Revolutionizing Online Gaming - An Exclusive Interview with Alexander Kamenetskyi, Head of SOFTSWISS Sportsbook
In the latest addition to our interview series, we converse with Alexander Kamenetskyi, the Head of SOFTSWISS Sportsbook, a leading online gaming, and betting solutions provider. SOFTSWISS Sportsbook delivers top-notch, reliable, and scalable betting solutions to enhance the online gaming experience, collaborating with various gaming operators and industry bodies to elevate the standards of online betting.
We delve into the company's acclaimed software, discussing its cutting-edge betting platforms, and examine how advanced algorithms, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence are utilized to create their high-tech offerings.
With the increasing popularity of sports betting, how important do you think it is for online casinos to offer a sportsbook solution to their players? Can a modern online casino be successful without one? Can you explain how integrating a sportsbook solution like SOFTSWISS Sportsbook can benefit an online casino's overall offering?
The market is forcing live casino operators to launch betting businesses to reduce player churn. Some 8-10 years ago, bookmakers would do pretty much the same – launch online casinos, though having no direct experience. The reason is that casino or sportsbook players surf across gambling websites until they finally land at a casino with an integrated sportsbook. Or vice versa. Little by little, they become attracted by new bonuses and a convenient single wallet and settle. The churn can happen, but it is harder to trace.
I’ve spoken to our partners to find out that, for example, there was a 10-20% drop in online casino betting turnover during the World Cup. This shows that even casino-only projects have about 10% of players or 10% of bets departing for sports. So, users are likely to slowly move to other websites providing both casino and sports betting options.
Can casino-only projects be successful? In general, yes. There are good examples among the Casino Platform clients. But the question is how much more profitable they could be with sports betting.
Expertise is yet another concern. Bookmakers used to lack understanding of how to make money from casinos. Many casinos don't understand how to make money from sports betting. At this point, we are ready to help: we provide operators with the most automated tools, allocate experts to support business development, help set up bonuses and address other issues.
By the way, it is much easier to promote sportsbooks, as sports events help a lot. Player conversion in sports betting is many times higher because, in my opinion, it is more socially accepted. If you offer a user from Brazil to bet on a Brazilian tennis player, the former won't care about the tournament. They will just bet on their countryman. And most notably for the operator, they won't unsubscribe from this kind of newsletter.
How does SOFTSWISS Sportsbook differentiate itself from other sportsbook solutions in the market, and what is your unique selling point? Moreover, how SOFTSWISS Sportsbook has evolved since its launch and managed to maintain its competitive edge in the industry?
We have many competitors who have been active on the market for 10 to even 20 years. So, the pressure of competition in our field is very high. At the same time, I think we are younger and more flexible, which makes us more client-focused.
Initially, when designing our platform, we intended to work in the B2C rather than B2B segment. We put an emphasis on that. We wanted to make the solution convenient for finding exciting and popular events and betting on them. The user-friendly component of the product would encourage players to come back. And in a result, it helped us in the B2B.
When it comes to operators, they need to have as many tools as possible to attract and retain players. That is why we put much effort into bonuses and engagement options. We offer the most popular and unique bonuses on the market. They allow users to navigate gameplay styles and bonus amounts, choosing what they like. You need to find the perfect balance so as not to give too much to a small player and too little to a major player, not to offend the latter. By the way, this is not just a sports betting thing. It relates to all gambling activities. Our tools are designed to offer the right bonus amount automatically.
In addition, I would also highlight our jackpot system, among other bonus components, that set us apart from competitors. It allows making bonuses during different events. It is very flexible to manage odds, events, and bet amounts.
Leveraging the bonus and jackpot systems, operators are able not only to attract players effectively but also retain them and redirect the flow of bets, managing the size of that flow. As a result, the average player's wager can be safely increased if needed. Let me give an example. Let's say we find players with an average bet of EUR 5, and offer them a bonus, provided they wager EUR 10. In this way, we encourage players to increase their average bet.
And one more thing I would like to highlight about our Sportsbook is its flexibility and automation. We have a CMS which allows us, at this stage, to customize and personalize our product. For example, we can display content depending on player behavior. Also, we know that many operators find it challenging to generate promotional materials, which our solution can automatically solve. For instance, when a bonus is created, we develop all additional materials ourselves, and, in this way, our operators don't waste time.
These are the most essential things we focus on: user-friendliness, a wide range of bonuses, automation, and flexibility to attract and retain users.
In what ways does your sportsbook solution support a seamless player experience for sports betting products?
The main thing is that players don’t have to switch platforms. They can both play casino and bet on sports at the same time in the same place.
Also, we have made a convenient schedule of sports events and a menu with results and various statistics. Our job is to attract players to the sports betting site, specifically if they want to know match results or to check when an exciting event will take place.
Some operators live-stream games. Often a player comes, sees that a sporting event is on, and places a bet. In this case, streaming is a tool to attract audience, boost retention and increase the number of bets.
By the way, we have an offering for operators as well. They can leverage a range of products that can be easily integrated. Affilka, the Casino Platform, the Game Aggregator, the Jackpot Aggregator, and a payment gateway are the solutions we offer operators. We are creating an ecosystem of products that complement each other. The quick integration through the Game Aggregator allows operators to launch the Sportsbook in a short time. The jackpot system integration brings in the jackpot tool to help engage and retain players.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that a major sporting event like the FIFA World Cup is an opportune time to enter the online sports betting market. Are there other specific times that you consider to be ideal for integrating a sportsbook betting solution on top of an established casino platform?
In fact, there are many. The first question is what the operator is going to do.
Speaking specifically about sports events, the FIFA World Cup is the focal point, followed by the European Championships. Local championships enjoy popularity as well. For example, local football and basketball championships are very popular in Brazil.
In general, sports are subject to seasonality. If we are talking about the football season, it starts around the end of July with the Super Cup and qualification rounds for the European Cups. In August, the US Open – one of the Grand Slam tournaments – accompanies the football championships. In autumn, national football leagues, such as globally popular American leagues, the NBA, and NHL, join the game. At the same time, the autumn season in tennis has a lot of final tournaments.
As we get closer to New Year's Eve, the sports events schedule is getting busier, with a break for the Christmas season. But from mid-January onwards, the Australian Open kicks off, and the tempo starts building up again.
Altogether, the entry-level is relatively low at any time. However, in launching a project, it is important to remember the seasonality. At the same time, there are always top events to build a solid promotion campaign.
The key recommendation for operators is not to focus only on football. There are other sports to build your marketing safely.
For example, what is the advantage of tennis? It attracts audiences very well when other sports are on break. The NBA can be promoted easily as well. Also, I think Australian football is underrated in Europe and globally, although it is one of the most visited.
We provide similar recommendations to our current partners. A dedicated team shares key sports event reports a couple of times a month to help operators with promotion. In these reports, we cover different types of events: it can be the World Snooker Championship, winter sports, and many others. The team also helps operators with welcome packages and promotions.
A diversification strategy is needed to secure business. You need to ensure that the betting pool is distributed to the maximum extent among all available options. If operators focus on football only, they will end up increasing their dispersion.
Let's look at a particular case. An operator puts all of its focus on football. Then, there is a Champions League match, and the operator runs an advertising campaign for that match because, at that time, there are no better sports events to promote. It's a fact. Of course, the pool of bets increases several times. Meanwhile, the operator becomes dependent on the event's outcome because certain results may cause significant losses. That is why the operator's job is to distribute the bets among different sports and events.
Secondly, it is better when players bet on the nearest events. Operators gain more profit if players bet live during the first quarter of Philippine Basketball rather than on the Champions League happening three days later. Bets for later events simply freeze money. And that's not what an operator should be making money on. You have to incentivize players to bet immediately so that by the time a big event happens, they will have a few wins and a few losses, but in the end, the math will take its toll.
Somehow, it always comes down to gamification when discussing an iGaming product's future development. Can you tell us about specific gamified features of SOFTSWISS Sportsbook that make it an attractive option?
First of all, we stand out because we have unique bonuses that encourage users to play. And, as I said earlier, players get exactly what they seek. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why we have a relatively high average bet across our projects. A gambler who plays with an average bet of EUR 3,000 may get a bonus of EUR 3,000 on our platform. It will be made automatically without the operator having to spend time on it. Of course, the operator will handle VIP players, but we will take care of most of the work.
Also, the Sportsbook allows operators to set up a quest strategy for players using a set of triggers. For example, we offer to place three bets on tennis and get a bonus on football. With this format of interaction, players can be introduced to other sports and products.
Currently, when an operator comes to us and asks to calculate a welcome package, we try to introduce all kinds of bonuses for players so that they can use them more actively in the future.
Another tool relating to gamification is our integration with the Jackpot Aggregator. Leveraging the jackpot system, the Aggregator’s functionality, and the Sportsbook’s flexible segmentation, we provide a comprehensive package to motivate players. For example, it is possible to launch a jackpot during the World Cup. In this case, operators can set up the target audience, the number of bets, the odds, etc.
And are you planning new enhancements to your offering this year? On that note, how do you approach the development of new features - client feedback, market research, or other?
I can not give you any specific future plans for development. I can only say that this year we are planning to launch several new bonuses and an additional motivation system. I should add that we are constantly working on gamification. Bonuses and promotions are classified into a separate business line, as they are very important for the product, and we put a lot of effort into them.
In answering the second question, we use a little bit of everything. We study the market, players, and operators and investigate what is new beyond the sphere of betting or gambling.
For example, the world has been actively moving towards gamification for several years. Various goals, achievements, and game elements appear in many banking applications. And we observe how the world targets its users, listen to players and operators, bring in our expert opinion and experience, and adapt global trends to our sphere.
How does your sportsbook product address the unique regulatory challenges associated with offering sports betting in different jurisdictions?
We are addressing this issue in terms of licenses. At this stage, we have several licenses: Curaçao, Ghana, Nigeria, Serbia, and Romania. And our operators work wherever those gambling regulations and licenses apply. We are also working on getting other certifications.
What steps does SOFTSWISS Sportsbook take to ensure responsible gambling and protect players from problem gambling?
We are firmly committed to responsible gambling and take it very seriously. We believe local market restrictions and compulsory licensing drive the industry in the right direction. We always try to prevent problem gambling and act by the licenses we have. We believe gaming is entertainment but not a way of making or losing money.
When we launch a project based on our platform, we update the tools required for responsible gambling. For example, one of the most critical tasks here is to transfer all data from the Sportsbook safely and make sure that everything works correctly according to the license.
In addition, we have a risk management team that uses specific tools to monitor abnormal deviations from the metrics to spot problems in time.
Can you describe how SOFTSWISS Sportsbook's risk management and trading tools can help online casinos manage their sports betting operations?
We work closely with the risk management team of our data providers. Plus, we have our own team. We also use our own tools and create new ones to quickly determine the player quality in the first place. We are actively working to automate this part of the product to the maximum extent possible.
One thing that you offer your clients is high flexibility in terms of reporting, account management, and segmentation. How does SOFTSWISS Sportsbook provide operators with real-time data and analytics to inform their marketing and player retention strategies?
Initially, we match our unit with the operator setting tools. This solves two problems. First of all, operators are comfortable working in a familiar environment because we connect to their tools. Our solution is more flexible as we work with different platforms.
Speaking of analytics, we provide operators with various kinds of reports through our back office, where the operator can review all statistics across players, groups of players, and sports for specific periods. And with all this data, they analyze their operations.
SOFTSWISS recently announced the implementation of AI for online casino design. With AI being a rapidly growing technology, do you see a similar approach being implemented for online sports betting? Can you tell us about any exciting plans for AI use in the context of sportsbooks?
We have a dedicated team working with AI, with whom we are cooperating closely now and will be even more in the future. At this stage, we are testing many hypotheses. Today it is simply impossible to build a robust product without artificial intelligence. Risk management is one of the main areas where AI is implemented, as it is essential for development.
We also use AI to personalize the Sportsbook for players. AI-based tools allow us to display events according to player preferences. The system collects real-time data on player activity and then provides players with the most relevant content according to their gaming activity. In this way, we suggest events that our system considers attractive for a particular player or similar groups of players.
This approach helps reduce the time between bets and increase their amount and player LTV. The quicker players find exciting events, the more comfortable it is for them to play, which affects business performance.
In general, AI can be used in many ways, such as identifying player behaviors, content, and events. Another goal is enhancing player retention. For example, you can build a marketing bonus program by tracking player activity and giving them timely bonuses and offers they are more likely to use.
The most exciting thing here is that the system with AI often highlights things that people ignore, which helps us a lot in our work.
I am very happy that we have a dedicated team to work with AI, as implementing such solutions is a complex and resource-intensive process involving large amounts of data.
We would like to extend our gratitude to Alexander Kamenetskyi for sharing his valuable insights into the thrilling advancements at SOFTSWISS Sportsbook. Their pioneering solutions are setting new benchmarks in the online gaming and betting sphere, fusing leading-edge predictive analytics with insights from behavioral science and expert human analysis.
We trust that this interview has illuminated the significance of player experience in the betting industry and the crucial role that technology and data have in realizing this objective. For more details on SOFTSWISS Sportsbook's offerings and services, visit their website at softswiss.com.