Today we also sat down with Athanasios-Thanos Marinos – MD Greece at Betsson Group, and talked about the Greek gambling industry.
Betsson has been active in the Greek market for 12 months now. Has the market performed in line with expectations?
We launched Betsson in Greece on 11 June, 2021, and since then we have gained incredible traction in the market. This is because we have leveraged the tremendous experience we have gained in other jurisdictions and used it to deliver a superior player experience in Greece. This includes providing players with access to a wide range of casino games and a compelling sportsbook product, underpinned by award-winning customer support. This has enabled us to gain a significant share of the market in a short space of time and this is something we will now build on as we continue to improve the product and experience we offer to players in Greece, and as the market continues to mature and grow.
What drew Betsson to Greece in the first place?
Greece is one of the largest markets in Europe, so it was a natural step for Betsson to apply for a licence from the Hellenic Gaming Commission when it moved to a regulated model in 2021. To not only secure this licence but to be the first operator to do so was an incredibly proud moment for us and is evidence of our position as a leading regulated markets operator. Today, we hold licences in 19 jurisdictions around the world with an ambitious strategy to enter even more regulated markets over the coming months and years.
What are the key challenges faced when entering a newly regulated market? How are these challenges overcome?
There are always plenty of challenges faced when entering new markets and this is why it is incredibly important to carry out thorough research before applying for a licence. Operators must understand what players are looking for from an online casino and/or sportsbook and then determine whether they are able to offer this or not while being fully compliant with the regulations in place. This research also helps when it comes to localisation and understanding what it will take to not only compete with but stand out from other brands in the market.
Understanding the regulations is also a must. This is the only way to ensure that the licensing process is smooth and seamless, and that time is not lost going back and forth with the regulator over issues that can be avoided by simply following the rules that are in place. It must be said that the Hellenic Gaming Commission was incredibly professional in this regard and went to great lengths to support operators throughout the process while also ensuring its standards were being met and that players were protected.
Of course, we had to make sure that we had the necessary resources and infrastructure in place to overcome any challenges faced – from regulation to tax to compliance – in order to secure our Greek licence and successfully enter the market.
The market is growing quickly. What is driving this growth and what role is Betsson playing in this?
The market is growing incredibly quickly, and we expect this to continue for several years to come. This will be driven by more players becoming aware that online sportsbook and casino is legal and regulated, and available to them. This will see many consumers shift away from playing at land-based venues to playing on their laptops, tablets and smartphones. We plan to spearhead this growth by continuing to deliver a superior experience to our players.
What player trends are emerging? How do these preferences compare to other regulated markets in Europe?
Due to the pandemic and the lack of sporting events we saw an uptick in online casino play and also in the popularity of virtuals. While the return of sports has seen many players transition back, virtual games and in-play are still incredibly popular across both sports betting and casino. What’s more, mobile is very much the dominant channel of play, and we are capturing a huge share of the mobile market in Greece and right across Europe thanks to the Betsson Native Mobile App which has won several industry awards.
Is live casino popular with players? If so, what makes it so popular?
Live casino is actually one of the best performing verticals in Greece, both for Betsson and the wider market. That is why we have partnered with innovative live dealer providers who continue to launch new games and features that ensure our players can enjoy the most engaging and entertaining live experience with Betsson. In terms of what makes it so popular, it is the combination of the thrilling gameplay, the authentic casino environment and the interaction with the dealer and other players.
How have you localised your brands for the Greek market?
Localisation is absolutely key in Greece. We are competing with retail brands that have been active in the market for more than a decade and know exactly what players are looking for. For Betsson, we are firm believers that a one-size-fits-all approach is very much a thing of the past and that is why we see localisation as an ongoing task with us always looking at new ways of offering a more personalised player experience.
Of course, it is just as important to gain brand awareness and engage with players and to do that we have rolled out a number of marketing initiatives. This includes sponsoring the SuperLeague2, which was renamed the Betsson SuperLeague2. The goal here was to be present at all of the 32 football grounds in Greece rather than just supporting one or two of the big teams.
Other sponsorship agreements entered include the Rally Acropolis WRC and the International Cycling Tour of Greece. These agreements around high-profile sporting events allow us to generate brand awareness both locally and internationally, so they deliver huge value.
What will the Greek market look like in another 12 months’ time?
It will look a lot more competitive, that’s for sure. We expect to see more operators enter the market over the next 12 months and that will undoubtedly lead to some level of consolidation. The market itself will grow and evolve and we expect the Hellenic Gaming Commission to roll out several important initiatives that will help the land-based sector develop and become more involved with the online market.
Is Betsson committed to Greece for the long term? What plans do you have for the market?
Betsson is here to stay, and we have high expectations for the Greek market. We are a challenger brand right now but very soon, with hard work and commitment, we plan to become one of the top brands in the country. We have even opened a tech hub in Athens and have a number of Betssonites working in Greece to ensure that we really understand the market and what players are looking for. There is no better way of doing this than having boots on the ground.
How level five AI can help operators superscale efficiency and profitability in 2023
With Markor Technology recently partnering with Ibex.ai to strengthen the range of solutions it can supply to partners, we sat down with Thomas Aigner and Melissa Summerfield to discuss the benefits the tool offers CRM teams and the impacts of AI and machine learning in the wider iGaming industry
Before we get into how Markor will utilise Ibex.ai to strengthen its client offering, can you tell us a bit more about the company’s core concept and how it differs from other rule-based AI systems?
TA: When Ibex was started, our core focus was to really look at each player individually and come up with ways to maximise their lifetime value. We weren’t happy with the level of personalisation and automation that existing technology could deliver, so we set about re-thinking the process of a CRM campaign from the bottom up. With the machine learning models that Ibex utilises, it’s able to create a full profit/loss calculation for individual players that takes into account everything from the payment method they use to the costs of sending a bonus via SMS or email. From these calculations, the system is able to implement the action that has the highest impact for each player while also learning and optimising its models based on the previous outcomes. In this respect, Ibex differs from some of the more traditional, rule-based systems – where CRM teams usually still have to build a customer journey to trigger their desired action – as it provides a true level of automation by constantly A/B testing its approaches and evaluating their performance without the need for manual prompting from the user.
Last year, Ibex.ai was involved in a ground-breaking trial where it was pitted against a human CRM team and delivered some pretty convincing results – what factors helped contribute to its success?
TA: Over the course of that study, Ibex delivered a 20% increase in NGR and a 17% decrease in bonus spend when tested against what a human CRM team was doing. One of the keys to this success was the fact that our technology doesn’t need to create and target customer segments in the way that a traditional CRM team does. Instead, we looked to fundamentally overhaul the approach taken by CRM teams and place a greater emphasis on targeting each individual player, meaning that the bonuses Ibex offers are 100% personalised. Additionally, Ibex can look at how each player reacts to its offers and use this data to automatically decide and trigger the next best action specifically for them. This is known as level five automation and means it can build optimal models by itself, with CRM teams then being able to look at its choices, understand the actions and use them to come up with new campaigns.
Another perk of Ibex’s approach is that the system is able to quickly identify bonus abusers, who obviously have a big impact on a CRM team’s overall profit/loss figures during each campaign. Whereas manually rooting out bonus abusers and segmenting them accordingly is a costly and time-consuming process, Ibex’s personalised, player-by-player approach means the technology can easily spot signs of bonus abuse and decide that the best action in these cases is often not to issue any offer.
The increased use of AI in traditionally human operations is something of a hot topic at the moment – is Ibex.ai intended to replace CRM teams entirely or merely supplement what they currently do?
TA: This is a really important question and one we get asked a lot because of the high level of automation Ibex can deliver. Our AI is not at all intended to replace CRM teams or take away human jobs, but rather to enhance their current capabilities by removing some of the day-to-day legwork. This gives them more time to focus on building creative campaigns and optimising their overall strategy, which can in turn help them increase profits without taking on further costs. With this in mind, CRM teams shouldn’t be fearful about AI replacing them, but should instead be experimenting with it and learning its capabilities so they can better understand how to work alongside it in future.
How will automated technology such as Ibex.ai enable online operators to better structure their CRM teams going forward and will it allow for a more efficient distribution of resources in future?
TA: We’re already starting to see this with our current partners. By using an AI like Ibex, it’s possible to take some of the manual legwork out of the CRM process – i.e. defining a target group and then scheduling/executing a campaign – which in turn gives executives more time to focus on the creative side of things and how they refine their top-level strategy. One of the important things to remember about Ibex is that it’s not a content generating AI, but rather one takes all of the templates and bonuses that are already in place and combines them to get the most optimal results. As such, removing a lot of the manual admin can give CRM more freedom to focus on creating better content.
From Markor Technology’s point of view, how does partnering with highly-specialised companies such as Ibex.ai enable you to enhance the service that you’re currently able to offer your partners?
MS: Markor has always been focused on providing innovative solutions for our clients – and one of the value propositions that we pride ourselves on is that our iGaming technology is powered by AI and machine learning. The role of this technology is to make people’s lives easier, so by onboarding specialised partners such as Ibex, we can automate more, decrease human error and track data so it can drive informed, real-time business decisions. By streamlining operations in this way, we save our clients’ time so they can focus more on high level topics such as branding and business development.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the advantages that Ibex.ai gives to your online casino partners and how the technology has been incorporated into your current PAM platform offering?
MS: One of the main benefits that Ibex has delivered for us is that it intelligently targets customers and increases their lifetime value – two things that have already been backed up by the company’s reports. By constantly A/B testing its actions and learning from the results, Ibex is able to consistently choose the optimal offer or reward based on the projected value of each player, meaning once a network of campaigns has been set up, CRM teams will be free to focus on their overall user strategy.
ALTENAR: OUTSTANDING 2022 PROVIDES SPRINGBOARD TO 2023
Last year proved to be a breakthrough one for Altenar. Growth in all parts of the business has epitomised the incredible work that continues at the world-leading sportsbook provider.
With the keys to success being attributed to a number of different factors, we sat down with Altenar’s Sales Manager, Alejandro Cazorla, to discuss why 2022 was such a landmark year for the business and what 2023 could hold. Read on to find out more…
To kick things off – Altenar had an outstanding 2022, can you talk us through last year’s highlights?
2022 was an amazing year. Our achievements came through hard work, staying dynamic, employing a growing team, overcoming challenges, and keeping the quality in everything we do.
An example of this is experiencing company-wide certification, new office spaces and global regions. With new clients and new hires, Altenar grew the company (employees) by 38% throughout the year, increasing sales by 70% at the same time, and a 75% increase in new users on our platforms. This was all achieved alongside launching new features and products.
What do you believe has been key to 2022’s success?
Our people! It’s undeniable that the results we’ve experienced have been the direct measure of their dedication, not only to Altenar but to their progression and interests in new projects, builds and new territories to delve into.
A great success example of this has been the full migration of our clients to our SB2 platform, which has doubled the number of bets placed. Thanks to this, we created a new department that monitors and builds the Altenar Data Feed where we can consume official scouting data and price betting markets accordingly.
Our native mobile app is also a project that was a proof of concept at the beginning of 2022, and the creation of the Altenar Intelligence Platform (AIP) will deliver high-impact analytics and insights. Altenar also released its new front end which is designed/built from widget technology and this is merely the tip of the iceberg for us this year.
Looking to 2023 – where have you got your eye on and which markets do you believe will be key to sports betting’s continued expansion?
We will be looking to expand our footprint across the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Romania, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Canada.
So, Europe is a key focus for us over the next 12 months, but we believe giant strides will be made across Canada, so we are excited about the prospect of accessing that region.
On the subject of the Balkans – the market has plenty of factors that can make it a success, what are the main drivers for this?
There’s a lot of appeal for iGaming, especially as many countries throughout the Balkans allow reputable companies to enter the space with the correct licensing that is often the same as other European countries. This regulation and call for gaming are two of the main drivers for success in this region.
Last but not least in the Netherlands, how do you see the latest regulatory measures shaping up and how will that affect operators’ approach?
Operators will need a very flexible approach for the Netherlands, but this changing regulatory scape is a positive as it enables greater attention to safer gaming and players. It also offers providers like us the opportunity to grow as we adapt to the market requirements, whether that’s through the technology in our solutions or what features/content we can offer.
Exclusive Pre-ICE interview with Nadiya Attard, CCO at Relax Gaming
Having been promoted to Chief Commercial Officer this time last year, European Gaming took the time to sit down with Nadiya Attard to take a look back at the record-breaking year enjoyed by Relax Gaming.
We also discussed her own philosophy as CCO of a major iGaming powerhouse and looked ahead to what Relax has in store for ICE 2023 and the rest of the year!
Relax has had a record-breaking 2022, before we get started, can you talk us through the secrets behind such fantastic success and some highlights, namely Relax Rush, Dream Drop and Money Train 3?
Relax Gaming has been fortunate to enjoy a phenomenal year in 2022 and exceed expectations on all fronts. If I had to boil it down to a few key qualities that lead to this success they would be – solid technical foundations that help us provide a stable platform, meeting key deadlines and bringing our unique ideas to life, integrity in our service, incredible quality standards, and the fantastic team behind it all. Each one of these forms a foundation block for our business.
Onto Relax and the team – I’m sure plenty of our European Gaming readers know you already, but for those who don’t, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you lead as CCO?
I’d describe myself as very energetic and ambitious, throughout my 20 years of experience in the industry I’ve built up an extensive portfolio of deal closures and professional achievements. On a more personal level, I tend to do things differently and swim against the current in all aspects of my life, but especially in my management style.
I like to lead as a manager and operate as a teammate, ensuring that my colleagues are motivated, growing in their field and being rewarded effectively. In our sales team, you’ll notice some re-shuffling from time to time as I believe in letting people adjust their roles to their passions and investing in our current superstars before hiring externally.
Looking to ICE, which we’re sure Relax is very excited about, what’s in store for the show and what can visitors look forward to seeing at the Relax stand?
This will be the first ICE expo where Relax is physically present with a pop-up hub (N4-300) rather than meeting rooms, and we’re so excited to welcome new and existing customers throughout the 3 days. Our schedules are already almost full, and we can’t wait to give clients an exclusive sneak peek at what’s coming up in 2023.
On 2023 – we’re sure you’ve got plenty of exciting games lined up to delight players, without giving too much away, can you give us any hints or tips as to what we can expect to see this year?
There’s a lot to look forward to in 2023 including our star of the quarter Book of Power, which was produced in collaboration with CasinoGrounds and is piquing the interest of many operators at the moment.
We also have big plans to strengthen our foothold in regulated markets such as Ontario, Spain, Italy and Greece. Elsewhere Dream Drop Jackpots will be leveraging its strengths this year with a huge release over the Summer – We won’t give anything away here but pop by our stand for some juicy details!
Last but not least, Dream Drop has been absolutely revolutionary for players, how much of a difference do you see the Relax style of Jackpots making when it comes to inspiring future creations?
Our Dream Drop Jackpots product has been a great success since its debut in May 2022. Operators who integrated the promo tools and the famous Dream Drop Ticker (in-lobby jackpot status) have had recorded particularly positive results, and we’ll be boosting this further throughout the year with new promo tools that will be available across the Relax portfolio and P2P partners.
We’ve had jackpots dropping continuously and the numbers climb higher up the ranks each month. Emulating this level of success will prove tricky, as any supplier would require a vast distribution network combined with a secure and robust system of operation that extends well beyond the pure game mechanic and flow, there’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to a mechanic of this kind!
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