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Interview with ProgressPlay on their Groundbreaking Standalone Product and Asian Expansion

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Interview with ProgressPlay on their Groundbreaking Standalone Product and Asian Expansion
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Interviewer (Edwin Ward, WX2): Welcome, Itai Loewenstein and Marina Nahhas from ProgressPlay! We’re thrilled to discuss your latest advancements and your presence at SIGMA Asia 2024 in Manila. Let’s start with you, Itai. ProgressPlay has been named one of Europe’s Top 10 Casino Tech Solutions Providers in 2024. How does it feel to receive such recognition?

Itai Loewenstein: Thank you! It’s an honour to be recognised among Europe’s top casino tech providers. This accolade reflects the hard work and innovation our team has put into developing cutting-edge solutions that meet the evolving needs of the iGaming industry.

Absolutely. Now, you’re set to make waves in the Asian iGaming sector with your standalone product. Can you tell us more about it?

Itai Loewenstein: Our standalone product is truly revolutionary. It allows our partners to target all markets, offering them unprecedented control and flexibility. This platform was designed to empower operators by giving them the ability to manage their own operations while we provide the robust technological backbone.

That sounds impressive. Marina, how important is the SIGMA Asia 2024 event for ProgressPlay, and what do you hope to achieve there?

Marina Nahhas: SIGMA Asia is incredibly important for us. It’s our debut at this prestigious event, and we’re super excited to showcase our latest products. The exhibition is the perfect opportunity to present our standalone product to a large number of potential new customers, especially those looking to tap into the rapidly growing Asian iGaming market.

With the event expected to attract over 20,000 delegates, it’s sure to be a bustling hub of activity. Can you shed some light on the current trends driving the growth of the Asian iGaming industry?

Marina Nahhas: Certainly. The Asian iGaming industry is booming due to several factors, including technological advancements, the widespread adoption of mobile devices, and the increasing popularity of online gaming. Digital payment methods have also played a crucial role, making it easier for users to engage with online platforms. This creates lucrative opportunities for gaming entrepreneurs.

Itai, your standalone licensee offering debuted at ICE in January. How has the response been so far, and what makes this offering unique especially for the Asian market?

Itai Loewenstein: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Our standalone offering is unique because it allows operators to fully control their operations, from branding to regulatory compliance, while we handle the technological aspects. This arrangement provides immense flexibility and scalability, making it ideal for operators looking to expand into new markets. ProgressPlay’s unique platform capability allows operators to open many multi-brands in a matter of hours, as the latest-generation platform supports the white-label offering. This new proprietary multi-brand platform allows operators to streamline their casino brands fast thanks to ProgressPlay’s flexible high-performance technical platform.

That’s great to hear. Can you elaborate on the technological aspects of your platform and the team behind its development?

Itai Loewenstein: Our platform has been meticulously developed over the years by a team of top-notch professionals dedicated to serving regulated markets, including the UK. We’ve incorporated many proprietary services developed in-house, ensuring that our platform meets all diverse requirements. This includes our proprietary AI capabilities for safer gambling, which have been shortlisted for the EGR Awards again.

Marina, how does ProgressPlay ensure that its platform remains flexible and adaptable to various regional and regulatory requirements?

Marina Nahhas: Our platform’s flexibility is one of its key strengths. We enable operators to tailor their offerings to specific regions and regulatory requirements. This is achieved through a strategic joint venture with a reputable cashier, facilitating seamless integration of various payment methods. This approach ensures that we cater to the diverse needs of our partners.

Itai, what are the main advantages of the standalone platform for operators, particularly in the Asian market?

Itai Loewenstein: The biggest advantage is the wider selection of countries and regulatory territories operators can choose from based on their licenses. As Marina said, our built-in proprietary cashier can be easily adapted to relevant markets and payment processors. Additionally, the ability to create brands under the standalone platform is especially beneficial for generating healthy ROI in Asian markets. We’ll be showcasing all these features at stand BR917 at SiGMA Asia.

Thank you, Itai and Marina, for sharing these insights. We look forward to seeing ProgressPlay’s innovations at SIGMA Asia 2024!

Itai Loewenstein and Marina Nahhas: Thank you! We can’t wait to connect with everyone at the event.

Interviewer: Remember to visit ProgressPlay at stand BR917 at SIGMA Asia 2024 in Manila from June 3rd to 5th.

Asia

INTEGRATED RESORTS FUEL ECONOMY, LOCAL TOURISM – PAGCOR

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The country’s integrated resorts and casinos remain as one of the main growth drivers of local tourism, in the process creating a multiplier effect across various industries, according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

This was emphasized by Ma. Vina Claudette Oca, PAGCOR Assistant Vice President for Gaming Licensing and Development Department, during a panel discussion at the 1st Philippine Tourism and Hotel Investment Summit held over the weekend.

Oca, one of the panelists on the topic, “Navigating Challenges and Opportunities for Casino Hotels in the Philippines”, said casinos are just a small component of the many attractions offered by integrated resorts in the country.

She said that this is because PAGCOR mandates all integrated resorts to offer more non-gaming attractions and resort facilities, including dining and shopping destinations.

“In fact, they are only allowed to allocate 7.5% of their facility’s total floor area to gaming,” she said. “The rest of the floor area is allocated for non-gaming facilities such as hotel rooms, retail areas, dining and other attractions.”

Ms. Oca added that currently, integrated casinos employ over 20,000 Filipinos, helping provide livelihood opportunities to locals.

Meanwhile, close to 80% of PAGCOR’s revenues from regulated gaming are remitted to the government to fund significant socio-civic projects, she said.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco also graced the 1st Philippine Tourism and Hotel Investment Summit as keynote speaker. The event was held at the New World Makati Hotel last June 21.

The event was co-presented by the Department of Tourism’s attached agency, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority along with PAGCOR and the Tourism Promotions Board as government agency sponsors.

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Asia

Fintechs in Kazakhstan Raises Concerns Over Proposed Gambling Regulation

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Fintech companies in Kazakhstan are urging greater scrutiny of a proposed law intended to regulate betting transactions in the country.

The submitted legislation, currently in its final reading, would form a monopoly entity, the Unified Accounting System (UAS), the firms said in a joint press release. The UAS would be used to determine market participants, process payments, maintain a single “electronic wallet” and make settlements with clients. A critical concern is that it could charge up to 1.5% in commissions on all market transactions, within a market where regulated transactions exceed KZT1.2tn ($2.6bn) annually.

Irina Davidenko, a spokesperson for Kazakhstan’s payments industry, commented: “The proposed legislation would be a step backwards for Kazakhstan, harming competition in the country’s vital payments sector and signaling to the outside world that necessary business reform is being driven by shadowy interests, rather than what’s right for industries and consumers.”

The proposal, partly billed as a public health move against problem gambling, resembles a previous initiative, the Betting Accounting Centre (BAC). It was shelved in 2021 after a scandal involving a deputy minister who was dismissed for accepting bribes from BAC lobbyists, according to the press release.

The lack of transparency on the UAS structure and ownership as outlined in the legislation is another aspect of the change that is seen by critics as troubling.

The reintroduction of a UAS model occurred as late as the second reading of the legislation. If passed by parliament, it will become law without the comprehensive impact analysis and scrutiny typical for such significant regulatory change.

Observers argue the new regulation duplicates existing regulatory functions already managed by Kazakh state bodies and was proposed without the cooperation of the National Bank of Kazakhstan. The central bank has previously developed its own reform proposal that avoids introducing a monopolistic entity.

Opponents further contend that the regulation could cause “significant economic damage”. National Bank of Kazakhstan representatives and the payments industry have sounded alarm bells, but the issues have not been adequately addressed, the press release added.

The concerned fintech and payment companies want the legislation to be reconsidered. They are advocating for it to be sent back to the lower house of the legislature for a full regulatory impact analysis and thorough examination to ensure that it does not adversely affect industry or the economy.

Ilya Efimenko, commercial director of the payment organisation PayDala, said: “I appeal to the Senators, who need to know the true purpose of why the UAS has made a comeback in the bill.

“This is a re-emergence of the ‘Betting Accounting Center’ (BAC), a strikingly similar entity that was withdrawn before, and behind which, as the deputy from the Amanat party Elnur Beisenbayev said, are the powerful forces of ‘Old Kazakhstan.’

“Before our eyes, a monopolist, a private operator, is being created. The emergence of monopolies such as the UAS threatens the principles of a Fair Kazakhstan. Now everything is being done to break the financial system of Kazakhstan, recognized by experts as one of the best in Central Asia.”

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Asia

Chinese Embassy Urges Philippines to Ban POGOs

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The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has urged the Philippine government to ban its offshore gaming industry, claiming that the “vast majority” of Chinese citizens involved in their operations are victims.

In an official statement attributed to a spokesperson, the embassy also denied any involvement in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry after uniforms of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force were discovered during a raid on a POGO compound in Pampanga earlier this month.

“We appeal to the Philippines to ban POGO at an early date so as to root out this social ill. And we firmly oppose any baseless accusation and smearing against China in connection with POGO,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say, “Chinese law prohibits all forms of gambling. The Chinese government strictly cracks down on Chinese citizens engaging in gambling business abroad including POGO. Ample evidence shows that POGO breeds serious crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking and murder. POGO is detrimental to both Philippine and Chinese interests and images as well as China-Philippines relations.

“In recent years, the Chinese and Philippine law enforcement agencies have maintained close communication and cooperation and conducted multiple joint operations to bring down cross-border gambling and telecom fraud. Since 2018, nearly 3000 Chinese citizens implicated in the cases have been repatriated with joint efforts of both sides. In the past year alone, China has assisted the Philippines in shutting down five POGO hubs and repatriated nearly 1000 Chinese citizens.

“The vast majority of the Chinese citizens involved in these cases are victims of the Philippine offshore gambling industry. The Chinese government is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”

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