EEGaming: First, let me thank you for doing this interview. It means a lot to have such a highly ranked professional’s interview among our list of persons we have interviewed during our period of existence. I know the year is not over yet, however looking back at 2016, what were the key developments for you and EveryMatrix?
Ebbe Groes: You’re most welcome, I am happy to respond to your questions and to be able to reflect upon our company’s evolution.
From a commercial point of view, from the start of the year our number of clients grew by more than 30 new and established operators, which is a sign that we can serve large operators on the market with the same success.
We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to re-write all our main products; the sports, casino and payments solutions are almost ready to showcase and some of the new modules are already live. Rewriting a large complex application is very time-consuming and can be a bit frustrating at times since you have to maintain the old application as well. 2016 was a year like that, but we’re now close to completion, gearing up sales and seeing the results starting to appear commercially as well. I’m a firm believer in continuous re-investment into software and pretty proud of where we’re going at the moment.
Some early results? Well, our sportsbook solution is now able to deliver more than 25,000 live events per month. Our casino product has kept its top position in the industry as the best casino platform with 4,000 games and constantly new features added.
2016 also brought the biggest brand yet signed by EveryMatrix, one I hope to announce before ICE. But stay tuned! We’ve expanded our sales team, both with product specialists within casino and sports, and with a new Commercial Director. We made great efforts to bring account managers closer to sales team members and make sure things move faster for our clients.
EEGaming: Are the current laws and regulations which have been implemented and somehow forced on software providers helping business or are they slowing it down?
Ebbe Groes: First thing to notice is that legislations differ quite a lot, both in terms of financial and technical requirements. There’s an obvious and legitimate desire to create tax revenues from our sector which we should respect – along with desires to improve players’ protection. So overall we welcome this development. It will overall help grow the market and ensure a level playing field.
I am also happy and appreciative for some of the technical requirements imposed upon us from various regulators as they can serve to reduce fraud, chargebacks and other maladies of our industry.
This doesn’t mean that things can’t be improved and my largest concerns would be the failure to properly protect license holders against competition from non-licensed providers and the occasional countries putting up massive back taxes or entry fees, essentially pushing some companies towards remaining in the grey zone.
EEGaming: A company of the size of EveryMatrix can’t stand still for too long, it must bring new technology and innovations. What are the little secrets that help EveryMatrix in innovating yet again?
Ebbe Groes: It’s not only that we can’t stand still for too long, but we cannot afford to do that.
In the online gaming industry change is constant and every major player is aware that technology and innovation are necessary elements for any company that wants to advance.
Our approach to technological innovation has been influenced by our clients’ demands and requirements, so using the latest technology in bringing the best products into the market comes as a natural element in delivering better services for players.
So, that would be our little secret: Listen to your clients and recognize the great suggestions that will help proper further growth. This way, the right kind of demanding client can help you for years to come and one should actively seek such clients, even at the expense of others that might bring higher revenues in the short term.
While big parts of our product development are fueled by visionary product developers in EveryMatrix, I can point to a couple of areas from our last couple of years that would not have been nearly as good without demanding and knowledgeable clients.
One is the huge role of API driven development. We’re today probably the most advanced provider in the world when it comes to what you can build yourself around an EveryMatrix solution. We can split up the products and modules allowing clients to add, in-house or from others, exactly what they need, typically around user experience with front end and CRM as the key areas.
The other is our Asian-focused agent management system, which keeps being improved at a quite impressive speed on the back of client requests.
EEGaming: Are there any standards that you follow in order to access new markets?
Ebbe Groes: In general, we’re blessed with being quite flexible in our approach, being privately held, able to invest when we wish without having to keep to certain profit targets, and owned by management.
When it comes to new markets, be it in terms of products or geographies, we seek to only enter when we believe that we can make a difference and be a key player. This is one reason we’re not targeting Africa and the Americas in 2016 and probably 2017 as well. Doing Europe and Asia is quite sufficient. Each area comes with its own demands and we can’t be the best everywhere, yet.
EEGaming: What about expansion? There is definitely a plan for that, but tell us, what are the important steps and what are the things that need to be avoided?
Ebbe Groes: We’ve by and large grown organically. Fast but without (large) mergers and acquisitions. This gives a quite harmonious organization, a staff that I’m proud of working with and whom I truly feel buy into our company’s vision and goals.
Still, as we’ve grown it’s become harder to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit of the past. Key people don’t scale, including myself and my co-founder Stian Hornsletten, and that forces more thinking into organization. Of course, hiring smartly into middle management is one way but we believe it is not enough.
In 2016 we took the quite radical decision to aim for splitting up our company in virtual sub-companies, each with their own management team. So, a CEO, CTO, COO, head of sales, account manager, support for our sports product, OddsMatrix. This management team can focus fully on their product, technically, operationally, commercially, aiming to make it – stand alone – the best it can be, taking control and competing against the best in the business. We did the same for Casino, for Payments and the other solutions.
It’s still early, but overall I feel it was a move that is paying off handsomely – and will do so even more as we progress and gain experience with this. I think the only other alternative would have been to give up some of the business areas and focus purely on one or two products, as for instance Evolution and Kambi are doing.
I believe this split into verticals is what will allow us to yet again double and re-double our size, both in terms of revenues and even to handle well the continuous growth of staff.
EEGaming: Do you have any products that will soon be released?
Ebbe Groes: We have more than one, I’m happy to say. But if I should mention our biggest investment, biggest gamble even, it’s our new payments company MoneyMatrix.
MoneyMatrix is a brand-new payment processing platform that encompasses new technologies and security protocols to keep customer financial details safe. The new payment solution is PCI DSS Level 1 Compliant, including full control of transactions, better risk management and detailed reporting. It’s built upon a combination of our own experience and that of the highly competent people we brought on board for this. MoneyMatrix will hold a payment service provider licence from the Malta Financial Service Authority which allows us to contract for payments alone large clients within and outside the gaming industry, fully detached technically and commercially from our platform, sports, and casino business. It’s a strong team, a remarkable product and I personally can’t wait for the ICE 2017 unveiling!
EEGaming: How’s the feedback regarding the current products?
Ebbe Groes: Feedback for a software company can be measured in signed deals and volumes going through the platform. With that measuring stick, we are happy. I like our industry for many reasons. One of them is that there’s a quite good correlation between quality and success. Hype doesn’t last for too long, the actors are too smart, too well-informed for that.
But hey, industry appreciation is nice too. So, we’re glad to notice a series of positive signals from the industry, such as securing White Label Partner of the Year at the EGR B2B Awards 2016 in London and “Best Sports betting software provider based on Open Business Relationship” and “Best casino software provider based on Open Business Relationship” awards at CEEGC 2016 in Budapest.
EEGaming: If you could choose one celebrity to promote any of your products, who would you choose and why?
Ebbe Groes: Denise Coates, the Bet365 founder and chief exec, whom I respect immensely for the product, company, and results. EveryMatrix is a B2B company and I can’t think of anyone whose endorsement would carry more weight with decision makers in our industry. So, go home Messi and Murray, and give me Denis Coates for my celeb promoter!
Exclusive Interview with Christian Maglia, Head of Sales at BetGames.TV
Our colleague, Szaló Réka interviewed Christian Maglia who is the Head of Sales at BetGames.TV. Mr. Maglia is a really dynamic, proactive and open-minded person with great experience within business development (B2B Sales), marketing and management in the Payments, New Media and Internet Gaming industries.
Through the years Mr. Maglia has been working as Sales Manager and Business Developer, Sales and Marketing Manager, Director of Sales and Marketing in Sweden, Italy, UK, Germany, Spain, Israel, Gibraltar and Malta with customers in UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Czech Rep., Bulgaria, Romania, Russia & CIS countries, Australia, Macedonia, Sweden, Turkey, Austria and India which naturally have given him a large network of contacts. From January 2017 he moved to BetGames.TV, a developer and distributor of an innovative own video-streamed fixed odds betting on LIVE presented GAMES.
I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself.
CM: It’s a pleasure for me to spend sometime with you. To quickly present myself, I can tell you that I started to work in the industry almost 17 years ago…..
After a few years spent between Italy, Malta, Gibraltar and UK working for a number of gaming companies (Globet, CBM, Mediabet.com) as well as platform providers (Wirex, Portomaso) and payment solution providers (the Swedish Trustly) I worked from middle 2014 to the end of 2016 as Director sales at Sportradar AG, the world’s leading supplier of sports related data and streamed content where I had the privilege to work with some of the top gaming companies like IGT, Snai, Sisal, Eurobet, Intralot, Novomatic, Admiral, Microgame, Pokerstars and many others. From January 2017 I moved to BetGames.TV where as Head of Sales, I developed the whole new Sales organization managing different territories and regions included Africa, Asia, South America and Europe.
If I look back at what I did in the last 17 years, I’d really have a lot to talk about. I can remember between the most important facts, being the one who brought the eSports into the Italian highly regulated betting market in 2016 or being the one who brought the first betting company on a Champions’ League match as main jersey sponsor of Real Betis Balompiè (Globet.com). During my years at Sportradar, I also was able to sell the NBA, Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A live stream of the matches to the main betting operator in the Italian Market…. Here at BetGames.
A few years ago BetGames.TV presented an innovation in the betting industry; a different approach and style of betting. Will you please tell more about this for our readers?
CM: BetGames.TV is a developer and distributor of its own video-streamed LIVE GAMES. They were created based on inspiration of quote by Leonardo da Vinci „Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication“. We combine traditional betting with popular lotteries and table games. They are simple enough for players to easily catch on to the idea. We provide solutions for retail betting shops and online platforms. We offer well known games to bet on their outcomes. Three different lotteries every 5 minutes, two dice games and Wheel of Fortune every 3 minutes and three non-stop action cards games.
What does BetGames.TV offer to the players that traditional roulette does not? Will you please tell more about the services BetGames.TV provides?
CM: First of all – we offer fixed odds betting. Yes, we have tables with beautiful presenters and sometimes our service is mixed with a live dealer solution. But we started this concept with the very own idea. And didn’t want to offer what others already do. We have very different risk levels – you don’t have such variety at the traditional roulette table. We have something for everybody. Low odds (high probability) for conservative players and sky-rocketing high odds (low probability) for the jackpot hunters. In the industry there are not many products what could offer multipliers in such wide range 1.01-2000.
I suppose that the advanced and fast developing technology influences the products your company offers. What impact does consumer technology have on your choices?
CM: I think it’s a great spot to mention that UAB “TV Zaidimai” (company behind BetGames.TV brand) claimed the 13th place in the “Deloitte Technology Fast 50 in Central Europe”. Our achievement was greatly influenced by an imposing growth rate of 981% in the last four years. It takes passion, dedication, and innovation to join this elite group of the fastest-growing technology companies, and being recognized as a Fast 50 Laureate helps propel our company even further. BetGames.TV was growing up steadily from the very start. Thanks for a combined total of 100+ years betting and lottery experience of shareholders. New markets are reached and conquered every quarter by our superb sales team. New countries and new partners require innovative solutions – technical wise as well. And we’re accepting these challenges with a pride. For example, we have a solution for countries with limited internet connection. A dedicated satellite channel covers the whole of sub-Saharan Africa region.
What upcoming events is the company focusing on nowadays and how prepared is the company for these events?
CM: ICE and Enada Primavera. Everybody waits for exhibition in London. The biggest, the most important and the most visited event during the year. We are looking to meet many of our existing partners and greet a lot of possible ones. As a tradition we will distribute calendars with our beautiful presenters once again. And this year the calendar is very special. Trust me – it’s a collection of masterpieces. Come to our stand-gallery S1-102 and see yourself.
Then we will go to Rimini in March. It will be a first time with the stand in Italy. I’m very excited about that!
Tell us please about the future plans, projects of BetGames.TV.
CM: We will be working on development and improvements of games and service from different perspectives. Very interesting and challenging year is upcoming. As we’re going to enter the next level by offering bespoke studios for our partners. I can’t give you more details now but it’s going to be big in the future!
What do you think about the future of the European gambling industry, especially focusing on the markets you have more experience in?
CM: Although Europe is very much considered a “single state” in terms of economic significance, and is to some extent governed by legislation passed by the European Union, the individual countries are still ultimately responsible for passing their own laws. I hope that soon the legislation or regulation will standardize the gambling throughout Europe. Because now particularly online gambling, throughout the continent is quite a challenge. Personally, I would like to see no grey or black markets in the map. But that process will take some time.
From the Gambelli case of a few years ago to the latest development in different EU members states, I think that a pan-European gaming license is more than needed.
Talking of markets size, England and Italy are always the most important but today everyone is looking at countries and regulations like Spain, Portugal, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece… We are not an exception and we are very active in getting new licenses or certifications to be able to offer our games in more and more countries. We already have a UK GC license and the games were recently also certified for Italy (went live in September 2017 on Microgame network) and Bulgaria where we recently signed a very important deal with EFBet. Other certifications and licenses are expected for the next months but not only in Europe.
If you could make major changes in the legislation of these markets what would they be?
CM: I would make and effort in general to have the same rules for licensing or certification in different gaming legislations. You will find legislations in which we can offer our games because we have the lottery games and other where you can’t because of that. Legislations in which our games are categorized as fixed odds betting and other in which are considered casino games. I think an harmonization of rules and taxation is very important for the future development of the industry.
Which has been the most successful experience since you have worked at BetGames.TV?
CM: Last week we were in London at the SBC Awards with a nomination as Best Multi-Channel Supplier. But in the last two months we also were included in the Deloitte Fast50 technology companies in Eastern Europe and last week in Paris we entered the FAST500 in EMEA….
Also very exciting for me to actively work to bring our games to companies of the like of Stars Group, Betway, Game Account, BetCart, EFBet, Microgame, Snai, Sisal, Eurobet, Pinnacle, GVC, Betsson Group, iSOFTBet, NYX, SBTech, Hattrick.
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
CM: Hmmmm I’d say Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep
Where would you travel the most in Central Europe?
CM: Sofia, Bucharest and Prague for sure but I also have to mention Sarajevo, Belgrade and Skopije. All those cities are growing so fast in our industry and I’m sure we will also visit them more and more often in the future.
Exclusive Interview with Adrian Bailey, Managing Director, at Pariplay Ltd.
Szaló Réka talked to Adrian Bailey, MD of Pariplay Ltd. Adrian is driven by thrill, excitement and passion and as long as something special is being created along the way he feels content.
We’d first like to ask you to introduce yourself. It’s always nice to hear industry professionals say a few words about themselves for our audience.
Adrian Bailey (AB): I have over 10 years’ experience in the gaming sector. I’ve previously held VP of Marketing and Managing Director positions at two of the world’s largest gaming companies, Caesars Interactive Entertainment and NeoGames. I’ve been instrumental in driving the strategy and growth at both firms, where I created, managed and led multiple marketing and operational teams.
My current role as MD of Pariplay focuses on driving the overall strategy for the development studio and our suite of platforms, as well as positioning the company as a major tech player in the global gaming industry.
Pariplay is a developer of online games and systems for the online casino and iLottery verticals. There are now many game developers out there, so what makes your company unique?
AB: We’re the largest supplier and aggregation platform of games to private lottery operators, and our speed of integration is very rapid due to our lightweight and modern code base integration. Another unique selling point is our innovation in game functionality.
We’re also the first iGaming company to launch an e-commerce solution for the private lottery industry, enabling bulk buying and checkout options on a game level.
2017 has been pretty exciting for Pariplay. You’ve signed strategic partnerships with Playson, Twelve40 and iSoftBet, and partnered with Betsson, 777.be and many more. Would you say that you’ve reached all of your targets for this year?
AB: We’ve still got a lot of goals for 2017 and plenty more to come. We’ve achieved over £1.2 billion in bets and launched with 20 new operators so far, along with adding eight new vendors.
One of our biggest content partnerships this year was with GVC, which we signed back in May. We’ve only just integrated our first batch of games with the operator, spanning a range of GVC online casino brands.
In terms of content, we’ve launched eight new games this year. Looking ahead, we plan to bring to market even more content. Over the course of 2018, we’ve got plans to launch 20 original and branded titles.
We think Jack in the Box is an interesting game to bring to the online gambling industry. How well has it been received, and what was the main motivation behind this particular gamification project?
AB: The response has been impressive so far. It’s been our best launch to date, in terms of new and existing customers.
The main idea behind the game was to give the player a ‘greater sense of winning’, while increasing their sense of anticipation. For example, the ‘Big Wild’ is a very visual feature, which, if hit, has the potential to deliver a large win. We make sure that the player gets the opportunity to feel every feature.
As a closing question, we’d like to ask about your future projects. Could you fill us in on some upcoming launches and potential incoming partnerships?
We have another video slot title in our ongoing content partnership with Atari scheduled to launch early in the new year. The game will be a real nostalgia trip for those who remember the original Atari console games. It will also be packed with fantastic features and graphics for the younger players who don’t recall the arcade originals. Overall, we’re committed to launching one or two new games a month in 2018.
With regards to new partnerships, we pride ourselves on discretion. Basically, watch this space for some very exciting announcements in the not-too-distant future.
Exclusive Interview with Michal Shinitzky, Managing Director at Pangea Localization Services
Our colleague, Szaló Réka talked to Michal Shinitzky. With extensive marketing knowledge in her field, Michal brought her experience and professionalism to Pangea as managing director. Pangea, established in 2015, is a translation, localization and content service targeting online gaming, trading and cryptocurrency companies.With expertise in translation, localization and content, Michal has had over 15 years’ experience in various senior positions at some of the world’s largest online gaming companies.
Thank you very much for being available for this interview. First I would like to ask you to shortly introduce yourself.
Shinitzky: Thank you for taking the time to interview me! I’m Michal, the Managing Director of Pangea Localization Services. I’m based in Cyprus but I’m originally from Israel. After years of working in the online gaming industry in various senior positions, I took matters into my own hands by launching Pangea in 2015. It’s been a fun ride ever since.
Pangea Localization Services is a translation, localization and content service provider offering a complete package of translation services in a wide range of languages, but it is also specialized in gaming-related content. Will you please tell us more about your company and why did you choose gaming?
Shinitzky: Well, I’ve had over 15 years’ experience working at some of the world’s largest gaming companies like 888 and PokerStars. Not only am I considerably knowledgeable about this industry but it’s where I’m most familiar and comfortable. It’s one of the industries we target because I know what works, and what businesses in that field need in terms of content.
The company has been recently awarded with the “Rising Star Award” and the “Great User Experience Award”. We congratulate you for this great appreciation and achievement! What do these awards mean to you and your colleagues and will they affect the future of the company?
Shinitzky: Thank you! We were very proud to have received these rewards by FinancesOnline. It feels great to have our services recognized and honored like that. I think it has encouraged and motivated us to work even harder. We’re now aiming to win even more by different reviewers – it’s sort of becoming an addiction (laughs). As our first official awards, they will definitely go down in Pangea’s history books.
Let us turn back now to the presentation of the company. Please tell us more about the services you offer and which are the languages that you can provide services in?
Shinitzky: Pangea offers translation and localization services in over 40 languages including French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese. We also provide copywriting services like article writing, blog posts, marketing material or web content. SEO services are also a major part of our business and blog management is, too. Other than content, we also provide localized graphic design.
What can you tell us about the projects you have worked on so far, and the difficulties and successes you have experienced?
Shinitzky: One of our greatest and most unique qualities is being able to deliver projects quickly and in short notice – this is very rare in the translation industry and we’re one of the very few who do it. This may be a challenge for us at times but we always make the client happy in the end. One of our major strengths is our project managers who are extremely dedicated to their clients. We also have a strong team of translators who use the most modern and helpful technology. Our unique translation process works like a waterfall – we translate, proofread and deliver it all as fast as possible whilst maintaining quality.
Accuracy and professionalism are key values regarding translations and content writing. How can these be achieved? What are the most important factors and values that Pangea Localization Services considers important?
Shinitzky: Quality and accuracy are the core essence of our brand. We ensure these values by hiring only qualified, professional and native linguists. Our translators and writers are also experts in their fields – they’ve got an extensive background in iGaming, trading or ICOs. This way, we provide an end-result that’s accurate, makes sense and uses the right terminology for the specific industry and market. Every translation performed at Pangea also gets proofread and reviewed by a second linguist. Products get QA treatment upon request to make sure that the content is of 100% quality with zero errors.
What is your opinion about the language gambling industry uses? Are there major problems, mistakes, which should not be used anymore?
Shinitzky: Our linguists know the ins and outs of the gaming industry. They know how to communicate this field in any language. Our translators and writers make sure not to confuse certain words with other meanings. For example “push” in poker has a totally different meaning to its literal term. We know when to translate a word or phrase or when to keep the original term in English. There are many who would rush to translate a word when, really, the lingo or term should remain in its original language. At Pangea, we keep our translations authentic. We want the result to sound natural.
What upcoming events is the company focusing on nowadays and how prepared is the company for these events?
Shinitzky: Our next venture is attending the ICE Totally Gaming expo in London. This is where our main target clients will be so we’re looking forward to being there and meeting many potentials. We’ll also be attending the London Affiliate Conference where more iGaming operators will be present. We’re always ready for these events. Our team always has a booth and company brochures and leaflets to give out.
Please, tell us more about the future plans of Pangea Localization Services.
Shinitzky: Just like we help clients go global, I want Pangea to go global. Our ultimate goal is to continue growing as the leading translation and content service for the iGaming, online trading and ICO industry. We want to open more companies around the world and build a client-base globally.
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
Shinitzky: Meryl Streep
Where would you travel the most in Central Europe?
What does success mean to you?
Shinitzky: Success for me is when our reputation is known around the world. I’ll know that I’m truly successful when people start recommending Pangea for translation above all others. I want Pangea to be the first translation service that comes to mind.
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