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NEWS 7 December 2018

Exclusive Q & A: Asia Live Tech to introduce new technology in 2019

By Nathan Joyes

Asia Live Tech Marketing Manager Erwin Dickman spoke exclusively to Gambling Insider about its latest Baccarat Jackpot feature and the supplier's plans in the near future.

Asia Live Tech admits it’s previously faced challenges in growth retention, as you describe yourselves to be in a very competitive industry. How did you overcome this to get your name out there?

We didn’t want to be the same. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses but we decided we did not want to go in the same direction. We want to create our own style and model so that’s where our live casino actually came into play.

We have a few different models for the live casino which is standard studio-based. We have the in-play in-casino concept, whereby the players gets their experience of playing from home but with a casino environment to give them the feel of being in a real life casino.

Over the years, we have incorporated new technologies into our platform. We started incorporating crypto-currencies – that’s when we actually became the first to launch Bitcoin and, as a result, be the first Bitcoin online gaming provider in Asia. 

Can you provide more of an insight into your Progressive Baccarat Jackpot?

The idea we had was something which was not done before on a live casino basis. Most of the operators would take online platforms or use a certain gaming provider. What happens is the Baccarat Jackpot available will actually be borne by the operator itself. It’s an added cost on the operator side.

We wanted to say a simple message to customers, which is: “come and play our jackpot, there’s something more that you can actually get from the whole situation.” Asia Live Tech covers the whole cost of the jackpot. The operator doesn’t lose the money because we pay for it.

What precedent is there for the supplier paying out a jackpot in its entirety? How can you cope with the cost?

We are not financially worried about this but we recognise this is a risk on our side; it is like any land-based casino. We cannot estimate who will win the jackpot. If they are many winners of our jackpot then, yes, we will be down but it will create a "buzz" towards our offerings. This is something with which we are willing to "dare" and we are ready for the risk on our side.

How can this product develop? Could this stretch to more casino products?

That is our exact objective. We have to start somewhere. We will see how the Baccarat Jackpot goes and check on the feedback before we start expanding. We have a jackpot feature which is already on our slots but so does everyone else. So this is not a unique aspect – but our Baccarat Jackpot is growing progressively compared to our other features. We will definitely look into expanding it across the other tables if it proves to be a success.

Are there any new features you are looking to introduce in 2019?

In 2019, we will definitely bring new features. There will be some new upgrading to our offers but you will have to keep an eye out for them for the time being.

What does the future hold for Asia Live Tech?

We have started to venture more on a global aspect, so we are trying to integrate a lot of new technology. What you will be able to see is Asia Live Tech evolving into an online gaming software provider which is equipped with the latest technologies.

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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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