In this prolific interview on all things iGaming, Phil Pearson, Head of Sales & Account Management at iGaming Group, talks through the tectonic shifts affecting the sector – from payments to platforms, offshore licensing and industry award ceremony fatigue.
iGAMING TIMES: First of all, can you tell us a little about IGG (iGaming Group), how you started, and who are your typical clientele?
The company was formed in 2011 and has evolved over time to become a group of many companies. As Head of Sales for the whole group, I work with all aspects of our involvement in the iGaming sector. iGG started primarily as game aggregation, focussing on providing the premium quality game providers around the world in a single API integration, saving companies and casinos huge amounts of time when starting out their business, by giving over 50 providers such as NetEnt, Evolution, PlaynGo, Quickspin, Red Tiger and more with a sole point of contact. This saves them on costs, development, and most importantly time.
From there we started to develop our casino platform, an industry leading system that runs in real time, allowing for full management of a casino, CRM, bonuses, players, and customer support. These are the two cornerstones of our business, but we are now expanding both geographically into Asia and further territories, also into Crypto casinos and blockchain. Our typical clients range from new casinos looking for a game aggregation suite, to a start-up looking for a full casino platform package, to simply a company wanting to add just one or two game providers in a simpler and cheaper way.
iGT: What are the most common snags firms face when adopting a new platform – and how does IGG seek to overcome them?
The largest issues I find when talking to both clients, and within the industry, is either time, or complexity. For a truly great casino to work, you have so many different integrations for player management, games, customer support and business analysis, finally getting all the different aspects to talk to each other and run smoothly is a very complex task, often overlooked. Building a platform can cost millions of euros, as we know from experience! With this also comes timeframe issues, delays, and overlooked nuances of the engine, which, if not checked, can severely delay a project. We have created a real time back office, with full analysis and reporting 24/7.
Trying to look after VIP players for example, when you only get a report every few hours, is very difficult, as that time can be the difference between offering a redeposit bonus, or losing the player forever. Our platform has increased player lifetime revenue, whilst also maintaining the simplicity of use it was designed to have.
iGT: Where do you see the future of payments in igaming – and why was it important for you to offer such a wide range of payment options, such as Bitcoin?
Payments is possibly the hardest part of setting up an iGaming brand. Markets are ever changing, with new countries and jurisdictions becoming regulated every year. Companies such as Trustly and Zimpler are changing the way deposits and KYC is performed in regulated markets with pay and play, and they are changing gaming for the better, it’s a pleasure to be able to offer their services.
We are constantly adding new methods for global markets, either direct or through our payment aggregation system. For crypto currencies, we see the value in adding them early. The success of crypto casinos is easily apparent, and we want to offer our clients as many deposit and cashout options as we can. Bitcoin and altcoins may not end up working out in the long run, with the amount of scepticism in the public eye, and the sheer level of scams out there, but for now it’s a great way to fund casino accounts for those who invest in the crypto markets.
iGT: Do you see any casino changes occurring that you would need to adapt to – or any changes in general that would change the industry?
The landscape is changing dramatically. With the UKGC leading the way and showing the revenues and responsible gaming market how its done, the rest of the world is pushing to catch up. With Sweden regulating in 2019, and most of Europe to finally follow suit by 2021, with Germany and Holland planned to self-regulate by then, the market for the MGA licence will almost cease to exist.
Companies like NetEnt have already started to create and offer casino modules in specific markets, and White Label providers are already starting to do the same. With the sheer amount of responsibilities and regulated markets compliance and legal will struggle to keep up for smaller providers, which will lead to some having very niche markets. For game aggregation we focus on a Curacao licence, which helps us avoid all of this by only focusing on providing to a single type of licence, so we can continue to grow at our current levels, and the Curacao market should grow quite well with new casinos not wanting to attempt regulation in so many countries for their business plans.
iGT: You are quite outspoken on social media about certain aspects of iGaming as a whole – but why do you think certain topics seem to be particularly well responded to?
When I started working in iGaming two years ago and joined social media, the sheer amount of award shows and winners for such varied prizes was astounding. After learning more about the industry over a few months, combined with my previous igaming experience, it became clear something is just not “right”.
It all came to being posted about when I saw the winner of a Maltese award show win “Best mobile provider” when they didn’t yet have a lunched mobile product, but one was due out very soon. Some simple research showed that prizes are on offer for 5,000 euro donations to the awards. In some industries this is unavoidable. However, I believe that if iGaming is regulating massively, with responsible gaming taking over internal policies and bonusing, then we should try and be better than the industry is. Purchasing awards for sheer marketing purposes, both industry-wide, and to the public, is not just a lie, it’s also stupid. Rather than spend the ten thousand euros on the night out and an award, invest that money into your teams, infrastructure, and build a better game, or a safer casino environment. Awards should be voted for by casino professionals, and then by the public, similar to most entertainment industries. Otherwise for £5,000 I can be sitting here this time next year with the “Best Welsh Head of Sales to give an interview in 2019” award. The following this style of post received on social media was quite mind blowing, with over 10,000 views inside of three days and hundreds of likes, and the support I get from the industry is fantastic.