Gambling Insider: Asia Focus 2023

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ASIA FOCUS

INSIDE

“There is no Asia?” Markets: India and Japan Company profi les and Q&As

May

THE DIVERSITY OF ASIAN

GAMING

2023

EDITOR’S LETTER

COO, EDITOR IN CHIEF

Julian Perry

EDITOR

Tim Poole

Tim.Poole@gamblinginsider.com

STAFF WRITERS

Matthew Nicholson

Matthew.Nicholson@gamblinginsider.com

Lucy Wynne

Lucy.Wynne@gamblinginsider.com

Robert Prendergast

Robert.Prendergast@gamblinginsider.com

LEAD DESIGNER

Brendan Morrell DESIGNERS

Olesya Adamska, Christian Quiling

DESIGN ASSISTANTS

Radostina Mihaylova, Svetlana Stoyanova, Gabriela Baleva

MARKETING & EVENTS MANAGER

Mariya Savova

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT

We at Gambling Insider are incredibly excited to present our Asia Focus. The Asian region has long been a focal point for the gambling sector. Without even mentioning the land-based behemoth that is Macau, there is the promise of Japan, the growth of the Philippines, the potential of India and much, much more.

That is exactly why it brings me great pleasure to present our Asia Focus magazine to the market. In this publication, we focus speci cally on the likes of India and Japan – two countries that o er a lucrative future to suppliers and operators once they regulate various forms of gambling. Sportradar MD for APAC, Oscar Brodkin, speaks to us about India among other markets, while Ranjana Adhikari and her colleagues at IndusLaw discuss India’s new centralised gaming regulations.

On the Japanese theme, Mitsuya Fujimoto walks us through the country’s unique culture and sporting preferences. Meanwhile, we also walk our readers through the latest updates in Osaka, where a de nitive green light was nally given to MGM Resorts for its future integrated resort.

It must be pointed out that our magazine is aimed at the Asia-Paci c region, and we are therefore including an article from the knowledgable Paul Newson on the arc of gambling regulation in Australia.

Also in this edition, we have articles from Ron Mendelson and Alex Czajkowski, both of which explore the continent of Asia as a whole. In fact, Czajkowski poses the statement that “there is no Asia,” given the disaparate nature of all of its di erent markets.

Along with our traditional company focuses and an informative Q&A from Evoplay on cross-selling sports bettors to online casino in Asia, we additionally have a preview of G2E Asia – and, of course, the Global Gaming Awards Asia-Paci c. These Awards will take place virtually for the second year in a row. Congratulations to all who were nominated and good luck to all the companies and executives hoping to take home one of the industry’s most prestigious Awards.

Julia Olivan

IT MANAGER

Tom Powling

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR

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WITH THANKS TO:

Ron Mendelson, Paul Newson, Ranjana Adhikari

Alex Czajkowski, Mitsuya Fujimoto, Ivan Kravchuk

Oscar Brodkin, Srija Ray, Shashi Shekhar Misra, Digitain, Omega Systems, Evoplay and Bombay Live

Gambling Insider magazine ISSN 2043-9466

4 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM
Players Publishing Ltd All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is forbidden. Every care is taken in compiling the contents of Gambling Insider but we assume no responsibility for the e ects arising therefrom. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Produced and published by
Julian Perry, COO, Editor in Chief Tim Poole, Editor

CONTENTS

6 ASIAN IGAMING: AN OVERVIEW

Gambling Insider contributor Ron Mendelson, of Fast O shore, breaks the market down from verticals to licences and more

8 THERE IS NO ‘ASIA’ Regular Gambling Insider contributor Alex Czajkowski explains why it’s worth distinguishing which Asian country you are in, within “highly localised” iGaming markets

12 THE ARC OF GAMBLING REGULATION

Australia expert Paul Newson discusses the regulatory journey a gambling market must inevitably undergo

14 JAPAN’S SPORTS BETTING LANDSCAPE

Windstorm Media Managing Director Mitsuya Fujimoto discusses the current sports betting scene in Japan, and what a path to a regulated market may look like

16 THE TALE OF OSAKA

GamblingInsiderlooks at Japan’s recent decision to give nal approval to MGM and Orix’s Resort Casino in Osaka

20 THE EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Regular Gambling Insider contributors Ranjana Adhikari, Srija Ray and Shashi Shekhar Misra discuss the introduction of a central online gaming law in India

28 THE MAGIC TRIANGLE

Oscar Brodkin, Sportradar MD APAC, speaks to Gambling Insider about the “magic triangle” of trading in Asia

32 GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS

ASIA-PACIFIC 2023: PREVIEW

The return of the Global Gaming Awards Asia-Paci c is approaching with the nominations list for the 2023 Awards now available

33 PREVIEW: G2E ASIA 2023

Gambling Insider previews the upcoming G2E Asia 2023, as the gambling expo returns to Macau for the first time since 2019

34 THE ART OF THE CROSS-SELL

Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay CEO, speaks exclusively to Gambling Insider about the idea of ‘casino betting’ and the ‘melting pot’ of the Asian markets

COMPANY PROFILES

10 DIGITAIN

18 OMEGA SYSTEMS

24 EVOPLAY

26 BOMBAY LIVE

28
GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 5 33

Asian iGaming: An overview

Gambling Insider contributor Ron Mendelson

of Fast Offshore, breaks the market down from verticals to licences and more

The Asian iGaming sector is a rapidly growing industry with significant value and potential. Over the past decade, the sector has seen a surge in popularity and has become one of the largest and most profitable in the world. The sector consists of various types of games, including sports betting, online casinos, lotteries and poker, among others.

According to industry analysts, the Asian iGaming sector will grow significantly by 2025. The growth of the industry can be attributed to various factors, including the increasing adoption of smartphones and mobile devices, the rise of digital payment

methods and the growing popularity of online gaming.

The emergence of online gaming in Asia began in the early 2000s and it has been on an upwards trajectory ever since. Aside from technological advancements, this surge in popularity is helped along by a rise in disposable incomes, a growing middle class and the easing of strict regulations on gambling in some countries.

Those to watch China remains the biggest market for iGaming in Asia and it is projected to remain so in the coming years, although

gambling is, of course, illegal in Mainland China. However, other countries such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines are also emerging as significant markets in the sector. Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are important to watch, while India is showing potential as a future iGaming market, pending clarified regulation.

What’s the sector worth?

The online casino market segment in Asia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.9% between 2020 and 2025. The main driver of this growth is likely to be influenced by the

6 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM FEATURE RON MENDELSON
,

increasing popularity of live dealer games, which offer a more realistic gaming experience. Live casinos are particularly popular with Asian audiences but are also experiencing interest across all other markets.

Popular games

Sports betting has also gained a lot of traction in recent years, with many sports enthusiasts using iGaming platforms to place bets on various sports events. The sports betting market segment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8% between 2020 and 2025, attributed to the increasing number of sports fans in the region, the availability of global sports events and the rise of mobile sports betting.

The preferred types of games in the Asian iGaming sector vary by country. In China and Vietnam, sports betting remains the most popular type of game. In the Philippines, online casinos are the most popular, while in Japan, mobile gaming is the preferred option. In South Korea, mobile gaming and esports are the most popular, while in India, online lotteries and poker are seeing growth.

Indeed, one of the significant trends in the Asian iGaming sector is the increasing adoption of mobile gaming. Mobile gaming has become a lucrative market for iGaming operators, with many players preferring to access games on their smartphones and tablets. The rise of mobile gaming is fuelled by increasing penetration of smartphones, the ease of access to mobile gaming platforms and the availability of reliable mobile networks.

Social gaming breakthrough

Another trend in the sector is the popularity of social gaming, which involves playing games that are integrated with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The social gaming market segment in Asia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.2% between 2020 and 2025. The growth of social gaming is due to the adoption of social media platforms in the region, the availability of social games on mobile devices and the rise of casual gaming.

Challenges ahead

Projections for the Asian iGaming sector are favourable; however, the sector is naturally not without its challenges. One of the significant challenges is the varying regulations on gambling in different countries within the region. Some countries have strict regulations on gambling, while others have more relaxed rules and the lack of a uniform regulatory framework makes it challenging for iGaming operators to expand their operations across the region. For now, this can be circumvented by getting licensed in an offshore jurisdiction such as Kahnawake or the Isle of Man, and offering your services at a local level. Another challenge facing the sector is the growth of fraudulent activities, such as money laundering and illegal online gambling. Regulators in the region are taking steps to combat these activities by introducing stricter rules and guidelines, but there is still much work to be done to eliminate fraudulent activities in the sector.

Recommended LicenCes

If you are looking to enter the iGaming industry in Asia, it is important to obtain the proper licences. Here are three recommended types:

Curaçao eGaming

Curaçao is one of the oldest and most respected online gaming jurisdictions in the world. It offers a comprehensive regulatory framework that is designed to protect players and ensure fair play. Curaçao eGaming licences are recognised by many of the world’s leading iGaming operators and they offer a range of benefits, such as low startup costs, tax-friendly regulations and a fast and efficient licensing process.

2. Kahnawake Gaming Commission

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is authorised to issue licences to online gaming companies worldwide. It offers a rigorous regulatory framework that is designed to protect players, and ensure ethical and transparent operations. Kahnawake licences are recognised by

many major iGaming operators and are considered one of the most prestigious licences in the industry.

3. Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission

The Isle of Man is a small island nation located in the Irish Sea. It is known for its comprehensive regulatory framework for online gaming, which offers a wide range of protections for players and operators alike. The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission is responsible for licensing and regulating all online gambling activities on the island, and its licences are recognised as some of the most respected globally.

The Asian iGaming sector is a rapidly growing industry with significant value and potential, spurred by innovative tech and new kinds of games. The sector is projected to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by the increasing adoption of smartphones and mobile devices, the rise of digital payment methods and the growing popularity of online gaming. This means it is ripe for gaming entrepreneurs who want to make their mark across the continent.

If you are interested in working with the Asian market, Fast Offshore can help. We offer corporate services, licensing, compliance and various other services to professionals and entities in the iGaming sector. Contact our team today to find out more

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 7 RON MENDELSON FEATURE
“The growth of the industry can be attributed to various factors, including the increasing adoption of smartphones and mobile devices”
Ron Mendelson

There is no “Asia”

Regular Gambling Insider contributor Alex

Philippines

Thinking about iGaming in Asia? Of course you are. How could you not? Look at the demographics: long term, “Asia” is where the world’s population will be. And it’ll be a mobile-connected generation, like their Generation X parents.

But look again at the demographics: you’ll see declines in the population of the next generation in Asian strongholds – and GDP leaders – of Japan, South Korea and China. You’ll also see significant uplift in the populations of India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia where “generation alpha” will come of age.

Because there is “no Asia.” Filipino

food is not Vietnamese food, which is not Thai food, which is not Malaysian food (although they still argue about where “satay” originated). Not even close... If the way to “someone’s heart is through their stomach,” as the ancient adage goes, so too do these massively different cuisines reflect the highly localised nature of these markets.

“Indians don’t play slots,” Bhavesh Parthi, MD of Oppa Asia said recently at the ASEAN Gaming Summit in March (2023) in Manila. There is some truth in that: today’s largely male-dominated Indian iGaming market prefers live dealers. But give it time (and a few

writes from

sites dedicated to slots for Indian women)… Meanwhile, a highly successful regulated slots supplier supposedly sees 40% of its revenue from Indonesia! Although all data from black/grey markets and privately held companies must be taken with a grain of salt (or a spoonful of fish oil)…

Between the dominance of “fishing games,” virtually unknown in the West (but great fun for Gen-Xers used to “first person shooter” games once you get the hang of it), the necessary “pachinko slots” for Japan and Evolution’s innovations in baccarat (its Lightning Roulette is the only online roulette to play anywhere – and now its Golden Wealth Baccarat applies a similar additional layer of random luck to this hugely popular game), you’ll see different games and formats appeal in different regions.

FEATURE ALEX CZAJKOWSKI
8 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM
Czajkowski
the
– and explains why it’s worth distinguishing exactly which Asian country you are in within “highly localised” iGaming markets

Again, there is no “Asia.” There are a dozen or so countries with rapidly growing populations, increasing ecommerce reliance, better connectivity and a growing middle class with disposables incomes that, when factored against the cost of living, rivals Western economies with its iGaming potential.

They are cash-based, but cash online through their local wallet, for example G-Cash in the Philippines. They don’t (yet) have extended credit facilities. So fast payouts are even more essential – that (often relatively small) slots win is Friday’s beerfest for your player.

Yes, there are also credit-card-carrying VIPs betting millions in their local currency,

but unlike Western markets where the 20/80 (or 10/90 even) ratio rules, in these markets there are low-value high-volume markets where penny slots are more important than baccarat (just like they still are in Vegas!).

So, just like you have to deal today with newly regulated individual markets across Europe and North America, so too must you get the necessary local knowledge of these up-and-coming but disparate markets. They are all worth your attention – and all worth a visit. All have a great local culture and cuisine to experience, plus there’s always a McDonalds, Starbucks or Pizza Hut somewhere nearby if you need it. Along with a whole heap of iGaming potential…

ALEX CZAJKOWSKI FEATURE
“There is ‘no Asia.’ Filipino food is not Vietnamese food, which is not Thai food, which is not Malaysian food ”
GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 9
Alex Czajkowski

In focus: Digitain

With its premium all-in-one, feature-rich iGaming platform, Centrivo is a centralised hub with all the essential components including its sportsbook, the Paydrom payment gateway, and many more features. The business supplies and supports operators in Asia, LatAm, Europe and Africa. The company has a global workforce of over 2,400 employees. It invests heavily in its growth to ensure we provide the optimal digital solutions for our partners.

Digitain has extensive experience and know-how, having worked in the gaming industry since 1999. A highly experienced leadership team currently works with over 150 partners globally, helping them to launch and successfully develop their iGaming businesses. Our customer-first approach means we deliver a flexible, modular and customisable solution to suit your business needs across any market.

PRODUCTS AND SOLUTIONS

Digitain’s GLI-certified sportsbook, offered via Turnkey and API (Bespoke and iFRAME), USSD/SMS betting solution is an exceptional sports-betting product that can handle the most complex needsof established platforms, start-ups, online casino operators and land-based sportsbook vendors.

We regularly develop effective partner-centric solutions using cutting-edge technology and a personalised approach. Over the years, Digitain’s Sportsbook has proven to be a must-have asset in many iGaming businesses’ success in Asia, as the sportsbook view is specifically designed for Asian players and can be configured for the European, Latam, and African player markets.

Digitain is also well known for offering one of the best in-house developed Virtual Sports products worldwide. Available across online, mobile and retail channels, Digitain’s Virtual Sports games grab players’ attention with their ultra-realistic 3D environments and stunning audio-visuals. This extremely engaging product features unique betting markets and comprises everything players need for a breath-taking virtual experience and guaranteed enjoyment. As the number of our easy-to-integrate virtual sports games steadily grows, our portfolio presents any iGaming business with additional options to

turbo-boost their revenues by attracting and retaining virtual sports fans.

Digitain’s exceptional, all-in-one, feature-rich iGaming platform, Centrivo, is a centralised hub with all the essential components and content for operators to launch and manage their iGaming businesses quickly. Our iGaming platform comes with all the tools and mechanisms required for effective risk management, brand management, data analysis and monitoring, cashier and customer interface customisation, and player profile management and categorisation. It includes multi-language and multi-currency support, a full reporting suite, and player-focused automation. Centrivo

makes it possible to set up your brand within minutes.

Digitain’s new payment gateway, Paydrom, is an effective and comprehensive solution integrated with over 400 leading international payment providers. We empower our partners to securely and swiftly process deposits, transfers, and withdrawals securely and swiftly for iGaming. Paydrom offers various payment processing solutions, including card payments, e-wallets, bank transfers, and crypto transactions. We give our partners and their players the freedom to perform online transactions safely, wherever they might be.

10 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM COMPANY PROFILE DIGITAIN
Digitain has established itself as a leading supplier of iGaming solutions for the Asian market

The arc of gambling regulation

Paul Newson, Principal at Senet and Australian gambling regulation expert, discusses the regulatory journey a gambling market must inevitably undergo - but warns of the risk of over-correction

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Financial Services Royal Commission) concluded in February 2019, and exposed rampant toxic culture and endemic misconduct across the sector. While the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) incurred criticism, Commissioner Hayne found that primary responsibility for the misconduct and harms uncovered lay with the entities concerned, and their boards and management.

Perhaps not unreasonably the pendulum

had swung, and the corporate regulator repositioned itself adopting its ‘Why Not Litigate?’ enforcement posture in late 2018, towards the end of the Royal Commission.

Others are better placed to argue the substance and merits of the mantra, but the explicit emphasis on court-based remedies, while aligned with the post Royal

Commission mood and rhetoric, was arguably inefficient and impractical where inflexibly applied. The handling of the ‘wagyu and shiraz’ matter didn’t assist ASIC’s cause and Covid-related public policy challenges and associated economic headwinds, buttressed by the masterful handling of pandemic-related policy and mortgage relief by Australian banks, reshaped the politics and recovered community sentiment. Fast forward to 2021 and the ‘Why Not Litigate?’ posture is a distant echo, ousted by a more pragmatic approach and an explicit commitment to promoting

economic recovery, including through better and more efficient regulation, facilitating innovation; and targeting regulatory and enforcement action to areas of greatest harm.

While there are parallels with the leadership, governance and compliance failures revealed in the Australian casino sector (and shades of a similar pendulum lurch towards policy and regulatory intervention, and more intensive supervision of the sector) the counterfactual is often lost in the fray. The economic imperative for integrity in financial services, and business and consumer access to banking

FEATURE AUSTRALIA
12 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM
Sydney

facilities and credit is obvious, but the gambling sector’s story has fewer orators, and won’t easily access the redemption secured by the banks deftly navigating pandemic politics and hardship support.

The Nevada model is instructive on marrying strict regulation and oversight of the gaming sector with recognition of the important economic and social contribution it makes to the state. The Nevada legislature explicitly declares the gaming industry is vitally important to the economy of the state and the general welfare of the inhabitants. It also acknowledges that continued growth relies on public confidence and trust that operators do not unduly impact the quality of life of community, and that gaming is free from criminal and corruptive elements.

The malady of over-correction involves

blunt policy and artificial expectations, and is best moderated with countervailing considerations, but might be inescapable given the inattention and disrepair of regulatory settings and political reticence for robust oversight previously.

The extensive leadership, governance and compliance failures uncovered in the Australian casino sector were compounded by money laundering concerns in pubs and clubs; and amplified by the politics of a close NSW State election, a government with many accomplishments, three terms in office, too many barnacles and an abject failure in the gambling portfolio.

Robust policy settings, regulatory leadership and expert industry oversight, buttressed by political support, are necessary to secure industry integrity and underpin public confidence, essential to social licence and sustainability. But discussion of optimal regulatory arrangements are moot if we don’t also have conversations about invigorating industry and facilitating the conditions for sector innovation and flourishing.

Equipping gambling regulators with meaningful sanctions has been a necessary step in building deterrence and corroborating expectations, but the policy discourse should extend beyond enforcement to understand sector conditions, issues and opportunities; and embrace innovation that fosters industry development and growth and rewards ethical leadership.

PaulNewsonisaPrincipalatSenetandleadsthe advisory practice. Paul was formerly responsible for public policy and regulation of liquor, gamblingandracinginNSWasDeputySecretary in the NSW Department of Industry. Paul is a former President of the International Association of Gaming Regulators and former Trustee of the NSW Responsible Gambling Fund.

AUSTRALIA FEATURE
“The extensive leadership, governance and compliance failures uncovered in the Australian casino sector were compounded by money laundering concerns in pubs & clubs”
GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 13
Paul Newson

Japan’s sports betting landscape

Windstorm Media Managing Director

CULTURAL BACKGROUND

To understand what a regulated market in Japan could look like is intrinsically tied to the culture of sports in Japan, and how fans engage with their favourite sports and teams. Japan, like any other country on this planet, loves sports. Its people play, they participate, they watch and, sometimes, they even bet on it. Among all the choices they have, baseball is the most popular. Almost 88% of the male population played baseball when they were growing up, so they know the game inside out. Although the same number of women didn’t grow up playing the sport, their knowledge of the game is still considerable.

It’s not only baseball, either, given the growing popularity of football within the country, with the Japanese national team continuing to perform well at flagship events such as the FIFA World Cup. Football has become huge in Japan, while the female ratio of those interested in football exceeds that of those interested in baseball. American football, basketball, tennis and rugby are other significant sports that people follow.

However, the popularity of these imported sports is notwithstanding Japan’s national, iconic staples of sport. Sumo is a national sport, so no one ever gets to live in Japan without hearing about sumo wrestling. The people of Japan grow up

watching these games with their friends, parents and grandparents. In Japan, it’s also worth noting that a governing body controls every sporting organisation. Because of this, sports at the amateur level are popular, too, such as high-school baseball. High-school baseball tournaments are some of the most significant events in Japan.

They run in both spring and summe, and teams from every corner of the nation come together to compete for the ‘flag of the champion.’ These tournaments

14 GAMBLING FEATURE INSIDER.COM MITSUYA FUJIMOTO
Mitsuya Fujimoto discusses the current sports betting scene in Japan, and what a path to a regulated market may look like

attract scouts from major professional, corporate and college teams, who hone in on these high-school events in search of the next big thing. So, naturally, the media covers this and it becomes an important event on the sports calendar for fans. Just like college football in the US, the National High School Baseball Tournament, in particular, is covered nationwide.

REGULATIONS

Despite the popularity of these flagship sports in Japan, sports betting is not currently regulated for the likes of baseball or football. In fact, the only regulated sports are horseracing, track cycling, motor racing (bike) and single -engine boat racing. While this may seem strange, given the popularity of other sports, a bureaucratic monopoly keeps sports betting regulated for just these sports currently. Odds on these sports are widely available, and any introduction of sports betting on other, more popular sports, has yet to be agreed upon by Japanese lawmakers.

WIDER MOVEMENT

So what does the current set of sports betting regulations in the Japanese market look like on a wider scope, and will wider regulations on other sports ever be put in place? The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and the Japan Sports Agency have been rolling out study groups for several years on how to extend their monopoly to popular sports.

The METI and Japan Sports Agency published a joint 98-page study at the end of 2022, which suggest that the days of sports betting on a wider scale are coming. But, first, Japan needs to regulate the governing body of each sporting sector to cooperate, share and stay in lane together; in terms of regulatory conditions, to create the right infrastructure.

Studies have been undertaken as to how the US, UK and EU are systematically

controlling the economic environment of sports betting, which shows that a quarter of the markets are dedicated to NFTs and Sports Tokens.

So blockchain and crypto are a growing factor. Data streaming technology by proprietors is another topical issue that is coming to the fore. Many new technologies have been introduced to fill the void of data streaming technology and, most probably, someone will find the solutions to bridge the streaming gap through technology; but none of it will work unless you have stories that people will want to follow.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

Understanding the ways in which people enjoy sports in Japan will be crucial in determining the success of operators that may one day move into the market. Like every territory in the world, if you are trying to access its resources, you need to understand its cultural differences; particularly regarding

big, established markets. The challenge in Japan does not lie in defining the most popular sports but in how you can deliver for fans in terms of narrative. The potential market for the Japanese market is enormous, but it will not open without access to local knowledge and the willingness of operators to adapt. Creating a sportsbook that matches the kind of drama Japanese people love will be the biggest challenge for operators.

MARKETING NARRATIVES

Sports betting will always be the front-runner in a market like Japan. As the vast selection of sports entertainment becomes available, more chances and options to create new narratives will become apparent. Japanese people, in general, love narratives. Users need to feel they are participating contextually in the story of the sport they are betting on. This is a key focus for any operator that may, one day, be looking to enter the Japanese market.

INSIDER.COM FEATURE 15
“Because of this, sports at the amateur level are popular, too, such as high-school baseball. High-school baseball tournaments are some of the most significant events in Japan”
Mitsuya Fujimoto

The tale of Osaka and the casino

Gambling Insider looks at Japan’s recent decision to give final approval to MGM and Orix’s casino resort in Osaka, how it happened, where it is and where it may be going

THE PAST

For a decade, Japan has seen a rising number of people within the country wish for the legalisation of gambling. Yes, it already had its famous Pachinko parlours, which have become a central part of its cultural landscape – a practice that whet the appetite for those people in Japan that wanted the gambling experience – but outside of

that, Japan’s attitude towards gambling was staunch and unmoving. Then, after decades of sure-footed rejections from various governments, times started to change. Some of this can be attributed to changing opinions of gambling in general,

but a significant portion is down to the unexpected impact that Covid-19 had on Asia.

When the virus began its march across the globe, ruthlessly taking lives and bringing the world to a standstill while scientists desperately tried to get it under control and develop vaccines, the gambling industry had only one refuge – the online market. As every door to every casino had to close, the online world was all that could satisfy the needs of players that wanted to alleviate the boredom of the pandemic, which meant that China’s landbased gambling hub in Macau was left on its knees.

The pandemic itself wasn’t something that Japan thought would change its mind over the idea of casino gambling; however, once places such as Singapore and Manila began to emerge in the dawn of a new world – while Macau was buried by China’s zero-Covid policy – Japan looked on as these places tore

16 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM FEATURE OSAKA THE PAST AND PRESENT

Macau’s market domination away and saw something surprising as a result. Not only did places such as Marina Bay Sands make large sums of money, but it also contributed to the stability of the state through taxes and contributions to the areas where the buildings were based.

THE PRESENT

Japan is at a crossroads. Not enough young people are being born to sustain the economic needs required to generate enough money that will ensure the same level of taxation in the future, and a large generation of people that are currently on the cusp of retirement. Taking all of this in, Japan has had to look at itself to see what it could do to generate further income and plug the economic hole that has become more and more prominent as the years have gone by.

So, as the need for money has risen, attitudes towards gambling have changed – people have actively campaigned for gambling to be legalised in Japan, pointing at places such as Singapore and Manila as an example. Although it must be said there has also been an appetite for an integrated resort in Japan for some time. The plan in Japan was to issue three licences to gambling operators, each of which would then build casinos.

The interest in the country was heavy at first, with the likes of Las Vegas Sands, Wynn, Melco, Genting and MGM all declaring intentions to build in Osaka. But in the end, only MGM bid for the licence, with the other operators focusing on other potential locations in the country. Those locations have, thus far, failed to

come to fruition, and after a long back-and-forth in Japan, Osaka has been officially unveiled as the site of the country’s first casino resort. The casino will be run by MGM and Orix – a Japanese financial services company – with both now ready to open the property’s doors in 2029.

Initially, alongside Osaka, Nagasaki and Yokohama were seriously considered; however, Yokohama’s regional election put an end to that after its previous Mayor, Fumiko Hayashi, failed to secure re-election – with many in her region against the idea. Following Hayashi’s defeat, Yokohama’s new Mayor, Takeharu Yamanaka, put the idea to rest and threw the idea out completely. Then, there’s Nagasaki, which may yet still have a casino built there, but plans for a 2027 opening have stalled – though recent news has revealed that the discussions between developers and the Japanese Government are ongoing. With its partner, Casinos Austria, it may still open within the next few years.

Ultimately, there are still two other licences on the table for those that want ones, but the significant cost of building and getting those licences in Japan has seen interest wane from the other big companies. Many will surely be looking at the performance of the Osaka location before deciding whether or not to invest further, though this strategy will risk others coming in and snapping up a licence before the doors of the MGM/Orix Osaka can open.

THE FUTURE

MGM and Orix’s investment is a risk, being the first casino in a country that has only

known Pachinko as its primary form of gambling; however, choosing to wait and see if the venture is a success is also a risk for those that want more market share in Asia.

If Japan ends up becoming a major hub for international players, one that competes with the likes of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World in Singapore, then the scramble to get a licence could drive the cost up – if there is even a licence to be had. Of course, then there is the other side of that coin, where the venture in Osaka fails and the country goes back to having Pachinko as its primary form of gambling – leaving the country in a sore state without the tax revenue that gambling can bring.

In a lot of ways, this casino resort has to work for the country of Japan, as it can aid the significant economic issues it now faces. Should the MGM/Orix Osaka prove to be a success, then the country may open up more than the initial three licences, thereby embracing gambling across the country. Sports betting, esports, iGaming, table games – all of them could become legal across Japan if Osaka succeeds. The sun may be rising on a new era for casinos in Japan, but this could just be a precursor to a sea-change that redefines the landscape of Japan’s tourism and economic outlook for decades to come.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 17 OSAKA THE PAST AND PRESENT FEATURE

In focus: Omega Systems

A HISTORY OF SUCCESS

Founded in 2010 by a team with a background in F500 Information Systems and iGaming, OMEGA Systems is a software company providing cloud-based omnichannel solutions to Operators worldwide. Our products allow operators to build world-class platforms to suit their chosen markets. We specialise in integrating any and all providers that our clients require. OMEGA clients take control of their players and data, in-house, providing an independent platform, be it fiat, crypto or social, not tied to a specific gaming vendor

The OMEGA CORE Management System provides an end-toend Player Account Management System (PAM) and Platform integrated with over 275 iGaming providers and regulatory systems. Successful iGaming operators require a blend of many products to be competitive , ensure compliance and maintain customer satisfaction. We are the management engine working silently in the background, powering our client’s selection of iGaming products according to the needs of their individual chosen markets and the regulatory requirements of the jurisdictions in which they are licensed.

Award System provides operators the ability to monitor all player events and automatically communicate with players via websocket, SMS, email, WhatsApp etc. In addition, CHRONOS provides automated real-time promotional awards. CHRONOS leverages the power of OMEGA CORE’s central data repository as well as external data feeds, providing automation and productivity.

The OMEGA Intel Agent (IA) is as an extension of OMEGA CORE that provides hierarchical/retail network management capabilities to agencybased businesses, providing unlimited levels of management and control.

The OMEGA CHRONOS Real-Time Event Management and

OMEGA SAFEPLAY provides operators the ability to integrate existing Casino management systems directly with OMEGA CORE, providing shared wallet, combined responsible gaming rule sets, as well as central loyalty and VIP services. SAFEPLAY provides a truly omnichannel solution.

The OMEGA DATA VAULT is a configurable control database that delivers data to external data stores, according to any jurisdictional requirements. The Vault functionality is used to comply with regulatory requirements and to power external BI and CRM systems.

The OMEGA CROSS Product Bonus Engine is a powerful system that provides a single point of control for all aspects of player promotion. This powerful subsystem provides bonusing across all integrated third party gaming systems, ensuring productivity for staff in being able to grant Freespins, Freebets, Free Tickets etc. Our external Bonus Interface allows third party CRM applications to directly trigger promotions within our system.

Regulatory compliance and International Standards are of critical importance to OMEGA’s clients, many of whom also hold Land-based licenses in their respective jurisdictions. OMEGA’s clients are licensed in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, Malta, Ohio (USA), Argentina, Belgium, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, The Netherlands, Nigeria, with additional jurisdictions such as France currently under way. OMEGA is also holds ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 Certifications (Quality and Security, cybersecurity and privacy protection).

Our Ability to Adapt to new business models, standards and markets is a key reason that OMEGA clients choose to migrate from legacy platforms to OMEGA’s modern, scalable, and robust solution. From traditional Casino and Sports, through Social and Crypto Casino models, OMEGA provides a truly flexible solution, allowing unlimited brands, varying customer acquisition flows and data solutions, using powerful reporting and external BI solutions of your choice.

Key to our success is allowing our clients to Take Control of their own platform. Our focus is on developing the software solutions that our clients need. Our growth validates this approach.

18 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM COMPANY PROFILE OMEGA SYSTEMS

The ease of doing business

Regular Gambling Insider contributors Ranjana Adhikari, Srija Ray and Shashi Shekhar Misra, of IndusLaw, discuss the introdcution of a central online gaming law in India - which prioritises the ease of business

Information Technology (“MeitY”) on 6 April 2023 provided some (long-awaited) regulatory clarity to the online skill gaming industry, by bringing in a central regime for online gaming by amending the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021(“IT Rules 2021”). These amendments (“Online Gaming Rules” or “Rules”) are a culmination of events that started with the Central Government realising that the burgeoning online skill gaming industry needs a uniform, contemporary and clear law; not only for the benefit of the industry but also to safeguard consumer interests.

quite a few ambiguities in the Online Gaming Rules and domestic operators are seeking clarity on various aspects from the Central Government. It is anticipated that official clarifications will make the scope of the Rules clearer for speedy implementation.

these Rules and is defined as “any intermediary that enables the users of itscomputer resource to access one or more online games.”

What kind of online games are permitted under the Online Gaming Rules?

The Online Gaming Rules propose a light-touch, co-regulatory legal framework with MeitY-recognised self-regulatory bodies (“SRB”) leading the regulation of online games, and business for the industry. While the Rules are a significant development, they leave much to be desired on issues such as ‘centre vs. state’ legislative competence. In fact, soon after the Rules were notified, the southern State of Tamil Nadu implemented a new online gaming law of its own with a separate set of regulations and prohibitions. Currently, it is not clear whether the Online Gaming Rules will override State laws and if so, to what extent.

the emphasis being on enhancing ease of doing

At the time of going to press, there are still

BACKGROUND

BACKGROUND

In December of 2022, MeitY was notified as the nodal central ministry for ‘matters relating to online gaming.’ On 2 January 2023, MeitY released a draft of the proposed amendments to the IT Rules 2021 for online gaming, for public consultation. After an intense series of consultations involving inputs from diverse stakeholders, MeitY notified the Online Gaming Rules on 6 April 2023.

An online game can become ‘permissible’ in two scenarios. First, if it is not an ‘online real money game’ i.e., it is a free-to-play online game. Second, if it is regulated as an ‘online real money game’ but its compliance with applicable laws is ‘verified’ by a MeitY-recognised SRB as per the criteria prescribed by the Rules.

MeitY

THE ONLINE GAMING RULES

In this section, we attempt to provide a brief overview of the framework put in place by the Online Gaming Rules by presenting crisp answers

overview of the framework put in place by the to some basic queries.

How do the Online Gaming Rules regulate online gaming platforms? The Online Gaming Rules attempt to regulate online gaming platforms through the lens of intermediary due diligence obligations. An ‘online gaming

intermediary’ (“OGI”) is at the centre of

What are some of the due diligence

What are some of the due diligence obligations of an OGI?

An OGI must adhere to certain general and specific due diligence obligations prescribed under the Online Gaming Rules. If an OGI

FEATURE RANJANA ADHIKARI
20 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM
Mumbai skyline

fails to do so, it risks losing the ‘safe harbour’ which is available to an intermediary under India’s Information Technology Act 2000, and consequently become directly liable for any thirdparty content that is hosted on its platform. Some of these due diligence obligations include:

a. Publishing its terms of use, privacy policy, and other user agreements on its platform and inform its users of certain prohibitions in relation to content.

b. Offering only those online games that are permissible and do not violate any existing law.

c. Providing necessary information to authorised

law enforcement agencies.

d. Informing users about changes to its terms of use, privacy policy, etc. within 24 hours.

e. Informing users about policies governing deposit, refund, withdrawal of winnings and process to determine winners.

f. Displaying a demonstrable and visible mark of verification provided by the SRB.

g. Appointing a Resident Grievance Officer, a Chief Compliance Officer, and a nodal contact person, as well having a physical contact address in India.

h. Verifying its users before accepting any deposits as per the KYC procedure provided by

India’s central bank.

i. Prohibiting providing users with credit by itself or through a third party.

How can an OGI apply for verification of an online real-money game?

The OGI needs to become a member of a recognised SRB as perits membership process and then apply to such SRB to ‘verify’ its online real money game(s).

“An

obligations prescribed under the Online

Gaming Rules”

What is the role of the SRBs under the

Online Gaming Rules?

The self-regulatory mechanism, first introduced for online content publishers in February 2021 in the IT Rules 2021, is a light-touch approach to regulate tech-driven industries. The tech sector is fast evolving, and requires flexible and agile regulations – something traditional lawmaking cannot always provide.

The independent SRBs will be recognised by MeitY and will be tasked to verify an ‘online real money game’ as a ‘permissible online game’ as per the baseline criteria prescribed in the Rules. The Rules also prescribe what an entity should do to be eligible to apply to MeitY, to be an SRB. While MeitY can appoint as many SRBs as it considers necessary, minimum three SRBs need to be registered for the Online Gaming Rules to apply to any OGI. The Online Gaming Rules

per the baseline criteria prescribed in the Rules.

RANJANA ADHIKARI FEATURE
OGI must adhere to certain general and specific due diligence
GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 21

FEATURE RANJANA ADHIKARI

do not provide any strict timeline for an SRB to make an application and be recognised by MeitY.

What is the baseline criteria prescribed by the Rules for verification of an online real money game?

Though the Online Gaming Rules give flexibility to SRBs to formulate their verification processes, the Rules stipulate that SRBs should ensure that the online real money game being verified does not “involve wagering on any outcome.” Also, the online real-money game seeking verification should have responsible gaming

mechanisms, should not be offered to minors and should have safeguards to protect against user harm.

How can an entity register itself as an SRB?

To become a registered SRB, the entity has to be a not-for-profit company under India’s Companies Act 2013. Its Board of Directors should comprise of at least seven individuals from different fields with no conflict of interest. Some of the criteria for registration of an SRB are slightly vague and subjective in nature and may require an SRB to build its case before MeitY on

how it meets those requirements.

Once an SRB is registered with MeitY, it will be allowed to grant/revoke/suspend the verification of an ‘online real-money game’ as a ‘permissible online game.’ Other than the guidance provided in the Online Gaming Rules, the process of verification and suspension/revocation will mostly be as per SRB’s discretion. Among its other duties, an SRB also needs to appoint a Grievance Officer and frame a grievance redressal framework, as well as ensure that its member OGIs and the ‘permissible online game(s)’ verified by it followall due diligence requirements under the Rules.

What

is

the Grievance Redressal Mechanism under the Online Gaming Rules?

The Online Gaming Rules provide for grievance redressal between OGIs and users, and between OGI and SRB through therespective Grievance Officers of an OGI or an SRB. While OGIs and SRBs have been provided with separate grievance redressal mechanisms, the resolution window for an OGI is very limited in certain matters depending on its sensitivity. Any person aggrieved by the order of the Grievance Officer may file an appeal before the Central Government-appointed Grievance Appellate Committees (“GAC”).

IN LIEU OF A CONCLUSION

The Online Gaming Rules are India’s maiden attempt at a central online gaming law. While the Rules attempt to promote ease of doing business by putting in place a uniform regulation for online gaming, they do not directly address the thorny issue of legislative competence of the central and the state governments which may lead to multiplicity of conflicting laws, unnecessary litigation and instability in policy making. While the interplay of state laws with the Online Gaming Rules will be debated (and may even be adjudicated by courts) over the coming months, online skill gaming operators will have a stronger case to present before their investors, financial service intermediaries and marketeers; and instil greater consumer confidence.

22 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM
“IT Rules 2021, is a light-touch approach to regulate tech-driven industries. The tech sector is fast-evolving and requires flexible and agile regulations – something traditional lawmaking cannot always provide”
Mumbai

In focus: Evoplay

Revolutionising Asia´s betting and casino experience with innovative titles

Evoplay is the ultimate choice for online slot games, offering an outstanding portfolio of casino games that help vendors achieve excellence in all their metrics. With their exclusive and thrilling betting experiences, Evoplay is revolutionising Asia’s betting and casino experience with innovative titles that attract a diverse range of audiences, from computer gamers to sports bettors to new players.

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SPORTS BETTORS

As more people in Asia are starting to bet on sports, making up 30-40% of the global gambling market, there is an opportunity for casinos to provide players with new and interesting ways to bet. Evoplay acknowledged this and created a cross-sell solution to help sportsbooks keep bettors engaged during matches and periods when no football fixtures are scheduled. This solution also assists casinos in engaging the audience of those betting on sports.

‘Evoplay’s games are designed with the

player at the forefront, attracting all sorts of audiences.’

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT: ASIA´S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER TITLE

Evoplay’s Penalty Shoot-out, part of its Football Pack, has seen soaring heights in the Asian market during the World Cup, making it one of the most sought-after online casino games in the industry. The title is specifically designed to keep players interested and engaged on sportsbook websites, thus increasing the likelihood of placing more bets and generating more revenue for the sportsbooks. Its games present a unique and exciting experience, adding to the thrill of the betting experience and making it even more enjoyable for players.

INNOVATIVE BETTING OPTIONS

Penalty Shoot-out beats all its metrics and offers an innovative betting method for sports bettors. In this title, players can:

• Experience a realistic penalty shootout game, which is similar to that of live fixtures

• Choose the country they want to represent

• Point and shoot at the goalpost, just like a real penalty

This game creates a sense of familiarity for sports bettors and expands the range of betting options for players to enjoy.

SCORE THE PENALTY WITH EVOPLAY

As the sports betting market continues to grow, casinos that partner with Evoplay can take advantage of this opportunity to offer their users something different and exciting. Evoplay’s games are innovative and engaging, which can help casinos increase user engagement, retention and revenue.

Evoplay is continually innovating and creating another game similar to Penalty Shoot-out, with another title cooking up for their Q3.

If you are interested in integrating this innovative game, or any of their titles, into your sportsbook website or online casino, contact Evoplay at business@evoplay.games for more information.

24 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM COMPANY PROFILE EVOPLAY

IN ONE PL

In focus: Bombay Live

on LatAm, India and East Asia. Indian players can expect regional favourites such as Teen Patti and Andar Bahar; meanwhile, Asian players can expect best -loved classics such as Baccarat and Dragon Tiger; the latter of which now comes with two unique side bets: Lucky Paws & Lucky Claws, where if either a Tiger or Dragon animation appears, a multiplier of up to x1,000 their bet is awarded to the player! Players can also bet on both sides of these lucky bets to increase their chance of winning. And introducing Mystic5, whereby players predicting five consecutive game rounds correctly will win a multiplier of up to 888x their bet. Across the Pacific, South American players can enjoy dedicated Spanish and Portuguese language tables, cementing further Bombay Live’s modus operandi of tailoring its offering to players all over the globe.

REAL LUXURY, REAL TABLES, REAL WINS

Introducing Bombay Live. A brand new Live Casino set to bring real-world grandeur to the online space. With a heady mix of classic Live Dealer favourites and wonderfully esoteric Asian and Indian titles, Bombay Live is taking the tailor-made VIP gaming experience to tantalising new heights. Intuitive, secure and endlessly customisable, let’s look under the hood of one of the iGaming industry’s hottest new places to play.

COMMITTED TO CUSTOMISABILITY

The first thing players and operators alike will note is Bombay Live’s unique tables are custom-built to the exact specifications of their customers’ needs. While there has long been the need for simple exclusive, branded tables, Bombay is set to change the game with advanced Green Screen technology tables and environments, for literal endless variation and animation that is responsive to gameplay. It’s a bid farewell to players interacting only with the betting box; this is functionality beyond comparison. Players will now be treated to a whole host of animated content in and around the table to make gameplay more immersive than ever before. Add to the mix immersive 4K quality streaming with impressively low latency, players won’t miss a single spectacular hand.

NOT STOPPING GLOBETROTTING

Bombay Live is composed of industry leaders from across the globe who want

to offer a Live Casino that is market focused and constantly innovating its products. With that in mind, Bombay Live has Studios around the globe, playable on all devices with an emphasis on mobile-first gameplay. Already boasting first-class Live Studios in Estonia and Poland, Bombay Live is the only licensed Live Casino Studio in Argentina to offer round-the-clock services on a variety of casino favourites, ranging from Roulette and Blackjack to Baccarat and more. Emphasis firmly placed on delivering an inimitable user experience, Bombay Live offers 24/7 support with games available in no fewer than 18 languages.

USER INTERFACE REIMAGINED

Continuing the trend of both player and mobile-first approaches, in the densely populated world of Live Casino, it’s often hard to clamour to the top; but once again, Bombay Live plants its flag firmly in this space with its attentiveness to creating a more intuitive UI.

Game controls feel more natural leading to a more seamless experience at the tables. Placing bets, re-betting and changing strategy quickly between game rounds have become effortless, leading to a much more pleasing casino experience. And when happy players remain seated, it only adds further credence to Bombay Live’s commitment to imitating land-based vibes.

MARKET FOCUSED

Not content only with doing the basics well, Bombay Live is dedicated to delivering games and languages with particular emphasis

26 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM COMPANY PROFILE BOMBAY LIVE

The magic triangle

Oscar Brodkin , Sportradar MD APAC, speaks to Gambling Insider

Editor

Could you tell us about your career and background before joining Sportradar? That’s a good question. I studied classics at Cambridge, and my dad is from a horseracing background, having been a horseracing journalist for 60 years. He did all the tips for all the papers you might know of – so I was always in the gambling world. I grew up on racecourses, bookies etc. Then, out of university, I started working for a high-frequency trading sports betting hedge fund. That’s a very long winded way of saying they make money with complex arbitrage. So I learned about Asian handicaps and Asian totals, specifically, which is obviously the main two markets in Asia.

In 2009, I had the opportunity to join Sportradar’s Integrity Services, or Security Services as it was called back then, and knew this was a great opportunity to monitor match-fixing. But to do that, you have to be an expert in the betting markets. So Asian Handicap, Asian totals, 1x2 etc. I did that for around 10 years, I moved to Asia in around 2013, moving to Hong Kong to set up an Asian operation. I worked with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), one of the biggest sports organisations in Asia. So by 2022, I’d done the integrity, I’d done risk management, I’d done consultancy with the AFC and it was time to join the sales team, heading our commercial function for all of our sport products in APAC.

Can you walk us through your current role and your day-to-day responsibilities? And did your prior experience prepare you well for the job? I speak for the region on commercial matters and execute the growth strategy. We’re trying to grow larger than some of the other regions. APAC is a growth area for Sportradar – and I also speak with our biggest customers and try to alleviate their pain points. I’m mostly in charge of quite a large sales team, but also liaise with product marketing and communications. Risk, legal and all the functions within Sportradar are funnelled into the region. So they’re in the mother ship in Europe and America, and we liaise with them here.

On whether I was prepared, I started to gain access to some customers through our Integrity Services all the way back from 2009, because a lot of the match-fixing was taking place on those very bookmakers – the big brands that you’ve heard of. So I started to get to know the customers and that prepared me a lot for the APAC region. Then, of course, I founded our own Intelligence Services, so I was used to owning and selling a product. So, yes, I feel I was well prepared.

Can you outline Sportradar’s strategy for the APAC region?

The number one on the list is to be known as the top-quality provider. We’re not the cheapest, but we’re certainly the deepest, fastest and most accurate. We have a fair amount of competition, but we’re laser focused on the strategy to rollout, to make sure the whole market knows we have the most quality. Our second point is in the product pipeline, to develop products that are tailored towards countries within the APAC region that are most exciting to us. We want to produce content and markets that are relevant for the particular country. Say, for instance, the Philippines, where NBA basketball is the most popular sport. We’ve got to have good-quality basketball data and basketball products for them to be interested. In Southeast Asia, for instance, table tennis is a large sport. It’s developing the products that are tailored and focusing on key growth areas, certain countries. This would include India, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand. And the reason I mention those four: India is a huge market that could potentially legalise; Japan is also on the road to potential legalisation; The Philippines has already legalised and Thailand is a very interesting market, where they’re sort of betwixt and between at the

28 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM FEATURE
SPORTRADAR
Tim Poole about the “magic triangle” of trading in Asia, the potential of the Indian betting market and much more

moment, with casinos and the potential for sports betting. There is huge potential. Lastly, we want to showcase our expertise in certain products, particularly around AI and VR. We think that is big in the non-sports betting industry in Asia, but not in the betting industry. And we think there’s a market for AI.

A few interesting points, there. I can certainly understand when you said you’re not the cheapest but you aim to have the best product. Because I think if every company just tries to compete on price, you have a race to the bottom and, ultimately, the product and innovation isn’t going to be as strong. Given the markets you mentioned, I think an answer I’d be interested to hear is what are the key differences between Europe, the US and Asia that sports betting companies need to consider?

They are unlike the US and to a lesser extent Europe. Asia is completely multicultural in the sense that you’ve got 20+ large gambling nations. Everyone is slightly different, whereas in Europe one product could work across several regions and, in the US, obviously we know the ‘big four’ sports. In Asia, for instance, in Thailand sepak takraw is a big sport. In Japan, they like sumo; in India, cricket is extremely popular. So there are different bettors from different countries, although interestingly enough, across Asia, the user experience is actually quite similar.

If you’ve ever opened your Amazon app and compared it to an Asian app, you’ll notice a difference between an Asian consumer and a Western consumer. Western consumers like it spaced out neatly. Yet in Asia, it’s dotted around. There are blinking lights, it’s flashy and there are coins, with a gamified experience. It’s completely different and the same translates to the betting experience.

In Europe and America, it’s very clean, very clear. In Asia, it’s about volume. It’s about different markets, specialised markets or exotic bets, as they call them, so that would be the main difference and what sports betting companies need to consider. Something else that’s important is low margin. The Asian player, on average, is concerned about margin and some of the European margins – and the traditional 1x2 prices do not fly with Asian customers. So you have to offer a very competitive product. The last main difference connected to the offering and user experience is the need for speed. The most popular casino game in the whole of Asia is baccarat. Why? Because the hand is over in eight seconds or so. You need to be able to offer quick, rapid markets, which are settled instantly and that the Asian punter can take advantage of.

When it comes to that price point, how do you prepare for that as a business? Do you just simply accept that you will make less per bet, and that you’re just going to have to generate more market share? When you’re looking at it from a bookmaker’s point of view, yes. It’s very much about driving higher turnover with a lower margin. In the end, it will make the difference – or you acquire customers cleverly, who are not so focused on a low margin. For our business, where we’re a bookmaker’s bookmaker because we do

Managed Trading Services, we’re interested in liquidity-based trading. When we’re able to view all of the turnover across a market, we’re able to give a very accurate price. So if you’re not the lowest margin and you’re not the highest turnover, you better be the most accurate in oddsmaking because then you’re not taking advantage of it so much. That’s the magic triangle: Attract the most bettors, have the lowest margin possible and then win the most money as an operator.

You mentioned India earlier and, of course, it is a market with huge potential. Specifically for Sportradar, what are your aspirations for the Indian market?

We know it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest potential market in the world – after a legalised US. Already, it’s India next and it’s an incredible opportunity. Of course, we are preparing in various ways and there are two main features we think we could tap into the Indian market with, in a regulated market. The first is technology, so you have to be able to provide value for the federations to give their rights away. They’re not just going to say ‘hey, here’s our rights.’ We’re legalising for betting so you’ve got to contribute to the sport. You have to provide graphics that are instantaneous; deep, deep data that even the teams are not aware of – even their own players are not aware of. So you have to build a technology stack that is able to add flavour to the Indian

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 29 SPORTRADAR FEATURE
“We have also opened an office in Mumbai and appointed a General Manager, Prasun Bhadani, which obviously shows that we’re looking at the Indian landscape”

legalised market when it comes. That’s the first one, and we think we have some of the technology to do that. We have one particular product called FrogBox, which is a camera solution that’s moving to computer vision, which is exciting.

The second is you’ve got to have a great trading product, so you have to be able to trade cricket better than all of the fans in India who are going to be betting on your platform. For years, we’ve been developing our premium cricket services and we believe we have one of the strongest cricket trading operations in the world. We have also opened an office in Mumbai and appointed a General Manager, Prasun Bhadani, which obviously shows we’re looking at the Indian landscape.

Finally, encompassing everything we’ve discussed so far, what goals do you have in particular for the APAC region in 2023?

We’re starting to get the message out about our richness and our quality of data, and being a reliable partner for our bookmakers. They call us in the hour of need; we have stable, reliable data and a stable, reliable platform. The second is what we want to achieve. We want to support federations in monetising their data rights. So it’s not just enough to buy their rights and do nothing with them. You have to develop certain

products along with those rights, and we’ve been quite successful at doing that – we want to do more in 2023.

The last is to launch our Managed Regulatory Services, which provides assistance to governments to legalise sports betting. There’s all this potential of legalised sports betting. But what we have found is that governments don’t know how to do it right with taxation, integrity, anti-money laundering, problem gambling and that’s what we’re working hard on to launch in 2024.

30 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM FEATURE SPORTRADAR
you have in particular for the APAC is federations in monetising their
Oscar Brodkin
“Our second point is in the product pipeline, to develop products that are tailored towards countries within the APAC region that are most exciting to us”

Global Gaming Awards Asia-Pacific 2023: Preview

The return of the Global Gaming Awards Asia-Pacific is approaching with the nominations list for the 2023 Awards now available

The event rewards gambling companies active in the Asia-Pacific region and, just as it was last year, the event will be held virtually. The Awards will consist of nine categories, just as they did in their opening year. Since 2014, the Global Gaming Awards have been, and continue to be, the most trusted and prestigious Awards in the gaming industry.

There are three Global Gaming Awards events a year. The first event of the year is held in London in February, focusing on operators and suppliers across Europe and Africa. The Asia-Pacific event is second on the calendar, followed by our flagship Global Gaming Awards event in Las Vegas, which this year will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The Global Gaming Awards are the most reputable in the industry due to their strict nomination and voting processes. Each company and individual is always nominated based on merit, and the reason for nomination is always released in the public domain.

Furthermore, winners are chosen by a panel of over 30 C-level industry execs,

with the judging process adjudicated by KPMG in the Crown Dependencies. This adjudication process is to ensure full fairness and transparency. As always, the Global Gaming Awards will be powered by Gambling Insider. All members of the Judging Panel for the Global Gaming Awards Asia 2023 will be specialists in the Asian market, as they were for the inaugural year. For the upcoming Awards, supplier Light & Wonder has bagged the most nominations with four, while NagaCorp, Wynn Macau, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Interblock and Alfastreet have all received three nominations. Nominations will, once again, cover nine categories.

These include:

• Casino Operator of the year

• Casino Supplier of the year

• Integrated Resort of the year

• Casino Product of the year

• Table Game of the year

• Corporate Social Responsibility of the year

• Digital Operator of the year

• Digital Supplier of the year

• Executive of the year

Included in these nominations is the coveted Executive of the year Award. The nominees for this Award are listed below:

• Francis Lui, Vice Chairman, Galaxy Entertainment Group

• Daesik Han, Chairman and CEO, Hann Philippines Inc

• Linda Chen, Vice Chairman, President and Executive Director, Wynn Macau

• Thomas Arasi, President & COO, Bloomberry Resorts and Solaire Resort & Casino

• Ken Jolly, VP & Managing Director – Asia, Light & Wonder

• Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO, The Hong Kong Jockey Club

• Pansy Ho, Co-Chairperson & Managing Director, MGM China

The Global Gaming Awards Asia-Pacific 2023 will be live streamed on 29 May at 5pm Macau time. The full Shortlist can be found on the Global Gaming Awards and Gambling Insider websites. The event’s Lead Partner is BetConstruct and other sponsors include Digitain, Interblock Gaming, Upgaming, Light & Wonder, Pragmatic Play and Spribe.

32 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM FEATURE GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS
Lead Partner

Preview: G2E Asia 2023

Gambling Insider previews the upcoming G2E Asia 2023, as the gambling expo returns to Macau for the first time since 2019

With Macau’s reopening at the start of 2023 signalling the last gambling stronghold to exit Covid-induced hibernation, G2E Asia 2023 will thus reflect an Asian market now fully operational for the first-time post-pandemic. This reflection of a fully functioning Asian market comes in the form of two shows in 2023, a Singapore edition from 30 May to 1 June 2023 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and the IR Expo show at the Venetian Macao, Macau, from 11 July to 13 July.

Both trade shows – Singapore and Macau – will be supplemented by a series of conference and networking events. In 2022, G2E Asia returned after a three-year hiatus, although with just one show taking place in Singapore, as Macau was still constrained by Covid-induced lockdowns.

The return (for the most part) of G2E

Asia last year saw 70+ exhibitors come together from the Asia-Pacific region, in a show that featured content on the latest market trends, innovative products and regulatory requirements.

This time around, the show marks its return to Macau for the first time since 2019, before the pandemic began in early 2020. In 2023, Macau has seen a resurgence in its status as one of the world’s top gambling hubs since January 2023, when it effectively lifted almost all Covid-19 restrictions. Visitation figures for the Chinese SAR region rose during the Chinese New Year period, setting Macau on its path to future recovery. It is no surprise, then, that G2E Asia is set to mark its return to the Venetian Macao for the first time since 2019, in tandem with the region’s own recovery. Scheduling has been released for both the Singapore and Macau event.

Macau’s first G2E event since 2019 will see themes of travel, Asian markets, art & entertainment, evolving operations and sustainability take centre stage as key industry talking points at the expo’s many scheduled conferences. Meanwhile, the Singapore iteration of G2E Asia 2023 will focus on financial outlooks, the future of gaming in Asia, as well as panels on best practices, including current issues surrounding gaming compliance and regulation.

Although the full list of attendees has yet to be determined, the eventual make-up of attendance to both Singapore and Macau’s G2E events will certainly be taken as a reflection of the industry’s excitement over Asia’s recovery; and expectations about the region’s viability as a collection of markets with the conditions for long-term investment.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 33
G2E ASIA 2023 FEATURE

The art of the cross-sell

Ivan Kravchuk , Evoplay CEO, speaks

to

At Evoplay, your thesis is that you can “transform” the casino industry by opening it up to a much bigger audience of sports bettors. Can you tell us more about this process?

Creating a product that pushes the boundaries of traditional iGaming is a part of our approach and mission as an industry innovator. Expanding iGaming to new audiences underlines our strategy, making us very proud of our reputation as a studio that approaches development in a way that dares to be different.

Introducing RNG to sports betting fans might seem like a challenge to some. Our recipe for success in this area follows a simple philosophy, making sure that the excitement of placing a bet is the same as

on a sports event, as well as having an edge over sport by being available 24/7. A great example of this is our Football Pack, a catalogue of games revolving around the world’s favourite sport. We’ve designed it in such a way that it can offer the same excitement as a sports match. For example, Penalty Shoot-out powered by RNG: just as most real shootouts have a random probability too! The result is simple, an immersive product that blurs the line between two audiences. The great thing about this is that we’re able to offer casinos a package that can broaden their audience with sports fans, as well as delivering sportsbooks with a product that can provide instant entertainment between (and after) matches. In short, it’s a win-win solution for all.

How effective do you believe this will be; is there enough of an interest in casino among sports bettors?

Without a doubt – we’ve already seen phenomenal global popularity with players in taking such an approach, with the commercial success to prove it. Of course, there’s plenty of other studios who’ve tried their hand at football, but I believe with the way we’ve packaged our product and applied our unique mathematics, we’ve got something special.

In my view, it’s all about filling the gap. You need to be able to offer a product that complements a sportsbook. So, for example, over the weekend, you have the afternoon match at 3pm, which finishes at 5pm. You then have the 7-8 pm fixtures

34 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM
FEATURE IVAN KRAVCHUK
exclusively
Gambling Insider about the idea of ‘casino betting,’ the ‘melting pot’ of multiple Asian markets that must all be treated very differently – and ‘the Messi effect’ in sports betting

in the evening. That two-hour space is where we come in, when the excitement is high, and that desire to keep the action going is there.

Instant games are the best framework for delivering such a format. We’re putting a lot of energy into this pace right now as they’re catching players’ attention so well, thanks to their simplicity, instant results and immersive themes. One can easily see why such a formula has become a great success for reaching and engaging bettors.

How do bettors in Asian markets differ from players in Europe or the US in this area?

First and foremost, Asia is a wide-ranging region, and it is better to speak about each of its countries separately. It’s a real melting pot – they all have their unique cultural differences, varied regulatory approaches and, of course, gambling preferences.

It’s easy to see that Asian countries have significant cultural differences compared to Europe and the US – and to succeed here requires a thorough examination of how to cater to that. It starts with the language, conservative nature of some regions’ residents and approach to gambling. Game preferences also vary across countries as they are greatly influenced by varied gambling heritages (particularly with land-based vs. online). However, the common feature is a big appetite for high-quality online entertainment. The smartphone culture here is really unique. It creates a demand that can boost further development while, currently, in many of its jurisdictions, the iGaming industry is still in its infancy. Of course – mobile will be what fosters this growth and we’re seeing the skip to next-gen smartphones happening in real-time.

What kind of insights did you gain from the success of your products during the World Cup?

Our Football Pack, consisting of three football-inspired games – Penalty Shoot-out, Penalty Series and Football Bet – proved to be a standout success among casino players,

sports bettors and football fans. The World Cup has created a special atmosphere that enhances this sports celebration vibe and results, in particular, the demand for sports-related content during such an event. Our data directly shows that casino products done right can target sports bettors and really engage them. The X-Factor is giving this audience what it wants – a betting feature on their favourite sport, 24/7. We successfully implemented it in our products and saw the key metrics soaring – up to 600%. What is more important, even after the World Cup, we’ve seen serious retention and the perfect product to enjoy via the comfort of their devices both during, after and between matches.

Can you tell us more about the idea of ‘casino betting?’

I would say that it is a recent trend that is steadily gaining momentum. The iGaming industry is always expanding, requiring a product that continues to capture new interest – meaning a broader audience and full-circle products, which embraces even more activity types. Such solutions are what is needed to ensuring iGaming can be a format of entertainment where every player can find a game that interests them.

For us, as a leading iGaming developer, it is an excellent opportunity to expand our portfolio with brand new products to attract players from adjacent verticals. In addition, such gaming titles are a perfect solution for establishing a brand among

various audiences, going far beyond ‘traditional’ casino players.

On a general note, what are your projections for online casino in Asia?

We live in a rapidly changing world where there is always room for changes or shifts in the direction of development. Of course, I am sure Asia has the potential to make online gaming an even more thriving vertical than it is already, with more and more countries opening the door to regulation once they see the benefits.

Without a doubt, Asian audiences are also open to innovative products, even though many still like classic types of games, due to their conservative nature and preference towards keeping with formats they already know and understand.

And, finally, what are your projections for sports betting in Asia?

Sports are popular globally, with just as much interest as other regions. We can especially see this with the ‘Messi effect,’ where global icons really appeal and serve to attract new demographics. From what we’ve seen across multiple locations, sports betting is developing by leaps and bounds. Esports also sees an extra interest in the region above others, and it’s worth mentioning that it has phenomenal growth, making Asia one of the main esports hubs of the world. It’s easy to see that esports tournaments go hand in hand with betting, so there’s plenty of potential for more growth!

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM 35
IVAN KRAVCHUK FEATURE
“A great example of this is our Football Pack, a catalogue of games revolving around the world’s favourite sport”
Ivan Kravchuk
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