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SOFTSWISS Founder Ivan Montik Turns 40 – Interview

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SOFTSWISS Founder Ivan Montik turned 40 in January. He agreed to talk to us about this milestone in his life, about his career and his experience of managing a company.

 

You are the Founder of one of the most successful software gambling companies in the world, which now has more than 1,000 employees. Could you imagine something like this in your 20s and what key decisions led you to your current role? 

I actually imagined something like this when I started SOFTSWISS as a small custom software development company in 2009. Growing it to 1,000 employees was not a coincidence but a result of the long-term strategy and hard work of many like-minded people. Without thinking big, you’ll never grow big. When we founded SOFTSWISS, it wasn’t just to make a living (although profit was an important goal) but to create a company that would stand out among the competition with its quality of services and become a well-known name on the market. 

There were many decisions made on the way. Switching from custom software development to creating our own products was an important step, and of course entering the iGaming industry played a crucial role. We didn’t just create a quality software platform, but developed our own White Label Solution, a unique service at that time. It brought us our first clients, casino operators, and some of them became key players in the market and  contributed greatly to our mutual success.

Integrating cryptocurrencies into our software was another important decision and a turning point in the history of SOFTSWISS. We were the first company to offer a Crypto Casino Solution to the market. Becoming a pioneer in crypto gaming, we took a special place in the industry and made it a large part of our current business. 

Launching various microservices and developing them into separate brands was a series of right decisions, too. Now we have such successful products, as a game studio, game aggregator, affiliate system, and payment provider, all functioning as standalone solutions and contributing to the brand’s overall success. 

Finally, partnering with people who have been beside me in good and bad times, working with me on the most challenging tasks and showing their trust has definitely helped to lead the company to where we are now. 

You have mentioned many times in interviews that you have a degree in economics but not IT, nevertheless, you have managed to build one of the most innovative companies in the online gambling industry. In your experience, in order to create a successful and, most importantly, in-demand product, which background is more important?

Although economics and management were in focus during my university years, computer science and programming were also there. It’s been my long standing passion. When I was at school, I sold my piano to purchase my first computer and learn the basics of programming on my own. This passion played an important role in choosing what business to do and helped me make many useful contacts among technical gurus. However, to lead a company to success, it was more important to have a business vision. You need to have an understanding of how to organise people and establish effective working processes. The knowledge of economics and management is very helpful here, but it’s also about personal qualities, such as the ability to take risks, evaluate partnerships and pursue business ideas which you believe are worth pursuing.

What obstacles have you faced during the creation and development of SOFTSWISS? Tell us about the most difficult personal and professional challenges you have had to overcome. 

Entering the iGaming market was a risky idea on its own, as our team had no prior experience in this area and we were almost unaware of how complex it was. The conclusion I made was that ignorance is bliss as it keeps us connected to real-time challenges and helps tackle problems fearlessly. I learned all aspects of the industry from scratch, from the principles and requirements of gambling jurisdictions to the technical details of casino payment processing, to the peculiarities of the local gaming markets and player preferencences. It was my biggest personal challenge, but acquiring this knowledge has made the most positive impact on business.

Another challenge I faced several times in the company’s history was managing partnerships. When you grow big and do successful business, you become very noticeable and people start thinking about how they can become part of your success. Some of them are really eager to contribute their knowledge and/or money and establish a fair and mutually beneficial relationship, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Others just want to jump in and take advantage of the company without any real contribution. I’ve had several negative experiences with unscrupulous partners who have had a destructive impact on the business, but we managed to overcome it. In the end, it made all of us stronger and taught us to be more picky when it comes to investment and partnership offers. 

Having achieved success, it is sometimes difficult to maintain the same rhythm and not be tempted to relax and reap the rewards of your work. Where do you find points of growth and motivation to develop yourself? 

I have several sources of motivation that help me stay tuned. First of all, I follow the example of the outstanding people who have reached much bigger success than myself and still haven’t stopped climbing new heights. I’m talking about the leaders of such giants, as Amazon and Google, but there are also people in our industry who I admire. The desire to stay on top of the competition is a strong driving force. iGaming is a fast changing market with new strong players appearing every day and evolving trends. If we stop and relax, it won’t take them long to take our market share. 

The responsibility for the people who work with us, supporting them in their career and providing growth opportunities is another strong driving force for me. They joined SOFTSWISS and shared our corporate goals to become part of the common success, and I’m not allowed to let them down.

Finally, my passion for innovation doesn’t let me stop at where we are. There are so many new areas to explore, both within the iGaming industry and outside of it, and so many new projects to investigate. With the opportunities I have now, I can’t help taking on new technological challenges and investing into innovation. 

What was your approach as a manager towards driving SOFTSWISS to success? Tell us about your managerial principles and practises. Were there any surprising revelations over the several years of managing your own company?

My main approach is staying flexible in all situations. You can’t manage the company of 1,000 people the same way you did when there were just 10. When it all just started, I was interviewing each new candidate myself before making them the final job offer. It was extremely important for me that our employees shared my personal values, that we were on the same page. It hasn’t changed much and I’m still worried about sharing the corporate culture, but I already can’t interview each employee. So I make sure that the C-level management are the people I trust, and it’s their responsibility now to communicate the corporate culture to others.

I’m also a big supporter of the agile approach and at SOFTSWISS we try to organise our  daily routine according to agile practices. From the very beginning, even before I knew what agile meant, I intuitively understood that people were our biggest asset and tried to empower each employee to take decisions and act quickly. Now, with over 1,000 employees and with our industry changing so quickly, I know it’s the only way to stay competitive. So I trust people and motivate them to take the responsibility by showing how unlimited their growth opportunities are. I noticed that when people get an opportunity to participate in the company’s profit, it’s a much better motivation than a high salary on its own. So we try to empower everyone to become part of the common success story.

Talking about the personal part of the subject, does managing such a company leave time for your personal life? 

Finding a balance between work and life is just a myth, I think. It’s a never ending battle. However, practice makes perfect, and I think I found some tricks that help me combine both so that neither suffers too much.  I used to have some difficulties with delegating responsibility, trying to accomplish all tasks on my own quickly rather than explaining it to somebody and facing unfulfilled expectations afterwards. I’ve worked on it and noticed that wise delegation saves so much time. I concentrate on the strategically important things now and let people I trust do other tasks. 

Setting priorities is also important. For me, health is the top priority and sport is the only way to stay healthy. I do boxing and it keeps me sane both physically and mentally. Combined with the Russian sauna, it gives amazing results. Also, I never miss an opportunity to build new neural connections in my brain by learning something new. My latest achievement is snowboarding. Besides sports, time with family and friends is what makes me feel happy and complete. 

Looking back on the four decades behind you, do you think you have become wiser and now make better decisions from both a managerial and a personal point of view?

I’ve definitely become wiser. Although I’m still demanding a lot from the people I work with, I’m less of a perfectionist today and I don’t expect it from my employees.  As I said before, I’ve become more cautious in choosing partners and going into business relationships. Unfortunately, it’s the effect of some wrong decisions made in the past, but learning from my own mistakes is also an achievement. I still believe that it’s more important to take a risk and make a mistake than not to take a risk and miss a chance. So I can always forgive mistakes but I rarely forgive missed chances.

Finally, where to next? Has turning 40 changed anything? Do you feel just as energetic and motivated as before, looking for further ventures, or do you have other ambitions in mind?

I feel as motivated and energetic as I never did before. Life only starts at 40, doesn’t it? I have the experience, resources and people by my side to pursue new ventures. There are several exciting projects in the pipeline now, both for SOFTSWISS and outside of it. I’ll continue investing in innovation and supporting fresh ideas because this means investing in the future.

George Miller (Gyorgy Molnar) started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Windmills is free to play exclusively on GX.games, months ahead of other platforms

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Getting your hands on high-end indie games for free is awesome. But what’s even sweeter is being able to play those games before everyone else. That’s why, GX.games – a platform full of indie games for you to play, is introducing its first exclusive game, Windmills, available now through to December, before being released on any other gaming platforms.

Lovingly crafted over almost two years by Greek developer Dimitris Locke, under the guise Poor Locke, Windmills, is a story-rich, combat-focused metroidvania, forged in the spirit of games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring. The pixel-art platformer also features mechanics and easter eggs that will no doubt appeal to fans of the popular ninja-themed action-adventure game, The Messenger.

Like all the free indie games on GX.games, Windmills has been beautifully crafted using GameMaker, the fastest and friendliest cross-platform game development technology. Alongside Opera GX, the world’s first gaming browser with over 17 million users, GameMaker and GX.games are part of an ecosystem dedicated to supporting creators and developers, while providing gamers with exclusive access to uniquely original and creative games.

“The games available on GX.games are cool indie games that you can dive into whenever you have a break or some spare time. This is why millions of GX.games users have already experienced top-end indie games like Chronicon, Seals of Bygone, Tunnel of Doom, Totemlands and Dyo for free, since we introduced monthly free games back in the summer. For October, we’re taking things to the next level and giving users exclusive access to Windmills, before its launch on other platforms next year” said Mattijs de Valk, VP Content Acquisition at Opera. “Offering Windmills exclusively, demonstrates the unique strength of the GX.games, GameMaker and Opera GX ecosystem, which has been forged to support creators throughout every step of the development process and connecting those games straight into our audience of over 17 million gamers on Opera GX” he added.

In addition to Windmills, GX.games has also added Chronicon (10/10 Steam) – an expansive, fantasy-based APRG that will appeal to fans of Diablo or Torchlight. In Chronicon, players must discover the magical device known as Chronicon, which allows them to travel into the souls and memories of fallen heroes and unlock epic adventures where loot and monsters await.

Every two-weeks, GX.games adds a new top-notch and fantastic indie game to the platform which has been created using GameMaker, which users can play for free as much as they like for up to three-months. Currently, users can get free access to popular tiles such as Seals of Bygone, Dyo, Tunnel of Doom and Textorist.

To experience these games for free,  users will need to open or download Opera GX – the gaming-centric version of the Opera browser. They can then access GX.games by navigating to the website or directly from the GX Corner in the browser. They can start playing games, including the premium indie titles instantly, without the need to create an account or to download any of them.

GX.games is also home to hundreds of awesome games which have been created and shared on the platform for free using GameMaker, the multi-million downloaded 2D game development engine that is part of the Opera Gaming family.

Opera GX was built with gamers in mind. The browser offers tons of visual customization options, sounds, ability to control your hardware’s RGB lighting and includes unique features like CPU, RAM, and Network limiters, to prevent lag so games run smoothly, while also introducing Discord and Twitch in the sidebar to ensure players don’t miss a beat.

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Online Gambling Market to Touch Revenue of $153.89 Billion by 2028 | UK Generates Over 16.41 Billion Revenue From Online Betting

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With the globalization of the internet, the gambling industry has seen a rapid growth in online gambling market. This growth is being driven by the increasing availability of internet access, the proliferation of mobile devices, and the rise of social media. Moreover, online gambling is convenient, accessible, and offers a wide variety of games and betting options. It is also relatively easy to start and there are no upper age restrictions.

Apart from this, there are many other reasons why online gambling market is expanding at such high rate. For one, it is very convenient. Players can gamble from the comfort of their own home, without having to travel to a land-based casino. Additionally, online gambling sites offer a much wider range of games and betting options than most brick-and-mortar casinos. All of these factors are contributing to the favorable growth of the global online gambling market.

With the growing popularity of online gambling, there is an increasing need for regulation. This is because online gambling can pose some risks, such as addiction and cybercrime. However, with the right regulations in place, these risks can be minimized.

So far, the UK has been at the forefront of regulating online gambling. The UK Gambling Commission has put in place a number of measures to protect consumers and ensure that they are treated fairly by operators. A recent report by the SkyQuest found that the number of people gambling online in the UK online gambling market has increased by 32% in the past 2 years. This trend is being driven by the growth of online casinos and sport betting which are becoming more and more sophisticated and offering a wider range of games and betting options.

Another reason why online gambling is growing in popularity is that it is becoming more accessible. In the past, only people who lived near casinos or had the means to travel to them could gamble. But now, with the internet, anyone can gamble online.

Key Findings of the Global Online Gambling Market

  • Global online gambling market to worth an estimated $153.89 billion by 2028.
  • Online gambling is legal in many countries, including the United Kingdom, US, Australia, India, Japan, and Canada.
  • UK and China are top countries in the global online gambling market
  • In the United States, however, online gambling is illegal in most states.
  • Most popular online gambling games include poker, casino games, and sports betting.
  • Online gambling is particularly popular among young adults, with 36–44-year-old the most likely to gamble online.
  • Men are more likely to gamble online than women, although the gender gap is narrowing.
  • Risks associated with online gambling include addiction, financial ruin, and crime.
  • There are approximately 2,000 online gambling sites in operation today

China, US, UK, Canada and Australia Generates Over 73% Market Revenue

With the popularity of online gambling, many countries have seen an increase in revenue from this industry. China, US, Japan, Canada and Australia are some of the top contributors to the online gambling market. According to SkyQuest’s recent studies, these five countries generate over 73% of the total revenue for the online gambling market. This is a significant amount when you consider that there are over 60 countries where online gambling is legal.

The reason why these five countries generate so much revenue is because they have a large number of people who gamble regularly. China has the largest population in the world, and its citizens are known to be big gamblers. The same is true for the citizens of US, Japan, Canada and Australia. Every year, US citizen spent over $35 billion on gambling and a significant portion of that amount goes to online betting. To be precise, the country spent around $2.6 billion on online gambling and the country is witnessing a growth in the revenue at a CAGR of over 16%.

On other hand, Canada is a well-established player in the global online gambling market. As per SkyQuest Study, Canadian spent over $4.4 billion on online gambling, especially online casino. This is significantly higher than the US. Our study suggests that over 70% of Canadians are engaged in some kind of online gambling activities.

The UK is the biggest online betting market in the world. In 2021, the country spent over $16.41 billion on online betting. This is because there are many different bookmakers and betting sites that cater to UK customers. There are many different types of online bets that UK customers can make. For example, they can bet on sports, horse racing, and even political events. The sky is the limit when it comes to online betting in the UK.

There are many reasons why the UK is such a big player in the online gambling market. For one, gambling is legal and regulated in the UK, so there are plenty of legal and safe options for players to choose from. Secondly, the UK has a large population of internet users, so there is a large pool of potential customers for online gambling operators. Finally, the UK has a long history of gambling, dating back to the early days of horse racing and cockfighting. This tradition of gambling has continued into the modern era, with the British public spending billions of pounds on lottery tickets, casino games, and sports betting each year.

Major Players in Global Online Gambling Market

  • Entain plc (GVC Holdings Plc.)
  • Kindred Group Plc. (Malta)
  • William Hill Plc. (UK)
  • StarsGroup.com (Canada)
  • Flutter Entertainment Plc. (Ireland)
  • Betsson AB (Sweden)
  • Bet365 Group (UK)
  • LeoVegas AB (Sweden)
  • 888 Holdings PLC (Gibraltar)
  • BetAmerica (US)
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Global Online Gambling Market Report 2022: Featuring William Hill, Flutter Entertainment, 888 Holdings, Bet365 & Others

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The “Global Online Gambling Market – Forecasts from 2022 to 2027” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets offering.

The global online gambling market was valued at US$65.316 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.11% over the forecast period to reach a total market size of US$128.154 billion in 2027.

The growing popularity of betting across different regions around the globe is significantly driving the global online gambling market. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), around 2,800 sites were active online and offered games and activities, such as poker, lottery, and bingo, as of 2018.

The growing adoption of smartphones, coupled with rapid penetration of better internet connectivity across various regions/countries, is supporting easy access to various online gambling platforms. With companies offering freemium models to their customers, the number of people engaged in various types of online gambling is rising at a considerable rate which, in turn, is boosting the growth of the global online gambling market.

An increasing number of cost-effective mobile applications to play different online gambling games on smartphones is also contributing to the market growth of online gambling worldwide. The ease of sports betting using a portable connected device such as a smartphone, laptop, and tablet has increased the number of players in the online gambling industry.

Moreover, the proliferation of sports betting along with other online gambling ads is further attracting people to try online gambling, thus positively impacting the market growth during the forecast period. Online agencies, third-party ad servers, and networks and exchanges are used for advertising gambling websites of various companies. Online gambling service providers enter into agreements with individual customers or players to offer betting services for real money, attracting more and more gamers.

The online gambling industry has a vast range of regulatory frameworks in place, which attributes mainly to the market size, the number of participants, and the level of illegal gambling. Legislation for online gambling ranges from licensed markets that are fully open to commercial operators to explicitly prohibited and banned. Tax rates, online penetration, and other regulatory requirements vary widely across geographic regions. As legislation continues to evolve, the regulated markets have a severe impact of increasing costs and barriers to entry which includes consumer protection initiatives and rising gambling taxes. By far, the United Kingdom is the largest regulated online gambling market for many online operators. Other sizeable regulated markets include Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Australia.

However, many countries prohibit the online gambling industry, which is hampering the growth of the global online gambling market. Countries, where online gambling is illegal, include Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), North Korea, India, and Qatar. In Russia, online gambling is completely banned except for interactive gambling, which includes simulators of slot machines, card games, and casino games. Moreover, countries, where online gambling is allowed have restricted and stringent regulations, which further erodes the growth of this overall online gambling market.

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