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“BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players” – Exclusive interview with BetGames.TV Head of Sales

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“BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players” – Exclusive interview with BetGames.TV Head of Sales
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Having proven itself as one of 2020’s standout industry performers, BetGames has not been one to rest on its laurels in the first six months of 2021, launching a host revamped games, as well as establishing its Malta hub with plans to expand the company by 100+ members by the end of the year.

We caught up with BetGames’ Head of Sales, Thomas Aigner, to talk through the studio’s latest moves and plans for continued global expansion.

Looking back at the last six months for European markets, how can we assess performance and what we’ve seen as an industry? 

There’s been two main stand-outs that we’ve witnessed: the increasing player preference for low-stakes entertainment and the popularity of live gaming generally as a remedy for quarantine. As lockdowns have continued in the first half of this year, our games have retained a wealth of players since we intrinsically attract a lower spend with far more regular play – as well a fixed-odds betting format that has ensured we’re a welcome home for sportsbook customers looking to try something new.

In light of what has been effectively an ongoing recession, we’ve also learned that the key to player engagement is a low-spend proposition without the risk of big losses, combined with simplicity in gameplay and the high-frequency in sessions. Given that the majority of players the world over have been observing social isolation, this makes perfect sense – with a strong preference for pick-up-and-play products that offer live entertainment for hours without emptying their wallet. The live experience has been a well-placed antidote to the seclusion that many have experienced over the last 12 months or so.

I think one of the biggest lessons learned has been that diversification is imperative. Pre-Covid, we’d expect operators to be focusing up to 70% of their spend on promoting sports and little else. Those who continued with that approach through 2020 and indeed, the first six months of this year, given the lack of retail environments in Europe, have really felt the pinch.

Moving forward, there needs to be far more focus on alternatives such as ours, as we’ve clearly learned that sports fans are unaccustomed to the majority of casino, or indeed the playing format available, even with Live Casino. It is essential that suppliers take onboard the lessons learned from betting activity, especially when it comes to providing the low-spend, extended sessions that have proven to work so well, and adapt accordingly.

When it comes to BetGames, what regions have been key in Europe so far? Where have you been focusing your energy?

Europe is an incredibly diverse continent when it comes to playing styles, and the BetGames customer certainly varies between markets. On the whole, we attract sports bettors, which is particularly the case in Eastern Europe, where we know that 70-80% of our returning customers are sports fans – and this is one way we really differentiate ourselves as a supplier against our competitors.

For mature markets, such as Scandinavia and the UK, products such as Bet on Poker have performed particularly well, as they offer a playing format that resonates very strongly with players, delivering a winning combination of both poker, which is a continental favourite, alongside the fixed-odds betting format we are famous for.

Looking to new entrances, expansion in Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Ukraine and Georgia are top of the agenda for us, with this summer’s sporting calendar likely to give a welcome boost for all. Having said that, we’re aware that is hard to bring in new game types that can resonate with established players – this requires significant time and resources. We’ve revamped our commercial department accordingly to handle both expansion and our existing partners, which means we have close to triple the resources from last year to have the helping hands in place to support the day-to-day.

As has been evident from many of our recently agreed partnerships, We’re set to work together on pushing and promoting our products with the operator group, dedicating a separate category for our games. This kind of approach will be particularly effective as we differ from traditional Live Dealer and Live Casino Games – which means our target demographic is different. This means that together we can focus on particular player segments that we can engage and retain.

Tell us about the launch of your Malta Hub – that’s certainly big news for BetGames – that must be big news for your recruitment plans?

To keep pace with our rapid recent growth, we realised that we had to expand our capacity and we’re planning to greatly increase our headcount. Opening the Malta office was a logical step in that roadmap, not only to cater for the extra bodies but also to position ourselves closer to the heart of the igaming industry.

Looking at the numbers, we have incredibly ambitious plans to increase our 200-strong team by more than 50%, with our Malta hub ready to provide a platform for attracting the best of the industry’s talent. It will also be a hugely convenient place to meet our clients and friends, and while we understand the way that businesses and people have evolved in the last 12 months, we recognise the need to have that base where our colleagues can be inspired and productive – offering a home, a meeting place, and a space where we can collaborate and innovate.

The long-term strategy we’re currently on course with is set to change our operations as we know them. By planting our flag in Malta, I see it as an excellent chance to transform the company to a new level of growth that will help us to increase in size and revolutionise the way we deliver service to our partners.

When looking at Europe – how would summarise the changing trends of player demand? What products do you plan to offer accordingly? 

Increased regulation in Europe is also going to have plenty of influence on shaping player demand over the year ahead. In my view, the key to success if going to be offering regulation-friendly, low-stakes, simple and easy extended entertainment that can keep players engaged without emptying their wallet.

Economic circumstances (as well as lockdowns) demand this – and players want an easily accessible experience that can be enjoyed in a low-spend format. This is especially going to be the case this summer – and our approach is to always offer complementary products that can boost engagement and sportsbook spend, rather than drain it.

BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players – while also broadening the target group for live content because of the simplicity and availability of content, odds and betslip format, attracting sports bettors. Accordingly, our partners need content that can fit in seamlessly alongside a sports betting offering, and we’ve specifically designed our catalogue to work in this way. Sports betting margins will always be inherently higher for operators as they don’t carry the cost of using a third-party, making us one of the few suppliers globally that can truly offer a partnership that can boost both sides of the coin.

Last but not least – where are the key markets in Europe for growth our readers should be watching over the next 12 months? Where has BetGames got its eye on? 

We’ve got our eye firmly fixed on Greece at the moment, as already mentioned, but looking further afield, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Brazil, Ukraine and Georgia are other territories that we see plenty of potential in, as I’m sure most of our fellow European suppliers and operators see too.

In evaluating where’s best for us, there’s a host of regulated markets available and we’ve got to make sure that we’re entering the regions best suited to us and our portfolio. We’ve significantly changed our assessment criteria to make it a far more comprehensive process to apply due diligence. This means that we’ve now got our own taskforce dedicated to performing key market analysis with a criteria that encompasses both qualitative and quantitative data. This now totals 14 different key factors that we analyse to work out where our products will work best – and we’re very excited for the bringing our unique catalogue to more players than ever before!

Interviews

Crypto Millions Lotto’s Sulim Malook on What Happens When Lotto Meets Bitcoin

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The proposition of Bitcoin lotteries is simple. If you go to a casino, you have to buy chips from the cashier to play. When you finish playing, you can cash your chips in for money, or keep them for next time. With a digital lottery, you play with a digital currency. In the case of Crypto Millions Lotto it’s Bitcoin. Think of bitcoin as the chips you have to buy to play Crypto Millions Lotto. Players deposit bitcoin to play, and if they win, they get paid in bitcoin. One exception is that if you’re lucky enough to win the jackpot, this innovative digital lotto gives you the option to take your winnings in bitcoin or a local currency of your choice.

There are some really strong arguments for considering bitcoin lotteries vs traditional ones. There are two major reasons. The first is that if you play games across borders using a credit card or any other traditional form of payment, then there are complications and frustrations around whether the payment can be made or if it will be blocked, the exchange rate, and payment periods. Using bitcoin removes all of that because it knows no borders. 

The second reason is that by operating digitally using bitcoin companies like Crypto Millions Lotto can avoid a lot of infrastructure costs, including payment processing charges. According to Sulim Malook “Having a low cost base allows us to offer bigger jackpots. Our jackpots are bigger than the majority of state-run lotteries and bigger than any of our online competitors.”

 

How Does a Digital Lottery like Sulim’s work? 

“We allow people to play the numbers of eight of the world’s biggest lotteries on our website. Although they choose the numbers on our site, they’re actually betting on the numbers of a state lottery, so numbers are drawn by each of the underlying lotteries. That way we remain completely independent.

This means people can play every time one of those eight lotteries has a draw, in total 14 times a week.

In case people don’t see the live draw, we announce all of the winning numbers on our website, and we notify all winners by email immediately. Payment of winnings is made within minutes of the lottery ending.”

 

Bitcoin lotteries are the natural progression from digital lotteries

The first big shift was from offline to online, but all that really changed was how we bought and received tickets for a single lottery.

The next shift was allowing people to play many different lotteries online, and for that people needed a better way to buy tickets and to receive winnings. Sulim says “That’s where bitcoin came in. So, we haven’t adopted bitcoin just because it’s a digital currency. We’ve done it because it’s the best currency for the job.”

 

Covid’s Effect on The Lottery

Contrary to what you might imagine, historically, the lottery performs well in downturns and recessions, as people try to generate fast money for themselves. Covid, of course, has put a lot of the world into recession, so the lotto industry as a whole as well as the gaming sector has performed well. 

But more significant than that, Covid has exposed the flaws and tensions in the traditional lottery model. Specifically, that it relies on a network of small retailers to sell tickets, most of which have now been closed and certainly were not contactless anyway.

The result, according to Sulim, is that people have gone online. “So not just us, the whole online lottery industry has seen a big uplift, while the traditional lotteries have seen a negative impact.”

And yet the lifting of COVID restrictions has not impacted this sector negatively. Sulim was clear that “On the contrary, the effect has been positive. With some state lotteries closing down for months, playing online was the only option. In our view, this is a good thing for an industry that has been living in the dark ages.

I’d liken it to working from home. Covid has opened many people’s eyes to the benefits of home working. Some people might go back to the office after Covid restrictions are lifted. But for many others, they’ve discovered a new way of doing things and will stick with it. It’s the same with the digital lottery. We introduced it to many people who now prefer it and who won’t go back to the old way.”

Business is booming at Crypto Millions Lotto and the team has a lot in the pipeline. So what comes next for a business of this ilk? 

“We have lots of exciting things in our pipeline. We’ve recently added six new lotteries, and we’re planning to add more. We also plan to add more games, as well as offering players the ability to get bitcoin using their credit cards directly on our site.

As our user base expands into more countries, we want to offer Crypto Millions Lotto in multiple languages.

We have also just launched an affiliate program, which we believe offers a more attractive proposition than other affiliate programs already out there.”

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Interviews

Exclusive Q&A with Sergey Tsukanov, Head of Sportsbook at Betby

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Exclusive Q&A with Sergey Tsukanov, Head of Sportsbook at Betby
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Are big summer events the most important part of the year, or just an added benefit to day-to-day activity?

Summer sporting events are a big deal for global sportsbook suppliers as they present endless opportunities to boost engagement and deliver unique promotions, but I see it as a bit of both.

After a prolonged period without any major football tournaments and over a season’s worth of fixtures being played behind closed doors, the European Championships and the Copa America have arrived at the perfect time for sport lovers around the world.

The spike of growth in the number of users around these events is very much influenced by the market and depends on many factors, like whether a local team is playing in the tournament and what sources the operator gets its traffic through.

We see a similar number of bets placed on a given day of the European Championships as we do on the night of the Champions League final, with the latter stages of the tournament only attracting more users. This is a testament to the popularity and appeal of summer sporting competitions.

 

How can sportsbook suppliers prepare for these huge events, which should see significantly increased traffic?

Betby prides itself on the flexibility of its products and ability to pivot its platform to suit specific requirements. Preparation for tournaments of this size is key due to the huge spike in user activity during the games.

Work schedules around the time of major events are changed to facilitate the increased number of bets being placed before games, as well as requests from clients to run campaigns in the build up to the tournament.  We also tend to increase the number of markets of bets ahead of these competitions to set it apart from regular sporting events.

 

Are regional sporting events, such as the European Championships or Copa America, popular globally or only within those regions where the games are being played?

For the most part, there is little interest in the Copa America in Europe, and the same can be said for interest in the European Championships in Latin America, but there are always sport enthusiasts and other outliers that must be catered to.

For example, the Argentina-Brazil clash will undoubtedly see some interest around the globe thanks to the prominence of superstars like Lionel Messi and Neymar. That said, when you consider the time difference and abundance of smaller ties, global figures will always be smaller in comparison.

This problem is not specific to football; we see the same issue in the NBA where European followers are expected to sacrifice sleep and brave the early hours of the morning just to watch their team play.

 

Can the Olympics ever become a major betting event?

This is a very complex question. There’s a feeling that the Olympics is slowly losing relevance in the sporting community.

Perhaps we should not talk about the Olympics as a whole, and rather focus on the separate events that make up the competition. The tennis is always interesting to watch from the start due to the ‘knock-out’ nature of the ties, whereas football in the Olympics only becomes a knock-out once teams pass the group stages.

The dedicated following that we see at club and international level in football, rugby and other global sports audiences is just incomparable to the following that Olympic sports like rowing or fencing get throughout the year.

 

How has Betby approached the bumper sporting summer of 2021?

Without going into too much detail on our plans for the upcoming summer, I can confirm that we have changed our priorities to assist the launch of a host of additional football markets for the European Championships.

We recently reimagined the ‘classic’ sportsbook in the design of our site’s new layout, so it now boasts a fully responsive user interface, easy site navigation and swift betting placement, which addresses feedback we received from our users.

With a brand-new sidebar, high-quality widgets and more markets than ever before, we have done everything in our power to make this summer as enjoyable as possible for our audiences. After all, there has been so little to celebrate over the past 18 months that a touch excitement is long overdue.

 

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Interviews

Spiffbet – Rhino Gaming’s next-level gaming experience

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Spiffbet - Rhino Gaming's next-level gaming experience
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Spiffbet’s Head of Game Development Riaan du Randt shares his thoughts about Rhino Gaming’s re-launch, new focus, and opportunities ahead. 

Riaan, please tell us about your background

I started working in the igaming industry in 2005. During this period, the industry was tiny yet innovative. After many years in igaming, I started focusing on R&D for mobile gaming in the casual gaming market for a period of time instead. It was exciting, and I learned a lot, but it never really motivated me as much as igaming. The next chapter of my career was the most exciting, as the entire online casino industry started moving towards HTML 5. This prompted me to move back to igaming which has always been my passion. I joined Spiffbet in 2018, and it has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences to date.

Spiffbet recently rebranded parts of their game portfolio to Rhino Gaming. What is the rationale behind the rebranding?

We see Rhino Gaming as the next chapter in our game production journey. When we started the studio, our priority was to balance quality with quantity since we needed to grow our portfolio as fast as possible. Now that we have established ourselves as a solid gaming studio, we are switching gears to start producing games that stand out from the crowd, emphasizing innovative games with robust features. We have a talented and creative team that I am proud to be part of.

Can you describe the concept and the type of games that are produced under Rhino Gaming? How does it differ from Spiffbet’s other portfolio STHLM Gaming?

In this competitive market, it is essential to offer the operators something special. We believe the best way to achieve this is by developing unique game mechanics combined with high production quality. Our STHLM Gaming products cater to a specific market that likes fun games with easy to relate themes. With Rhino Gaming, we aim to appeal more to players looking for edgy games and players in growth markets.

Do you have a particular target group for your games?

Yes, I believe our main target will be the plus 20-something to middle age that likes fresh, innovative games. A great example would be to look at Metal Casino. Niche operators like these will give us an audience that is seeking an edgy content.

Game development is a sector where the competition is fierce. How do you relate to your competition, and do you have clear-cut competitors?

Our goal is not to compete with the top-tier studios head-on, but to target niches with unique games and stand out by creating a next level experience and meeting the preferences in new growth markets.

Today Spiffbet has completely changed its character and is now perceived as a B2C player. What is your comment on this change?

The recent year with high growth within the B2C casino business will strengthen the overall operations. However, people tend to forget that we, Spiffbet, comes from game development. Last year’s acquisitions have certainly overshadowed that part of the company. Many have not picked up all the positive changes that have taken place within the game development. The relaunch under Rhino Gaming will hopefully put the spotlight back onto our games. We welcome that other studios of similar size have taken the step out in the spotlight by becoming publicly traded companies. Good examples are Fantasma Games and LL Lucky Games (Lady Luck). Fantasma Games has as a similar operating model as STHLM Gaming but is somewhat larger. Lady Luck is similar to Rhino Gaming. Currenty, Lady Luck games is supplied along side our games on our platform. These companies are both interesting benchmarks when we evaluate our development and future steps.

What benefits do you see working within a larger group like Spiffbet with one foot in casino operations and the other in game development?

It puts us in a unique position that presents many opportunities to take advantage of. It all played a big part in our decision to push the production value up a notch. We also get valuable feedback from Spiffbet’s online gaming branch on the games we produce.

Looking ahead, what can we expect from Rhino Gaming?

We got plenty of exciting stuff in our pipeline. Check out the teaser for our upcoming release of Dragons of Asgard. Stay tuned!

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