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Edward Obeng

Edward Obeng

Having graduated with a Broadcast Journalism degree, Edward has produced work with a number of local newspapers before joining Gambling Insider.
News | Press Releases
17th March
Presidential hopeful vows to cover Filipino casinos by AMLA
16th March
New Jersey citizens to vote on casino expansion
16th March
Bermuda launches Designated Sites application process
16th March
Cyprus reveals casino resort shortlist
15th March
Paddy Power Betfair partners with Worldpay
15th March
Tribal casino fast-tracked to August 2017
14th March
All change at Ladbrokes Australia: Jarvis in for Burnett at CMO
14th March
Sportsbet calls for an end to betting ad blitz
9th March
TonyBet first operator to be granted Lithuanian gaming licence
9th March
More unrest in Japanese sport as new betting scandal comes to light
8th March
Florida legislature rejects $3m tribal deal
8th March
Simon Trim appointed CEO of Sporting Index
8th March
Alibaba looking to exploit loopholes, introducing poker to China
7th March
888 changing rewards programme, ditching rakeback
7th March
ICC claims anti-corruption force is thwarting match-fixing plan
2nd March
No money for Taj Mahal if New Jersey casinos are approved
2nd March
IH to build $10bn casino on Rota
2nd March
888 appoints Frieberger as new CEO
1st March
Rank appoints Steven Esom as non-executive director
1st March
Hong Kong Jockey Club refuses to take bets on Chinese Super League
29th February
Paddy Power shares anti-money laundering failures
24th February
Groups oppose NFL’s cash prize DFS programme for kids
24th February
Atlantic City mayor labels state takeover plan a “fascist dictatorship”
24th February
Tennis leaders summoned before UK Parliament committee over match-fixing
23rd February
Bettson AB appoints Ulrik Bengtsson as CEO and president
23rd February
Intertain chief executive confirms he is set to stand down
23rd February
ICE attendance grows for another year, exceeding 28,000
22nd February
Ladbrokes' sponsorship of Cheltenham's World Hurdle ends
22nd February
R.Franco acquires Mediatech Solutions stake
17th February
Israel to discuss casinos
17th February
AFL introduces media betting rule
16th February
Dutch FA alleges match fixing
11th February
ESSA to tackle crime in sport
10th February
PokerStars removes heads-up cash games
9th February
Pennsylvania Committee supports removal of sports-betting ban
9th February
Keith Bristow to lead new anti-money laundering group
8th February
NeoGames strikes deal with Czech’s Sazka
8th February
Sportsbet fights for online in-play betting
3rd February
Racing Australia CEO wants in-play loophole changed
3rd February
GVC appoints new directors
3rd February
Paddy Power Betfair is out of the blocks
1st February
150 arrested in two Thai gambling den raids
1st February
Macau gambling revenue drops again
27th January
More big brands added to Lithuania’s gambling blacklist
27th January
Jowell acknowledges ineffectiveness in tackling FOBT dangers
27th January
Contractors may be on the hook for $200m if Wynn casino delays continue
26th January
US casino market to hit $93bn by 2020
26th January
Microgaming to launch new duel-release games in February
25th January
Kambi deal with LeoVegas to provide sports betting technology
25th January
Phil Ivey to launch white-label DFS site on iTEAM network



IN-DEPTH 16 August 2019
Roundtable: David vs Goliath – Can startups really disrupt the industry?

(AL) Alexander Levchenko – CEO, Evoplay Entertainment

Alexander Levchenko is CEO of innovative game development studio Evoplay Entertainment. He has overseen the rapid expansion of the company since it was founded in early 2017 with the vision of revolutionising the player experience.

(RL) Ruben Loeches – CMO, R Franco

Rubén Loeches is CMO at R. Franco Group, Spain’s most established multinational gaming supplier and solutions provider. With over 10 years working in the gambling, betting and online gaming industries, he is skilled in operations management and marketing strategy.

(JB) Julian Buhagiar – Co-Founder, RB Capital:

Julian Buhagiar is an investor, CEO & board director to multiple ventures in gaming, fintech & media markets. He has lead investments, M & As and exits to date in excess of $370m.

(DM) Dominic Mansour – CEO, Bragg Gaming Group:

Dominic Mansour has an extensive background of nearly 20 years in the gaming and lottery industry. He has a deep understanding of the lottery secto,r having been CEO at the UK-based Health Lottery, as well as building bingos.com from scratch, which he sold to NetPlay TV plc.

What does it take for a startup to make waves in gaming?

DM: On the one hand, it’s a bit like brand marketing; you build an identity, a reputation and a strategy. When you know what you stand for, you then do your best to get heard. That doesn’t necessarily require a TV commercial but ensuring whatever you do stands out from the crowd. Then you have to get out there and talk to people about it. 

AL: Being better than the competition is no longer enough; if you’re small, new and want to make a difference – you have to turn the industry on its head. Those looking to make waves need to come up with a new concept or a ground-breaking solution. Take Elon Musk, he didn’t found Tesla to improve the existing electric cars on the market, he founded it to create the industry’s first mass-market electric sports car. It’s the same for online gaming; if you want to make waves as a startup, you have to bring something revolutionary to the table.

JB: Unique IP is key, particularly in emerging (non-EU) markets. As does the ability to release products on time, with minimal downtime and/or turnaround time when issues inevitably occur. A good salesforce capable of rapidly striking partnerships with the right players is vital, as is not getting bogged down too early on in legal, operational and admin red tape.

How easy it for startups to bring their ideas to life? How do they attract capital?

AL: It depends on the people and ideas behind the startup. Of course – the wave of ‘unicorns’ is not what it used to be. Some time ago the hype was a lot greater in terms of investing in startups, but that’s changed now. Investors now want more detail – and even more importantly, to evaluate whether the startup has the capacity (as well as the vision) to solve the problem it set out to address. That’s not to say investors are no longer interested in startups – they certainly are – but now more than ever, it’s important for startups to understand their audience as well as dreaming big.

JB: To get to market quickly, you need a great but small, team. If slots or sportsbook, the mathematical engine and UX/UI are crucial. Having a lean, agile dev team that can rapidly turn wire framing and mathematical logic into product is essential. Paying more for the right team is sometimes necessary, especially when good resources are scarce (here’s looking at you, Malta and Gibraltar).

Building capital is a different beast altogether. You won’t be able to secure any funding until you have a working proof of concept and, even then, capital is likely to be drip fed. Be prepared to get a family and friends round early on to deliver a ‘kick-ass’ demo, then start looking at early-stage VCs that specialise in growth-stage assets.

How do you react when you see startups coming in with their plan for disruption?

RL: We welcome the innovation and fresh thinking startups bring. This is particularly the case in Latin America, with a market still in its infancy. One area we’d especially like to see startups making waves is in the slot development sector. Latin America is a young market that needs local innovation suited to its unique conditions – especially in regard to mobile gaming.

Operators eyeing the market have Europe‐focused core products, which creates a struggle to work to the requirements of players and regulators. To succeed there, it has become more important than ever to work with those with a knowhow of the local area to adapt products and games to besuitable from the off; we welcome the chance for local talent to develop and grow.

Do you think it’s easier for established companies to innovate and establish new ideas? 

AL: From a financial perspective, yes. It is without a doubt easier for incumbent companies to establish a pipeline of innovation via their R & D departments, as well as having the tools to hand for data gathering and analysis.

But it stops there. Startups hold court in every other way. Not only are they flexible, they can easily switch from one idea to another, change strategy instantly as the market demands and easily move team members around. Established companies know this – and this is why we’re seeing an emerging trend for established companies to acquire small, innovative online gaming start-ups. They have the right resources and unique ideas, as well as the ability to bring a fresh approach to businesses’ thinking.

RL: For me, it’s always going to be established companies. Only with the resources, industry experience and know‐how can a company apply technology and services that truly make a difference. Of course there are exceptions. But when it comes to providing a platform that can be approved by regulators across multiple markets – as well as suiting an operators’ multiple jurisdictions – it is simply impossible for a couple of young bright minds with a few million behind them to get this done.

DM: I actually think it’s harder for established companies. It’s key to differentiate between having a good idea and executing one. That’s where the big corporates struggle most. They’re full of amazing people with all sorts of great ideas but getting them through systems and processes is nearly impossible.

Is it essential to patent-protect innovative products?

AL: It’s a very interesting subject. If we take IT for example – patents can actually become a block to the evolutionary process within the industry. Of course, getting a patent future proofs yourself from the competition copying your concept but, having said that, if you’re looking to protect yourself from someone more creative, smarter and agile, you’ve probably lost the battle already!

In our industry everything is moving faster and research takes less time than the development itself. No matter how good you are at copy pasting, you can’t copy Google or Netflix. The most important thing is not the tech itself but rather its ‘use-case’ – or in other words, does it solve what it’s meant to solve? Competition is healthy and the key to innovation. If you spend your whole time looking behind you, you’ll never be able move forwards.

JB: Tricky question, and one that depends on what and where you launch this IP. It can be difficult to patent mathematical engines and logic, mostly because they’re re-treading prior art. Branding, artwork and UX is more important and can easily be copied, but the territories you launch will determine how protectable your IP will be once patented. US/EU/Japan is easy but expensive to protect in. But China/South East Asia is a nightmare to cover adequately. Specialised patent lawyers with experience in software, and ideally gaming, can help you better.

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