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Marc Kenigsberg

Marc Kenigsberg is an advocate for cryptocurrency and one of the world’s leading Bitcoin affiliates. The founder of BitcoinChaser.com, and a firm believer in Bitcoin, Marc also operates various Bitcoin websites and projects.

Marc is a veteran of the gambling industry with 15 years experience in various marketing roles, including being responsible for marketing at some of the largest Playtech and Microgaming licensees.

He has spoken at numerous events in the past, Including the London Affiliate Show, Ice Totally Gaming, as well as the Bitcoin conference held last May in Prague. He also advised gaming operators and businesses on strategy and marketing activities.

Today Marc is also an affiliate in the financial space and operates industry leading financial portals including TradeOpus.com.

 

Robert Andersson appointed as new CEO of Catena Media

On Thursday 7th of May, Robert Andersson entered the Catena Media offices in Sliema, as the new CEO. Robert has extensive experience in digital advertising and building organisations.

He has spent the last five years, as a CEO for Stockholm based digital agency, River, working with clients such as Nike, Ladbrokes and EA Games. As a fast growing company Catena is moving from a start-up challenger to to a well established large corporation.

Robert will be taking on the challenge to grow Catena Media, from forty employees, as it stands today, to one hundred and then onwards to the future. His aim is to further enable rapid growth in a structured way. “I am really impressed with Catena, and its people. There is a tremendous amount of talent here and I could not be happier to join the company. The company clearly has a bright future, and this autumn we will start a new chapter in the history of Catena”

Erik Bergman, Co-Founder and previous CEO, will take on the new position as Head of Product, focusing on product and business development.

”My passion has always lied in product development, becoming the CEO was somewhat a role and title that came along with the growth. With Robert taking on the role of CEO, of Catena Media, the company will have a leader to take the business to the next level. I on the other hand will be able to focus on what I love: online marketing and business development, so I am really looking forward to spend all my time and energy on that again.”

He went on to elaborate, “Today we are celebrating with a champagne breakfast (with ballerina and strawberries) to celebrate a new chapter in my life. After working around the clock in recent years and at times been so exhausted that I was close to tears, it is now time to pass the baton. Today, Robert Andersson over the role of Managing Director at Catena Media, the company that I’ve taken from 0 to 40 employees.”

Erik Bergman was one of the speakers at SiGMA14 and we look forward to see him again this year. Similarly, we wish Robert the best of success at Catena Media and we are looking forward to welcome him to SiGMA15.

For more information, please contact: Erik Bergman or Robert Andersson at erik@catenamedia.com / robert@catenamedia.com / +356 77755519 / +356 77032928. http://catenamedia.com/

The power of statistical analysis in Gaming

In statistical theory, we refer to ‘power’ as the strength, reliability and the level of confidence of a research study, but in business terms, power refers to the strength of your data to challenge your competitors – the strength of your data to take a competitive advantage. Realistically, both of them are directly related to each other.

Business Intelligence is nowadays commonly used in various industries, including gaming companies. As a result, a number of pertinent questions are often cited; “Why is there all this fuss about Business Intelligence and statistical analysis? Why is there so much focus on data? What is the main benefit of staying ahead of your data?”

Statistician Vincent Marmara

Statistician Vincent Marmara

I remember the days when I stared working in the gaming industry in 2006. This industry was relatively new, with few companies based in Malta. We compiled statistical reports to analyze several methodologies on customer acquisition. Acquisition campaigns were always on top of the agenda. As things evolved, it became harder to acquire new players. More efforts were required and, as a result, customer acquisition became more expensive. Sophisticated marketing campaigns were adopted to target the right niche customers. In most cases, these trends were the result of statistical analysis as well.

Fast forward nine years: things look different today. The focus has shifted on retention, not merely acquisition. Operators need to address two fronts: consolidate their customer database while simultaneously run campaigns to reactivate dormant customers. To do so, they must realize that with the data they already have, the need to make assumptions can be reduced once that data is properly analyzed. Furthermore, they need to realize that the faster that data is analyzed, swifter action can be taken to prevent losses.

I tend to compare this situation with an epidemic. Currently, I am reading a PhD in Mathematics (Statistics) in the area of Epidemiology and I describe such a case in the following way. In the field of epidemics, one of the major models is the ‘SIR’ model, where ‘S’ refers to the susceptible number of individuals acquiring an infection, ‘I’ is the number of infected individuals and ‘R’ is the number of recovered or dead individuals. The gaming industry works I a similar fashion. A population of active customers may be ‘susceptible’ to stop playing. Along their active gaming lifetime, customers might start to reduce their gaming activity due to several crucial reasons (‘Infected’) and hence, the gaming companies have two options in this scenario. The company either decides to ‘do nothing’ and hence, the customers move into the inactive group (they die out) or else they try to strengthen their gaming activity, thus saving (‘Recovering’) them from stopping to play.

This scenario is very similar to an epidemiological model. Statistical models, together with sophisticated techniques, which may include both a ‘Frequentist’ and ‘Bayesian’ approach, are the right solution in such cases. One needs to find the solution to cure the ‘Infected’ customers to recover them and save them from turning to the inactive group. The solution is to run sophisticated analysis to determine the main factors that are hindering players from strengthening their activity, or at least keeping their gaming activity consistent. Following the acquisition of such information, one will then develop the right statistical models to be able to predict the ‘infected’ group of customers.

This is why there is a need for live statistical analysis together with the need to analyze current datasets. This is the reason why statistics provides power and competitive advantage, based on good statistical and mathematical models, carrying a high power of accuracy.

To summarize it all, a significant number of gaming companies today do not realize that they have priceless information that is being overlooked. The answers to their biggest issues are likely hidden in their data already. Operators may not need to reinvent the wheel to remain competitive. They only need to look closer to home: to analyze and make best use of the data accessible to them.

 

Who is Vincent Marmarà?

Vincent Marmara is a Statistical Consultant and Researcher by profession. He obtained his first degree in Statistics, Operational Research and Mathematics at the University of Malta.  He later advanced his studies by obtaining Masters of Science in Statistics at Sheffield University, UK.  Currently he is reading for a PhD in Mathematics (Statistics) at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and also forms part of the research staff at the University of Stirling, UK.  He was entrusted with numerous research projects both at a national and international level.  He led research groups and analyzed data to a high level scientific extent.  One of his main research projects involved modeling missing data in surveys and in other research areas.  Mr. Marmarà has 9 years experience in the iGaming industry as a Business Intelligence Analyst. At present he is one of the partners and co-owner of the statistics research company, Sagalytics. Furthermore, he has been part-time lecturing Statistics and Mathematics at the University of Malta since October 2010. Moreover, he is the President of the Malta Statistics (MSTOR).

Vincent occupied several key important roles such as, member of the faculty board of science, Deputy CEO and Chief Regulatory Officer within the Malta Gaming Authority. During his term at the gaming authority, he was directly responsible for reducing the licensing process time by half.

SiGMA14-15: one year on

The SiGMA project officially took off around one year ago with a press conference in which the MGA executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri as well as the Parliamentary Secretary for iGaming, Jose’ Herrera, shared some remarks for the year ahead. Today, one year on, we have secured a summit, the likes of which the gaming industry had been wanting for quite some time.

Last year’s SiGMA was also our baptism of fire but, following feedback from exhibitors, delegates and speakers, the plans to organise such show on a yearly basis have been cast in stone. Others, who did not make it to SiGMA14 for any reason, have also confirmed their early participation for this year’s summit. As a result, we have been able to identify six features that distinguish SiGMA from any other gaming event worldwide:sigma 2015 160x600

  • INDUSTRY TREND: The three distinct pillars within the industry – B2B, Operators and Affiliates – are coming closer together. Today’s affiliate, for instance, is fast becoming a successful operator within months. SiGMA is the only 360° igaming showcase in Malta that reflects this trend.
  • TRUST: Virtually all our exhibitors from 2014 will exhibit again in 2015. SiGMA also won the trust of many exhibitors who did not take part in 2014.
  • LOCATION: SiGMA is held in Malta, home to some 300 gaming companies, 500 licenses, making it easier for everyone to meet, greet and do business. Plus, great weather in November calls for free, open air networking events close to the venue itself. SiGMA15 will once again include networking pre-registration drinks, networking poker tournament, conference drinks and a closing night.
  • KNOWLEDGE: SiGMA15 will feature four conferences: Conference 1 – Regulatory Briefing; Conference 2 – Payments, Fraud & Financial Technology; Conference 3 – Affiliates & SEO Trends; Conference 4 – Gamification.
  • VALUE: A free admission policy for affiliates and a low entry fee for all other participants is indicative of a solid turnout. Not bad for a show that enjoys worldwide coverage thanks to an exhaustive list of media partners.
  • NETWORKING: Different format. Different organisers. Different crowd. Different affiliates. Different deals. We can guarantee both quality and quantity with 1 Expo – 4 Conferences – 40+ Affiliate Programs – 60+ speakers – 100+ Exhibitors – 3,000+ participants.

Floor-Plan-SiGMA15We’re making sure that the right, long term networking environment is nurtured, predominantly with the SiGMA show itself, but also throughout the year with a number of networking events and this bi-annual publication itself. True to our word, we have been able to connect an endless number of C-level executives, suppliers, operators and affiliates with each other, and we look forward to to see this igaming nucleus grow as weeks go by.

 

Patrick O’Brien: the role of bitcoin in online gaming

Gambling is a lucrative business, and online gaming represents a major and rising segment of that business – about 10% presently. H2 Gambling Capital, a firm that monitors the online gaming industry, estimated its global market value to be about $30 billion in 2012. In addition, the company projects the industry to realize a 9.13% compound annual growth rate all the way to 2015.

Therefore, the growing popularity of online gaming has necessitated the industry to reach further for more convenient and better payment systems. One such scheme that makes it easier for individuals to make more bets is the introduction of various crypto-currencies, of which Bitcoin has emerged as the favorite. Although this type of payment is faced with some hurdles, it has shown no signs of backing down from its revolutionary mission to enhance how things are done in the online casinos and gambling rooms.

Every country worldwide can be reached via the Bitcoin payment network and no other payment system can confidently boast of that. Coinometrics and others have approximated that about 40 per cent of Bitcoin network transaction volume is associated to payments for web-based gambling. Currently, more than 150 online casinos and gambling sites accept only Bitcoin as their preferred method of payment. Some of the leading Bitcoin gaming sites include Satoshi Dice, bitZino, and Seals with Clubs. And, the use of Bitcoin for online gambling is continuing to grow rapidly.

 

Patrick O'Brien, Director of Communications, EXANTE

Patrick O’Brien, Director of Communications, EXANTE

Placing bets on Bitcoin

There is increased interest in the use of Bitcoin in the iGaming industry because of its many advantages. Even though Bitcoin gambling currently represents a small percentage of the revenues from the iGaming industry, the stakeholders are burning their fingers to see that its use becomes more prevalent because of its many benefits.

The online gambling industry faces the following key challenges.

  • Inability to effect real-time payments in both directions
  • How to establish a payment system that is borderless
  • How to incur minimal fees for transactions
  • Difficulty in keeping client privacy beyond the gambling environment

Bitcoin, created in 2009, is a decentralized digital payment method employing peer-to-peer networking to allow irreversible transactions without involving any middle men. Bitcoin was developed as a reaction to centralized monetary authority, dwindling financial privacy, as well as paramount legacy infrastructure.  So, could it be the best bet for the iGaming industry?

 

 

Here are some key benefits that Bitcoin brings to the online gaming world.

  1. Very low fees

Bitcoin is regarded as a co-efficient type of crypto-currency. The major benefit arises from the cheap cost of effecting a Bitcoin transaction. Because it is relatively inexpensive to carry out a single transaction, an increased number of sports betting companies, online casinos, online poker rooms, online bingo sites, and others are placing their bets on Bitcoin as the preferred payment option. Bitcoin’s reasonable transaction prices also enable the industry players to offer low commissions and therefore attract more gamblers.

  1. Freedom in payment

Bitcoin is a revolutionary payment system that allows gamblers to make transactions without worrying about geographical constraints. With Bitcoin, online poker gamers can play anywhere in the world, at any time. Online casinos and gambling rooms do not need to worry about rescheduling for bank holidays or other limitations that may hamper convenient transactions.

Bitcoin enables people in countries not reached by the common payment methods such as Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal to engage in online gaming freely and safely. So, it is able to provide payment solutions to some places in the globe without banks or controlled by the traditional payment networks. Consequently, Bitcoin is proving to have the ability to open up the world’s extensive unregulated gambling markets.

  1. Quick payment

Contrary to the traditional payment methods that normally take hours or days for a transaction to be effected, Bitcoin transactions, however, are normally far faster. With Bitcoin, payments can be instantaneous making it possible for real-time gambling transactions to be made in both directions.

  1. Irreversible transactions

When customers make payments using credit cards or even bank payments, the sender normally can reverse or “chargeback” the payment. Therefore, this increases chances of fraud that can deteriorate the developments of the iGaming industry. Bitcoin is the only means of payment that the sender cannot be able to reverse the payments made.

  1. Discreet

One of the reasons why Bitcoin is increasingly getting the attention of the online gambling world is because its purchases are discrete. If a user does not want his or her personal information to be known, it will never be disclosed. More so, the purchases cannot be traced back to him or her. Furthermore, no third-party is able to interrupt Bitcoin transactions or enact freezes on Bitcoin accounts.

As much as the personal information is kept anonymous, all finalized transactions are available for everyone to see. Thus, this encourages information transparency. The public address of the sender will be visible without revealing his or her personal details. Additionally, anyone can verify transactions in the Bitcoin block chain to ascertain their authenticity. Since Bitcoin is built on a network that is cryptographically secure, any individual, entity, or government cannot manipulate its protocol.

Challenges facing Bitcoin

Although Bitcoin has been singled out as the innovation that will spread the wings of online gambling, a number of challenges still stand in the way of its complete adoption by the industry, and one would understand why. Here is a description of the key ones.

  1. Regulation

As the digital currency has started to penetrate into the mainstream and get exposure, several gaming companies have come under increased scrutiny from the cautious regulators. Regulation is good because it assists in taming some unfair practices in the market. Therefore, there needs to be a resolution of the issues that the regulators deem as risky for Bitcoin.

The regulatory framework in most countries imposes some expectations on the online gaming companies. Notably, a significant portion of the regulation raises issues with one of the most attractive benefits that Bitcoin offers to the online gaming world: anonymity.

Nonetheless, to find a solution to this issue, regulators can work hand in hand with firms that require individuals to disclose their identity before engaging in Bitcoin transactions. An example of such a firm is GoCoin, which mandates individuals to give out their identity when registering an account with them. Therefore, the risk of anonymity will be resolved if the iGaming industry accept crypto-currency payments only from players that have been identified using such platforms as provided by GoCoin.

Bitcoin regulation in the world varies substantially from country to country. Further, it is still undefined or changing in most of the countries. Whereas some countries have clearly authorized its use, others have completely outlawed or strictly forbidden it. In a majority of the developed countries, crypto-currencies are regulated under the money laundering/terrorist financing laws. Presently, Bitcoin has been publicly banned or severely restricted in only three nations: Bolivia, Ecuador, and Russia.

In spite of the regulatory policies, online gaming companies are doing their best to conform to the gambling laws and

Payments with Bitcoin

Payments with Bitcoin

make Bitcoin a preferred method of payment. A notable example is Vera&John, an online casino firm based in Malta, which caused a stir in the gaming industry by becoming the first licensed casino to accept Bitcoin in early 2014. However, things took a drastic turn after some few months when the firm announced that it will no longer be accepting Bitcoin payments. Vera&John were asked to suspend accepting the digital currency by its regulator, the Malta Gaming Authority, or risk having their license being revoked.

For the growth of Bitcoin in the gambling industry to continue, the stern watchful eyes of the several jurisdictions should not be a stumbling block. Therefore, for online gaming firms to thrive, they must be ready to endure and even compromise in some instances so that they establish lasting and profitable businesses. For example, they should be ready to adopt such platforms as provided by GoCoin to reduce the risk of anonymity in the industry.

The increasing popularity of Bitcoin as a preferred payment system seems, to date, unstoppable. Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are likely here to stay. Just like electricity, this innovation cannot be un-invented. This calls for the online gaming world to rise above the occasion and sail the growth of the industry while soberly seeking for solutions for the issues raised by the regulators.

  1. Price volatility

The price of Bitcoin constantly fluctuates because there is a limited number of coins in circulation and the demand for them increases every day. As of March 20th 2015, one Bitcoin was valued at $263.20. It was valued at $312.44 on January 1st 2015. This constant fluctuation of the value of this novice “digital dollar” makes sense since people are still experimenting with it to understand how best it works. It is because of the volatility of Bitcoin that the regulators in the industry perceive it to be risky for investments. However, as more people and businesses start appreciating the benefits of Bitcoin, its price will eventually settle down.

  • Security issues

Another issue that thwarts the growth of Bitcoin in the iGaming industry is due to fears of security. However, it is very difficult for Bitcoin theft to take place, particularly if the digital coins are kept in a secured online wallet. In early 2012, Betco.in, an online poker site, was hacked leading to the loss of 2,900 Bitcoins from player balances. Since then, no hacker has been successful in stealing such a large number of Bitcoins from gaming platforms. Therefore, this shows that the iGaming industry has improved in terms of making its architecture secure for the participants.

The future with Bitcoin

Bitcoin will likely play a bigger role in the future of the online gambling industry. Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies continue to exert a firm foothold and will continue to shape its future. As more and more people begin to understand the concept of crypto-currencies, they will want to own their own digital coins that allow them to make fast and convenient payments while ensuring their purchases are secure.

As the popularity of Bitcoin increases around the world, individuals will get ways of making use of it just like fiat currencies. And, iGaming could just be another aspect this virtual currency is employing to legalize itself as a real unit of value. However, this amazing growth of Bitcoin is being incapacitated by some hurdles, which can be amicably solved so that people can continue to benefit from this innovation. Particularly, the issues raised by the regulators ought to be scrutinized carefully and major solutions developed. So, more dialogue between the various stakeholders, operators, suppliers, regulators, and the gamblers themselves is needed so that the bright future of the iGaming industry could be realized faster – with Bitcoin, of course.

Networking drinks & press conference this Friday

SiGMA15 is organising a pleasant opportunity for the gaming industry to meet fellow c-level executives with a “drinks after work” concept on a Friday, right after work, before drive time, and before the weekend.

This event is being organised in occasion of the launch of SiGMA2015 – details will be unveiled about the conference topics, the new attractions being included for 2015 as well as the various exhibition and sponsorship opportunities. The event will include short, keynote speeches by the MGA COO Heathcliff Farrugia as well as Parliamentary Secretary for iGaming Jose Herrera.

Delegates can also pick up a hard copy of the second publication of SiGMAgazine. The event will be held at Tapaz, St. Julian’s and will include the following:

16:45: Welcome drinks, distribution of SIGMA publication
18:00: Brief speeches by MGA, SiGMA, Government
18:15: Tour of fully refurbished InterContinental Arena

Strictly by invite.

Marc Lesnick

Marc Lesnick has been involved in the online gaming industry since 1998.  He currently runs UTail.com.  Marc Lesnick also organizes niche conferences for various industries, including the Daily Fantasy Sports Expo. As the President of Ticonderoga Ventures, Inc., he is a speaker at numerous conferences and writes for several publications.

He is an expert on SEO and has spoken at previous SiGMA14 conference on SEO Strategies for affiliates.   He has been quoted in the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Barrons Magazine, National Public Radio, Business Week Magazine, Time Magazine as well as others.

Betsson profits grow, bigger workforce needed

Betsson, whose Malta-base employs a strong 750+ workforce, saw revenue rise by almost 25% in the last quarter of 2014, a new quarterly record of €86 Million. 2014 overall figures leaped forward in part thanks to last February’s acquisition of the Oranje and Kroon Casino brands. Poker profits, in contrast, fell by 20% due to Poker’s declining popularity in Betsson-friendly markets, specifically Scandinavian.

In light of this steady growth, Ulrik Bengtsson (Betsson CEO) argued that the gaming sector in Malta was finding it difficult to hire suitable candidates with the right talent. As a result, with the support from the University of Malta, this summer, paid internships will be offered to University students reading degrees in statistics, computing and data sciences.

Bengtsson went on to elaborate, “We have found it very hard to recruit in this field and can easily absorb those who are qualified. The interesting thing is that many of the students do not realise that these skills are required for i-gaming. It is not intuitive that we also require statisticians and data scientists.”

Internship applications will be open until the 20th February, 2015. The outcome will be announced by March same year. Further information may be collected by emailing Betsson at academy@betssongroup.com.

Joakim Stockman

Joakim Stockman is the Group CEO of Malta based iGaming operator Betit Group which was established in early 2013. Betit Group operates the brands Thrills.com and SuperLenny.com and are rumoured to have a third site in the pipeline. Joakim left the Betsson Group, where he was in charge of Betsafe, in April 2013 and joined Betit Group as the first employee and has since seen the company grow rapidly to 60 employees and revenues above 50 k EUR per day.

Betit Group’s rapid expansion quickly became the talk of the industry and not long ago iGaming giant GVC secured 15 % of the shares in the company through a 3.5 m EUR investment with an option to acquire the remaining shares at a minimum of 70 m EUR. Whether the Betit Group will go from “Zero to Hero” is perhaps not yet a certainty, but they are certainly one of the companies who are currently taking a very good crack at it.