Ebbe Groes, CEO of EveryMatrix, speaks in this interview to iGaming Business about the emergence of a new generation of technologies and providers challenging the hegemony of the big sportsbook and casino platforms.
What are the main factors driving the emergence of this new generation of iGaming platform suppliers?
The most significant development in the sport betting and casino software industry is the emerging trend in which a single client facing brand uses multiple software suppliers to draw the greatest variety of games for their players sometimes from multiple platforms. This is far from being ideal, especially for smaller operators as they have to deal with a lot of providers at the same time.
We have to admit that new operators may not be in a position to deal with the incumbent platforms or have the resources to maintain a dedicated technical support team that can provide this level of sustenance with regard to the increasing number of providers, technology and integrations required.
The market and players’ expectations have changed and the demands for localised events and gaming content are increasing, especially with emerging legislation and new target audiences.
The online gambling space is growing and operators need to attract new categories of players and increase revenues. Tier 1 operators now offer sports betting alongside their casino, or the other way around, under the same brand name. Since operators cover virtually every vertical from one central property, this allows players unlimited gambling access.
There is also a growing number of smaller niche operators that focus on specific territories and regulated jurisdictions that now want to target their markets with additional content appealing to and attracting new players.
A good example of this would be the regulated Danish market where EveryMatrix not only provides a platform, content and services to Danish licensed operators, but it is also the only .dk licensee that can offer the entire product portfolio as a White Label Platform provider.
Another example would be Sporting Index who chose EveryMatrix to integrate the CasinoEngine API into their existing Spread Betting platform to deliver RNG and Live Casino content from multiple providers via a seamless wallet to their targeted loyal customer base.
How is their emergence transforming the way that the sector does business and delivers its wares to consumers? Can the sector sustain such an exponential increase in the number of such suppliers in the marketplace?
Today we see more sophisticated product demands and more requests. And this demand somehow explains this growth. It’s true that many providers offer the same portfolio of games, sporting events and betting markets, but the ability for operators to customize and differentiate their products is almost infinite.
If we keep the operators in focus, we think the unique offering that is specific to their players and their brand and which focuses on retention is the differentiator. What about platform providers? Some of them will grow, some of them will be acquired, while others are already focusing on verticals such as social betting or virtual sports.
It’s definitely a very competitive landscape that leads to innovation and improvements in service quality.
What does EveryMatrix do that is different from other platform providers?
Our platform is all about flexibility. We have developed a next generation platform that has been built and designed to allow the easy integration of APIs from content suppliers, payment processors and 3rd party software houses like Optimove and Emarsys amongst others.
As the industry develops and matures, it’s essential for us that we can integrate with any 3rd party content provider no matter their gaming offering. Equally important for us is how we deliver our products and services to our partners and operators whilst differentiating the front-end customer experience.
Our services are managed and protected centrally in our fully compliant data centres, to ensure compliance with all regulations in the various countries and gaming jurisdictions again taking some of the pain away from the operator.
Does the structure “many content providers – platform provider – operator – player” necessitate a greater degree of collaboration and openness between providers. And if so, what is the key to making these relationships work and deliver for operators and consumers?
We believe the future of solutions development comes from collaborative efforts between multiple suppliers. We don’t see EveryMatrix as a company that can deliver all necessary products to its clients by itself, but only through a close connection with other suppliers in the industry.
We built our company around the very principle that every player in the market delivers the best results in its particular area of activity, no matter we are talking about casino games, sports or payment solutions.
Therefore, we should simply be the best in what we do right now and that is aggregation. For this reason, we believe that delivering the best products for our clients – whether it’s payment solutions, casino or sports – requires a high degree of collaboration.
As I love to say, we are here to aggregate, aggregate and aggregate! Therefore, our business is built upon the very fruits of our collaboration with many other companies that create and supply software to the industry.
From the moment our company accessed the market, we have been able to notice a series of changes and we have been able to observe how our clients started to get increasingly involved in their operations’ development. Particularly, they take care of managing the final user experience.
All these collaborations with payments, sports and casino providers helped our company select and choose the best products to deliver in the market. So, what we actually do is to improve our integration methods, create better connections between products and we strongly consider the Web API technology the key for a better connectivity between suppliers, providers and players.
How important is technology and innovation to a platform supplier?
Today’s online gambling space poses significant challenges from enhancing product offering, demanding regulatory framework, handling big data, multi device and multi lingual to the provision of multiple payment methods.
For the last 12 months we have been focused on re-building our software gaming platform using the latest technology. We are using many technologies (HTML5, AngularJS, React, Java and others) but their central purpose has always been to provide better solutions to the challenges we and our clients face, consolidate scalability or enhance the users’ experience.
For both operators and players, user experience is a must.
The present trend for players is to shift from one device to another. This is another reason why having user experience as focus and building a cross device front-end is so important. To this end, operators who provide a seamless experience across all devices save developments costs while building brand loyalty.
Furthermore, our current clients are focused on the markets where mobile devices’ capabilities are getting better every day. As a response to this demand, for the many clients doing Web API development, and with the huge focus on mobile gaming, we are ready with version 2.0 of our Web API protocol.
The most important addition is the ability to service native mobile apps from the API as opposite to just wrapping the mobile website into an app. Operators can now make the apps really stand out, while offering as many features as needed. In addition, native apps have plenty of advantages over a mobile website such as better UI, speed and security.
What are the main areas of focus in these opening months of 2016 for EveryMatrix?
After a long-time investment in the EveryMatrix platform and driven by a constant commitment to deliver good software, we are keen to supply in 2016 better integration components, faster delivery and multiple payment options to our clients.
Speaking about payments, we are getting close to launch MoneyMatrix – our completely revamped stand-alone PCI DSS compliant payment and MFSA (Malta Financial Services Authority) regulated product.
For us, development is a continuous process. Another good example is PartnerMatrix, our affiliate and agent system, that has recently been upgraded to a stand-alone product, which means that the system can now be integrated with any platform provider and included in their platform offering alongside their own products.
Expect each of these products to improve substantially in the time to come, as there is always room for improvement in this dynamic ever changing industry!
How do you predict the industry will develop in the next five years? Is it a good or bad time to be in gambling?
It’s always a good time to be in gambling! The industry has proven a remarkable resilience to a number of difficult periods along the time, such as economic crises and legislative difficulties, but it has every time reverted into a stronger state.
It is a good industry to be in, it was the same 10 years ago and it will continue to be a great place to invest in the years to come.
But, to be successful and keep your presence in the industry for more than a few years, you have to be able to adapt to changing environments. It is difficult to anticipate the future, and there is no shortage of examples where dwarfs became giants and giants turned to dwarfs, sometimes in less than 5 years.
Our ability to adapt and react to the market changes will predict our success.
What do you see as the major trends in the online gambling business and how will your product roadmap in 2016 reflect these?
We notice a few major trends at this moment in the industry, such as the growing emphasis on Asia, the preference for mobile iGaming platforms and the increasing number of players that choose live sporting events.
EveryMatrix has always considered the best way to go for our solutions in the market by drawing a strategy that took into consideration the particular features of every local market we tried to access along our clients.
2016 represents the time we need to stop and consider the strong growth from the previous years in order to find the right balance between fast development and reliable solutions.
We work to improve our products and our operational procedures, better connect our teams and provide faster delivery for our solutions in the market.
We have more clients and players, we have bigger volumes than ever and we want to continue so that our clients may remain strong and keep on attracting players in the years to come.
What pieces of advice would you give to new operators looking to enter the iGaming space?
My number one advice for new operators is to build their teams around people that know this industry and know what they’re doing. I would continue mentioning other important aspects, such as the necessary financial support to launch the gaming site and invest money in a reliable time-proven software platform.
Yet, there is no substitute for having the right people in your team, people who can bring along years of experience and knowledge. If an operator is surrounded by the right people, financial resources or the support a large organization can bring into the game is less important than the individuals who are next to you.
We have seen many clients that accessed the market without large financial investments, but managed to reach the top in less than a year thanks to experienced people and I personally always place my bets on people before anything else.
A published version of this article has appeared under the title Brave New World: iGaming Platforms in 2016 in the iGaming Business magazine, issue 98, May 2016.