s worth considering pushing markets that aren’t too complicated. Through our in-house trading team, SIS offers pricing derivative markets that provide a wide range of betting opportunities to suit all betting styles, and particularly popular amongst uninitiated bettors are casino-style ‘spin-and-win’ bets. These types of markets are perfect for operators within this territory, as it enables a newer audience less familiar with the sport to engage with the sport. Bettors can for example, bet on the odd-numbered horses against the even-numbered horses, similar to how roulette is played. Once bettors have experienced a few races they will be more comfortable with exploring the plethora of additional markets that are available.

European Gaming: How are suppliers such as yourselves looking to assist operators in this region when launching horse racing for the first time? Do you offer more than just streams of live racing?

We’ve grown our presence in this territory recently and one of the key factors in our success has been the way in which we work closely with our new operator partners. We strongly believe in a partnership approach and look to help our customers extract the maximum value from our products and services by providing by providing additional services to help operators establish their new horse racing offering.

We have created an operator marketing portal which contains point of sale material and ‘How to bet guides’ to help them educate their customers on racing, which has proved very beneficial for operators. Our bookmaker customers are able to create bespoke in-store posters and promotional offers.

In addition, our Financial Analytics team, through ongoing data analysis, provide valuable insights into what’s performing well, as well as having access to the latest betting trends in other jurisdictions. This information allows us to provide recommendations to our operator partners to help shape their offering in a way that optimises the appeal to their customers.

European Gaming: SIS recently launched Competitive Gaming. Do you believe this new product is suited for the Eastern European market? Has there been any interest in this new format of esports from this region at all?

As we’re seeing with horse racing, we have no doubt that esports will appeal to bettors all over the world. Again, it’s a case of knowing how best to package this experience to make it relatable to existing sports bettors and become a profitable product for operators.

SIS Competitive Gaming is the world’s only esports betting product that has been built specifically for sportsbooks. We have just agreed a deal with a major Eastern European operator and have had significant interest from a number of other operators in the region. One of the key reasons why the operator opted to take our offering is because of the easy-to-understand markets available. Head to head tournaments featuring skilled gamers cover a wide range of sports, which are sure to resonate with their existing customer base.

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Evoplay Entertainment: “ICE is one of the year’s hottest fixtures – you’d be hard-pressed to find another event with so many operators and suppliers under one roof!”

George Miller



Evoplay Entertainment: “ICE is one of the year’s hottest fixtures – you’d be hard-pressed to find another event with so many operators and suppliers under one roof!”
Reading Time: 3 minutes


We caught up with some of our favourite Eastern European suppliers to get the low down on what they’ll be bringing to the show this year.

Next up is Ivan Kravchuk, CEO of Evoplay Entertainment

Another year, another ICE! What’s Evoplay Entertainment excited about this year?

ICE is one of the year’s hottest fixtures – you’d be hard-pressed to find another event with so many operators and suppliers under one roof. No doubt, this year as ever will prove to be crammed with fantastic business opportunities, highlight announcements, a million new trends, and of course my personal favourite … the latest tech!

Anything in particular we can look forward to at the Evoplay Entertainment stand?

Our founding goal has been to revolutionise gaming development with some of the best tech innovation that’s out there, and when it comes to our stand, I can promise you this year will be no different.

We’ll be kicking off with our 2020 portfolio, which has some fantastically engaging games that I’m excited to be showcasing. However, our main fixture that will grab the limelight will no doubt be Dungeon: Immortal Evil. As the industry’s first RPG (think first-person adventure) slot, we’ve had to start from scratch when it comes to building it from the ground up. Everything from design to the game’s mechanics – it has literally been a labour of love for our stellar development team, and I’m absolutely blown away with the result.

We’ve designed this game to give our operators a serious leading edge when it comes to capturing the attention of the millennial generation. The latest generation of customer is looking content not only for them – but also action-packed gaming that can be shared across their online communities; from streaming on Twitch to sharing on TikTok. Smartphones lie at the core of this gaming community ecosystem, and the next 10 years are going to be all about mobile-adaptive content.

We’re seeing an ever-growing list of CEE companies getting in on the action at ICE – what’s your take?

I’m not exaggerating when I say that CEE is now moving as fast as Silicon Valley. From Estonia to Ukraine, the region is crammed with fast-growing start-ups, groundbreaking new tech – and of course, some truly bright minds. The level of technical education at the majority of CEE universities is outstanding, and our talent pool is arguably one of the world’s best. We’re proud to be part of such an exciting, fast growing region.

And for the show – any predictions for hottest topics?

When it comes to slots, I expect it to be all about merging the lines between gaming and entertainment. In such a competitive market, it’s imperative to capture the user’s attention as quickly as possible. We can see the same outside of our industry with the current showdown between Netflix and HBO as they battle it out to offer the best content; and the same will no doubt happen in our industry. The US slots market, which is in many ways still untapped, is also going to be hot this year – and I’m very much looking forward to talking to our partners about their business roadmaps and vision for the market.

Any advice for first-timers?

Everyone will tell you about the importance of networking – but I think ICE offers far more than this. The speaking tracks are always fantastically educational, and I’d advise first-timers to look at taking advantage of the wealth of information on offer; especially when it comes to exploring trends outside of your gaming vertical.

With 10 sectors available I would advise my industry friends to think outside the box and learn something new and evaluate how it can benefit from your product or solution. Knowledge after all, is power!

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Digitain: “Innovation, personalisation and gamification are definitely going to be the most exciting for us this year”.

George Miller



Digitain: “Innovation, personalisation and gamification are definitely going to be the most exciting for us this year”.
Reading Time: 3 minutes


With ICE only a day away, we caught up with some of our favourite Eastern European suppliers to get the low down on what they’ll be bringing to the show this year.

First up is Simon Westbury, Head of International Development at Digitain.

Another year, another ICE! What’s Digitain excited about this year?

As a tech company at heart, innovation, personalisation and gamification are definitely going to be the most exciting for us this year.

Innovation for Digitain is all about keeping our partners ahead of their rivals, as well as attracting and engaging the end-user. I’m thrilled to be showcasing our latest predictive AI modelling tools; able to personalise offerings and ensure that when players log on, they are able to immediately interact with the content they are looking for.

AI and predictive modelling can also go the other way too – our latest automatic match allocation program uses algorithms to automatically identify which traders are most optimal for each betting market – ensuring the most efficient pricing model is delivered to each of our partners.

Elsewhere, gamification, when integrated into a segmentation and customer retention strategy, is going to work wonders in the year ahead, and I’m excited to be taking our friends and partners through our latest strategies. A gamified experience – when merged with the right segmented customer, can drive players towards desired content at key times like never before. Combined with bonus rewards, competition against other players and other social elements, and you have an incredibly powerful tool on your hands for the year ahead.

Anything in particular we can look forward to at the Digitain stand?

Front and centre will be our comprehensive gaming and sportsbook platform. Providing operators with a one-stop-shop for success, it offers our proprietary, action-packed bonusing systems that will keep any player coming back for more.

At last count, we service over 100 partners around the globe with a user-friendly multi-lingual, multi-currency, customisable interface that can be easily integrated on any platform for both online and land-based operators, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty more to add to that list by the time ICE has passed by.

As the industry’s most flexible, scalable and modular sports betting platform, our sportsbook is serviced by more than 700 of Armenia’s brightest trading minds, covering more than 35,000 monthly live events, 7000 leagues and 3000 betting markets. Stretching across every touchpoint imaginable, we cater for website, mobile, apps, terminals and the betting shops. Our gaming offering is also one of the industry’s best, providing operators with a comprehensive package that totals more than 3000 slots, bingo and table games complete with live dealers.

As a global platform supplier, what would you advise operators to focus on at ICE this year?

If you want to stay ahead in 2020, focus on AI and deep data analytics. Having a toolkit that elevates the customer experience should be at the top of every operators’ ICE shopping list, and those who don’t take advantage of the latest tech are going to miss out on a lot of market share come ICE 2021.

In an increasingly crowded brand landscape, personalised Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) powered by AI and data analytics is key to this. As competition increases, and customer bases and markets grow larger, it is becoming increasingly important for gaming operators to get more information about their customers in order to maintain, not to mention grow, their market share and build customer lifetime value.

While the gaming industry has championed the practice of customer relationship management already – CRM coupled with Digitain’s data insights will ensure 2020 will see a whole new level of delivery thanks to our market leading tech – and that’s before we even get into the cross-sell potential between sportsbook and casino.

And finally – are there any changes you’d like to see at ICE this year?

I’d like to do more to throw a light on markets outside of Western Europe and the US. I feel that sometimes as an industry we risk being too insular, and would argue that if you’re not awake to fast-developing markets such as LatAm (and, by all means, throw in the likes of India, Japan and Africa), then any you’re going to fall behind. The volumes in these jurisdictions are too consequential to be ignored.

Eastern Europe is a great example of this; with markets coming online at an exponential pace. In line with that, we’re seeing some fantastic gaming conferences and summits being set up to cater to this fast-developing region; with the Prague Gaming Summit and Central Eastern European Gaming Conference being real standouts. Operators would do well to keep an eye an eye on this dynamic part of the world.

Moving further abroad, Latin America is another excellent market to consider; as well as its steady growth, not to mention its largely untapped status, operators can easily make big returns if they target the region with localised solutions. Furthermore, it is vital to acknowledge that this new wave rides on the crest of mobile – just witness the 19% year-on-year growth for mobile platforms in the region. These predictions project that there will be some 235m-plus smartphone users by 2021, and anybody looking to capitalise on the region’s exponential growth would do well to get in on the ground floor.

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George Miller



Reading Time: 2 minutes

What is Ellevens Esports about?
Gareth Bale said: “On the pitch, my goal is always to win. With Ellevens Esports, that winning attitude is just as important. There are similarities between football and esports in that it takes real dedication and sacrifice to reach the top of your game. I am really excited to now have my own team and I am looking forward to Ellevens competing in major esports events all over the world.”
What inspired you to launch your own esports team?
Gareth Bale said: “My interest in esports started about two years ago watching Ninja stream Fortnite and as a result I naturally progressed to watching FIFA and the FIFA Global Series. The competitive side was fascinating, so I decided I wanted to provide an opportunity for gamers that take esports seriously and to play for a professional organisation at the highest level.
“I am fortunate enough to have been a professional footballer from a young age playing at some of the world’s best clubs and I feel there were lots of similarities between real life sport and esports. Therefore, I want to provide the best professional environment for gamers around the world and build an esports legacy.”
Do you play esports?
Gareth Bale said: “When I’m not training or playing football, I love to play in online FIFA tournaments, but I’m definitely not an elite competitor.
Ellevens will hold a tournament to find gamers to join the team. What’s your advice to players?
Gareth Bale said: “Enjoy it! Whatever you do in life you have to enjoy it so do your best, practice as much as you can and the rest will follow. One of the aspects that I love about esports is that it brings people together – it allows anyone in the world to try out for Ellevens Esports., it’s a fantastic chance to become a professional gamer and I wish everyone good luck! I will be watching!”
Tyler Phillips
Home country: Wales (Newport)
“Representing Ellevens is the proudest moment of my life. Gareth Bale is known all over the world, he is an idol for me, being from Wales. Playing for his team is a life-changing opportunity and is giving me that extra push to take my career to the next level!”
Ethan Higgins
Home country: England (Birmingham)
“Fans can expect to see Ellevens be one of the best teams in the world. Having Gareth Bale as co-owner is amazing as it’s a completely new experience for all of us players.”
Pedro “Resende” Henrique Soares
Home country: Brazil
“It is an honour to be part of Ellevens. Even though we are new in the scene, we already have a very strong team. Having Gareth Bale involved brings a lot of attention which is really exciting. Hopefully we will deliver our fans a number of championship titles!”

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