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Exclusive Q&A with Alexander Kamenetskyi, Sportsbook Product Owner with SOFTSWISS

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Exclusive Q&A with Alexander Kamenetskyi, Sportsbook Product Owner with SOFTSWISS
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

‘The house always wins’ is one of the oldest adages in sports betting. It must be most trusted quote too, as numerous once-bitten punters would vouch for.

Here is the other side of the story.

Alexander Kamenetskyi, Sportsbook Product Owner with SOFTSWISS, talks about the steps that Sportsbooks take to keep fraudulent activities at bay.

You must read the interview for his lucid and succinct deconstruction of frauds that take place in the betting arena.

Over to the interview now!

Q. We’ve had a fabulous Euro 2020, in which Italy deservedly emerged winners. The betting industry also enjoyed thriving business during the period. But there have been reports that the level of betting frauds increased manifold. As a Sportsbook Product Owner, how do you view the situation?

A. First of all, I would like to congratulate all the fans of the Italian national team on their victory! We were finally able to enjoy the football battles of Euro 2020. In my opinion, it was an amazing championship full of dramatic and exciting moments.

As statistics show, such large events always see a spike in cases of fraud and that’s why we are always ready to track such activity and mitigate the risks for our clients.

Q. Could you share some practical experiences where you faced fraudulent activities and how you dealt with it?

A. Fraudsters always try to find system weaknesses in bookmaker lines and exploit them. This time they knew they had a chance to go unnoticed for a long time, as the attention of all bookmakers’ was drawn to the Euro 2020. Oftentimes bookmakers may also contribute to the appearance of such fraudsters themselves.

Speaking of the SOFTSWISS Sportsbook team – we are perfectly prepared for the arrival of unwanted guests. Over the course of the championship we mainly saw players with counterfeit documents, but our platform had just the tools to track and prevent such manipulations.

Typically, fraudsters bet on unpopular types of sports and weak leagues. Sometimes they are at the matches in person or they bet ahead of the curve when there’s a fast video broadcast. This is quite easy to track, and we resolve such cases pretty quickly.

Quite often in such cases, players ‘artificially’ raise their maximum bets for specific markets (e.g. via betting from several accounts), but we prevent this by analyzing player bets and player activity.

We have our own Risk Management and Anti-Fraud teams, as well as the Betradar Risk Management team and Managed Trading Services. We are also currently in the process of developing automated tracking systems

Q. What kind of frauds do you normally anticipate as a sportsbook operator?

A. The list isn’t vast.

First, come the ‘arbers’, or players who find arbitration situations between bookmakers and exploit them.

Secondly, there are ‘button players’ who place bets seconds after the outcome becomes clear.

There are also ‘valuebetters’, or those who bet on higher odds or odds with an advantage.

Then there are middle betting players, who are mostly playing for the total, and usually with an advantage.

And then there is the very widespread type of fraudster – the bonus hunter. Bonus hunters find weak points in bookmaker promotions and exploit them to their advantage. Some of these can be white hat bonus hunters and we even have someone like that in our team.

Of course, match fixing is the bane of the sports industry and is one of the most serious offenses. Naturally, there are many more types of sports betting fraud, but the ones I mentioned are the most widespread.

Q. How do you plan to tackle the potential frauds?

A. We are working on developing our own Sportsbook Risk Management team. We are also building our internal Risk Management Tools (RMT). Our RMT system is based on long-term experience in the field, market needs, new innovative technologies, and artificial intelligence. The system will be universal in that it will help us work not only with fraudsters, but also with ordinary players.

Q. Could you share some insights into the software-enabled checks and AI-powered analyses that aid fraud detection and prevention in betting?

A. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal all the cards because RMT is an anti-fraud system. I can only say that we are developing tools that rely on artificial intelligence based on data analytics. We are already working on unique tools to combat the main types of fraud, which will react not only to the style of play but also to overall player behaviour.

I can also add that our protection system does not just work for each project separately, but encompasses all brands across our platform.

Q. Coming back to the Euro 2020, what are the new things that happened in connection with fraudulent betting? Is it a case of new-age fraudsters emerging or is it a case of old punters becoming smarter – just like the Italian defenders?

A. The Italian defenders showed us a level of play we can look up to. I can say that the average scammer is rather diverse. The experienced type is always on the lookout for new projects, erroneous proposals, and mainly uses trite and true scam methods. Younger scammers place more emphasis on modern methods such as bots.

Q. Do all the fraud detection and prevention mechanisms affect the pure joy of punting? Will the whole process become cumbersome for the genuine bettors? Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

A. Our tools work not only with negative players, but also with positive ones. We place a lot of attention on working with those players who have proven themselves to be honest and conscientious. Additionally, we create great bonus offers for our players that encourage their gaming activity and do not use complex wagering systems. We are also very keen on soon introducing gamification to the platform, which is currently in development.

Q. Finally, how do you see fraudulent activities and the prevention mechanisms pan out in the future? What’s your bet on this?

A. The world of betting is huge, but it hasn’t reached its peak yet. Of course, fraud will continue to develop and there are many reasons for this.

First-time bookmakers who are poorly versed in the basics of sports betting will continue to create inaccurate bonus offers, miscalculate the bonus math and create bonus overlap. Errors in the betting lines and a lack of analytical work will continue to generate negative outcomes.

It is our job to create a product that fortifies the operator from negative outcomes, but we aren’t able to entirely wall ourselves off from the market. That is why we will be working on new tools to combat fraud and further improve the quality of our product, first and foremost, so that ordinary players can enjoy the game.

Our main task is to provide a reliable, high-quality product to the players. Sports betting is a great way to have fun. And that’s why we are creating a safe and secure environment around sports betting with SOFTSWISS Sportsbook.

Interviews

Making a lasting mark in a new territory

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Making a lasting mark in a new territory
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

We talk to Michael Bauer, CFO/CGO at Greentube, to discover the key elements to a successful entry into a new market.

What has to be taken into consideration before entering a new market?

Michael Bauer: The first aspect to consider is whether or not our games already have traction in a particular region, this can be in either social casino, or the land-based environment. If we see that this is indeed the case, then the decision-making process is a much easier one as clearly, this is a positive sign as to our potential within that jurisdiction.

Secondly, we have to take into consideration the market itself. How big is it, what is the overall population, how does that break down into demographic groups and what is the average income? All of these questions are pertinent. We also have to look at how the market is shaped by regulation, for example is it reasonable from a taxation perspective and in terms of products and content, or are there any major restrictions in place? All of these factors are in play when we are deciding whether or not a market is attractive to us.

By way of examples, looking at the Czech Republic and German markets, they have heavy restrictions in place on the product. Germany has a €1 limit on stakes and five seconds between spins, while in the Czech Republic, you also have maximum win limits. This can make products less attractive for players and from a supplier perspective an amended product, which is less scalable and attractive.

How important is it to utilise local expertise within a market?

It is usually very important, because markets are all different to one another in certain respects and this means a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be successfully rolled out across multiple jurisdictions. This is true for both suppliers and operators, and arguably even more crucial for the latter. Operators must have a detailed knowledge of local marketing networks, compliance aspects of regulation and local player tastes and preferences. Local expertise is an integral part of the growth journey towards being an important player in a market, there is the potential for an operator to buy their way to success through marketing, but it is a costly approach.

Are the current conditions in Germany an illustration of potential difficulties of entering a new territory?

Germany is the best current example of potential difficulties when entering a new market due to regulation. It is the first regulated market I have seen that has created an environment that is particularly unattractive for players, causing channelisation rates which are only around 20%. In addition, the regulators have struggled to issue licences. As things stand at present, what the regulation is creating does not lead to the desired outcome – the channelisation of the player base into a safe, regulated environment.

Is there an expectation for both operators and suppliers to enter every regulated region?

To a certain extent, yes. Our bigger, global customers are asking us to join them when entering new markets. We experienced this in both Argentina and Ontario, as well as other smaller regions. The issue here is that a market may not necessarily be attractive enough for us as we have too many other opportunities to tackle at the same time. When we are dealing with a smaller jurisdiction, the cost of entry and resources may be better funnelled towards the bigger openings.

Certain operators may seek to launch games on as global a basis, but this is a trend that is becoming less prevalent, which is down to different regulations and operators utilising various platforms in certain regions.

How long does it take to know whether you have been successful in a market? How is that success measured?

When a new region opens up and the regulations in place are crafted carefully, such as in the Netherlands for example, operators who gain a licence are able to ramp up quickly. We have also seen in Switzerland that markets can become very interesting, very quickly. Our measure of success is market share, where we receive feedback from operators on the success of our games. The other aspect is the GGR we are generating in a region and the number of players we are reaching. It may be that a certain jurisdiction has a weak currency, or low local purchasing power, but where there are many people playing our games. Colombia is an example of this, where the currency is not as strong as the European markets we operate in for example but we have a large player base, and can also be regarded as a success. Germany is a less than ideal example, because players are leaving the regulated market, and we cannot supply the black market.

Do you have any particular examples of successful or non-successful market entries?

The starting point of a successful entry for us is usually predicated on being first to market. We achieved that in Switzerland and the Netherlands, where on day one of regulation our games were available to play. In itself, this is a success because it’s normally very tricky to be that fast. Secondly, after a certain time you look at how big your market share is. Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland and also Norway are good examples here, as we quickly gained market share through the latter with state-owned Monopoly holder Norsk Tipping. You also have high hopes of certain jurisdictions that don’t come to fruition, which despite best intentions and plenty of hard work can be out of our hands due to regulations requiring amendments of games and stakes.

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Interviews

Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells

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Exclusive Interview: Vivo Gaming’s New CCO Neil Howells
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Neil Howells, the new CCO of the live dealer platform provider Vivo Gaming, speaks about what he hopes to achieve in the role and the latest innovations the company has to offer in the live space.

 

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Gaming

European Gaming meets Gökçe Nur Oguz, CEO and Co-Founder of Playable Factory

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European Gaming meets Gökçe Nur Oguz, CEO and Co-Founder of Playable Factory
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Q: Tell us about how & why you came to found Playable Factory?

Over four years ago – when we founded the company – gaming was booming and it still is today. All our friends were working in the sector and we wanted to, too. We were new to it all. Monetization, LTV, CPI… sounded like another language to us but gradually we learnt from our friends and tapped into the scene. As we grew our understanding, we realised playable ads played an important role. If done well, they can add to the experience of gaming. But good ones were frustratingly hard to find. So, along with my co-founders, Berat and Omer, we started making them ourselves and the rest is history.

Q: What were you doing before that/what led to it?

After university, I completed a PhD in Fluid Dynamics, a subdiscipline within physics and engineering. There were a few gamification projects, like building games for people to play that would simultaneously have a background programme running to solve an operational problem. This part had me captivated. Outside of academia, I was always gaming and would gamify everything I did. Not just computer games, but card games, board games etc… So it felt natural to me to do something I enjoyed.

Q: Describe Playable Factory & Gearbox in a nutshell?

Playable Factory is a company that focuses on the creative needs of digital advertisers. The focus is mostly on playable ads and recently on video ads for gaming clients specifically. Our secret (or not so secret) weapon is Gearbox, an online editing and iterating platform for creatives. This is split into two: Gearbox Playable, create your own tailor made playable ads (create, iterate, download and repeat) and Gearbox Video, a tool that allows users to record gameplays easily and create/edit/tweak to their heart’s desire. You can generate hundreds of videos in an automated process with one click.

Q: What kind of support can a gaming developer (or brand marketer) expect from your
platform?

Gearbox is made for people who want to monetize their games. It’s a one-stop shop for advertising and promotional videos. No prior coding knowledge is needed so anyone can use it, which hasn’t really been done to this extent before – with full, fast-response, technical support. It’s like having the full agency experience on one platform. For developers, we provide them with market insights around playable ads, guiding them to the right concept in
a speedy manner. They can get creative with graphic filters, text to speech options, banners… and any feature that improves the performance of the playables or video ads.

Q: Who are your clients?

We work with top mobile game publishers: Zynga, Playtika, Dream, Voodoo, Lion Studios, Gram Games and lots more. Apps publishers like Funimate, Trendyol and Gopuff. And brands include Hasbro, LEGO, Unilever and L’Oréal.

Q: What is unique about the Turkish mobile market/why has it become known as the Silicon
valley of the mobile gaming market?

Turkey’s become a global mobile gaming hub. It’s amazing to watch it take off. Some of the best publishers and developers in the world are based here. I think it’s got a lot to do with the ability for rapid development. You’ll find teams of 4-5 young people making a steady stream of mobile games that they send out into the market. Thanks to home-grown success stories, the eyes of investors have turned towards us. But it’s also down to the culture here. Gaming is hugely popular in Turkey and you can feel the passion and drive among people in the
scene here. Local and global economic forces make international expansion lucrative and it feeds back into making the industry making it even bigger and better – and long may it continue.

Q: Have you always been passionate about gaming? When did you first get into it?

I’ve always liked games: console, board games, mobile games… For me, it’s cracking the puzzle that gets me hooked on a game. In my childhood, my younger sister and I were always inventing our own games. Now, business-wise, my co-founder Berat and I, enjoy gaming together and playing board games in our downtime. We actually got the licence for the hugely popular party game Codenames from Czech Games. Since then, we’ve published two more board games together. This was before we entered mobile gaming.

Q: What’s your favourite mobile game?

It has to be 2048. I like puzzles and numbers 🙂

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career to date? And greatest
success?

Without a doubt: building a company from scratch on a technology that we learned all by ourselves, with no training. I didn’t know how to build playable ads, I didn’t know anything about HTML5 gaming and coding so finding a good developer and establishing a business was the biggest challenge.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to start-ups in the gaming industry?

I never truly understood the importance of a team before I started working in gaming. PhDs involve mostly working solo and it misses the team spirit. The pressure is high because the success of your work is always dependent on you, and you alone. The gaming industry is totally different. Success reflects on the team who built the game. I wish I’d known that before joining the industry. So, my advice would be to evaluate your team, and believe in them because that’s the only way to reach success. If you don’t like the people you work with, it’s often much harder for you to fulfil your full potential. When your motivations align with your team’s, you can combine forces and focus to get the success you deserve.

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