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“As the CIS’s second largest country, we’re looking at one of Europe’s greatest growth opportunities.” Exclusive Ukraine interview with BetGames.TV’s Yury Mikhaylov

George Miller

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BetGames.TV - Yury Ukraine interview
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With the stage now set for history in the making, Ukraine is preparing to open its market for the first time in more than a decade.

Proven as one of Europe’s most in-demand live casino suppliers and headquartered in neighbouring Vilnius, we caught up with BetGames.TV’s CIS Sales Director Yury Mikhaylov to get his views on Ukraine’s potential, as well as his own plans for the market.

With BetGames.TV gearing up to bring its products to the Ukrainian market in the near-term, how do you see prospects here?

As the CIS’s second largest country, we’re looking at one of Europe’s greatest growth opportunities. Infrastructure factors, such as widespread internet access and the prevalence of online banking, have laid a great foundation for a digital-first approach from the outset. Twinned with a market crammed with tech savvy players, and you’re looking at a serious boost for national revenue with plenty of potential for online casino, making it an exciting time for all involved.

I would encourage anyone who remains sceptical of the benefits of regulation to consider the example offered by neighbouring Georgia (on a smaller population scale of course!). The country has improved player safety, widened consumer choice and boosted the national economy by attracting new investment. For that reason, it’s pleasing to see Ukraine follow the example set by several other regional European markets by putting a framework in place to establish its own gambling industry, and we look forward to playing a part in the market’s development.

Has BetGames.TV already established a footprint in the region? Are there any further steps which the regulator needs to take before you do so in Ukraine?

We already have a well-established network with Ukraine’s biggest global hitters (such as Favbet and Parimatch), who, as regional heavyweights, are going to be key in shaping how the market develops in its early stages. Both operate an extensive network across the CIS and Europe, and we are on excellent terms with them given the number of jurisdictions we’re actively working in together.

On a macro level, the Ukrainian regulator has certainly taken steps in the right direction, although having said that, several inconsistencies remain within the proposed framework, which the authorities must work to clarify in order to fully realise all the advantages of regulation. I’m confident this will be addressed and look forward to seeing updates on this soon enough.

And what are your plans for the market going forward?

From what we’ve seen so far, I’m certain that the full legalisation and improved transparency of the Ukrainian market will add a wealth of new opportunities for us, particularly when it comes to online casino.

We’ve been hugely successful in Belarus in a similar format – where we went online with the country’s first digital offering (launched by Parimatch) and have already outperformed every slot supplier on the market there. We also offer far superior margins to our competitors, and in many cases, theseare greater than sports betting itself, so I see plenty of potential for us to sit alongside newly established Ukrainian sportsbooks too without cannibalising spend.

Accordingly, I believe we’re in a strong position to capitalise on the Ukrainian market’s likely huge customer base as soon as we go live there, and I’m sure we’ll prove to be key in helping operators make their mark on the territory. As well as our award-winning live dealer offering (fully developed in-house), we’ve also got a raft of marketing and promotional services that are going to be tailored to a jurisdiction where we are already familiar with what players are looking for.

How do you envisage Ukraine’s commercial landscape will shape up in the coming years? Do you expect to see a lot of competition?

New market entries require considerable resources. Compliance procedures can be complex, time-consuming and geographically differentiated. For that reason, local knowledge and contact networks tend to play an important role. Ukraine is no different: with a high bar set for entry, many anticipate that the territory’s commercial future belongs to those who are already present within it.

Of course, given a population of close to 40 million, we’re dealing with one of Europe’s largest markets in terms of potential– so I’m sure plenty of our international operator friends and partners will also be eyeing it with interest. Given how pivotal we have been this year in boosting global partners’ operating revenue and acquisition efforts, I’m also sure we’ll prove ourselves to be a valuable asset in helping our partners’ operations get going there as soon as they go live.

Eastern Europe

AskGamblers to Participate in SEE Gaming Business Forum, Focused on South-East Europe

George Miller

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AskGamblers to Participate in SEE Gaming Business Forum, Focused on South-East Europe
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The SEE Gaming Business Forum has invited AskGamblers to participate in an iGaming event, the first event of this kind – entirely focused on South-East Europe. The Forum will be held on 20 November 2020 online, with AskGamblers’ Vice President Nikola Teofilovic speaking in the second panel. Teofilovic will be discussing strategies and business models to thrive in the era of digital as well as the latest industry trends on the horizon.

The SEE Gaming Business Forum is the first iGaming event of this kind to focus on South-East Europe entirely. It was initially planned to showcase in Belgrade as a hybrid event but has moved fully online to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participants and speakers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Forum will feature IV panels, bringing together casino and sportsbook operators, C-level executives, software suppliers and major providers, payment solutions companies and national regulators that impose taxes and collect money. SEE Gaming participants will discuss business strategy, regulatory obstacles, industry requirements, social responsibility and the role of technology in the industry.

The virtual, interactive platform will give everyone the opportunity to engage in discussion and networking sessions as simultaneous interpreting into English and Serbian will be provided.

Nikola Teofilovic, Vice President of AskGamblers at Catena Media and a part of its Executive Management team, is scheduled to speak in the II panel and discuss strategies and business models to thrive in the era of digital. He will also reflect on the latest iGaming trends on the horizon.

As a true visionary and the epitome of a get-goer who has cultivated AskGamblers from a startup into a leading online casino authority, Teofilovic is, for sure, the right person to talk at this conference. Over the past decade, AskGamblers has proven itself to be the most reputable online casino portal, providing the latest iGaming information and guiding players to a safe gambling experience.

Commenting on his participation in the SEE Gaming Business Forum, Nikola Teofilovic said: “I am beyond honoured to participate in SEE Gaming Business Forum and exchange opinions and experiences with such incredible professionals that are scheduled to speak alongside me. The entire team at AskGamblers puts their heart and soul into the project, and I’m happy it shows. I’m counting days till 20 November and must say have a bit of jitters. See you there!”

Nikola currently manages a 70-people team at AskGamblers located in Belgrade, Serbia.

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Eastern Europe

Introducing the Mortal Kombat 11 tournament WePlay Dragon Temple

George Miller

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Introducing the Mortal Kombat 11 tournament WePlay Dragon Temple
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$60,000 conquest at the WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv

Join the battle for glory of WePlay Dragon Temple, the first fighting game tournament from WePlay Esports media holding company.

You will be able to follow the action from December 10 – 13 as the best players will test their might on the fiery stage at WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv, with $60,000 on the line – the FIRST ever event in the custom build arena.

The contest of champions will consist of two phases, the Group Stage and Playoffs. The former will have all teams split between two round-robin groups, with players required to win two out of three sets against their opponent. The latter phase will see the top four contestants from each group advance to the Playoffs, where they will battle it out in a Best-of-5 double-elimination bracket.

“We at WePlay Esports recognize that fighting games have all they need to become a form of mass entertainment, just like boxing and UFC. The potential audience of these titles is enormous and includes many generations of casual players. Everyone interested in the MK multiverse will enjoy WePlay Dragon Temple. Our teams will do their best to make this event special, so don’t miss it.” – says Anton Gribovskiy, General Manager Americas at WePlay Esports.

“With WePlay Dragon Temple, our team gets to create a new experience in a title we have never worked on before. We are probably as excited as the fans will be when they see all the great matchups we have planned for them. We intend to provide the same level of entertainment you have come to know us for.”
– says Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev, Lead Esports Manager at WePlay Esports.

As an ex-professional player back in Virtua Fighter, I have always had a real passion for fighting games. When I first learned about the event, I was thrilled to get the chance to be involved. It’s awesome how WePlay Esports plan to bring us Christmas early with the Dragon Temple tournament. Together with the team we will do everything possible to make this one of the best Mortal Kombat events you have ever seen!
– says James “BanKs” Banks, project consultant.

 

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Compliance Updates

Ukraine’s UGLC Appoints New Members

Niji Narayan

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Ukraine’s UGLC Appoints New Members
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Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers has completed the selection process to appoint new members to the Ukrainian Gambling and Lottery Commission (UGLC). The Commission now has seven members following the new selection process.

One of the new members is Yevhen Hetman, who has a background in the field of international relations & cooperation, and has worked with regulatory bodies and ran public and private enterprises.

Another new member is Tetyana Kiriyenko. Her background features experience in law, economics and internal affairs. She has also received special judge training.

Also taking up membership are Khrystyna Dutka-Gefko and Yuriy Kravchenko. Dutka-Gefko has a background in law having worked in local branches of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. Kravchenko’s background is in law and IT, as they are a member of the Supervisory Board of the International Club of IT Architects and a member of the Game Development Club.

Oleksiy Botezat and Olena Vodolazhko are the final two to be named as members of the commission. Botezat has a background in law and management having previously worked at central and local executive bodies, while Vodolazhko is a lawyer and member of the Ukrainian Bar Association and has worked with different regulatory bodies.

All selected candidates are yet to pass a special test before joining UGLC, details of which have yet to be formalised by the Cabinet of Ministers.

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