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”In an increasingly digitised world, engaging customers with action-packed content and a tailored user experience has never been more important.”

George Miller

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Vermantia Q&A w/ European Gaming: “In an increasingly digitised world, engaging customers with action-packed content and a tailored user experience has never been more important.”
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

With the industry’s leading supplier of bespoke data and picture content set to close 2019 on a record-breaking high, we caught up with Business Development Director Peter Woodfine to talk success, innovation and their plans for 2020.

Can you tell us a bit about Vermantia and what you do?

Vermantia is a one-stop-shop for retail and online, whether that be for bespoke data and picture content, or our next-generation delivery solutions and self-service betting ecosystem.

We understand that all operators and their customers are different and require a bespoke approach tailored to their individual locality and culture, and we do exactly that. As one of the industry’s largest broadcasters, we broadcast thousands of live events each year, complemented by a comprehensive portfolio of virtual games. All of that content is available 24/7, allowing us to provide operators in any corner of the world with the thrill of racing and sports. We deliver regardless of time zone, offering the very latest in technology to power the betting experience.

Your European operations have gone from strength-to-strength in recent years, what would you say have been the keys to your success?

In an increasingly digitised world, engaging customers with action-packed content and a tailored user experience has never been more important. We strive to offer our operator partners, such as OPAP, Lottomatica and Eurobet, a future-proofed betting environment, ensuring they attract the latest generation of tech savvy customers as well as retain their existing base.

While Europe in general is a mature market, and quick to adopt new industry trends, we are also mindful to ensure variations between countries are taken into account. Betting content needs to be round the clock, suitable for any location and customisable for any regional market. In total, we now broadcast more than 90,000 premium live racing and 35,000 live sporting events annually to meet demand, as well as an ever-widening range of virtual and next generation games. Gathered on our unique CONNECT platform and distributed via our ultra-low latency streaming or through satellite broadcasting, we’re able to harness the latest in technology and deliver a bespoke service to everyone we work with.

A particularly good example of this has been our recent work in Italy. With the Palinsesto Complementare offering international horse racing content for the first time, our recent deals with major Italian operators will see the adoption of our A-TV horse racing channel, making us the first supplier in Italy to offer top quality international live horse racing from some of the best tracks in the world.

Do European markets require a bespoke approach? How do you aim to deliver tailor-made products with clients so diversely spread across different verticals and different countries?

We take pride in listening to what our operator partners require and adapting accordingly. There is no one size fits all and it is important to be flexible. What may work in one region, may not work in another. A fully localised approach to regional challenges is essential, giving access to the best of both content and technology.

For instance, an operator in Romania is going to have different requirements and infrastructure to a brand servicing the UK. As a result, we offer either satellite broadcast or streaming to deliver our top-quality content.

We also provide our services in a user-friendly way wherever operators and their customers find themselves, ensuring a bespoke presentation for each. The principle reason we do this is to give operators choice. We appreciate there are local requirements in every territory, and we make sure operators can access a specific content mix that suits their needs. With bet markets, scheduling and their entire layout adapted to their own customers in any format required, we’ve got every base covered.

Looking ahead to 2020 – where does Vermantia aim to be this time next year?

Our aim is to continue cementing our position as the industry’s leading supplier of bespoke data and picture content as well as the industry’s largest broadcaster of bespoke betting channels.

We’ll be rolling out a host of next generation retail solutions to help operators cater for an increasingly tech-savvy generation of customers who demand a better in-shop betting experience. As part of our vision for retail, our latest FLAVOR suite of terminals offers a first-hand look into this futuristic, land-based environment. Bundled with our premium content as well as the latest in cashless and mobile payment options, they represent the final piece of our end-to-end retail solution. Enabling us to blend the speed and efficiency of futuristic devices with the thrill of top-quality betting content in a cashless betting environment, 2020 will no doubt prove to be a very exciting year.

A lot has been said recently about the future of the European retail scene – how do you think the betting experience will evolve over the coming years? What do you think will change?

While retail has been for too long the poor relation of online when it comes to innovation, I believe it has an exciting future in Europe. For the first time in the industry, advances in tech now mean that we can provide our partners with a genuine digitised retail experience.

We’ve already noticed a significant transformation in customer expectations, and this will no doubt grow over the coming years. Action-packed, fast paced content married with quality data and the next generation of self-service betting solutions will have a major say in how this is shaped. This is already playing out in real time: from content to technology, our operator partners are drawing in a far broader customer base to betting shops than ever before.

Key to this is our ability to produce and deliver live sports and racing channels tailored to suit each locality, ensuring increased player engagement. Alongside, we’re able to transform their approach to the customer experience, enabling our partners to take full control of their live betting offering thanks to our latest in content management and production technology.

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Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Ruben Loeches, CMO at R. Franco Group

George Miller

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Exclusive Q&A with Ruben Loeches, CMO at R. Franco Group
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

After another ICE success and 2020 fully underway, we sat down with the R. Franco Group’s CMO, Rubén Loeches, to talk about the show, product highlights and key goals for Spain’s legendary gaming provider.

Now that ICE is firmly in the rear-view mirror, how would you sum up R. Franco’s targets for the show?

It was a pleasure catching up with existing and prospective clients to discuss our exciting plans for the year ahead. With our digital arm founded only a few years ago, we’re taking our five decades of excellence in land-based gaming and using it to stake our claim in the online sector.

Promoting our deeply knowledgeable and capable team was a key goal for the show as we are a company boasting some of the brightest tech talent around. These are the minds behind the state-of-the-art product offering we proudly displayed at the conference, and our key goal to show off their abilities was more than surpassed.

R. Franco’s stand was certainly impressive, any particular highlights from your product showcase? What were attendees most excited about?

Our burgeoning game development catalogue drew strong interest, with premium quality reel, video-poker, video-bingo, roulette, casino and mini-games. These are fully customisable for both the online and land-based markets using our RF OnMix terminal, a touch screen multi-game machine able to integrate different games and connect to different peripherals while setting networks with other gaming terminals.

Attendees were clearly excited by the rapidly growing Latin American market – with good reason. Another aspect of our portfolio that we were therefore particularly keen to highly was our digital flagship IRIS Open Omnichannel Platform, a crucial tool for companies looking to make their mark on the fast-growing Spanish and LatAm markets as it powers many of the region’s largest operators.

What’s R. Franco Digital’s plan for 2020?

We have an exciting and action-packed roadmap for the year ahead, with a target of releasing a new game each month in 2020 under Maltese, Spanish, Portuguese and Colombian regulatory approval.

International expansion is another critical aspect of our 2020 agenda. Malta in particular will be central to our plans, having recently established our presence on the island. The territory’s regulatory environment is conducive to innovation, with the recent change in framework an especially pleasing development.

Elsewhere, the LatAm market is evolving at an incredible pace, with a wealth of tier one operators flocking to take advantage of the region’s amazing growth. We have a bespoke product range ready to help partners take their Latin American offering to the next level, and we intend to continue doing so in the year ahead.

What’s R. Franco Digital’s outlook for the gaming industry in 2020? Any key strategies for the year?

Moving away from international expansion, one area we’re particularly excited about is our home market of Spain. Not only is it proving to be an exciting prospect for the industry, but we also anticipate the region becoming even more desirable in the year ahead and are well placed to help our partners there deliver. The market is still developing, and we expect to see a surge in activity during 2020, with operators showing a strong interest in spite of the advertising ban.

Of course, a new generation of punters bring a new generation of demands. For instance, almost 10% of the country’s population are passionate eSports fans, so Spain will be a valuable test ground for a young and fast-growing betting vertical that is full of potential.

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Interviews

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

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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!”
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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Interviews

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

George Miller

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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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