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Now & Near Future Concerns for the Betting Industry

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Now & Near Future Concerns for the Betting Industry
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The betting industry has certainly had its fair share of challenges so far in 2020. However, even with some pro sports leagues tentatively returning to the field after the coronavirus lockdown, the struggles are far from over.

Not only is there the potential for a second COVID-19 outbreak to shut everything down again, but UK bookmakers, especially the bigger bookies in the business, may be forced to deal with new regulation issues with the proposal of a mandatory levy.

Continual COVID-19 revenue challenges

To start, COVID-19 concerns are far from over. Like many businesses around the world, sportsbooks have yet to shake out of the profit-sucking clutches of the virus. Although football in England has resumed and other major professional sports leagues around the world are starting to test the waters to salvage the remainder of their seasons, bookies simply can no longer afford to put all their eggs in one basket and bet on football being their cash cow.

For instance, Ladbrokes football betting service is considered one of the staples of the industry, but even Ladbrokes has not yet fully returned to normal. Like so many other bookies, it placed more focus on the promotion of its virtual sports, eSports and casino offerings when traditional sports went on hiatus, and it is likely to continue to do so, even with the return of its big markets.

The reality remains, until the pandemic crisis is over, at any time traditional pro sports could be put on hold again or cancelled if another outbreak occurs. As such, while bookmakers are finding their new normal, they are unlikely to forget the other betting markets that helped them to draw in punters in the spring.

COVID-19 gambling behaviour challenges

The effects of the coronavirus on the iGaming industry has also brought other challenges, including its major impact on customers and their betting behaviours. Although the overall participation in gambling has decreased during the pandemic, data released by the UK Gambling Commission has revealed that some players have been spending more time and money gambling on certain products.

This data that has been collected reflects the first full month of lockdown in April. The data covers an estimated 80% of the entire online gambling market. It was taken from submissions of the biggest online operators and the YouGov COVID-19 tracker, which covers weekly representative samples of circa 2,000 UK adults.

In light of this data, the Gambling Commission has strengthened its guidance to operators, requiring them to be more vigilant with affordability checks, preventing reverse withdrawals and limits on bonus offers.

Regulation challenges – possible mandatory levy

Aside from the pandemic, regulation is also a concern for betting brands. The challenge that continues to plague the UK online gambling industry is the call for the government to impose tighter regulations to reduce gambling-related harm.

A recent report from the House of Lords says that smartphones and the exploitation of “soft-touch regulation” by gambling operators is contributing to a “perfect storm” of 24/7 addictive gambling behaviour.

Committee chairman Lord Grade said that the gambling industry’s regulations are lax and need to be replaced by a regime that prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of the industry making profits.

However, the CEO of GVC Holdings, Kenny Alexander, argues that GVC, which owns Ladbrokes Coral, has improved player protection policies by reducing the amount of money that GVC spends on advertising and increasing the amount of money spent on funding for problem gambling research.

According to Alexander, it is important for brands to make it clear that they have improved their player protection policies, because imposing heavier regulations won’t only damage the industry but “will ultimately drive customers into the hands of the unregulated black market.”

Still, many feel that the UK gambling industry is not doing enough to prevent gambling-related harm. In fact, a group of over 40 academics and addiction experts want a 1% mandatory levy imposed on the gambling industry, with the proceeds from this tax to be distributed through established independent bodies like the National Institute for Health Research and the UK Research and Innovation.

This mandatory levy, which was proposed last year (2019), would require the industry to increase the amount of funding they allocate to improve prevention, education and treatment services, instead of paying the current voluntary levy that is equal to 0.1% of their revenues.

According to The Guardian, last year, betting firms Bet365, William Hill, GVC, SkyBet and Flutter pledged to redirect £100 million of funds for tackling problem gambling. That said, these funds have not yet materialised. Moreover, last month (June 2020), the industry decided to change the direction of this funding at short notice. Instead of the money going to Action against Gambling Harms(AGH) where suitable recipients would be identified and issued grants, which was the original intention, all the funds will now be given to the GambleAware charity.

The trouble that experts have with betting firms being in charge of where the money goes is that it allows them to have too much influence on how the money is spent (e.g. giving it all to one organization of their choosing). This is why they feel the levy is needed.

From COVID-19 to the threat of an imposed levy, with all the various challenges the betting industry is facing, it does not seem as though it will be smooth sailing for bookies any time soon.

Balkans

Montenegro Ministry Ignores EU Law and Bans Apple Pay, PayPal, Mobile Banking in Controversial Betting Law Amendments

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

In a move that has raised eyebrows across the global financial community, including the European betting and iGaming sectors, Montenegro has enacted amendments to its gambling laws that effectively ban the use of modern electronic payment methods, including Apple Pay, PayPal, mobile banking, IPS, and e-banking

Ironically, the Minister of Finance stated a few days ago that the country has no obligation to comply with EU rules, a paradoxical stance for a nation actively seeking EU membership and aiming to integrate into the world of digital business.

In 2021, the European Commission urged Montenegro to strengthen its efforts to counter money laundering. However, the recent amendments move in the opposite direction, potentially isolating the country from EU practices and global financial community trends.

Since the beginning of 2024, however, Montenegro’s gambling sector has been in turmoil.

 

The Industry Response

The controversial ban on electronic payments seems designed to curb competition, preventing the growth of foreign-owned companies, including U.S. enterprises. This move contradicts global business practices and undermines the principles of competitive business. A petition calling to halt the change received 25,000 signatures, representing around 5% of the country’s electorate, in just five days. It highlighted the risk of significant job losses in the industry and the potential economic repercussions of such legislative measures.

Montenegro Bet, the country’s nationwide trade association, has submitted the petition to the country’s assembly and initiated a constitutional review, highlighting concerns over the unconstitutionality of the amendments. Additionally, they are working with international institutions to draw attention to the negative impacts of the law changes and their contradictions with EU directives. All those attempts have remained without a single institutional response.

 

Overview of Breaches of EU Acquis by Article 68f

Much of the backlash to the amendments comes from the view that they conflict with European Union (EU) law. While Montenegro isn’t currently in the EU, it is a candidate for membership and is expected to align its laws with EU standards. The amendments clash with several key EU legal provisions, including the TFEU, Payment Services Directive, which seeks to form an integrated market for electronic payments, and the EU 4 and 5AML Directives, which categorize cash transactions as high risk for money laundering.

 

Multiple Lawsuits Incoming

The combination of apparent corruptive practices orchestrated by local companies within the same industry and certain individuals within the Ministry of Finance results in an attempt to de facto expel multiple operators, including those based in U.S, clearly denying equal market access.

This has already led to substantial legal challenges. Multiple operators are preparing preliminary steps toward legal action, including a lawsuit before the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

 

A Cash and Retail-Loving Law in the Middle of the Digital Age

The amendment to Article 68f of Montenegro’s gambling law has sparked significant concern within the country’s gambling sector. The new law disables various electronic payment methods, such as e-banking and mobile payments, for depositing funds into betting accounts. This leaves bettors in Montenegro with only two options: they must either enter a betting shop to place a cash wager, which then transfers funds into their accounts, or pay via card, but only at a terminal in a betting shop.

This strange move forces players to go to a store just to fund their online accounts, which is inconvenient in a time when digital transfers should be the norm.

 

Defying Global Trends and AML Standards – What Next?

Montenegro’s move to limit electronic payments is an outlier among global trends. Internationally, there is a clear shift towards reducing cash transactions in favor of electronic payments, as advocated by bodies like Moneyval and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The global financial community is embracing digital solutions for their transparency and efficiency.

Montenegro’s stance not only isolates it from EU practices but also contradicts the direction of the global financial community, increasing the risk of money laundering and undermining investor confidence.

The prohibition of the safest and most advanced methods of online payment business, such as Apple Pay and PayPal, in favor of promoting cash transactions, is a troubling development that warrants urgent attention and action from both national and international stakeholders.

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Baltics

Breaking Frontiers: Exploring the Evolution of iGaming Tech with Atlaslive’s CPO, Lasha Kupatadze

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Breaking Frontiers: Exploring the Evolution of iGaming Tech with Atlaslive’s CPO, Lasha Kupatadze
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

Get ready for the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit 2024 by HIPTHER! The #hipthers are thrilled to introduce and put the spotlight on the companies and people who help us make the magic happen: our conference sponsors. Get to know them and join us in Tallinn, on 4-5 June to meet them in person!

Lasha Kupatadze, Chief Product Officer at Atlaslive, will be a Speaker at the Summit, offering valuable insights at the Panel about “Future-Proofing Digital Engagement: Mastering Gamification, Mobile Innovation, and Regulatory Compliance in the AI Era”.

 

Hello Lasha, thank you for taking the time for this interview. We are excited to get to know you and introduce you to our readers! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself, your professional journey, and your role at Atlaslive so far?

I’ve been in iGaming for nearly a decade and love it! Working with like-minded people to generate ideas and build products that customers love.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in different roles at both B2C and B2B companies, focusing on building engaging and fun customer experiences.

As the Chief Product Officer at Atlaslive, I get to lead our efforts in making our products the best they can be. My job involves guiding our product development while applying the latest technologies, like AI and blockchain, to make our platform even better. Since I joined Atlaslive, my focus has been on making sure our products not only meet but surpass what our partners and players expect. We’ve put a lot of effort into making personalized, fun experiences that draw players in and keep them coming back for more.

In short, my career has been all about adopting new technologies, developing enjoyable and engaging products, and leading teams to create top-notch iGaming experiences.

 

As the Chief Product Officer at Atlaslive, you play a crucial role in shaping the company’s product landscape. Can you share with us how Atlaslive’s mission of discovering how far iGaming tech can evolve influences your approach to product development?

Our goal is to see how far we can go with technology in iGaming, and this ambition is a huge part of how we build our products. We’re really into using the latest tech to make gaming fun, personalized, and safe for everyone.

We use big data to analyze a huge amount of information, understand and track different patterns in how people play and what they prefer. This helps us deeply examine our users’ behaviors, allowing us to customize our flexible platform to fit exactly what they like and even predict what they’ll want to do next. This approach makes things a lot easier for our partners. They can spend less time and effort trying to figure things out because we provide all the insights and tools they need to make smart decisions quickly.

Our approach is tech-oriented and centered on the player, and  boosts not only engagement but also guarantees that everything is secure and perfectly adjusted to the end-user preferences.

I consider personalization paramount – and we usually focus on creating an experience that feels personal and keeps players coming back for more. I think that this user-focused mindset, combined with our love for tech, ensures that every step we take in product development not only meets the industry’s needs but often goes beyond, setting new standards for what iGaming can be.

 

The Atlaslive platform offers versatile delivery solutions, including Sportsbook API integration, White Label, and Turnkey. How do these different solutions cater to the varying needs of iGaming operators, and what advantages do they offer in terms of time to market and customization?

At Atlaslive, we understand that the needs of iGaming operators vary greatly depending on their business goals, market approach, and technical expertise. That’s why we offer a range of flexible delivery solutions. All options are designed to meet specific requirements, providing key benefits in terms of quick market entry, starting from two days only, and the ability to adjust services to a specific brand or market demand.

Our Sportsbook API integration is perfect for tech-savvy operators who have their platforms but want to enhance them with our top-notch sportsbook features. This solution allows for high customization and rapid deployment, enabling operators to quickly adapt and scale their offerings. On the other hand, our White Label and Turnkey solutions are ideal for those looking to launch their operations quickly without the heavy lifting of developing the technology from scratch. These options offer the fastest route to market with a high degree of brand customization, allowing operators to maintain their unique brand identity while using our robust platform.

When Atlaslive offers its three solutions, we ensure care for all parties involved in this integration process, guaranteeing smooth implementation and an exceptional gaming experience for end-users. Quality and innovation are steadfast allies for Atlaslive, helping our partners to be satisfied and stay successful in the market.

 

One of Atlaslive’s core values is creating live connections between business ambitions and opportunities. How does the Atlaslive Platform facilitate these connections, and what impact does it have on the overall iGaming experience for operators and players?

Yes, at Atlaslive, we’re really focused on connecting business goals with opportunities. Our platform uses smart data analysis to give operators the insights they need to understand what players want. This means we can help them tune their offerings to fit player preferences, which makes the gaming experience much more personal and exciting for everyone.

We also make sure our system works smoothly with other tech tools out there, which keeps things running seamlessly for operators and enjoyable for players. Overall, our “creating live connections” approach helps provide a lively and engaging environment where businesses can grow and players are more engaged with the offerings they choose.

 

With your extensive experience in the iGaming industry, including leadership roles focused on product development, how do you ensure that Atlaslive remains at the forefront of innovation while meeting the evolving needs of the industry and its partners?

While working in the iGaming industry, I’ve learned that staying ahead isn’t just about catching the latest trends, it’s about creating them. At Atlaslive, we keep our finger on the pulse of technology and user expectations. My approach is direct: listen, innovate, and adapt. First, we listen. We’re in constant dialogue with our partners to understand their challenges and preferences. This feedback is very important — it drives our product development. At the same time, we conduct market research and trend analysis to stay informed about the latest in technology, player preferences, and regulatory changes. In such a way, we can anticipate shifts in the market and adapt our products accordingly.

Then, we innovate by infusing our platform with the latest technologies — whether it’s AI to enhance personalization or blockchain for security. Finally, we adapt quickly. The iGaming world moves fast, and flexibility is our superpower. We’re always ready to tweak our offerings to better serve our clients and stay relevant in the market.

 

Atlaslive recently underwent a rebranding process. Could you discuss the connection between this rebranding and the strategic vision of the company, particularly in terms of enhancing the iGaming experience and staying ahead in a competitive market?

The rebrand to Atlaslive is a future-proof of the company’s vision to stay dynamic in terms of technologies and boost the user experience at the same time while giving our partners even more freedom during different sports events and adjusting the necessary settings timely and effectively.

The recent rebranding of Atlaslive shows our direct ties to our vision and a fresh start in staying true to our core values. With this rebranding, we’re emphasizing our focus on being a tech-forward company that always prioritizes our partners. Atlaslive – the tech behind the game.

 

At the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit, you will be joining the discussion about the strategic integration of gamification to boost player retention and loyalty in the iGaming sector. In a nutshell, what is your perspective on the matter, and how does gamification align with Atlaslive’s vision?

Well, what is gamification? To keep it simple, it’s about making the journey from point A to point B fun for the user. That’s what gamification is all about, in a nutshell.

I prefer using both quantitative and qualitative data to understand our customers and build user experiences based on this knowledge.

One of my first experiences with gamification was one of the world’s largest producers of soft drinks campaign where each bottle cap had a letter. If you collected all the letters to spell ‘happiness,’ you could exchange them for various prizes. I remember the excitement I felt before opening each bottle. I bought many of them just to see what letter I’d get. That’s a perfect real-life example of gamification.

We create similar experiences for iGaming users at Atlaslive. For instance, they might open a mystery box without knowing what’s inside. We use gamification techniques that evoke excitement and fun, drawing on our understanding of what users enjoy.

To put it simply, we understand our end-users and strive to create products and services that bring smiles to their faces. We monitor the effectiveness of our gamification tools through direct customer feedback and analytical data. Some of our projects that employ these techniques have seen a significant 30% increase in engagement and conversion rates.

By focusing on personalized and interactive experiences, we create a dynamic and engaging environment that keeps players returning, ensuring long-term success for both our platform and our partners.

Thank you for this insightful interview, Lasha! We look forward to meeting you in Tallinn, and hearing your valuable insights on Mastering Gamification, Mobile Innovation, and Regulatory Compliance in the AI Era!

Join us in Tallinn to connect with Lasha and the Team of Atlaslive – the dynamic iGaming platform focusing on “THE TECH BEHIND THE GAME”

Get your Tickets to the MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit Now!

 

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Xtremepush agrees strategic partnership with Purple Square CX

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Xtremepush agrees strategic partnership with Purple Square CX
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Collaboration serves to extend provider’s reach across Europe  

Xtremepush, the leading provider of CRM and loyalty marketing powered by AI, has formed a strategic technology partnership with customer experience specialist Purple Square CX.

The collaboration will see Purple Square CX offer Xtremepush’s market-leading customer engagement platform and real-time Customer Data Platform (CDP) to its European customers, which include leading operators from within the iGaming industry.

Purple Square CX’s clients can now also benefit from Xtremepush’s groundbreaking new InfinityAI solution. Set to transform operational strategies across the iGaming sector through sophisticated marketing techniques, retention-boosting InfinityAI utilises adaptive AI technology to enable operators to create highly customised marketing models on the fly in response to emerging trends.

UK-based Purple Square CX is a customer experience advisory offering a diverse range of services aimed at enhancing customer interactions. Its expertise lies in three key areas – customer experience advice and strategy, marketing automation, and CDPs.

The latest partnership coincides with a significant period of commercial growth worldwide for Xtremepush, with high-profile operator partnerships concluded in LatAm, the US, the UK and Europe.

Tommy Kearns, CEO of Xtremepush, said: “We’re excited to be joining forces with Purple Square CX, increasing the number of potential customers we can serve with our unified customer engagement platform and real-time CDP.

“Purple Square CX is renowned as one of Europe’s leading customer experience specialists and in helping to deliver our solution to its big-name operator partners, we believe this is a partnership that will bear fruit for both parties.”

Timothy Biddiscombe at Purple Square CX, said: “Our agnostic approach to technology means we are always looking for partnerships that will help to bring increased value to our customers. Xtremepush fits that bill perfectly.

“Xtremepush’s range of solutions, including its new InfinityAI technology, is very impressive. We look forward to working together to help to drive superior relationships between operators and their customers.”

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