SBC Leaders Magazine Issue 26

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Leading the return of retail in Italy Alexander MARTIN SKS365 Is 4 days a week enough in igaming? ISSUE 26 • MAY 2023 Evolving player tastes in Romania THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY THE FUTURE OF WORK The eternal importance of SEO FINDING THE ANSWERS


MAY 2023

6-13 Spotlight

• Alexander Martin: Spearheading Italy’s retail revival

• Brian Dean: Improving employee welfare to drive business success



• Ivana Flynn: Searching for - and finding - the answers

• A shiny new suit for affiliate marketing

• Tejinder Kumar: Lessons from outside igaming

• Getting personal with artificial intelligence

• Are gambling sponsorships losing their allure for football?



• Andi Kaufmann: Celebrating 15 years of Gamomat

• Cashing in by crashing in

• 60 seconds with Kristian Valenta

• Anthony Singer: Hitting the engagement jackpot

• Can operators safely adopt crypto payments

• Going live for entertainment and engagement



• Shirley Borg: The energetic approach to looking after people

• Are traditional work patterns outdated?



• Romania: A land of opportunity

• 001 Licence to thrill - first mover advantage in Greece

• EnjoyWin bets on Brazil becoming the next big thing

• Japan: Pachinko paradise or igaming’s next big thing

• Understanding Latin America’s regulatory progress

• UK: Trust is the balance on affordability and harm prevention



• SBC Summit Barcelona: The people who make it happen

The SBC Leaders Magazine is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community:

EDITORIAL TEAM: Erin Gallagher, Andrew McCarron, Craig Davies, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, James Ross, Lucia Mouriño, Conor Porter, Charlie Horner, Jessie Sale, Fernando Noodt Molins, Callum Williams, Viktor Kayed, Martyn Elliott, Nick Ware, Lucia Gando, Jessica Welman, Ted Orme-Claye, Danny Lee

SALES TEAM: John Cook, Rasmus Sojmark, Alyona Gromova, Conall McCabe, Jan Kowalczyk, Richard Deacon, Bob McFarland, Craig Brown, Juan Ospina

All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of Sports Betting Community Ltd. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors it may contain. Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of any material, solicited or unsolicited. The views in the publication are not necessarily the views of Sports Betting Community Ltd or those of the advertisers.

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Welcome to Issue 26 of SBC Leaders Magazine!

As I write this from an office in the north-west of England, the view out of the window is of a stereotypically overcast sky, filled with dark clouds that promise a prolonged spell of drizzle. By contrast, if you’re reading a print copy of the magazine, you are almost certainly enjoying some Mediterranean sunshine at CasinoBeats Summit in Malta.

One of the key elements of the (hopefully) sun-drenched event is a high-level conference examining the future of the international igaming industry. And this edition of SBC Leaders sets the scene for some of the discussions at the Summit.

From Italy, we spoke to SKS365 CEO Alexander Martin, who told us that igaming in general and live casino in particular is growing in popularity. Interestingly, he remains just as excited by the country's vast retail sector and the role it plays in society, providing a muchneeded setting for socialising, watching sport and playing games.

Our whistle stop tour of the world’s markets also explores evolving player tastes in Romania, how to succeed in Greece, preparations for launch in Brazil, legislative progress in Latin America, Japan’s enduring love of Pachinko and the challenge of affordability checks in the UK.

Of course, operators in every jurisdiction need great products, and we take a look at some of the potentially game-changing

releases new to the market. We give you the lowdown on everything from AI-driven CRM systems to online casino player engagement tools and dedicated live casino studios.

Those great products only make a difference if they actually reach the player, so another important thread in the magazine is marketing. We hear from ComeOn Group’s SEO Director Ivana Flynn about why search remains a key channel, examine the future of gambling sponsorships in football, and take in Finixio CCO Tejinder Kumar’s thoughts on what igaming affiliates can learn from their counterparts in the financial world.

Tying everything in the industry together are the HR functions that focus on the crucial issues of recruitment, performance and staff welfare. Two of the leading practitioners from operators discuss their employee wellbeing initiatives, while we also look at whether a four-day working week could be beneficial for igaming businesses.

And before I sign off on the first edition of this magazine that I have edited, I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Erin Gallagher.

Over the last two years, Erin has transformed SBC Leaders and created a publication that people across the industry want to read, and also want to be featured in.

Her exclusive interviews with many of the most influential figures in the industry have been particular highlights, getting to the heart of what it takes to be a leader in the betting and gaming sector, and generating some real talking points.

I’m delighted to say that Erin will continue to contribute to the magazine, so you can look forward to reading more of her outstanding work in the coming months. 5

Alexander MARTIN

6 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 Shop for success


Online betting and igaming may be becoming more popular in Italy, but as SKS365 ’s CEO ALEXANDER MARTIN explains, retail and cash remain key drivers for success in the market.

When Alexander Martin was appointed CEO of SKS365 in late 2019, it appeared to be an ideal pairing.

SKS365’s shareholders had secured the services of an executive with a Board position at Gauselmann Group on his CV, along with a wealth of experience of digital transformation projects from both his work in the gaming industry and his years with global management consulting firm


For Martin, it was an opportunity to take charge of a well-established but still ambitious company that, with its network of 1,000 Planetwin365 shops and a strong online presence, was one of the market leaders in Italy’s vast betting and gaming industry.

As with everything in life though, timing is crucial.

Any thoughts of a prolonged honeymoon period in the job were brought to a juddering halt when

Covid-19 arrived on Italy’s shores in early 2020 and proceeded to have a devastating impact on, in particular, the north of the country.

For SKS365, the pandemic forced a significant and almost immediate rethink to all its plans when lockdown restrictions meant it went from 1,000 shops to no open premises almost overnight.

“Clearly, it was not the best starting point,” Martin recalled. “The good thing is, I still had a window of opportunity to 7 SPOTLIGHT

see all the offices, to travel to some of our shops, to meet the key employees and hold some gatherings in various parts of the company. So that gave me a good flavour.

“Then all of a sudden, Covid started early in Italy - and you’ll remember that it was quite severe in the Milan region. The country started to lock down quite rapidly, so we all shifted to entirely remote working.

“From one day to another, the shops were open and then they were closed, and we had to focus purely on the online operation.”

The situation got more difficult when public health measures meant that Italian football was halted, depriving bettors of their favourite sport and the country’s operators of a significant source of revenue.

What then happened during the months of the pandemic restrictions underlined why Martin was the right choice to lead SKS365, as the operator emerged from the disruption stronger than ever.

Martin, however, is too modest to take credit for the successful survival and revival efforts, instead saying: “Thanks to the staff and the employees across the whole company, we [switched the focus to online] quite smoothly and quite effectively. The team worked intensively and were highly committed, working long hours to adapt to the new model.”

That new model was not just for the Covid era though, as the working

practices developed to see the company through a crisis period have resulted in some long-term changes. Most notable is WORK.LIVE. PLAY. initiative (detailed on the page 10) that has embedded flexibility and employee wellbeing at the centre of the company’s culture.

Heading online

One thing Covid did was bring about a change in customer behaviour, or at least accelerate a trend that was already growing, by prompting both igaming players and sports bettors to explore online options.

“Online is getting more and more established and there was really, let me say, a leapfrog in terms of when Corona took place,” said Martin. “It had been growing steadily, but then it became 100 per cent [of the market] instantly and lots of players who had never played online before started to and growth accelerated.

“Certainly lots of players have been going back to play in the slots arcades post-Covid, but online has a broader market share than it had before.”

For SKS365, this growth in the popularity of online means it now

accounts for nearly one-third of all operations. Online casino has grown particularly rapidly, with one vertical seeing a sharp upturn in activity levels.

Martin explained: “One of the trends we're seeing is more appetite for live casino. Maybe this is one of the lasting changes from the Covid pandemic. People want to have a little bit of that casino feeling and given the option to play table games either with the machine or with a live dealer, more and more people are choosing to go with the live dealer.”

With Planetwin365-branded live tables and Italian dealers, along with game shows from suppliers including Evolution and Playtech, live casino is an area SKS365 is investing in. However, it is still far from being the company’s biggest igaming product.

“People want to become more interactive and get a little bit more entertainment from the games,” said Martin. “But the biggest player audience, and still the majority, wants to have high-volatility slots, quick spins and that kind of fun.”

Retail revival

While the pandemic restrictions may have driven adoption of online gaming in Italy, lockdown also appears to have had a surprising impact on the country’s dominant retail sector. And for the future of the 1,000 Planetwin365 betting shops, it is good news.

“We have been seeing a much higher return to the retail side than

8 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 Shop for success

we actually anticipated,” Martin revealed. “Certainly the percentage online is higher than it was in the past, but sports betting players still want to connect, talk about the games and follow and watch the matches together.”

on some evenings, even on weekdays, we have hundreds of customers in the shops. People want to go out again.”

Cash as a service

The primary form of payment in the Planetwin365 network of betting shops is cash, something that is also central to another key initiative for SKS365.

Two years ago, the company launched PlanetPay365, a multi-service platform that allows consumers to pay for hundreds of products and services - from online shopping orders and concert tickets to mobile phone topups and utility bills - using cash.

split between people who can afford nearly everything and those who find their finances are quite tight. Those who have lower incomes often don't have a credit card and sometimes don’t even have a bank account, and when it comes to paying a utility bill, they need to do that in cash.”

PlanetPay365 is available in far more places than Planetwin365 betting shops, as terminals are being installed in locations such as private coffee shops and tobacconists to allow consumers to pay their bills or do some ‘online’ shopping as they go about their everyday business.

SKS365 has identified the idea of sport as a communal experience as a real opportunity to engage with customers and has invested accordingly.

“We uplifted many of our shops at a time when, as in lots of countries, other places where you could come together in person have not reopened. Since Covid, restaurants and bars have been disappearing,” Martin said.

“But we have invested heavily in our betting shop locations to make them really like entertainment places, places where you want to be, where you have the option to sit down and watch multiple matches.

“The design includes a big screen for the major game and various screens for other matches. We also have virtuals and horse racing in our shops, with their own dedicated zones.

“So we have been developing our places and creating more spaces that people really like to stay in and have a nice evening out.”

Martin, who described himself as an existing “strong believer in retail” when he joined SKS365 in 2019, is delighted to see that the investment in new modular shop designs and better locations for the licensed premises is already showing signs of delivering results.

“The uplift of the product and customer experience in the shops has been paying back nicely over the last years and it continues to do so,” he revealed. “It's highly recognised by our customers that we are investing and that we provide nice places to meet like-minded people and watch games together.

“I'm travelling constantly to our shops to see their performance and to hear the real voice of our customers. And

Martin, who has extensive experience in the payments space from his work with Kearney and Gauselmann, believes PlanetPay365 has great commercial potential and also represents a valuable service for consumers who are yet to embrace, or who have been excluded from, the digital revolution.

“We're seeing more and more demand from people who want to pay in cash,” he said.

“It's quite funny, even ecommerce companies have customers that would like to pay in cash - but when they went to the payment options, there were no outlets there. But now they can choose to pay in cash by going to a PlanetPay365 outlet, showing a QR code and handing over the money to complete the order.

“In my experience, the population is, unfortunately, getting more and more

Martin added: “We have an exclusive partnership with Ticketone, which is owned by Eventim, and sells tickets for not only football matches, but also all kinds of concerts and theatre productions. You can go to a PlanetPay365 location, buy your tickets in cash and print them out.

“Nearly all the functions it offers could be done online, but people prefer to do many of them in a retail cash environment.”

The payment platform is not the only product development SKS365 has worked on in recent times, as it has also launched the and websites, and branded AWP slot machines and VLTs. This progress in the transformation plan has left Martin feeling quietly satisfied.

“The company, customer-wise, product-wise and people-wise is doing quite well,” he concluded. • 9


The pandemic resulted in a wealth of changes across the betting and gaming industry. For BRIAN DEAN, Chief People Officer for SKS365, the most important of them was in how employers look after their team members.

Media coverage of the betting and gaming industry’s response to the disruption to business resulting from Covid-related restrictions largely focused on the threat to the long-term viability of retail operations and the growth of the online segment.

Both these issues were acutely felt in Italy, where the popularity of highstreet betting shops and slots arcades meant the land-based industry was twice the size of the online sector. For omnichannel operator SKS365, which faced the enforced shuttering of its 1,000 Planetwin365 retail outlets, the situation forced it to display significant adaptability.


Among the things it focused on as it navigated the difficult days of the pandemic were improving working


practices and staff welfare. The results of its efforts were so positive that the company’s Chief People Officer Brian Dean decided to stick with the new approach permanently.

In September 2021, SKS365 formally adopted the WORK.LIVE.PLAY. (WLP) model and in doing so enshrined flexible working as the norm across Italy’s fifth biggest betting & gaming operator.

WLP offers employees a personalised working routine that balances the needs of the company with those of the individual. The set-up allows workers to choose between 100 per cent remote, 100 per cent officebased, and hybrid working, as long as their choice enables them to fulfil the requirements of their role.

The flexibility even extends to people having the opportunity to work from abroad or to spend the whole summer with their family.

When the programme was first announced, Dean promised that it would involve no changes to the number of hours and no adjustments to salaries, holiday entitlement or benefits.

"No obstacles for people's careers, no one will be penalised or left behind if they decide to work 100 per cent remotely,” he said.

Twenty months on, WLP has been declared a success. Not just by SKS365’s leadership team, but also by the Top Employers Institute, which has recognised the company’s commitment to its people by certifying it as one of the best employers in Italy.

The accolade delighted Dean, but it was not as important to him as the difference that WLP has made to both the success of the company and the wellbeing of its workers.

He told SBC Leaders: “These unprecedented times give us the opportunity to redefine the relationship between the employer and the employees, and realise the immense impact of people strategy and culture on the outcomes in the business. It also emphasised the need for the People & Culture function to stay close to the business in order to support it in achieving its aspirations.

“WORK.LIVE.PLAY. perfectly identifies the HR commitment to aligning the initiatives - training, workshops, activities, etc - with the direction of the business. But what makes the difference in this journey is the continuous and valuable contribution of our employees, who played a crucial role in helping the company

and the People function in navigating the business through this dynamic transformation that involves both workplace and culture.


“I am truly glad to see how they embraced it and how positive the impact of the new WLP culture is on our people in terms of performance, engagement, and retention.”

The enforced changes to working practices during the pandemic revealed that some long-standing methods of doing things were no longer the most effective options.

New technology, improved connectivity and modern attitudes to family life should perhaps have brought about a much earlier re-evaluation of working practices across the entire business world, but the flexibility shown by both workers and employers during lockdowns demonstrated the need for change. 11



When launching WLP, Dean spoke of the need to “encourage people to feel free from outdated bonds and anachronistic dynamics that add nothing to individual productivity or performance”.

He added: “It is not the presence or physical attendance that we are interested in nourishing, but the moral aspect, the motivation and commitment of our employees: this is what we have always been aiming for.

“We are deeply convinced that a winning approach is based on finding the right balance between work, psychophysical wellbeing and free time. Employee satisfaction and wellbeing lead to higher employee productivity.”

That improved productivity was evidenced during the months of the pandemic, and with SKS365’s workforce remaining committed to making WLP a success, the business benefits continue to be seen across the company’s four office locations - Serbia, Malta, Austria and Italy.

There is no sign of Dean and his HR team resting on their laurels though, and they persist in driving through new initiatives designed to further improve the work-life balance of employees. Which in turn, that helps to improve the performance of workers and supports the company in achieving its commercial goals.

One important initiative they launched in the final quarter of 2022 was a three-month programme of activities focused on breaking down the stigma around talking about mental health and educating employees about the importance of taking care of themselves.

#BREAKTHESTIGMA featured group education sessions, on-site professional counselling with expert therapists, nutritional advice, yoga and fitness sessions, and support for each individual.

It also formalised the group’s Wellness Time initiative, which sees employees given half a day per month to spend as they choose outside the office, in order to encourage them to

switch off from the pressures of work. Dean hopes that this will prove to be a vital part of a company culture that puts real value on support for team members’ mental health.

“All the initiatives we are going to deliver to our people are the result of our efforts to create and nurture a thriving work environment where people feel valued, appreciated and supported in voicing their needs,” Dean concluded. • 13

Come on, find me


THE MARKETING MIX IS ALWAYS EVOLVING for operators but, as ComeOn Group’s SEO Director Ivana Flynn explains, the importance of SEO is a constant.


Flynn is better placed than most to comment on the role of SEO in the igaming industry, as she is recognised as one of the sector’s foremost experts.

She already had six years of search experience in extremely competitive niches when she joined Betsson Group as an SEO Specialist in 2016. Roles at Catena Media and Mr Green / William Hill International - where she became Head of SEO - followed, before she moved to ComeOn Group last year.

Delegates at this year's CasinoBeats Summit will benefit from all that accumulated expertise when Flynn hosts the SEO Trilogy, a series of discussions designed to educate the audience about this complex discipline. Ahead of the conference, she talked to SBC Leaders about the role of SEO and where it fits in operators’ wider promotional strategies.

SBC: In the ever-changing online world, where YouTubers and TikTok influencers have a stranglehold on young adults’ viewing and celebrity brand ambassadors grab attention, why does SEO remain a key part of the marketing mix for operators?

IF: SEO is one channel that can be present everywhere. SEO is the cheapest acquisition channel and it brings customers with the highest value. If you are missing out on SEO, you are missing out on a lot!

Naturally, and I keep saying it all the time, SEO does not stand alone. We are a part of a whole marketing funnel and we are supported by the activities that other channels do, such as YouTube or TikTok that can help with brand awareness and building up user intentthese are things SEO cannot do.

But what SEO can do is to turn these interested viewers into valuable customers as we sit at the end of the marketing funnel.

SBC: How does the SEO function fit alongside PPC ads and affiliates, which often feature highly in SERPs for gambling-related phrases, even for brand names?

IF: SEO and PPC should work in harmony, as everything and anything that PPC does influences SEO. However,

SEO activities do not anyhow impact PPC results. Naturally, both channels are vital for the overall marketing success, so I recommend that the PPC and SEO

websites as they choose to read about different offers from the operators and then redeem offered bonuses.

Affiliation brings valuable players just like PPC does. Marketing is not just SEO, and only a healthy mix with quality affiliate and PPC traffic can bring you balanced long-lasting marketing success.

teams work closely together. When it comes to affiliates, they usually target slightly different keywords than operators. Where we go for ‘casino’ they would go for ‘casinos’. They answer a different user intent as they offer opinions, reviews and comparison. They are very welcome in the SERPs space!

Naturally, there are customers who will prefer to convert via affiliate

SBC: With Google’s algorithm everevolving, and subject to regular major updates, how can operators hope to keep up? Is it a case of changing strategy with every update or more a case of consistently implementing white hat techniques?

IF: Google keeps changing all the time. We saw two big updates in December that really changed up the SERPs. We saw more than 90 updates in 2022 and this year is not going to be any less crazy when it comes to Google.

I can only recommend having your website technically good, so 15 MARKETING

it can be crawled and indexed. Have good content that answers to E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) principles, make sure you have a logical internal linking structure and support your website with nicherelevant links.

Google is not really secretive about what websites it likes to rank.

SBC: Where should operators target their investment in SEO - in-house, agencies, or a mixture? And are there any particular benefits or drawbacks of working with agencies?

IF: I believe that having a strong inhouse SEO team is a must these days. Not just for operators but for affiliates as well.

Agencies cannot be there 24/7 and we see issues that require constant attention. For example, an in-house SEO team is there when we are experiencing DDOS attacks, but the agency might not be available at any given moment.

Having said that, you always need a good external agency to support you. We use top tier agencies that are experts within the igaming space to help us with content and links, and I believe this is the correct approach to have, once again, a good healthy mixture.

SBC: What sort of impact might new technologies, such as Web3 and the Metaverse, have on the roles of SEO specialists?

IF: So far, there is not much of a

change for us when it comes to Web3 or Metaverse. Of course there is a lot of chatter of ‘Is SEO going to die with Web3?’ John Mueller of Google says ‘simply no’ and I am with him.

I think Web3 and Metaverse will reshape how we do SEO, just like ChatGPT, but SEO will not be dead anytime soon. That is simply not true. Our work as SEOs will change, but SEO will not die due to new technology coming our way.

SBC: You are running a trio of SEO sessions at the CasinoBeats Summit conference. What can you tell us about them?

IF: I am very excited about the trilogy as it will give a bit more insight into SEO from the start to the strategy! I hope it will be beneficial for all companies unsure if they need SEO, for people that are in SEO and want to learn more from the amazing experts that will join me on the stage, and for anyone who is looking for a new career and is considering SEO.

We will discuss the technical set up at the very first session - why is it important, dos and don'ts, and much more.

The second session is dedicated to affiliates and we will be talking about strategy and how to create different strategies for saturated and unsaturated markets. Affiliates are masters in finding the new hot markets, so I believe we will learn a thing or two!

Lastly, SEO does not exist in a marketing vacuum. We are a part of a bigger marketing channel and the third session will focus on exactly that - where does SEO sit within the funnel and how to work with all the other channels to make your marketing strategy a successful one. •

CasinoBeats Summit 2023 takes place at the Intercontinental, Malta on 23-25 May. Ivana Flynn’s SEO Trilogy is part of the conference agenda for 25 May. 17 MARKETING Come on, find me


In markets around the world, igaming affiliate marketers are having to keep a close eye on both regulatory and technological developments, and how they combine to influence how business is done.

Misha Kachanov, Head of the Affiliate Department at - a source of information about slot games, online casinos and game developersnoted that 2022 was very rich in terms of the regulation of markets and that from the outset, 2023 appears to be little different.

“Unfortunately, strict regulations often harm the affiliate business and

the igaming sector in the region where such rules apply,” Kachanov said.

“That's why we at SlotCatalog are convinced that everyone involved in affiliate marketing in gambling should think about bringing value to the players.

“That is the presence of a specific product feature useful for players. It is worth building a product first because, in the next year, we will see a market shift towards businesses with a product."

With the UK’s Gambling Act review around the corner, Brazilian legislative action on the horizon and legal betting still a major talking point in the US,

affiliates need to ensure they are versatile and adaptable to any potential changes.

Take North America, where some states have taken an easy-going approach to affiliate marketing, whilst the newly launched regulated market in Massachusetts has taken a much stricter approach, including limiting revenue share agreements.

However, Triston Smook, Head of Affiliates at Betsson Group, believes that affiliation will always be “at the front line” of operators’ business development.

“We need to be agile, prepared, and ready to go on short notice,” he said.

18 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 AI for affiliates
After a transformative period for online casinos, three industry experts look at what the next big changes for igaming affiliate marketers will be.
Sam Segal CEO & Co-Founder at MediaTroopers

“With new technology developing like Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is on a rapid growth trend, it allows affiliate marketing more opportunity to get into a market quickly.

“This increases the shelf life for new brands entering uncharted waters and gives them a fighting chance for survival.”

Smook added that new affiliate tools had not just improved Betsson’s capabilities, but had given it a “fighting edge with bigger muscles and punching accuracy”.

As a multinational operator with licences in jurisdictions in Europe, North America and Latin America, and active in both B2B and B2C areas, Betsson is more than familiar with the differing regulatory frameworks affiliate marketers have to navigate.

However, Smook also observed that changes in regulation have been accompanied by changes in tech and business development. Again, Smook pointed to the massive potential of AI for affiliate marketers.

“Gone are the days of cold calling hoping for success,” he added. “The old lines, ‘what markets are you promoting?’ or ‘what traffic volumes do you get monthly?’ are now easier to verify with a click of a button.

“We are now able to target the right publishers to spend our budgets with, ensuring greater success for Return on

Investment (ROI). Affiliation has a shiny new suit, and it's powered by robots.”

AI has become a talking point across various sectors, but betting stakeholders in both the operator and supplier spaces have become increasingly attracted to the possibilities offered by the technology.

With major players such as Entain probing developments - the company invested £100m into its Ennovate platform last year, which serves to investigate the potential of emerging tech such as AI - it is hardly surprising that affiliate marketing firms have also looked to its possibilities.

Sam Segal, CEO & Co-Founder of MediaTroopers, also pointed to the development of AI as increasingly influential in the industry.

He explained: “When you have a passion for this industry, being successful is only part of the equation. The other half relates to how the industry is evolving and ways that affiliates can stay ahead of the game.

“One of the most promising creative approaches for affiliates this year lies with AI.

"AI is a tool that affiliates can use to produce new ideas, generate engaging content, and develop original creatives suited to run on multiple verticals and across media channels.

“Not to mention, it can learn which


content engages different customers and tailor-make its strategy for each user. Furthermore, it can do all of this in large quantities without sacrificing on quality.”

Segal explained that in the industry, content is key. In recent years, there has been a shift from needing to have engaging text, to short videos, to a combination of the two in order to generate quality players.

Ask many marketers, whether working in the affiliate space or not, about content and the likely response is that ‘content is king’.

It is unsurprising then that Segal emphasised the need for affiliates to bear this in mind, especially after the content-driven marketing successes of major football tournaments in recent years, coupled with ever-developing AI technology.

“AI will help save affiliates time in creating this content and determining which channel to run it on, so that we can look for the next innovative approach,” he concluded. • 19 MARKETING
Triston Smoo Head of Affiliates at Betsson Group

From crypto to casino


ONLINE CASINO AFFILIATES have proved hugely effective in driving player acquisition for operators, but there are things they can learn from other industries.

Tejinder Kumar CCO at Finixio

Sometimes a little perspective from outside the industry helps to bring clarity. Tejinder Kumar is ideally placed to offer that outsider view, as the career path that led to his current role as Chief Commercial Officer at the affiliate marketing specialist Finixio did not feature igaming.

Having moved to the UK from India to study in 2007, Kumar forged a successful sales and marketing career in the fintech and trading space, including roles as Regional Manager UK & Ireland for eToro and as Global Head of Sales for the Zonda cryptocurrency exchange.

To summarise: he’s a sales professional with extensive expertise of customer acquisition in B2C digital industries. So how has he found his first taste of the igaming sector since his move to Finixio in August 2022?

“It's definitely exciting. I’ve taken the last seven or eight months to understand the whole industry, because while I have worked with affiliates in the past it was more in fintech and forex trading, so igaming is definitely new,” said Kumar.

“My initial impression is that it is highly competitive, a dynamic sector growing at a very fast pace thanks to technological advancements. It is constantly evolving and adopting new trends and technologies, making it a really exciting and challenging field to be in.

“So obviously, there's a lot for me to learn and understand. And I'm learning every day.”

The lessons have included gaining an understanding of where online casino affiliates are ahead of those marketing specialists he used to partner with in previous roles.

Kumar explained: “One thing I’ve realised the igaming and casino platforms in general do quite well already is the targeting of the right customers.

“Obviously, it's all data driven - it’s about what the players are doing, what the clients are doing, which stage of the user journey they are in. And based on the data that they get, the

marketing campaigns and the targeting of them is fantastic.”

However, he has also identified some areas for improvement.

“There are definitely a few things that the industry can pick up from financial services, especially in customer acquisition where you have to build a strong relationship with your clients or players,” he continued.

“That’s established in financial services, where customers trust the platform to hold what can be large sums of money - savings, investments, pension pots, vitally important things. Whereas at this point, I believe the igaming industry doesn't have that much trust from the players. Players wouldn’t trust that they could put large

sums into their casino accounts.

“And related to the trust factor is confidence which, again, the financial sector is very good at instilling in their customers. You can only do that by making sure everything is right for your players, for your customers.

“Player retention should always be at the forefront. Make sure you're constantly improving your platform and make sure you're constantly improving your support function to deal with queries in a timely manner. If your website says you’ll resolve issues in 24 hours, make sure they are dealt with in 22.”

One other relationship that Kumar would like to improve is that between affiliates and their B2B customers. Having relied on affiliate partners to generate leads in previous roles, he now has a real understanding of what all parties want from a deal and ideas for how to make both sides happier.

“Sometimes those working relationships can be a little bit more challenging because the goals and motives are different. Obviously the 21 MARKETING

broker wants to get more high-quality traffic and the affiliate wants to get paid a little bit more for providing that high-quality traffic,” he said.

“This is where transparency and communication, especially around the rev sharing model, becomes crucial. To improve these partnerships, both sides need to make sure they're clear about expectations and goals.”

He illustrated the importance of communicating and aligning goals by recalling a situation in which one customer had complained that a particular funnel was not performing well. On investigation, he discovered that although the funnel was for a nonEnglish speaking geo, the landing page for the campaign on the client’s website was in English. Once the two parties started speaking, the route to improved performance became obvious.

“I guess the expectations for goals need to be clear for everyone, so they need to be pre-agreed before undertaking the work,” Kumar added. “And it is crucial to have regular communication between the affiliate and the igaming operator. A weekly or monthly call in which both parties analyse the data ensures there are no surprises and everything is there in black and white.”

That approach is something he is focused on delivering at Finixio, which runs more than 80 websites populated by an in-house content team across a number of niches. The editorial operation is backed by SEO expertise and influencer marketing to drive

traffic and revenue.

“As one of the biggest digital marketing firms out there at the moment, we definitely pride ourselves on providing our operator partners with high-quality traffic,” said Kumar. “Many of our partners have been with us since day one and when it comes to igaming, we deal with all the big names in the industry.

spending decisions.

“Affiliates can obviously explore new partnerships and collaborations with influencers, and igaming operators can definitely use these channels to their advantage if they have the means,” he said. “I'm pretty sure some of these influencers and celebrities like to play online games so, as long as it is above board and ok with the regulators, then it’s happy days.”

Social media is not the only trend that Kumar believes affiliates have to stay up to date with, as he regards technologies such as blockchain, Web3 and artificial intelligence as transformational for igaming.

“They love working with us because we offer a collaborative and transparent approach to partnerships with a focus on building long-term relationships. They know we deliver. It's not just a case of we want the money, we also deliver what we say we will deliver.”

A focus on service levels should be part of every company’s plans, but for igaming affiliates it is likely to prove particularly important in the coming years due to the unrelenting pace of change in the industry and the seemingly low barriers to market entry for marketing companies in most territories.

In Kumar’s view, one key challenge for affiliates is how to “stay relevant in the rapidly changing landscape” in which the recommendations of social media celebrities and sports stars exert huge influence on consumers’

“With something as big as the igaming industry, this technology absolutely presents a whole new era of opportunities. From things as practical as using blockchain to eliminate fraud to developments that I can’t yet imagine - by the time I’m 60 years old, igaming could be like something from sci-fi - the opportunities to innovate are huge,” he enthused.

“The industry is going to get even more crazy over the next five years, more competitive and more challenging, as the metaverse keeps bringing us more exciting, cool stuff. So affiliates need to make sure they stay on top of things to remain relevant and competitive.

“But at the same time, they have to remember the basics. The industry is going to be even more focused on data-driven marketing and analytics to deliver results both for affiliates and the igaming operators.” •

22 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 MARKETING From crypto to casino


CRM IS AN INTEGRAL PART of any operator’s engagement and retention strategy, but one of the key challenges that many face is creating truly personalised campaigns. Is artificial intelligence the way forward? 23 The Fast Track to the future MARKETING

Fast Track started 2023 off with a bang with the launch of its autoregressive language AI model, which it believes will “revolutionise the way CRM is done in the igaming industry”.

The model draws upon artificial intelligence, machine learning and functions such as ChatGPT to create “human-like”, multi-level marketing campaigns that can be localised to each audience.

From an operator perspective, this will theoretically create a highlypersonalised engagement strategy. Following the launch, SBC Leaders caught up with Simon Lidzén, CEO and Co-Founder of Fast Track, to discuss how Generative AI is reimagining CRM as we know it.

SBC: Firstly, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We’re a few months into 2023, tell us about the ChatGPT integration at Fast Track and what sparked the decision to carry it out?

SL: We have been eagerly anticipating the release of such a technology as it

takes the Singularity Model within Fast Track to the next level.

Fast Track was created with a vision to digitalise the igaming industry and deliver the first self-learning platform. This integration was the natural evolution which takes us one step closer to transforming this vision into reality.

Our platform has reimagined the way in which CRM is conducted, no longer limiting teams to build one campaign to target one group of players at a time.

Through the integration with OpenAI our partners can now effortlessly create content and campaigns in just minutes, eliminating an entire process which used to last days to have a campaign go from concept to send-out within minutes.

This truly allows our partners to scale with 1:1 experiences - the ultimate level of personalisation.

SBC: How will you use ChatGPT to further enhance your existing engagement and retention strategies?

SL: As I brushed over in the last answer, the biggest benefit of this integration is its ability to redefine how our partners produce content.

The workflow has gone from thinking of a campaign, having a copywriter create the content, having it approved by compliance, having translators localise the copy and then creating the promo page, email, SMS push notifications etc to implementing it - all of which takes days. To simply clicking a button, choosing an action and trigger, and having the system generate compliant content that has already been translated for multiple markets, within minutes.

Through the Singularity Model, our partners can effortlessly create a content library packed with offers, bonuses and newsletters which are relevant to their brand, and our AI model can pick the right offer for each

24 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 The Fast Track to the future

player and send it out via the player’s preferred channel at a time the player usually logs on.

Of course, content creation is only one component of player engagement. Other factors such as understanding player behaviour and real-time data analysis also play an important role in creating effective engagement strategies.

Our system enables operators to significantly speed up their testing and learning process, leading to greater potential for growth and scalability of their operations.

SBC: ChatGPT has been something that has captured the interest of many from within the betting industry and also from other sectors. In your opinion, is this the future for player engagement?

SL: While ChatGPT is definitely one component of player engagement, it's

important to remember that it's not the only one. A crucial aspect of effective engagement is using a machine learning model to determine the right content at the right time.

Real-time data analysis is also key to understanding what works and what doesn't. Looking to the future, it will take a combination of these factors to drive effective player engagement.

SBC: On an industry-wide level, how will this ‘throw the cat among the pigeons’, so to speak?

SL: Operators who adopt AI technology early and use it to their advantage will have a competitive advantage over those who don't.

If you're not using AI in your business today, it's time to start those conversations and find partners - like us - to help you stay ahead of the curve.

SBC: What are the challenges of such an integration when it comes to changing regulatory environments?

SL: In fact, we believe this type of technology can be a great tool to support regulatory frameworks and help operators avoid huge fines.

As the model evolves and becomes more connected, it can quickly adapt to changes in regulations, ensuring that campaigns remain compliant with the latest regulations for each market and eliminating human error.


SBC: Can AI technology ever really understand, and more importantly adapt, to changing compliance requirements?

SL: Absolutely. While the model currently uses 2021 data sets, there's no doubt that as technology develops it will become fully real-time. This means using the latest published regulations to deliver compliant content to operators. The ability to adapt to changing compliance requirements is a critical component of effective AI technology, and we're confident that ChatGPT will continue to evolve and keep pace with the latest industry trends. • 25 MARKETING

Avoiding an own goal


In Spain and Italy, the thriving relationship between gambling and football clubs was brought to an abrupt end by new regulations, while in the UK the review of the Gambling Act is set to has triggered a rethink on sponsorships by the English Premier League.

The rights model of many major European leagues is also very different to that of the Premier League, which

is broadcast via one stream. Despite partnerships being limited to those operators that have a UK licence, the broadcast model elevates their value exponentially.

In the leagues outside of the topflight, clubs have continued to tap into gambling sponsorships, which were regarded as a key asset for financial support during the volatile period of the pandemic.

Last season, almost-two thirds

of English second tier sides had a gambling firm as their front-of-shirt sponsor, with the title sponsor of the league also being Sky Bet, underlining a strong reliance on the betting and gaming industry.

While Premier League clubs have already agreed to remove gambling brands as front-of-shirt sponsors from 2026, a similar step from the English Football League - which would cost clubs a reported £40m annually - is highly unlikely.

FOOTBALL SPONSORSHIPS HAVE long been viewed as vital to gaining exposure and building trust for gambling operators, but firms must now reassess their promotional strategies.

Across the pond in the US, sporting sponsorships have grown in step with the rollout of sports betting regulation across states, and some of North America’s most prestigious leagues and teams have embraced gambling partnerships. These collaborations take place in a gambling market that is far less mature, making player acquisition the top priority for operators.

However, there is a big question mark hanging over these partnerships around the world. As negativity towards such agreements from fans and the media intensifies, are ventures into sports sponsorship still fruitful for gambling operators?


FTX and the evaporation of sponsorship trust

While exposure has always been an essential element of sponsorships, the trust built from being associated with some of sport’s most historic clubs has been even more alluring to many operators.

Yet, as sporting organisations’ portfolios of partners and avenues for sponsorship have exponentially increased, the trust formed as a result of being allied with leagues and teams has slowly diminished.

In part, this is a result of a lack of due diligence from clubs when it comes to selecting partners, not only from the gambling space but from a wide range of sectors - with cryptocurrency taking centre stage in the showreel of reputation-damaging partnerships. Undeniably, the most notable example of this was crypto exchange FTX’s attempt to legitimise its operations and significantly enhance its brand through sponsorship deals.

FTX ultimately collapsed, leading to billions of consumer dollars being lost and heightened volatility in the crypto market, and the firm’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, will stand trial accused of eight different counts of fraud.

Prior to the collapse, a report by GlobalData revealed that the crypto firm’s spending on sports sponsorships neared $100m, with Miami Heat and 27 MARKETING
Editorial credit: Vitalii Vitleo /

Avoiding an own goal

the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team among the profusion of players, clubs and organisations that embraced the brand.

There was also backlash from Manchester City’s failed partnership with unknown crypto start-up, 3Key. The deal raised questions in the UK media and just days later City backtracked, stating: ”Prompted by the club’s interactions with 3Key Technologies in recent days, Manchester City is now conducting further enquiries regarding 3Key Technologies and the partnership has been suspended pending satisfactory resolution to all of those enquiries.”

Sport’s turbulent relationship with crypto firms meant that the prestige and assurances of partnerships were brought into question. It seems likely they are no longer as resilient and trusted as they once were.

While this did not directly impact the reputation of gambling industry, the loss of trust in partnerships meant that one of the key qualities operators sought in sponsorships was diminished.

Nonetheless, George Harborne, SBC’s Director of Sponsorship, insisted that while the reach of English footballand specifically the Premier League - remains so extensive, the appetite from global gambling operators to be associated with it will continue to grow.

He does however believe that in the result of shirt-sponsorship being outlawed for gambling firms, the approach to Premier League partnerships will undergo a transformation and clubs will instead focus on agreeing truly localised partnerships. Furthermore, these may well be driven by technology similar to that used in La Liga and Serie A whereby the broadcast feed, and therefore club partners, are split by market.

This approach, taken in Italy and Spain, could present a challenge for clubs, perhaps evolving the scope of the deals and leading to a saturation of inventory.

Fan engagement backlash

There was also once a time when fans looked at sponsors of clubs with a level of adoration. However, as general

tensions between fans and club owners have escalated, it has led to scepticism of partners - especially those from controversial industries.

This was brought to the fore when Premier League side Aston Villa announced online betting operator BK8 as the club’s front-of-shirt sponsor. Criticism of the deal was amplified because of a previously cancelled deal between the operator and Norwich City, which was over before it even began following a backlash about the company’s ‘sexually provocative’ marketing.

Villa acknowledged that some fans would be disappointed by the deal, but insisted that “the commercial reality is that to teams outside the top six, such sponsors offer clubs twice as much financially as non-gambling companies”.

28 SBC
• MAY 2023
Editorial credit: Vitalii Vitleo /

From the perspective of BK8, the deal was signed against a backdrop of negative publicity, with Villa fans digging up a chequered marketing history that portrays the firm in a light it is likely to be looking to transition away from.

At the time, Harborne said: “The political backdrop against which this agreement has been announced means that it would always have faced scrutiny, but that isn’t something new for deals of this type in the UK.

“The choice of partner has amplified that scrutiny given the reasons for a previous agreement with the brand being terminated by a different club.

“With 2022 being arguably one of the greatest years for the development and growth of women’s sport in the UK, agreeing a deal with a brand so publicly linked with ‘sexually provocative’ marketing tactics was never going to go unnoticed, particularly when that precedent had been set to terminate an agreement with the same brand by Norwich City.”

That being said, there is plenty of evidence that gambling sponsorships still work. Operators that have taken a strategic approach to partnerships have benefited and engaged positively with club supporters.

It’s vital to note that supporters are not passive when it comes to their teams and they recognise sincerity from sponsors. Partners that possess a genuine desire to connect with fans and understand the heritage of a club are easy to distinguish

from partners simply looking for as much exposure as possible.

Harborne highlighted Kindred as an example of an operator that should be lauded for its approach to collaborations with sports teams.

and creating close links with the Huddersfield Town Women's team as part of a wider partnership at the club.

On a global level, with a media backdrop that doesn’t hold as much hostility towards the gambling sector, fans in Latin and North America have been more receptive to seeing their clubs strengthen ties with the industry.

Harborne noted that we are seeing some truly innovative efforts when it comes to sponsorship in North America - with operators utilising collaborations in certain states to fuel their expansion strategies.

Key to the group’s extensive portfolio of partners has been focusing on community projects as well as not hiding from the risks of the industry. One of the most successful relationships for Kindred was the partnership between Derby County and 32Red, in which the firm financially backed the signing of England legend Wayne Rooney, who in a further activation donned the number 32 during his spell as a Ram.

Furthermore, the firm linked with gambling education specialist EPIC Risk Management and used its partnership with Derby as a platform to raise awareness of the risks of problem gambling.

Following public criticism, BK8 has embraced the need to change its brand image by securing former Lioness Kelly Smith as an ambassador,

What does the future hold?

The natural crossover and the significant reach of sporting organisations means that while regulatory frameworks allow sponsorships they will continue. However, in order for these deals to be of most benefit to partners, a scattergun approach simply isn’t effective.

Operators need to take a quality over quantity approach, working on engaging activations that embrace the characteristics of a club - endearing and connecting them to supporters.

The bottom line is that for lucrative partnerships to pay off in saturated markets, they need to be structured to the benefit of fans, ensuring that when the brand’s name is viewed on the front of the shirt it is done so in a positive light. • 29 MARKETING
Editorial credit: MDI / Editorial credit: IOIO IMAGES /


First of all, can you give us a brief introduction to GAMOMAT?

AK: Thank you for having me. It would be my pleasure to introduce GAMOMAT. We are a German-based online game developer that was founded in 2008. Our commitment to producing high-quality games has

enabled us to stand out in a very competitive industry.

The company’s origins lie within the land-based market, but in 2016 the decision was made to migrate into the online space without compromising on the quality of our games. One thing is for sure: we are all very fond of gaming. Our office is located in the

middle of Berlin, and we currently have around 75 employees.

Our games portfolio is built on fairness and comprises both classics - like Ramses Book - and new games that include a number of wonderful series, like our popular Fire series or the Flaring Fruits series. This approach has helped curate a portfolio

ANDI KAUFMANN, Managing Director of GAMOMAT Distribution GmbH, speaks with SBC Leaders about the rising popularity of Asian-themed slot titles and plans to celebrate 15 years of operation.
Building on the classics

that blends tried and true games with innovative experiences that have attracted players from over 35 countries worldwide. We operate in the B2B market and have a laser focus on creating high-quality games that offer a unique gaming experience to players.

SBC: Could you tell us a little about the recently released Feng’s Fortune game?

AK: Sure thing! Feng’s Fortune is a stunning slot game that was developed with the regulated US market in mind. The design and artistic theme of the game perfectly encapsulate Asia’s aesthetics, which is an engaging theme for US players in their regulated online

gaming. Additionally the Asian theme works well with players all over the European market.

At GAMOMAT, we pride ourselves on creating games that are loved by players, and Feng’s Fortune is no exception. This game is made with a lot of attention to detail, and the sound, graphics, and animation are exceptional. Personally, I am super enthusiastic about the quality of this game, and I believe it will be a huge hit with players who love Asian-themed slots.

strong sales in this area. However, our goal is to enhance our classic games with exciting features to make them popular for new target groups, while still maintaining their appeal to traditional players. Our classic games remain very successful in Europe and still have a lot of potential.

To celebrate our 15th birthday we’re working on something very special. We have planned a huge celebration for our anniversary with our employees in Berlin. We definitely won’t let our classic games such as Ramses Book and Crystal Ball miss out on all the fun.

SBC: What else can players expect from you during 2023?

SBC: Why do you think that Asianthemed games work so well for your players?

AK: Asian-themed slot games have become increasingly popular with players across the globe, and there are numerous reasons why these games are celebrated by players. Firstly, they offer an exotic gaming experience that immerses players inside a different culture thanks to the various symbols that are synonymous with Asia. This provides players with a sense of excitement and novelty that is not often found in other types of slot games.

In the regulated US, Asian game concepts have been very popular and successful in the land-based market for years. This interest is expected to continue in the regulated online market. As a former land-based development studio with a lot of experience, GAMOMAT has high hopes for our Asian-themed games, like Feng’s Fortune.

SBC: How do you innovate when it comes to classic games?

AK: At GAMOMAT, we have been developing classic games for 15 years, and we continue to see success and

AK: We have several exciting plans for 2023 that players will be following with eagerness. There will be something for every player and almost every preference across a range of regulated markets. As we discussed earlier, our Asian-themed game Feng’s Fortune for the regulated US market has already been released and well received.

Further to Feng’s Fortune, we have two fruit game series to take to market. We started this year successfully with the continuation of the Flaring Fruits series. We know that fruit games really resonate with players as we are party to the facts and figures.

Halfway through the year we will add to the Ember Wild series. In March, we released 5 Ember Wilds, and we will follow this with 20 Ember Wilds.

We are very much looking forward to releasing our next book game, Book of Elements. This game is for fantasy and book game lovers and is sure to provide an exciting and immersive gaming experience. 31

SBC: Can you tell us about your plans for global expansion? Are there any particular markets that are high on your agenda?

AK: We have been very successful over the past 14 years with our portfolio in Central Europe, especially in Germany. With regard to the German market, virtual slots once again generated a significant sum in tax revenues over the past year to underline its size. That figure is only going to grow as more companies appreciate the opportunity that exists here. In addition to the German market’s high potential, there are plenty of interesting new regulated markets. That’s why we want to enter these territories with our distribution partner to supply new casinos.

One of the markets in our sights is the regulated US market, but this will need a localised strategy to navigate the diverse state regulation. However, we believe that our land-based experience will give us an advantage over newly-established game studios.

Additionally, we are continuing to pursue and explore the Dutch market, and have gone live in Italy via Microgame through our partner Bragg. We appreciate the Italian market is important as it is the second-largest regulated European market after the UK. As it stands, more than 20 of our games are live in Italy.

These decisions have been made using the 15 years’ experience earned and following rigorous analysis of chosen markets through our own statistics staff and market analysts. This is supported by input from our great partners who always keep us up to date with market developments.

We know that our games have a lot of potential internationally, and we are excited to continue expanding into new regulated markets and supplying new casinos.

SBC: What have been the main highlights from your 15 years of operation?

AK: Over the last 15 years of GAMOMAT’s existence there have been many successes and top-selling games we are very proud of.

Beginning with just a few game designers and mathematicians to now being an organisation with experts in almost every field, including product management, marketing, and development, GAMOMAT has had an action-packed journey.

increasing importance of online slots. Another highlight was and is the partnership with Bragg (formerly Oryx), which has been a valuable asset to the company’s success.

Another important moment was the major rebrand and redesign we undertook in 2020 to ensure our brand and core values were reflected clearly in the business proposition.

Over the years we have been recognised with several awards, including the German Brand Award, Great Place to Work awards in 2021 and 2023, and being shortlisted for the International Gaming Awards Game of the Year and the Global Gaming Awards 2023 Slot of the Year.

One of the most significant milestones for GAMOMAT was the transition from the land-based to the online market in 2016. We identified the online opportunity early and the

Developing GAMOMAT’s games has been richly rewarding and makes us incredibly proud to look back on the progress. Reflecting on this story, it is amazing what GAMOMAT has achieved in the last 15 years, and the company is eager to continue expanding and achieving greater success in the future. 33
• Building on the classics PRODUCT

Crash, bang, wallop



One of the formats that is gaining momentum and shaking up the slots space is the crash game, which is attracting the attention of players, operators and suppliers in all areas of the global gambling market.

As players bet on the progress of hot-air balloons, aeroplanes, goblins and other varying themes, the aim of the game is to cash out before the protagonist, fittingly, crashes, receiving a multiplied bet amount when successful.

While the phenomenon of crash games continues to excite the industry, we spoke to slot suppliers that have

dabbled in the format to question the hype, find out why they’re flying high and discuss whether they could crash and burn themselves.

Malta-based developer ESA Gaming has often strayed away from typical slot formats with its game releases, with a variety of mine, roulette and blackjack titles to its name. So it was no surprise when it entered the crash games space with the release of Rocket Racers in October 2022.

We spoke with Thomas Smallwood Head of Marketing at ESA Gaming, to examine what makes crash games so

THE UNDISPUTED LEADING format in igaming, but the emergence of new formats is threatening to topple them from their throne.

popular, the potentially detrimental effects of the game style and the format’s origins in crypto casinos.

Whether crash games will match the volumes and popularity of slots depends on the genre being able to evolve and encompass more features. The cookie cutter approach will not work in the long term, it needs successful variations.

SBC: Do you think the rise of crash titles can have any detrimental effects on the industry and its players?

TS: The swift-resolution element is a factor, as is the fact that players feel they have control of the game, and also the low risk versus the high reward.

To this extent, it is a patently demonstrable level playing field for all those involved, and this is an area in which crash games, especially multiplayer versions, are very attractive. Ultimately, players want to know their gaming experience is both fair and fun.

SBC: With Crash games becoming ever more popular among developers and players alike, do you think they will be a passing fad or could they become as established as online slots?

TS: I think the sustained success of some of the premium crash games on the market, such as Aviator, highlights that this vertical is not a passing fad. That being said, it’s not a direction that every new game studio will look to go in as they develop new products. Whenever a new genre of game has some success, it means there is something to learn for the wider industry, and it’s natural for everyone to see if there are elements they can include in their own product roadmap.

TS: As ever in the gambling industry, the dangers are problematic behaviours on an individual level, and disreputable businesses. The games themselves tend to have a low entry cost and are very straightforward to play, but this is also true of any national lottery.

The low-risk, high-reward nature of a crash game is a major point of attraction for new players, and this is an area where individual jurisdictions will look to regulate in order to safeguard the user. Ultimately, user safety and player protection are the most important aspects of any realmoney product.

SBC: What do you think attracts players to crash games that they may not get with slot titles?

SBC: What was the initial origin of crash games and how has the format developed since its inception?

TS: Crash games really came to the fore with the birth of crypto gaming, built on the provably fair, blockchainbased concepts that drove forward the crypto casino space. Initially, it existed on the fringes of the gaming industry, but now we’re seeing more and more widespread adoption of crash games by major operators.

At its core, gameplay hasn’t really changed - players have to cash out before the ‘crash’ occurs, but the more risk they take, the more potential there is for higher rewards. Its simplicity is key, but the wider consumer base has warmed to it, with the popularity driving more investment into the genre. 35 PRODUCT
Nick Dzneladze Senior Product Manager at BGaming Tom Smallwood Head of Marketing at ESA Gaming

Another supplier that has entered the crash games market is BGaming, utilising the commonly-used crash theme of space rockets in its January 2022 crash debut Space XY.

Nick Dzneladze, Senior Product Manager, sat down with us to discuss why crash games seem to appeal to a younger audience, the impact of social features on the format and whether crash games’ success correlates with a growing desire for instant-gratification.

SBC: Why has crash maintained such a strong crossover appeal with younger gaming audiences, compared to traditional casino games?

ND: Younger gaming audiences are more interested in more modern mechanics that they have seen or played on their mobile phones, rather than traditional slot machines.

In many regions, classic slots are often perceived as a ‘one-armed bandit’ that controls your winnings. Crash games give players a feeling of control, which involves them selecting their own multiplier and choosing when to cash out. It can make the game feel more interactive and trustworthy than traditional casino games, which rely entirely on luck.

SBC: To what extent do you think the appeal of crash games comes from society’s growing reliance on instantgratification?

ND: I don’t think the appeal of crash games comes solely from society’s growing reliance on instant gratification. While it is true regarding quick rewards, other factors are also at play.

For instance, there is a fundamental difference between a slot game and a crash game. In a slot, the player spins and waits for the outcome, or uses the auto-play feature, with very little interaction with the game.

In a crash game, anticipation is much stronger, as the player places a bet and watches the game field to decide when to cash out. The player makes this decision at the peak of their expectation, evoking instant relief. This level of involvement makes the game more engaging than classic slots.

SBC: What factors must be considered when making crash games that differentiate the titles from the usual slot development process?

ND: Firstly, it is essential to incorporate more flexible auto-play settings that allow players to adjust their bets and set limits for both winning and losing, enhancing their control over their gambling behaviour.

Secondly, social features, including chat, leaderboards, game history, and lobbies, also help make crash games more interactive and foster a sense of community among players.

Thirdly, the game user interface should be easy to navigate, especially on mobile devices, to avoid accidental

clicks. An intuitive interface improves user engagement and reduces frustration, leading to better player retention and a more enjoyable gaming experience.

SBC: Among the constant innovation, and arguable over complication at points, within the slots space, are crash games evidence that simplicity works and shouldn’t be overlooked?

ND: Regarding this point, I believe the igaming industry should continue to evolve and provide players with new gaming experiences, as audience interests expand and change over time.

It’s important to strike a balance between historical legacy and modern twists, understanding the market and adapting to the changing demands of players. I see a lowering of the average player age, and the needs and interests of younger players may differ from older ones, but this doesn’t mean we should forget classic slots.

While embracing innovations and staying on top of industry trends is crucial, I think it’s equally vital not to overlook the value of simple games like crash games. •

36 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 PRODUCT Crash, bang, wallop




I try to never watch the same movie twice, but you’ll likely find the Indiana Jones franchise and even The Goonies on my repeat list. I would say that if I only had one movie I could watch again, it would be Goodfellas. I know I don’t need to explain this choice!


Answering this question really depends on the week, mood and frankly the weather outside. When it comes to music, my taste varies enormously (country, classic, dance and so on). If you were to go through my Spotify, you’d likely find Radiohead’s OK Computer sitting at the top.


I’m in a Tesla right now and frankly, it's much more than I will ever need (or want). With the way gas prices are, why would I ever want to go back to worrying about km/litre ever again, particularly for a fancy sports car?


Any time away with my family is my favourite holiday.


I wouldn’t classify it as a purchase, but in terms of material spend of money… I would ask, do you have two kids?


I’m not saying this because he’s my employer and founder of Continent 8 Technologies, but Michael Tobin is someone I wouldn’t think twice to partner on any venture, project or business. Entrepreneurs like him are an extremely rare breed, and if you’re fortunate enough to have him partner with you on your project, you know you have a winning proposition.


Never doubt yourself and never stray away from your goals. Everything you do has a purpose. • 37 PRODUCT 60 Seconds With
LEADERS CAUGHT UP WITH KRISTIAN VALENTA, Chief Financial Officer of managed hosting, connectivity, cloud and security provider Continent 8 Technologies, to find out what he gets up to when he’s away from his desk.


AS OPERATORS INCREASINGLY PRIORITISE RETENTION, one US games studio has developed an engagement package that it believes will keep players coming back time and again.

What we’ve built is a much wider offer than just pushing out games, we provide operators with a full entertainment package that keeps players engaged and coming back again and again,” said Anthony Singer, Founder & CEO of High 5 Games, when asked to describe what sets his business apart from the competition.

That entertainment package is specifically designed to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing operators who are spending big to snap up

market share in the US states that have legalised igaming - how to retain expensively acquired players and drive LTV from them.

And there are few people, or companies, better placed to devise retention-focused ideas. Under Singer’s leadership, High 5 developed the original video slots for IGT, built an online social casino with more than 29 million players, successfully launched real-money games in markets around the world, and since 2020 has established itself as a major force in

US igaming. In short, the High 5 team knows what players want.

SBC: The US igaming market is characterised by huge competition between operators and high costs for player acquisition, making customer retention a key priority for all. What can games studios do to help operators improve retention rates?

AS: User acquisition is always expensive. Moving players from one casino to another might be great for marketing agencies and companies

38 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 A High 5 for returning players

that sell ad space, but it’s a definite frustration for the people who have to pay them. So what you want to do is build products that bring players back naturally; instead of having to be reminded to come back, the products are actually reminders in themselves.

We’ve been spending a great amount of energy on those sorts of products. We have gamified products like leaderboards coming in, which will allow a player to know that ’I'm competing with these other players, I can check in to see where I am and what place I'm in’, in the knowledge that if they move up they will receive better rewards. That’s great for retention because players are going to want to stay online and continue to improve their scores, or for longer tournaments, return multiple times to add to their scores.

We also have Rapid Rewards, which has been a big success for the operators we’ve rolled it out with. It gives players random prizes while they are playing, which are in effect bonus play within the games. The chance to win prizes at any point is fantastically engaging and, when those prizes are extra spins that can be redeemed later, it encourages the players to return to the same casino.

Our content team really is focused on developing features that speak

to players. We demonstrated that with Spin Crease, a feature that allows players to unlock higherpaying symbols and additional levels in a game. It has proved amazingly successful in games such as Triple Double Da Vinci Diamonds and Green Machine Supreme, because it means the game is different every time and players want to come back to explore the extra elements that change the gameplay, the experience, and the prizes on offer.

When you reach the point where the additional features combine with the standard gameplay to create a story full of twists and turns, players will keep coming back to the game.

SBC: Jackpots are a common feature that online casino players have come to expect. What makes High 5’s new jackpot feature different and how does it improve engagement rates?

AS: What is it that people love about jackpots? For the player who wins, it’s the cash! But for everyone else, it’s the anticipation, it’s the excitement of knowing that they might win, that they are in with a chance of winning.

To enhance that experience and really maximise that excitement, we’re launching High 5’s must-hit jackpots.

The difference with the must-hit jackpots is that players will know roughly when they are going to happen and that they have a chance of winning if they are playing their favourite games when they hit. There’ll be daily jackpots and hourly jackpots, and players will know that the big win is coming in a certain timeframe. They’ll know the big win is achievable at some point in the next 60 minutes, but will it be them or will it be someone else? That’s real excitement, that’s great player engagement right there!

We’ve also designed a fantastic winning sequence for when the jackpots strike to build that experience even further and make it a really memorable event.

Must-hit jackpots are an open feature that can work on any of our games and we’ll be launching them in the second quarter of this year. Players will see them live with our operator partners in Michigan first, but our plans are to bring the jackpots to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia and Ontario. 39

SBC: On the subject of entering new markets, it can be a complex proposition for igaming operators. How does High 5 support operators’ multistate expansion plans?

AS: Our goal is to support our operator partners in any way possible and in every state, or Canadian province, that they launch in. One way we do that is to invest in supplier licences as new igaming markets open up. That’s a major cost for us, but it means operators can launch with popular, proven-to-perform High 5 games live to help them have the best possible offer as they try to attract players when competition is most voracious.

The industry shouldn’t make the regulators out to be an evil group of people that ruin our lives. They are doing a very important service - they are there for us, to protect the players, to protect all of us in this business and ensure there’s a level playing field. So let’s not ostracise them, let’s stroke them a little bit and work together.

SBC: And finally, how does High 5 provide ongoing support to its operator partners?

AS: The starting point is having great games for players - and we now have more than 200 titles in our library - but a successful partnership requires more than just content. We want to give the operators a kind of warm, fuzzy feeling as we surround them with support and give them everything they need to help make them successful in each and every state.

commitment to responding in a very reasonable timeframe.


We also ensure we have great relationships with regulators in every jurisdiction we work in, so we can help our partners with all the various regulations across various states as they expand into new markets.

That means advance communication of product roadmaps and updates, ensuring certificates, iOS bundles and marketing assets are ready when they’re needed, and outstanding service levels. As soon as a partner reports an issue, our tier one support is on it and our account managers are on it, with direct contact and a

On top of that initial support, we have regular catch-ups with all our partners and give them the analytics data they need at any time via a casino dashboard. And that’s backed up with things to help them improve performance - we look at gap analysis to see how an operator is doing compared to the region, what they are missing, which games they should focus on in the coming weeks or months, and what we can do to support them during major promotions. Our goal is to really help the operators in every way and to give them a first-class service. And the feedback we get from partners is that they feel like they’re a VIP with us. •

40 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 A High 5 for returning players PRODUCT


THERE ARE PLENTY OF CRYPTO SCEPTICS in the igaming industry, but one former US Secret Service cybercrime specialist believes cryptocurrency payments could create a safer environment for operators.

The crypto market has been evolving since its infancy stages and the introduction of Bitcoin more than a decade ago. Volatile values and the lack of any deposit security safety nets have however brought a wave of scepticism, contributing to the space being viewed by some as a risky investment.

On the other hand, there are those who have found the concept of digital assets necessary for societal progression. Cryptocurrencies for them are the foundation of tomorrow’s global economy and financial independence. 41 Fraud-fest or the future? PRODUCT

And perhaps because of that, or perhaps because of the convenience a crypto transaction offers, high public interest in relevant crypto products and services has caused an explosion in market offering.

Gambling operators are also jumping into this trend, looking for ways to integrate crypto as another payment rail that can potentially unlock new opportunities for both operators and customers.

We spoke with Michael Dawson, Law Enforcement Liaison at fraud prevention specialist GeoComply, about the implications of crypto payments adoption driven by a global regulatory shift.

Dawson boasts an impressive résumé in financial crime fighting, having joined the US Secret Service in 1999 as a member of the Electronic Crimes Task Force and going after online bad actors for 23 years. He started when the internet was still in its infancy, on his way becoming a recognised guest

lecturer on fraud, money laundering, cryptocurrencies and organised crime.

Part of his responsibilities included being the lead case agent for a multiagency Priority Transnational Organised Crime investigation called ‘Operation Crypto Runner’, which focused on identifying, mitigating, seizing, arresting and disrupting cybercrime money laundering globally.

Today he shares this experience with the GeoComply Risk Services team in an effort to provide customers with a more robust response to the constant shifts affecting the crypto market.

In terms of the popularity among

gambling operators of tools related to crypto processing, Dawson underlined that market demand is being driven by the practicality of the payment option and how easy it is to do it.

“Cryptocurrencies offer a more comprehensive range of payment options for customers,” he said. “Individuals who do not have access to traditional banking options can now place a wager.

“Also, customers who prefer to utilise their current cryptocurrency assets for sports betting now have another payment option. It further provides a potential tax benefit for all parties Involved.”

And with tax comes security, with Dawson explaining that there are strong Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks in place, using blockchain technology to analyse the origin of the crypto payment and the legitimacy of the transaction without interfering with the speed and simplicity of the process, which usually outperform those of payments in fiat.

Another thing to note is that operators themselves can reject private unknown crypto wallets because they are often associated with criminal activity, such as hiding illegally-gained proceeds, Dawson explained.

“Money laundering and fraud will occur in any payment structure. Introducing cryptocurrency in an operator’s payment ecosystem could potentially increase the threat of money laundering and fraud. However, illicit funds can be stopped or seized faster for an overall safer transaction with blockchain technology and tracing,” he said.

“With proper AML controls deployed by operators to include KYC and geolocation data, cryptocurrency’s transparency as a payment platform could potentially be safer and faster in detecting fraud and money laundering.”

The crypto space has also been evolving globally in terms of regulations and how big a part regulatory bodies play in it. March last

42 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 Fraud-fest or the future?

year saw the Biden administration take action in favour of a crypto strategy that outlines the country’s approach to crypto currencies.

Part of the executive order’s content stated that federal agencies are to be given permission to map out any regulatory changes they deem necessary by assessing the economic implications and risk to national security from integrating digital assets into the financial system.

“Crypto regulations and political viewpoints around the world see cryptocurrency in numerous ways. Some are fully embracing cryptocurrency, while some global regulators are banning the use of cryptocurrency altogether,” Dawson said, referring to the drastic moves made by the likes of China, Qatar and others.

benefits the industry and government, will allow a roadmap for a safe cryptocurrency environment in the gaming and financial sectors.”

For operators looking to globally expand their crypto offering, the main challenge will be allowing specific transactions geographically based on country-specific laws, added Dawson.

“You will excuse the shameless plug, but this is where GeoComply comes in. I worked in the US Secret Service, tracking down criminals using cryptocurrencies for money laundering and other cybercrimes. If I had access to GeoComply’s technology, it would have made my investigations far easier,” he said.

“Geolocation technology was the determining factor in enabling the rollout of state-by-state online sports betting and igaming in the US. Similarly, it can create comfort for governments and regulators that crypto payments in gaming, the finance industry, and elsewhere are safe and viable.”

compliance steps to ensure they are processing transactions from genuine registered account holders and acceptable jurisdictions,” he explained.

“Operators utilising GeoComply’s geolocation technology will quickly reject payments from OFAC-sanctioned countries or other restricted gambling areas.

“Further, operators should have a clear framework for taking deposits from only reputable cryptocurrency exchanges and not unknown private wallets typically used to assist criminals in laundering illicit cryptocurrency.”

Dawson finished by reiterating that the speed, simplicity, and potential tax benefits of crypto payments open a whole new payment structure for operators, especially those in igaming, and that this could lead to new opportunities by attracting a customer flow that does not use traditional banking services.

“The future is unclear in many countries. However, a middle-of-theroad approach to regulations, which

GeoComply is working with Dawson to increase the adoption rates of crypto payments by operators, ensuring that their tool is in full compliance with crypto regulations as they continuously evolve.

“Operators can deploy various Know Your Customer (KYC) and geolocation

“Most importantly, gaming operators should move forward to embrace crypto as a payment structure as future regulations evolve. Cryptocurrency payment adoption, along with effective KYC, geolocation, anti-fraud, and AML infrastructure could allow for a safer gaming payment environment for all forms of payments,” Dawson concluded. • 43 PRODUCT


GROSVENOR CASINOS and EVOLUTION made headlines when they teamed up to create a dedicated live casino studio. SBC Leaders spoke to both to find out more about the project.

Live casino studios are delivering a new dimension to an operator’s igaming offering in what is a competitive market space, providing online casino play with the look and feel of an in-person experience.

UK casino operator Grosvenor Casinos and games supplier Evolution are two companies in this space looking to stand out, as the operator launched its own live casino studio earlier this year in February, which is powered by the supplier’s EVO Casino Liam Wallwork, Chief Operating Officer of Rank Interactive, which operates Grosvenor Casinos’ online offerings, stated that the live casino launch exceeded expectations and has helped the operator acquire new casino players.


“All the KPIs that we tracked and wanted to see increase have seen increases, but I think the most pleasing

44 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 Best of both worlds
Wallwork Chief Operating Officer at Rank Interactive

thing is that we've had new customers who hadn't previously played live casino trying our products, and then actually sticking around,” Wallwork explained.

“We're seeing lots of repeat play, which again, is a testament to the work the guys did on the studio.”

Evolution’s Chief Product Officer, Todd Haushalter, noted that a live casino studio stands out in a competitive online casino space as players are constantly looking for something new.

Haushalter said: “It's about a breadth of offering. Players come in, and they want to bounce around and try different games. They also want to hunt for hot tables. The average player comes to our lobby some 10 times in a day.

“They come in, they look for new games, they want to switch from one blackjack table to another, where they feel they're going to be luckier or they can get the seat that they want. It's really all about the breadth of offering, and that's the major distinguishing factor.”

The player experience for live casino is “far more immersive and entertaining”, according to Haushalter, which is why Evolution has concentrated on creating games with a focus on entertainment as well as gambling, creating a community-like experience with other players.

Wallwork outlined that to maximise the benefits of live casino, operators must put their own spin on their offering, noting that Grosvenor Casinos’ status as one of the biggest retail casino operators in the UK is reflected in its digital product.

“The studio gives us an opportunity to show customers that expertise and that heritage. Alongside our Live and Direct offering, which was created by Authentic Gaming, it starts to put together a wholesale experience of live casino that sets Grosvenor apart from anyone else,” he said.

The Rank Interactive COO explained that its live casino offering has been so well received so far due to the dealers working in unison with the studio itself, interacting with the camera and customers as well as providing knowledge of the product. 45 PRODUCT
Todd Haushalter Chief Product Officer at Evolution

Wallwork explained how the launch has fitted well with the operator’s rebrand in October, and Haushalter highlighted the importance of the right brand promotion for a live casino studio as well.

“You have players that are with you and live for a typical session of about one hour per day, which is a pretty long time,” Haushalter said.

“During that hour, you can push your brand, which presumably your players trust more than others, and so while they’re playing blackjack and roulette, you’ve got dealers in your uniforms, you’ve got the studio outfitted with your colours with your logos, and it embeds the brand. It’s a one hour advertisement for your brand.”

It’s this brand recognition and trust that the Evolution CPO spotlighted as something that cannot be taken for granted, as it’s something that can take years to build, but “can be lost in a single hand”. He added that this is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult

for new live casino providers to gain a foothold in the market.


“Players are rightfully suspicious, it never feels good to lose, and when they lose, they are looking for some explanation other than bad luck,” he said. “This is why everything must be done in the most transparent possible way. You need to make a religion out of running the games in a mistake-free fashion.”

Wallwork emphasised that having a great product is key to overcoming any hurdles with a live casino, alongside a portfolio of games that are also up to that same standard to show off who you are.

46 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 Best of both worlds

Grosvenor Casinos’ live casino studio is accompanied by its Live and Direct product that gives customers at home a chance to play table games in their venues, with play dictated by what’s going on in the venue at the time as everything can be seen or heard inperson is also replicated online.

Despite the growing live casino presence, Wallwork revealed that the offering is not having an impact on inperson visits.

provide both channels for our customers and they benefit from familiar tables via Live & Direct and the convenience of a single account and wallet.

“For us, it's nothing but a positive if they're using both, the ability to use the same products across both is again, a reason to play at Grosvenor. They're very different experiences and our aim is to provide the best version of both.”

As for the next step in live casino studio offerings in a competitive market space, Haushalter noted that as a supplier, Evolution has to “delight the players and the operators” which includes putting in “the hard yards and supporting old devices” that may only provide a small percentage of revenue, as well as providing lots of new and fresh content.

has to get better, in every browser it has to get better. All the different game types need to have new and interesting features that satisfy hardcore players but aren’t so complex that they push away new players.”

For Grosvenor Casinos, Wallwork noted that it’s about building on the live casino products the operator already has and making them even better.

“It’s definitely competitive. It’s largely commoditised, so again, we’re ambitious, we think we should own this space, we know it best,” he said.

“We’ve got bricks and mortar as well as products that others can't replicate, in terms of our Live and Direct. And we think where we do products that others can, we can do it better and our studio is a good example of that.

“It’s important to say that the experience customers are seeking from a casino visit and playing online are different, the growth of one channel doesn’t necessarily impact the other,” he said. “It’s a positive Grosvenor can

“You have to advance everything at the same time while staying ahead of advantaged players and cheaters, and you have to do this all around the world,” said Haushalter.

“Every experience on every device

“For us, it's about building on that. More studio space, on top of more Live and Direct products from more venues. We've got some interesting variants and features coming down the road, so definitely watch this space. We're very serious about live casino.” • 47 PRODUCT


People are any company’s most valuable resource, so having an HR leader with great people skills is a must, as SHIRLEY BORG’s success at ENERGYCASINO shows.

48 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 High Energy

What's the best way to achieve a senior HR position in the igaming industry? You might expect the answer to that question to involve college, followed by a personnel-focused graduate trainee scheme and climbing the internal promotion ladder from there.

But it also entails a lot of people learning, which is a skill that only experience can teach you. This may be the reason behind Shirley Borg's success as Head of Human Resources at Malta-headquartered EnergyCasino.

An enviably strong academic record - which includes degrees in both Marketing and Management, along with a Masters in Management - was achieved alongside varied experience that demonstrated a love of continuous learning, commitment to hard work and genuine adaptability.

Her career journey started at a young age and included spells dealing with difficult customers on a hotel reception, teaching English to foreigners from all around the world, working for an international retailer and running marketing for a yacht management company, before ending up at a global bank.

It was at the bank that she first became involved in HR and, as a natural people person, realised that it was the right long-term career for her. EnergyCasino soon gave her the opportunity to take on the “beautiful challenge” of establishing the growing operator’s HR department and Borg has never looked back, adding HRspecific qualifications to her CV while also taking a fresh approach to people management.

One thing she has proved throughout her career is that the right attitude and an eagerness to learn is a winning combination; an approach which EnergyCasino took on when it comes to its recruitment efforts.

“We are a company whereby if you don't have the full skillset, but you have the right mentality and drive, we are willing to teach you the ropes. We like to open doors for people,” Borg explained.

New starters can expect a four-tosix week onboarding programme, a grounding in the igaming industry and any additional courses they require related directly to their job. While

some specialist roles require training by external experts, experience and professional certifications, the EnergyCasino ethos means team members are largely encouraged to learn from each other.

“We try to train in-house and teach each other. We like teams to share their knowledge, so each department knows that they can rely on all the other departments. It makes for quite a nice atmosphere,” said Borg.

Designing an effective approach to training and fostering teamwork are just two of the many challenges that igaming HR leaders have to juggle.

In recent years, one of the industry’s biggest challenges was finding the additional staff needed to drive growth at a time when skilled workers were in short supply. Competition for skills in Malta was particularly fierce, even before the pandemic caused expat workers to think more about the comforts of home, but Borg believes the situation has finally eased.

“Just last year it was different, but this year, given that unfortunately some gaming companies have left the island, we're not having a problem finding

skilled people,” she explained.

“Of course, the recruitment process has changed drastically. Four years ago, you could open a role and wait for applications to come in organically, but now this is different. Qualified people need to be headhunted.

“We've been lucky, or perhaps we've just been good at recruitment, so the only skills gaps we now find difficult are when we are hiring for specific languages - especially if we need the person to have some gaming knowledge.

“The German language used to be the biggest challenge, then it was Japanese speakers who were difficult to find. Now we're trying to recruit for the Romanian market and there's a bit of a challenge there.”

The obvious answer to a shortage of locally-based speakers of specific languages is to look abroad for the right people.

That is an approach EnergyCasino is happy to take but, despite technology making it possible to do many jobs from almost anywhere in the world, Borg prefers workers from other countries to relocate to Malta “unless they have family commitments that make it impractical”.

She is a firm believer that both employers and employees gain real benefits from team members coming into the office and enjoying the communal side of work. That applies as much to overseas workers as to Maltese residents. 49

“People have loved remote work and it's become more the thing since Covid. So we’ve adopted a hybrid situation at the office, which we intend to keep,” said Borg. “But, in general, we like employees to be in Malta and to have contact with their teams, because our managers have seen a difference from that.

“Throughout Covid people became more used to solitude, but loneliness does kick in. So post-Covid, we've worked really hard to get that family atmosphere back again. Obviously, there was an adjustment period, but people have adjusted to it really nicely and have been socialising again at the office. It's really lovely to see.”

Part of the reason that Borg is so pleased to see people back in the office and enjoying themselves is that

she has devoted a lot of her six years with EnergyCasino to creating a great working environment.

“When the company was very young, our main age group was very young too so the main attraction was social outings that united the teams, so we made sure to focus on that,” she recalled. “But as people matured and had children their priorities started to change and we adapted our benefits to their changing needs.

“Now, there’s also Generation Z in the mix and they have a completely different personality. It’s quite tricky, but we aim to accommodate everyone’s needs and create a fun environment for people to work in.

“What has worked for us immensely is offering flexibility. Our people have the flexibility of working from the office and working from home on rotation, and to choose their own start and finish times. We also now offer the option of working from abroad for up to six weeks through the year.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to let people spend the holidays with their families and balance that with their workload. People have really loved that.”

She continued: “Appreciation is also a very, very big thing. It’s good leadership to show appreciation for your team’s commitment and praise them for their efforts.

“The company has also incorporated quarterly performance reviews. These serve as great catch-up meetings to see how people are doing and how we can help them develop.

“People have really valued the chance to have a coffee with their managers in a relaxed atmosphere and discuss what they do well and what they need to improve on. That type of communication is so important to promoting a great work environment, which is why we also have town hall meetings to keep everyone up to date about what is happening within the company.”

The approach is a real positive for the business in terms of employee satisfaction and retention levels. It also demonstrates that, while money will always be a key motivator for workers, it is far from being the only one.

“The values of the company are very important,” concluded Borg. “We’ve had people leave because they’d been offered a higher salary, only to come back because the other company didn’t have the same kind of welcoming environment.

“I believe we're on the right track. There are always things we can improve, but we understand the need for a healthy work-life balance and emphasise to people that they should put their families first when they need to. We have an amazing HR team in place to make sure all our staff gets the support they need at work and in their personal life.

“We want an environment in which people can really focus and think ‘I’ll give my 110% when I’m at work’, but know that outside working hours their time is truly their own to enjoy with family and friends.” •

High Energy PEOPLE


of cramming five days of work into a timeframe that is eight hours lighter, but lies with operating much more efficiently.

The UK became the latest country to undertake a pilot, which was hailed as a “major breakthrough moment” by a 4 Day Week Global organisation which has also undertaken similar trials in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States.

On the surface, you could be forgiven for believing that the

concept and subsequent results fall within the realms of obviousness.

Employees are happier, more productive, less fatigued and experience mental and physical improvements when working a 32hour week. Who would’ve thought that? However, the issue at hand is far from simple.

The crux of the matter, as 4 Day Week Global’s Co-Founder Andrew Barnes explained, is not simply a case

“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail! We lead all participants on our pilot programmes through a review process before their four-day week trial begins, where they analyse work systems and processes to identify areas for improvement,” he said.

“Our method of work time reduction is not about squeezing four days' worth of work into five, but examining how you can achieve your required outputs in an optimal way - working smarter, not longer. Being flexible on your journey and adapting where necessary is another key to success.” 51 Four-Day Week PEOPLE
FOUR-DAY WORK WEEK possibilities have been examined in a range of countries, with trials varying from showing promise to being deemed a resounding success.

As the old adage goes, work smarter, not harder. A quote that came to life for 92 per cent of UK companies, spanning from a local chippy to large corporations, that took part in a recent pilot.

Of the 61 companies that participated, at least 56 reported that they were to continue with the fourday week, with 18 saying the policy is a permanent change.

During the six-month dry run, 71 per cent of employees reported lower levels of burnout, with anxiety, fatigue and sleep problems also said to have decreased.

However, while such positive outcomes would not be felt by entire employee rosters, another potential point of contention regards the feasibility of applying such a concept across varying sectors.

While Barnes acknowledges that a four-day work week would be easier to implement in some sectors than others, he suggested that some variation of a reduced format is possible in every industry across all economies.

He continued: “In any gradual transition, there are going to be early adopters and some sectors are more likely to move to a four-day week first. It will then become a case of competition

between industries, as opposed to competition between individual businesses, and if sectors want to be competitive and retain top talent, they will eventually find a way to make the four-day week work for them.”

While take-up in the gaming industry is difficult to find regarding this particular issue, a number of

focus, CEO Ondrej Lapides revealed that the idea was explored for quite some time, with a “significant shift” in company philosophy and management practices being a strong prerequisite to embrace the initiative.

“The company’s strong peoplefocused culture based on mutual trust and respect made this decision easy,” he began.

“In addition, careful planning, transparent and open communication made for a seamless transition and now our people can enjoy time off whenever they crave it. With the unlimited paid leave scheme we’re looking at giving our team members more flexibility and freedom to juggle work and personal commitments.

moves have been made in a bid to alleviate pressures placed on staff and ensure that a work environment is as productive as can possibly be.

One step in this direction was detailed earlier in the year by Tom Horn Gaming, with the developer citing the need for flexibility between personal and professional commitments, in addition to heightened employee satisfaction, in introducing an unlimited paid leave scheme.

Before delving into the prime

“We believe this move will significantly contribute to better wellbeing of our staff, whilst reducing stress and burnout. Ultimately, it is the company that will benefit from this action, with happy people and increased productivity.”

Asked if the group would consider an expansion to incorporate a four-day work week, Lapides first reflected on the “impressively positive results” witnessed through the aforementioned trials.

Noting the “fast-paced, forward-

Four-Day Week
Andrew Barnes, Co-Founder at 4 Day Week Global

thinking” nature of the igaming industry, he conceded that a shortened work week is becoming “an increasingly viable solution” for certain companies, and could well have a positive impact on performance, productivity and employee wellbeing.

“With our mindset of agility and innovation, as well as easy and timesaving solutions in the form of new technology such as AI, we’re sure to be trailblazers also in this respect,” he said.

“Having said that, eventually a successful implementation is, however, down to some important predictors such as company size, culture, organisational structure.

“We support any initiatives that contribute to better work-life balance

of employees at no cost to their productivity. It can be unlimited paid leave or a shortened work week. Whichever works better.”

Barnes picked up the mantle with other factors beyond a four-day work week coming to the fore, and touched on if all this is a sign efforts to improve employee happiness are overtaking pay in determining where people want to work?

“A comprehensive employment package is key to attracting and retaining top talent, but we have certainly seen people placing a far greater emphasis on their free time since the onset of the pandemic,” he said.

Shifting focus back to the UK, further results of the recentlycompleted trial demonstrated that companies’ revenue stayed broadly the same. In fact, a slight rise of 1.4 per cent on average was evidenced.

In addition, a 57 per cent decline in the likelihood that an employee would quit was reported, while sick days dropped by 65 per cent.

Concluding his participation, Barnes ended by looking at if workers have long since deserved better, and if this so-called ‘new normal’ that we have all become familiar with has simply accelerated the pace of change.

“There is no doubt that the pandemic turbocharged momentum behind the four-day week movement,” he said.

“It showed us that there are other ways of working beyond spending 40+ hours in the office each week. It also woke many people up to the importance of time off, and the impact proper rest has on the health of society. The five-day week is an outdated model and it's high time for change.”

Despite this confident proclamation, Lapides voiced caution about companies being too hasty to implement such a drastic alteration to current processes.

While recognising that the idea could “no doubt” be effective in creating improved work-life balance, increased wellbeing and satisfaction, and reduced recruitment and onboarding costs, he also considered possible downsides.

The Tom Horn CEO suggested that a four-day work week might not be suitable for every business and industry, while certain individuals could prefer a traditional work pattern and might not be inclined to easily accept a change.

“Every change has its pros and cons and companies must carefully evaluate these before embarking on a new adventure,” he concluded.

“Therefore a careful analysis of the potential benefits and disadvantages would need to be conducted before deciding to adopt a shorter work week.” • 53 PEOPLE
Ondrej Lapides, CEO at Tom Horn Gaming


Among those best placed to assess the status of the online gaming market is Carlo Di Maio, Chief Executive of Fortuna Entertainment Group’s FEG Romania subsidiary, which runs the retail and online operations of both the Fortuna brand and the heritage Casa Pariurilor brand.

The Romanian market is very different in scale to those in Italy and the UK, where Di Maio amassed huge experience in both online and retail during time in senior positions with Gamenet Group, Eurobet and Coral. However, he can see real potential in the country’s emerging online sector, which exists alongside a wellestablished and healthy retail industry.

Online gaming was only regulated in 2016, although there was a grey market prior to that, but has achieved strong growth in the intervening years. It was helped by a sizeable migration of players during the Covid retail shutdown - the online market nearly doubled in size between 2019 and

2020 - but that is far from the only factor in its success.

“The growth in Romania in the last few years has been exceptional and much stronger compared to other European countries,” said Di Maio.

“It is a very competitive market with more than 30 online licences, but the main players are mostly local, as they were already established leaders before online was regulated. Of course, there are also international online companies that are very active in the market.”

He added that in terms of total online GGR, including both sportsbook and casino, the top three operators - Superbet, FEG Romania and Betano - account for over 60 per cent of the market.

Europe’s next hotspot
THE NEXT BIG MARKET is always the topic of much discussion in the igaming industry and, with its combination of established major players and huge potential, Romania is one of the territories now being talked about.
Claudia Melcaru Head of Business Development at BF Games

Fiona Hickey, Director of New Business and Markets at slots developer Push Gaming, acknowledged that the sector is currently dominated by a handful of operators, but believes that situation will change.

Claudia Melcaru, Head of Business Development at slots studio BF Games, also sees opportunities for new operators, but only if they are prepared to think long term.

“It is no mean feat for new brands to enter the market and see immediate success. Newcomers can expect a long hard slog before managing to count themselves among the top tier operators in the country,” Melcaru explained.

gambling regulator, and described the regulation as “in general, fair and not too heavy”. However, the taxation situation is complex.

“We are seeing more and more of our partners acquiring licences, making their debuts there and gaining traction. There is certainly more scope in Romania and it hasn’t reached saturation, like other regulated markets in Europe,” said Hickey.

“I think that with the right strategy, offering and USP, there is definitely more room for other operators to launch and take a share of the market from the top operators.”

“What is encouraging is that the market has quite a young population with more than half in the peak spending age of 18-50. This gives operators a significant nine million potential customers to target. This relatively young, mobile-savvy audience has consistently shown a progressive attitude towards igaming, which looks set to continue.”

One factor that all market incumbents and entrants have to carefully consider is the regulatory and taxation regime.

Di Maio is generally positive about the work of the ONJN, Romania’s

“We had quite a big increase in online taxation in July last year, with the GGR tax going up from 16 per cent to 23 per cent. That is in line with other markets, but there are also taxes on the customer side,” Di Maio explained.

“There is a two per cent tax on customers’ deposits and a tax when players withdraw funds of between three per cent and 40 per cent, depending on the size of the withdrawal.” 55 MARKETS
Carlo Di Maio Chief Executive at FEG Romania

Europe’s next hotspot

Operators also face a tax on marketing, which is equivalent to five per cent of the value of a television ad spot or billboard. However, that is far from the only difficulty facing igaming brands as they seek to promote their games.

“It is a very active market and the marketing expenditure in Romania is considerable,” said Di Maio. “However, we have restrictions that mean operators can only advertise on television during the day if there is a live [football] game on. Even then, it is only sportsbook. Casino brands and products can only be advertised after 11pm.

“But you see most of the operators sponsoring a lot of football teams and leagues.”

He continued: “There are ongoing discussions about further restrictions and a complete marketing ban like the one in Italy has been mentioned, but I don’t believe the government is going to do that.

“There is heavy advertising of gambling companies at outdoor sites in big cities and I think they just want to reduce the public’s exposure to it.”

The extent of the advertising restrictions means that it is especially important that when operators do have the chance to reach new customers, they have something different or particularly attractive to promote in a responsible way. The most obvious thing to fill that space is new and exciting games.

In Di Maio’s experience, slots with high jackpots are the favoured product of FEG Romania’s players, both online and in retail premises.

While many of FEG’s most popular slots are EGT titles that are available in both online and retail formats, there is growing competition among games

providers as new market entrants start to take on the big-name developers.

One of those emerging challengers is Realistic Games, which recently made its first inroads into Romania by launching 15 games with Superbet. Alice Timson, Head of Account Management for Realistic, admitted the studio had been attracted to Romania by the “insatiable appetite for casino entertainment” in the country.

“One recurring theme we have noticed in Romania is the demand for a strong promotional offering and this is why we implemented free spins ahead of our launch. Players there look to get more for their money with fun, feature-led games, free spins and prize giveaways, so we’ve tailored our approach to suit,” Timson said.

“Outside of this, gambling in Romania still very much has retail-based casino roots and as such, there is a great demand online for classic fruit-style slots. We have certified a number of this classic style of game from our portfolio as well as some newer feature-led titles.

“It’s likely that as more suppliers bring their modern content into the market there will be a shift among players to spend more time with these types of games and our own evolving content portfolio will match this perfectly.”

Push Gaming entered the market in 2021 and Hickey has already noted a shift in tastes, as players become accustomed to having a much wider choice of games online.

“The traditional style of land-based

56 SBC
Alice Timson Head of Account Management at Realistic Games

games that established providers develop for the likes of Romania and other similar markets still hold a degree of sway, but what we’ve seen over the last few years is studios like Push moving into that market and bringing with them a new style of game to players - the look, feel, volatility, themes, features and tools that are available in the market are moving forward,” she said.

“I think that what players have been used to and what players are now looking for is evolving as the games available to them are. They’re now seeking the same as a lot of other players: strong, entertaining titles that offer higher volatility.”

Melcaru has spotted similar signs of an evolution in player preferences,

as the games on offer become more complex and feature-rich.

“We’ve seen the Romanian market develop at an astonishing pace, first preferring a more traditional slots offering but now quickly becoming more discerning and exhibiting a taste for non-traditional and innovative gaming fare,” said BF Games’ Head of Business Development.

“This is due in no small part to the large number of providers that have been able to secure a bigger and bigger market share in recent years.

“The well-regulated environment working in tandem with a good regulator has led to an environment where operators, providers and affiliates have been able to establish themselves and enjoy significant

success. This is particularly the case for online slots, which has retained a massive boost post-pandemic.

“Those thinking outside the box and driving their offering forward for more intuitive games will be best placed to reap the rewards.”


So what does the future hold for the Romanian market?

For FEG Romania, it is very much about building on an already strong position. Di Maio explained: “The main focus will be to increase our market share online, because that's where the market will grow.

“To do that, we plan to improve our products and the user experience that we provide across mobile and web, and also to engage customers through new compelling experiences.”

Those compelling experiences are likely to prove key moving forward, as the online casino market looks set to get much more competitive very quickly.

Based on her regular conversations with international operators, Hickey said: “Romania is definitely one to continue watching. Speaking to some of the tier-ones who aren't yet in that market or who aren't aggressively spending there, they are continuing to keep a keen eye on developments.”

Melcaru is even more positive about Romania’s prospects and predicted that the appetite for igaming, coupled with improving technological infrastructure, would result in big things in the near future.

“Given the size of the population and online casino’s popularity, Romania has the potential to become one of the most significant regulated gaming markets in Europe,” she said.

“If this isn’t clearly the case within the next 12 months, it should certainly become apparent over the next three to five years.” • 57 MARKETS
Fiona Hickey Director of New Business and Markets at Push Gaming
MATTHEW BALL Pioneering Tech Authority, Venture Capitalist & Bestselling Author of The Metaverse SAM SADI CEO LiveScore Group ELEN BARBER CMO Kindred Group MAARJA PÄRT CEO YOLO Group KARSTEN FOGH HOLANNG CEO Danske Spil FRANCESCO POSTIGLIONE CEO Casumo Holdings Ltd DANIEL TAYLOR CEO International Flutter Entertainment



Three years into the introduction of permanent licences by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC), the Greek gaming sector is fast growing but is still being shaped, both by regulation and the operators active within it.

Providing this overview from Betsson’s position of market leadership,

Thanos Marinos explained how the firm has gained market share and established a dominant brand.

Moving first and growing fast

Whilst first mover advantage was a factor - as Marinos noted, the firm was the “001 licensee” back in 2021 - Betsson Greece’s MD was adamant

success can not simply be chalked up to this.

“It has contributed, but it has come with a lot of challenges,” he said. “When you are the first licence holder, you are riding the first wave of the regulatory framework which you have to implement.

“This is when we saw that, as an

THE GREEK GAMING SECTOR CONTINUES to enjoy healthy growth but is also still evolving, says Betsson’s Managing Director for Greece, Thanos Marinos.
Going Greek

organisation, we have what it takes to be able to get the licence and go live first. It was for sure an advantage - it felt good to be the first one in the market - but also practically it helped us establish ourselves as one of the top five igaming companies.”

Two years in, Betsson’s experience of Greek gambling has been positive and Marinos observed that “many changes” in the first six to 12 months of the 2021 framework have shaped the market into a stable and profitable one.

With the initial land grab long over and more than 15 licenced operators now active in the country, backed by licenced casino suppliers, Marinos added that the “next phase” has begun. And that phase is the race for market share.

“Greece is one of the largest markets in Europe, and there are some big established players that have been there for years,” he noted. “We are very happy with our ability to have launched first and gained significant market share, and we are not going to settle for a small share - we want to be the market leader.”

In pursuit of market share, from a product perspective, casino has been Betsson’s “pedigree” for its Greek customers, described by Marinos as “the strongest weapon in our armoury”. However, product is not everything, and as well as having the aforementioned first-mover advantage,


Betsson also benefited from its history in Greece, having been active in the market temporarily in 2006-2007. This meant that, when re-launching in 2021, Betsson was already somewhat familiar to Greek customers.

Marinos continued: “We have one of the highest awareness levels among the Greek clientele. This means our market is performing well, and our brand is converting very well in the Greek market.

“Customers now see that Betsson has a stronger platform and products, particularly on casino, in terms of branding and acquisition.”

Making room for movement

As with all regulated markets, Greece has conditions that differ from others but require careful consideration. In this case, taxation can be a big hurdle for operators to overcome. 61 MARKETS

“There is very high taxation, I dare to say one of the highest in Europe at 35% on GGR, and this can make it more difficult for a company to make money in the market,” Marinos explained.

“The second thing is that the new regulatory framework introduced a 15% winnings tax on players for sportsbook and casino. The funds are directed to the Ministry of Finance, which uses them to support sports across Greece.”

All in all, the two levies essentially result in a total tax rate of 50% on gaming firms, which contributed around €160m in winnings tax alone for 2022.

In addition to taxation, from a regulatory standpoint, Greece is still a relatively new market in comparison to some of its counterparts in Northern and Western Europe.

As Marinos observed, the new laws and licensing framework have only been active for around 18 months, with many more operators joining from September 2021 onwards.

As a consequence, Greece is a market “that is still being shaped in terms of regulation and connectivity with the HGC”, but according to

regulatory estimates, total GGR stands at €750m, and “there is room for a company that would like to invest, gain market share and make a good profit”.

A final factor to consider in Greece - as with any market in the current climate, with regulators across Europe taking a heightened view of player protection - is responsible gambling. Marinos explained that in Greece, as in other countries, it is a requirement for operators to place limits on deposits and playing times when setting up a new account with any brand.

“We have our responsible gaming campaign, but we also have a thorough test on the and Betsson Foundation websites that allows customers to check whether they are at risk of problem gambling,” Marinos added.

A casino pedigree with bookmaker branding

On the topic of responsible gaming, Betsson’s Greece MD showed particular pride in the fact that the firm was the first igaming operator in the country to establish a foundation.

The Betsson Foundation, he said, has enhanced RG with events, talks and community outreach, inviting the HGC President and Sports Minister to one particular event, and placing responsibility as a focal point of its marketing approach.

In this regard, Betsson has also strived to attain and maintain a position of market leadership, having placed awareness of what bettors who fear they are developing problematic behaviour can do.

“The Foundation is a constant reminder that in our journey of gaining market share and being successful as an operator, we also need to give back to the community and engage with our customers with what is important for them,” he said.

“We also created a dedicated TV spot all about responsible gaming.

Going Greek

The nature of this was to engage people and put across the message that we want customers to play responsibly.

“No other operator has done this, and the HGC were happy that they have seen this initiative from our side. We are in close collaboration with the HGC on responsible gaming and other areas, providing expertise from our other 20 active markets.”

Notable examples Marinos highlighted included the Betsson WRC Rally Acropolis and the Betsson Super League 2, as well as an amateur club - Betsson was the first in Greece to do so, working with two influencers - which has proven a hit on YouTube, gaining 400,000 views.

“The Super League 2 partnership goes with the nature of our brand from market entry,” he continued. “There are big established players here, and at the time we were a challenger brand, and wanted to challenge the status quo, gain significant market share and make an impact.

in Greece, Marinos added - describing engagement with both sportsbook and casino as a “pleasant surprise” during the tournament - and he projected continued momentum for both Betsson and the market as a whole.

“It is no secret that more companies are coming into the market and would like to join. I am expecting to see more join but at the same time I think there will also be some consolidation,” he concluded.

On a wider scale, while casino has been Betsson’s pedigree, sportscentred marketing has also proven a big hit for the firm in carving out a local brand image.

The company adopted an approach of “doing things differently”, avoiding one large single sponsorship and instead diversifying across seven different tournaments and clubs.

“We believe that this approach, by going across 34 different stadiums throughout the country instead of just one big sponsorship, was the way forward, and that our ability to connect with the local clubs and communities has proven that this was the right strategy.”

Having recorded strong growth across multiple markets last year, with full year revenue growing by 18 per cent to €777m and a record turnover of €146m for its casino division, Betsson’s plan is to “stick with what we’re doing”.

Along with other markets, the World Cup proved a strong driver for the firm

“In a year or two, I expect mediumto-high level brands to be operating in Greece, those with a strategy and a plan and the money to invest in order to operate here.

“The licensing fee for five years is €5m, and you need a big marketing spend to make an impact. However, the market is growing very fast due to the regulation and more players coming in will make the market move forward.”

Marinos concluded by saying that Betsson is indeed gaining a lot of traction in Greece for all the right reasons – both for its product offerings but also for its extra-curricular activities, such as the Betsson Foundation and the dedicated TV campaign on safer gambling. • 63 MARKETS


AS LOCAL AND MULTINATIONAL operators excitedly continue preparations for the launch of the regulated Brazilian market, Enjoy has already made its move.

Enjoy the ride

Brazil will undoubtedly become the next big market of the gambling industry. With 218 million people, a GDP of $3.9 trillion - greater than the UK's - and the sixth country in the American continent in terms of internet penetration, operators are anticipating the opening of the online casino market.

Although some companies are waiting for a firm regulatory framework that would allow them to analyse the pros and cons of applying for an online gambling licence, there are others which are already setting up in the country to launch as soon as possible.

Enjoy, one of the biggest Latin American operators, took advantage of its experience in countries such as

Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, and has prepared one of the most complete offerings in the market.

In late February, the operator announced the launch of its EnjoyWin platform in Brazil, with hopes - and arguably certainties - that it will become its next big market.

The Chilean company gathered 15 people in Montevideo, Uruguay, to develop the project. They all have experience in the industry and speak at least three languages.

Currently, there are a large number of local operators in Brazil that will start the race for the market share with a slight advantage, simply because they know which way to go. However, when it comes to local expertise and operating experience, you would only need one hand to count how many operators have the ability to launch successfully.

Enjoy, through EnjoyWin, is one of them. This online project was born out of the need to improve the relationship with its customers during the pandemic, when casinos were not allowed to operate.

In conversation with SBC Leaders, Juan Ignacio Juanena, Business Developer Manager at Enjoy, and Valeria Montero, EnjoyWin’s Marketing Manager, explained the path taken by the company to reach this launch.

SBC: How was the process to launch the EnjoyWin brand in Brazil?

The launch of the EnjoyWin brand was a great challenge for the company. It was a long, demanding process that had the support of the entire company and the Board of Directors from the beginning. [We] were aware that this project was the starting point of the company’s future.

SBC: What do you think the online gaming licensing system in Brazil will be like once regulation is in place? Do you hope to apply for licences in as many states as possible or will you focus on a select group?

It is not yet clear how the regulation process will be, so I would be speculating in an uncertain scenario. However, it’s clear to Enjoy that we have a very strong brand positioning in the south of the country.

Compared to any company that operates exclusively online, it’s a big benefit that we’ll take advantage of and one that has generated great interest among potential business partners.

SBC: What type of offering do you currently have? And what other games do you hope to release in the future?

Currently, we have a very good entertainment offering that includes table games, slots, live casino, video bingo, virtual sports and sports betting, among other things. 65


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New games are launched every week from the providers that we currently have integrated and we are analysing new product integrations that are also of great interest to our clients, such as poker and bingo.

SBC: What kind of online casino games do you expect will resonate the most with the Brazilian public?

We have seen operators with very different positions. Some are exclusively focused on casino, others on sports betting, others on esports. The variety and the business can be segmented into a certain niche if that’s the goal, since there’s a great diversity and a very strong demand for each product.

It’s currently impossible to talk about a unique profile [when talking about Brazilian players]. As far as Enjoy and its clients are concerned, slots and video bingo games are the most popular, while roulette and baccarat stand out among casino games.

SBC: When it comes to sports betting, Brazil is not only expected to be a leading market in Latin America, but also at a global level. Can you share your expectations about this market?

Brazil has enormous potential in the sports betting market and that can be seen already with the large number of existing operators. It will unquestionably be one of the most important [markets] at a global level.

Sports betting, without a doubt, attracts another type of public. It attracts a different and challenging type of player that requires enhanced monitoring and control. But on the other hand, it is also much bigger than the rest of the gaming verticals and it is one where you can grow quickly and achieve a higher market share.

Enjoy currently offers sports betting with a product on par with the most renowned operators in the industry and will continue to add new features based on consumer demand.

SBC: When EnjoyWin announced the launch, the company didn’t reveal

details of the total investment, although it mentioned a group of 15 people in charge of developing the project. Do you have any estimations around ROI?

Although we can’t reveal the exact amount that we’ve invested, we hope to recover that number in the coming years and we are very optimistic that our player base, as well as the positioning of the Enjoy brand will allow us to have a ROI in less time than projected than most operators.

SBC: Will you have a team based in Brazil? If so, which city will you prioritise?

It will depend on the regulation and the requirements of the market. We’re currently satisfied with our operational team that speaks native Portuguese and that in our first weeks of operations

they’ve been highlighted by customers for their dedication and warmth.

SBC: What type of marketing strategy is the most reliable one to use in a market like Brazil? Does it have any type of influence that Brazil speaks a different language than the dominant one in the region?

In digital marketing, including social media and online advertising campaigns, it’s important to make good use of localisation in creative ways and in regards to language expressions when reaching the Brazilian player.

The language barrier could present some challenges, but in our case we have a team of native Portuguese speakers and deep experience in the industry that allows us to connect effectively and in a personalised way with the Brazilian public. • 67
Enjoy the ride MARKETS
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WITH A POPULATION just shy of 123 million people, Japan is brimming with potential to become one of the largest online casino markets in the world. 69 MARKETS Turning Japanese

There’s just one problem - the online gaming market is not currently regulated. Those accessing gaming sites are doing so via offshore operators, a practice Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants to crack down on.

The question on everyone’s mind is why the Japanese government is so adamant in its refusal to legalise online gambling and benefit from a significant new source of tax receipts?

The Japanese market will be under the spotlight at CasinoBeats Summit 2023, which takes place in Malta on 23-25 May. Panellists will take a look at player trends, regulatory developments - or lack thereof - as well as the sizeable appetite for Pachinko.

Ahead of the conference, we sat down with Andrea Belleza, VP of EU & Asia Pacific markets at KaFe Rocks, and Asami Tanaka, Country Manager at Acroud, to discuss the prospect of a regulated gambling industry in the country.

In Japan, Tanaka told SBC Leaders, there is one main reason as to why the government has not yet chosen to regulate online gaming; namely, the long process between legislation being drafted and it being introduced into law.

So while the country’s national police agency and consumer affairs agency announced that online casinos are illegal in Japan, it has taken a considerable amount of time for that law to become ratified.

Belleza believes that the reason is

much more complex than just the time taken to introduce new legislation. Instead, he drew attention to the perceived socioeconomic ramifications and entrenched conservative values within Japanese society.

He said: “Trying to avoid any speculation and bad faith, I would say that we could highlight three main reasons that are interconnected with one other.

“The first is that the Japanese government may be concerned about the potential negative impact of online gaming on Japanese society, particularly in terms of problem gambling, due to the country's high rate of gambling addiction (according to a 2019 survey by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 3.6 per cent of adults have experienced gambling addiction). Regulating and fully legalising online gaming might give more exposure and increase the numbers.

“The second reason is, ignoring the potential stream of revenues from taxation, the Japanese government may not view online gaming as a significant social or economic problem that requires regulation.

“Japan has a long history of gambling, and there are many forms of legal gambling in the country, including horse racing, bicycle racing and pachinko. The government may believe that the existing regulatory framework is sufficient to address any potential issues related to online gaming.

“It is possible that the Japanese government is simply taking a cautious

approach and waiting to see how other countries regulate online gaming before deciding on a course of action. This is the third possible reason.

“Japan has historically been a conservative society, and the government may be reluctant to make any significant changes to the regulatory framework without first carefully considering all of the potential consequences.”

Online casinos may be banned, but there is one particular gambling product that is incredibly popular with Japanese bettors: Pachinko - a mixture of slots and pinball.

It has been estimated that gamblers in Japan spend close to $200 billion on Pachinko machines each year. Tanaka believes that this vertical remains so popular with the Japanese population due to it being low stakes.

“When playing Pachinko, you can bet a small amount of money. This means that you don’t tend to lose much money when playing and ultimately means players can keep coming back to play without fear of losing too much,” said Tanaka.

“Pachinko machines can also be advertised officially in Japan, meaning that people are much more aware of

70 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 Turning Japanese

these machines. It is still incredibly popular, however the sales are gradually becoming lower and lower each year.”

Pachinko initially emerged as a popular pastime in the 1930s and, said Belleza, longevity is one of the central reasons for its status in Japanese culture.

“There are many reasons that contribute to Pachinko’s popularity, some of them hard for us to understand - especially if you ever stepped inside a busy Pachinko parlour in Japan. Pachinko parlours often have a lively atmosphere, with players socialising, chatting and cheering each other on,” he explained.

“The game is also easy to learn and does not require a lot of skill or strategy to play, making it an attractive form of entertainment, especially after a day in the office.

“Pachinko offers the potential for large payouts, creating a sense of excitement among players. The game's legal status as a game of skill has helped to ensure its continued popularity in Japan, allowing it to be regulated and controlled by the government while still offering players the chance to win big.”

Does this continued popularity mean that Pachinko will remain a staple in the Japanese entertainment industry?

According to Belleza, current trends suggest that popularity may be waning.

He added: “All this said, while Pachinko remains a highly successful form of gambling and entertainment, there are signs that its popularity is declining among younger generations.

According to a 2020 survey by the Japanese Productivity Center, 31.2 per cent of respondents aged 50-59 played it, while the number decreased to 5.5 per cent among those aged 20-29.

“For the time being we will hardly see any decrease in revenues generated, but I wouldn’t exclude longterm shifts.”

entertaining slots - often go hand-inhand with Pachinko, I would say that the competition is limited. While there is certainly space for casinos and betting, they are unlikely to overtake Pachinko's popularity,” he said.

“However, with younger generations there’s much more room for competition. Online casinos and betting sites are expanding and improving their offers, which leads to a constant increase in popularity. Social casino games also have the potential to appeal to Japanese consumers, as they are doing in other markets.”

Both Tanaka and Belleza agreed that new verticals are beginning to emerge as potential replacements for Pachinko. However their views about which verticals will succeed differ hugely.

“Official gambling verticals such as horse racing and boat racing are growing across Japan. Pachinko, in fact, is not an official gambling product,” Tanaka said.

“Amusement poker is also gaining traction. However, bettors cannot wager money when playing these types of games. There are some tournaments that do exist that offer prizes though.”

Belezza, meanwhile, suggested that Pachinko’s hegemony is likely to fall victim to changing tastes among younger Japanese.

“When considering older generations as a reference, and taking into account that Pachislots - a form of flashy and

Changing player tastes alone are unlikely to move the dial on the regulation of online gaming. However, there is one indication that the Japanese government’s attitude to gambling may be softening - the plan to stimulate economic growth by the development of integrated resorts (IR) that feature casinos, hotels and convention centres.

Belleza concluded: “The development of IR casinos could potentially speed up the path to online regulation, as it would create a legal framework for gambling and provide the government with more experience in regulating the industry.

“However, it's important to note that the Japanese government has been cautious in its approach to regulating gambling, and any decision would likely be made after careful consideration of the potential risks and benefits. To sum it up, I wouldn’t expect the online market to be regulated soon.” • 71 MARKETS



Currently, Mexico does not have specific online gambling legislation, but land-based facilities have the ability to offer these kinds of services, as per regulations that date back to 1947. This same regulation allows the operation of over 30 land-based facilities.

These permits have the possibility to extend operations online or at a landbased level. The platforms that are currently operating in Mexico are linked to these landbased operations, authorised by licences to the permit holders.

The Ibero-American Corporation of State Lotteries (CIBELAE) is keen to see further moves towards the establishment of regulated markets for online gaming, in order to protect players from the risks associated with unauthorised sites and to ensure states benefit from tax revenues.

Speaking to SBC Leaders, Rodrigo Cigliutti, Executive Director of CIBELAE, reviewed the regulatory progress in some of Latin America’s most prominent markets and outlined what local and international operators can expect to find in them.

That’s why, since there’s no difference between online and land-based operations, the companies that administer these casinos pay the same taxes. The Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) is the regulatory body that supervises and controls gambling in Mexico.

Starting with the Peruvian market, former President Pedro Castillo approved the Law 31,557 on August 13, 2022, which enables and regulates online sports betting and gambling. This law establishes Mincetur as the body responsible for authorising, supervising, regulating and revoking authorisations and licences.

The regulations establish restrictions such as: the participation of minors and people with gambling problemsincluded in the Registry created for this purpose -, and the location of land-based rooms, taking into account the distance between these spaces and

educational centres and religious institutions.

In addition, municipalities may grant, with the prior consent of the Ministry, permits or licences for land-based facilities. In this framework, the Ministry of Transport and Communication is in charge of blocking unauthorised sites.

In regards to the tax regime, the tax burden applied in the regulations is 12 per cent of net profits. This number is the same for casinos and slot machines.

Meanwhile, the law establishes that the profits from that tax are shared between the Treasury (40 per cent), the tourism sector (40 per cent) and mental health care (20 per cent).

LatAm legislation
THE PANDEMIC BROUGHT a sense of urgency to the process of regulating online gambling in Latin America, but the picture across the region remains mixed.

The situation in Argentina is well known as it has 24 state lotteries. Each province has its own entity in charge of games such as lotteries, land-based casinos, online casinos and sports betting. That’s why the situation differs depending on the province or jurisdiction.

It’s worth mentioning that the Province of Buenos Aires has almost 40 per cent of the country’s total population. If we also add the provinces of Córdoba, Santa Fe and the City of Buenos Aires - which are all highlights from this country’s industry - the percentage increases to 60 per cent.

The following provinces have made progress in their regulations and licensing processes: the City of Buenos Aires, the Province of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Corrientes, Chaco, Chubut, Entre Ríos, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, Mendoza, Misiones, Neuquén, Río Negro, San Luis, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Tucumán. Some markets have imposed a maximum number of


potential licences, as in the case of the Province of Buenos Aires, which has seven, while others have not restricted the number, like the City of Buenos Aires.

According to the regulations, these licences are valid from five to 15 years, depending on the province, and some have the possibility to be renewed. In regards to the net profits tax, the range varies between a minimum of 2 per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent and a fixed sum of $100k, similar to Colombia’s system. In addition, the Congress recently approved a tax on online activity.

Undoubtedly, Colombia is the leading country when it comes to online gambling regulation at a national level. Implemented in 2016, its legislation to grant licences has been the basis and guide for many countries in the region.

This is proven by just seeing the numbers of the last three years, which exceeded $1.6bn in 2020, were more than $3bn in 2021 and almost $5.5bn by the end of 2022, through the 16 authorised operators in the country.

Online gambling is so important to Colombia’s industry that it represents 32% of the total revenues of Coljuegos, the local gambling regulator. The fee that licensed operators have to pay rises to $200k and 15 per cent of their GGR.

Since the end of 2022, Chile has been involved in different discussions to regulate online gambling. It’s estimated that the law will be approved at the beginning of 2024.

According to the project currently under consideration by legislators, the Superintendence of Gambling Casinos (SCJ) will be responsible for regulating and controlling the industry once it’s approved.

However, once that happens, it will be renamed to the Superintendence of Casinos, Betting and Games of Chance.

It is important to clarify that the project excludes lottery games, which will remain under the current regulation, separated from casinos and betting. 73 MARKETS


The Executive Power from Uruguay sent a bill to the National Congress that establishes that the General Directorate of Casinos would regulate the exploitation of online gambling.

This project, although it had been approved by the Upper House, was subject to observations and corrections in the Lower House and has come to a halt, at least temporarily. It’s estimated that the discussions will restart soon.

Paraguay has a regulated sports betting market. The regulator is the National Gaming Commission (Conajzar), which supervises the implementation of the Law 1016 of 1997.

The process to grant licences started in 2019, and there are currently 15 legal casinos and one bingo hall.

As in Uruguay, there is a monopoly in terms of online sports betting, which is operated by Daruma Sam, through the Apostala platform. The private company was authorised five years ago and, in 2022, it renewed its licence for a new period.

It’s also important to mention that Uruguay maintains a policy to close illegal sites, which is why implementing the new law will help migrate part of the profits from unauthorised sites to the regulated ones.

In addition, the state-owned Supermatch is currently the only sports betting platform running in the country.

Everyone knows that the Brazilian gambling regulations are extremely old. All types of casinos have been prohibited in Brazil for more than 80 years, by Decree Law 3,688.

Although the legislation for sports betting was approved in 2018, there are still no regulations in place and the market has been waiting for the official launch since then.

Parallel to this, the Chamber of Deputies approved the project that legalised gambling in the country, although once again the debate was stalled in Congress as it didn't get enough consensus to address the final approval.

However, multiple sources insist that the decision to regulate online gambling will happen. It is known that every day that this issue goes unresolved, thousands of dollars

continue to enter the illegal gambling market in the country. As a result, the State loses money, so this is a topic that it seeks to address.

While Brazil could become the main sports betting market globally, the online gaming industry is also a major attraction.

So is the rest of Latin America, which is why it is urgent that each government comes up with its own infrastructure to allow business, state and social development that the representatives of the international industry seek to establish.

As an organisation that brings together the main regulators in the region, along with operators, suppliers and more, CIBELAE is positioned as a great ally for the development of the industry in Latin America.

74 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023 MARKETS LatAm legislation


As the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact all households across the UK, the gambling industry faces transformative challenges in maintaining a balance between affordability and harm prevention.

The economic pressures are expected to reduce gambling spending, but history shows that

during the 2008/9 recession, gambling spending actually increased.

With declining revenues and profits, gambling operators are under increased scrutiny to address negative public opinion, in which regulators point towards adopting undefined Markers of Harm as the comforting panacea to solve problem gambling concerns. 75 The elusive Markers of Harm MARKETS
WITH THE GAMBLING ACT REVIEW having placed affordability and player protection in the spotlight, UK operators must accept the challenge of being compliant with undefined Markers of Harm to win back consumer trust.

The elusive Markers of Harm

of operators assisting players with budget planning during this volatile period. "In times of economic uncertainty, operators must help players with their budgeting to keep track of overall spending and avoid unnecessary fallout," he said.

Regulators demand that operators take proactive steps towards responsible gambling, which includes the search for predictive Markers of Harm. However, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process, involving the development of algorithms and hiring staff to manage the findings.

Although such measures keep operators and regulators busy, the quest for Markers of Harm remains tricky, with no reliable indicators across different gambling types - and with


operators yet to provide certainties in what dangers should be outlined.

Malcolm Bruce, founder of Gambling Integrity, questioned the potential effectiveness of this idea. ”The search for predictive Markers of Harm to find players with gambling problems is a perfect solution to keep regulators and operators busy, but it may be an elusive quest,” he said.

On the other hand, data from player bank accounts suggests that, despite economic pressures, gambling spend remains relatively constant for many

individuals. However, some people find it difficult to keep track of their spending and financial position.

The cost-of-living crisis may exacerbate this issue, making it more difficult for players to predict and plan their spending.

Cohen shared his insights on the issue, explaining: "The data we gather from player bank accounts tells a more nuanced and perhaps challenging story. For many people, even in these volatile times, gambling spend is relatively constant in value terms.

“However, those who struggle with budgeting find it very hard to keep track of what they spend overall and on gambling in particular."

In these challenging times, the gambling industry should prioritise improved customer education, trust


between operators and customers, and a more straightforward regulatory regime.

A proactive approach that helps guide players through the current economic turmoil is essential to prevent the industry from being portrayed as predators feasting on vulnerable people.

Concerns about surveillance and intrusion persist, yet proving one's ability to gamble without causing harm to others seems like a reasonable requirement.

Bruce offered his perspective on affordability checks. "Should gamblers submit to having their finances raked over by a back-office clerk? Is that sort of intrusion under the guise of an 'affordability check' an acceptable form of paternalism to ensure the protection of gamblers?

“After all, we accept the paternalism that requires body scan searches at airports and pandemic lockdowns."

by the cost-of-living crisis, public opinion, and regulatory demands. Yet, to pursue undefined Markers of Harm may not be the most effective strategy to address ever-present problem gambling concerns .


Cohen stressed the importance of trust between the industry and its customers. "The only answer is a better-informed consumer and trust between the industry and its customers, supported by a clear set of regulations and expectations from the government," he said.

As regulators push for the implementation of Markers of Harm, the industry should also reconsider the effectiveness and reliability of these measures. Instead, a focus on affordability checks and financial scrutiny may provide a more practical solution to prevent harm to gamblers and their families.

Simply put, the gambling industry must adapt to the cost of living crisis and reevaluate its approach to harm prevention.

By fostering trust, providing guidance, and balancing affordability and harm prevention measures, operators can ensure a sustainable and responsible future for the industry.

Cohen and Bruce both emphasised the need for a more thoughtful approach in addressing the challenges faced by gambling amid uncertain economic times, marred by dwindling consumer confidence.

With the fallout from the Gambling Act Review’s judgement still unfolding, UK operators find themselves at a defining crossroads, challenged

Instead, a more nuanced strategy focusing on affordability, informed consumers, and trust between operators and customers is crucial.

As economic pressures rise, the industry must adapt and prioritise harm prevention, guided by transparent regulations and a proactive approach to support players during these volatile times.

Facing the only certainty that compliance costs will increase, the likely winners are those that find the balance between affordability and harm prevention, who can therefore navigate through the current challenges and win consumer trust… It’s going to be another long journey. • 77 MARKETS



GET A SNEAK PEEK into the world of SBC team members as they share exclusive insights into their roles in the preparations for SBC Summit Barcelona, set to take place on September 19-21 at Fira Barcelona Montjuic.

A conference with over 400 speakers is an immense undertaking. Can you describe how you approach the challenges and what motivates you?

Conference producing sure does keep me on my toes! Each event comes with unique challenges, but that's exactly what keeps me fueled. Who wants to be bored at work, right?

The 2022 edition was a huge success, so the pressure to keep raising the bar is definitely on. This year, we have a massive lineup of 400 speakers and seven stages running simultaneously across two days. Talk about a balancing act!

We carefully select the leaders and innovators in the industry because our attendees come to learn and we want to ensure that we deliver content that will provide them with actionable takeaways.

It's like a game of Tetris - we meticulously plan each stage, to try to avoid scheduling conflicts and make sure every panel is dynamic and engaging and that attendees get the best possible experience.


Teamwork is the secret to making it all happen. We don't just rely on research to stay on top of industry trends; we like to deep-dive into thought-provoking discussions

to really understand the industry's main pain points. That's why we work with industry leaders as stage ‘advisors’ so they can share their expertise and provide fresh perspectives. It's how we make sure our agendas are killer!

It’s a lot of work, but seeing attendees making new connections and leaving with new insights is the best feeling in the world. When attendees say “Count me in for 2024”, that’s when we know we’ve really hit the mark!

Favourite part about your job: Witnessing our plans come together and seeing full conference rooms during the event.

Pet peeve: Google Sheets - I see them in my dreams!

Favourite 2023 panel: The highlight of this year for me will be the roundtables. These sessions provide a unique opportunity to blend networking with in-depth discussions on topics that are of particular interest to the audience.

Team members describe Natalie in one word: ninja, honest, generous, knowledgeable.

Meet the staff 78 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2023


Favourite part about your job: I can see people rolling their eyes at me, but it's the team! These guys are funny, passionate, and hardworking. I love them!

Pet peeve: Our coffee - we were promised that this would be sorted but we still have those godawful pods!

Favourite 2023 conference panel: I've had some fascinating conversations about a session on disrupting the product innovation framework - how businesses can move fast enough without sacrificing true innovation. It's a topic we'd struggled to include in the past because it's so challenging to discuss. However, the panellists we've brought together this year have each developed a methodology to crack this nut.

Team members describe Jonny in one word: leader, driven, superstar, mentor.

The Relationships team is a distinctive feature of SBC. What was the reasoning behind establishing this division?

This team exemplifies a tangible investment in two of the core values of SBC: community and industrycentricity.

As a jaded conference industry professional, I've organised events in almost every sector and witnessed all the tricks of the trade. While most of us claim to be industry-centric, the truth is we often only reach out to you once a year to ask for your time or money.

However, SBC has different DNA.

This industry needed an authentic place to meet. Initially, it was meetups in pubs around events and now we're running 10,000-people shows. Our events were built from the ground up by the industry for the industry.

The Relationship team is an extension of this philosophy. Although it would be simple to focus on profit and invest in a massive corporate conference engine to monetise our shows, we have chosen to invest in a team whose primary responsibility is to communicate with the industry. Our goal is to talk to people in the same way Ras and Andy did years ago in the pub.

We're usually sorting out VIP tickets or researching a topic for our conference, but the point of this team is to build long-term relationships with the industry and bring them into our community - you need to know people properly to do that. I always start off with the same opening question. I know what value I get from this conversation, but I want to know what they need from me as well. 79 EVENTS


Could you share some insights into how the marketing team manages to consistently create compelling content across multiple channels?

Our mission is to spread the word about all the cool stuff happening at SBC Summit Barcelona - and let me tell you, there’s a lot!

We're talking action-packed exhibition floors, panels with top-notch speakers, and endless networking opportunities. Our teams work tirelessly to ensure this is a once-in-a-lifetime event that'll leave our attendees feeling like they’ve hit the jackpot, and as a marketing team, it's our job to give you all the juicy details.

But here's the kicker - with so much going on, we need to get super creative to make sure that our marketing efforts hit the mark in communicating the insane atmosphere of this event.

That's why we gather twice a week for "deep dives" to brainstorm ideas and figure out the best way to get the word out there.

Luckily, our team is made up of email marketing geniuses, social media gurus, PR wizards, and media partnership rockstars who come together to make sure you're in the loop on all the event goodness.

We encourage everyone to speak their minds and share their ideas - no matter how wild - which helps us come up with creative solutions. Plus, it's an excellent opportunity to learn from each other and grow as a team.

Personally, when I hit a mental roadblock, I like to hit up the beautiful Brighton beach for a quick walk or head to the gym for a sweat sesh. It's amazing how getting some fresh air and exercise can unlock new levels of creativity!

Favourite part about your job: I have a ton of things that come to mind, but I'll keep it short and sweet. My team are a great bunch, I get to travel the world and we get to come up with fun and creative marketing ideas.

Pet peeve: Too many slack notifications coming in at once!

Favourite SBC 2023 conference panel: ‘The future of search - will ChatGPT alter internet habits?’ ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, attracting 13 million users daily. I'm excited to see how this tool will transform the way we work and think, as well as its integration into everyday marketing practices.

Team members describe Elodie in one word: assiduous, determined, caring, creative, multi-faceted.

Meet the staff


Favourite part about your job: The talented Event Managers we have at SBC. These guys will be the names to watch in the years to come.

Pet peeve: The office kitchen. We spend all our money on the great client experiences at our events - we might have to commandeer a better coffee machine from our next event!

Favourite 2023 conference session: I am excited to hear Matthew Ball educate us all on what's to come in the world of the metaverse. I am sure there will be a few jaws that need picking up off the floor.

Team members describe Stuart in one word: supportive, methodical, adaptable, meticulous.

In a crowded landscape of events, what makes SBC Summit Barcelona unique from your point of view?

SBC Summit Barcelona is one of those juggernaut events that is a must-attend for any professional even remotely connected to the sports betting and iGaming space - but not for the reasons you might expect.

This event has a stellar reputation for some of the best content in the industry, attendance from top-tier suppliers, operators, and affiliates, and some of the best parties a senior gaming executive has ever seen. However, what truly makes SBC Summit Barcelona stand out from other events is the accumulation of all these initiatives, resulting in a wide array of opportunities to establish meaningful connections.

SBC events are all about facilitating connections, whether that is through our immersive exhibition areas, roundtable conference content, a carefully curated dinner,

or our parties - you will be sure to leave SBC Summit Barcelona with an overflowing black book of connections.

In addition, this year we will be introducing AI-led connection experiences through our on-site event app! - something I am very excited about.

I do have to say - the single biggest factor that sets this event apart is the team behind it - from the Relationship or Customer Success Managers who get you ready for the first event day, to Conference Producers who carefully curate the content to advance your skillset, the marketing team who help you "convince your boss" to attend (as if that is in question?!), and to the Event Managers who string all the complicated operations together so you have a seamless experience on-site.

THE TEAM at SBC is phenomenal! (So, one last tip of the hat to the HR team for getting top talent in.) 81 EVENTS


Favourite part about your job: Each day is different.

Pet peeve: Google Sheets.

Favourite 2023 conference panel: Artificial SEOtopical depth and the rise of AI search algorithms.

Team members describe Julian in one word: energetic, champion, creative, savvy, ‘Errol Flynn’

Julian could you elaborate on the significance of SBC’s community of Affiliate Leaders?

In my time in the industry, one thing that has stood out to me is that affiliates are a unique bunch (which is why I enjoy working with them).

Affiliate Leaders is more than just a group of affiliates coming together at events. This community - because we want our affiliates to feel like they are "community managers" - is all about empowering them to tackle pain points and swap tips on how to build better relationships with operators. The goal is to make this industry better - it might sound idealistic or even naive, but our industry does not have to be a pack of lone wolves.

Having a safe environment to discuss their ideas is the best way forward, and that's why we're here. This is definitely not the first time someone is trying to do it. But we're coming in from a different angle. What's the point of doing events if we can't address the needs of our attendees?

For SBC, this is an opportunity to learn what makes affiliates tick so we can serve them the best content and present them with the best opportunities.

During SBC Summit Barcelona, our members can continue their discussions face-to-face in a dedicated lounge and catch up during invite-only dinners for Affiliate Leaders. If they have operators or fellow affiliates in mind that they'd like to see at our events, all they have to do is give us a shout and let us handle the rest.

Even though we're event organisers, that doesn't mean that this community hibernates while we're not at events. It's an opportunity for a 365-day touchpoint that lets affiliates talk about anything that interests them - even if it's a ‘rival’ industry event.

It's great to see our Leaders reaching out to each other - think of it as a onestop-shop for all things affiliate. There's always someone willing to offer friendly advice, which is fascinating to see because these guys are competitors.

This goes to show everyone's longterm vision - we can do more as a community, and this is just the beginning.

Meet the staff EVENTS

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