5 May, 2023

Evoplay's CEO discusses the art of the cross-sell in multiple Asian markets

Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay CEO, speaks exclusively to Gambling Insider about the idea of ‘casino betting,’ the ‘melting pot’ of multiple Asian markets that must all be treated very differently – and ‘the Messi effect’ in sports betting.

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

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

Introducing RNG to sports betting fans might seem like a challenge to some. Our recipe for success in this area follows a simple philosophy, making sure that the excitement of placing a bet is the same as on a sports event, as well as having an edge over sport by being available 24/7. 

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

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

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

In my view, it’s all about filling the gap. You need to be able to offer a product that complements a sportsbook. So, for example, over the weekend, you have the afternoon match at 3pm, which finishes at 5pm. You then have the 7-8 pm fixtures in the evening. That two-hour space is where we come in, when the excitement is high, and that desire to keep the action going is there.

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

A great example of this is our Football Pack, a catalogue of games revolving around the world’s favourite sport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without a doubt, Asian audiences are also open to innovative products, even though many still like classic types of games

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

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

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

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

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