“What do developers require from possible clients to qualify as operators?

Daniel Schultz, director of development at RealTimeGaming, discusses the three employees every potential  operator needs on their team.

In egaming’s early years, there was a glut of developers all fighting for every client and licensee they could secure, regardless of qualifications. If a potential operators could meet the minimum qualifications (typically financial), then developers were all too willing to sign them up.

      Today, the developer herd has thinned, with only a few top names commanding the market. Competition has not cooled in the fight for operators, but the focus has shifted from quantity to quality. Developers are serious about driving business success for clients, and that success often starts with screening potential operators to ensure they are built to succeed.
      In order to get up and running, a potential casino operator needs the proper infrastructure in place – financial, technological and jurisdictions concerns all need to be addressed. But developers are increasingly focusing pm the human assets operators have in place as a predictor for future success.

Your main people

At the core of a successful operator team are three personnel needs – casino manager, marketing manager, and affiliate manager. In truth, smaller organizations can get by having these roles multi-tasked by one or two individuals, but the key is experience; finding personnel who knows what works – and what doesn’t .

      The cornerstone of any online casino is the casino manager. In previous years, this role would have focused more on the nuts and bolts – or dollars and cents – of a casino operation. This role has expanded both in complexity and breadth of duties. From security issues to player handling to quality control, the casino manager is the nerve centre for the entire casino operation.
      One recent change to the role of casino manager is an enhanced focus on marketing and retention, working with the casino marketing manager. The marketing of online cacinos has changed drastically, both in the opening of new channels and the focus on player retention as well as new player acquisition. Marketing personnel no longer market through advertising, but understand how to help steer the business of the casino to create a gaming product that appeals to current and potential players. Marketing must co-operate with the operational direction set forth by the casino manager.

      Last, a casino management team must have a strong affiliate manager in place. It is important casinos understand the power of affiliates in both acquisitions and retention of quality players. Affiliate marketing can be more of an art than a science, and it is important for casino management to understand the value in dedicating manpower to managing this marketing tool.

Power of Manx Telecom

So, with this ‘manpower criteria ’ in place, many potential operators recognize they may have some gaps to fill in their team before getting serious about starting an online casino. but the question remains : where can I find the right people?  As with many operational questions, answers can often be found through a leading developer. The online casino industry is still a small world, and top developers are generally plugged in to the who and where of the industry’s rising stars. Find the right developer, and odds are they can help you find the right personnel to put you on a path to success.

What is the best way to plan ahead for the Grand National?”

David Loveday, managing director of Orbis, describes how to prepare effectively for the busiest day in the betting calendar

The UK’s Grand National is the highlight of the racing and betting calendar, and the influx of betting and registrations in the run-up to the event requires sites to remain responsive and stable, relying on a strong back-office infrastructure.
      But at Orbis, planning for this year’s race began back in April 2005. Historical data, gathered on our intranet system, can be easily shared and the information is used to generate a template ‘Openbet Grand National’ checklist. This list is the basis for ensuring everything from the availability of key staff on the day, to precise cache times on database queries. The document encapsulates the best practice we have learned over the past 10 years.

      A planning team consisting of the chief technical officer, director of operations, quality assurance manager, support manager and head of project management, reviews the checklist. Divided into various sections, it covers logistics, application servers, database, third parties, logging and inter alias. One of the its aims is to clarify where responsibility for tasks lies.
      From that point each development team tailors the plan for their respective OpenBet deployment. The aim of this stage of planning is to provide visibility to our customers, to ensure we co-ordinate with their businessand marketing plans.

The steps to best practice

Each team meets with the customer to review every recommendation, and decide on hardware requirements. Again, the approach is iterative, as approaches may be decided with individual customers that can become more generic best practice. For example, this year we began to develop an approach of partitioning the OpenBet application into discrete modules, allowing us to separate account queries from registrations, and registrations from bet placement. This   makes it easier to manage the performance of individual components, and throttle requites to certain areas of the application, should an application level denial of service attack be suspected and now forms part of our best practice recommendations.

      An important application used in capacity planning is the OpenBet Performance monitor. This measures the performance of all requests to all OpenBet applications, and uses heuristics to determine potential bottlenecks. As well as overall request times, the applications can drill down into individual database queries, report on errors, or network round trip times. This is a key tool- its intuitive graphical interface makes sense of complex data, and identifies trends over time.
      Used throughout the year, it comes into its own in the run-up  to events such as the Grand National, when every application needs to be running to its maximum potential thorough-put. Used in conjunction with load-testing scripts, it reports on the health of the OpenBet installation, data which is shared with our customers, and reviewed weekly.
      Similarly, we have developed an OpenBet   Real-time Performance Toolkit, to identify any issues that may arise on the day. This is a set of scripts and utilities to measure all aspects of application performance, in real time. The aim is that we shouldn’t need this – but we install it for all customers in advanced to ensure the tools are there if need be.
      This year saw bookmakers on the OpenBet platform taking record numbers of bets and registrations, with no application downtime. With several of our sites taking more than 100 bets per second for sustained periods, our software remained responsive. We look forward to improving year-on-year and planning for the 2007 Grand National is already underway.

“How can payment service providers offer added value?”

Sharon Gal Franco, director of sales and marketing at SafeCharge, explains how a good payment service provider can offer superior

It is common to think a payment service provider would only be confronted with the daily payment issues of its clients, but at SafeCharge we also gain expertise in the unique, ever-changing demands of each gaming operation.
      We utilize this knowledge in yet another way to provide added value to our egaming operators, which is why we have designed our SafeCharge payment solutions. With this we have asked ourselves to what extent our company’s customer care strategyies affect their profits and how much we can maximize them?
      At Supercharge, personal customer care is what sets us apart. A well-planned retention programme is worth the effort, especially when our business depends on policy renewals and client referrals. Providing security, reliability, rapid responsiveness, and customizations are what characterize our superior customer care. Through individually adjusted customer care, we can enhance the client’s own customer retention, by equipping them with the means to retain their own players.

The complete set

SafeChage delivers payment-processing solutions which provide our clients with a complete set of services to ensure their processing activities are secure, ensuring maximum sales conversion. The resources   we additionally invest in secure, ensuring maximum sales conversion. The resources we additionally invest in technology allow maximum up-time availability to a secured payment gateway, enabling clients to provide their players with non-stop playing opportunitiesand repeated deposits.

      The technical support service is also crucial to our clients ’ success in providing convenient payment methods and assuring continuous processing activities. Available 24/7, we respond quickly and efficiently to technical inquiries to maximize the client’s revenue potential.
      Facilitating a processing environment that allows gaming operators quick responsiveness and fast decision-making regarding the interactions of their players on the website can give the client a better understanding of their players ’ behavior and what would cause them to increase their average deposit amounts.
      SafeCharge has developed this unique tool to help clients identify potential VIP players. Clients can use it to react to such players by granting special coupons and bonus promotions, affiliate programmes and higher average deposits at real-time.

Establishing loyalty

While signing up new players is one of the primary aims of egaming operators, it is also important to give those players the right incentives to come back to their site and establish their players ’ loyalty.
      Facilitating loyalty further. SafeCharge provides gaming players with not only an easy outlet to spend their money on the client’s website but also a convenient and fast pay-out model. This CFT programme signifies a true added value to our clients for quick pay-outs of amounts of up to 50,000 per currency to Visa cardholders.

      SafeCharge also combines expertise in payment technology with advanced, customized risk management. Co-operating closely with our merchants, our risk management professionals define jointly with the client limiting rules and customize the client account. We minimize online risks, saving unnecessary fines on chargeback, while co-operating with merchants to fulfill their main goal of making money.
      Our customer care philosophy is based on giving our clients the tools to perform the best client retention. We believe our complete ensemble to customer care activities on a company-wide level is fundamental for that to take place

“What does the future hold for the online poker market?”

Stefan Ostlind, business development manager of 24hNetwork, believes the world is online poker’s oyster – so long as operators are properly positioned

It is no news that the market has boomed like no other industry in the past few years. Doomsayers want to liken it to a bubble; optimists see no end  to the growth. So where are we in the life-cycle of online poker at the moment?
      My guess may be better than most. B2B Poker’s gaming platform was initially developed by 24th Poker. Having worked with professional poker players for four years to develop a finely-tuned, secure online pokker product, the B2B Poker network has become the world’s largest Europe- focused network. Its product targets large corporation with existing client databases or corporations with enough  muscle to start a new brand. Within the B2B Poker network, 24th Poker offers a more pack-aged product through the 24th Network. This provides poker, casino and sports betting, plus a complete set of services such as web hosting, payment solutions, support, cRM tools and CMS.

Spread the word

Looking at the big markets it is easy to include the US. UK and Scandinavia in general, and Sweden in particular. But then what?  What about the rest of the world?  Why should we not expect more markets to enjoy the poker hype?  The aforementioned markets are accessible for several reasons : internet penetration in homes, financial infrastructure and low language barriers. The next areas often discussed are Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey and most of Eastern Europe including Russia.
      In order to access these markets, the operator needs to understand how to overcome needs to understand how to overcome the barriers. Multilingual websites as well as customer support is necessary. Non-English speaking people will be reluctant to learn and play a new game if they neither understand the rules, and do not get help in their native language.
      The barriers of getting money into the systems will discourage another portion. 24th Network has solved these issues by constantly adding more languages to its portfolio. This in turn has generated business from areas such as Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Italy, Japan, the Arabic countries, Persia (Farsi-speaking population), Germany, Romania and Macedonia. It is also essential to diminish the barrier of getting money into the sites in an easy, secure and fast way. The solution to this is to offer many alternative payment methods.

      Where operators normally shy away from accepting credit cards, where Neteller is not present, suppliers such as Web money, click2Pay, Moneybookers and more, offer their services at an increasing rate. It is of course easier if you can set this up as 24th Network can then Push it to all its skins at once. As to internet penetration, time will help and meanwhile you will want to meet the client at internet cafes, private clubs, hotels and wherever they go to go online.
      By being prepared with local partners in the new online poker markets and providing services and payment solutions that will lower any barriers players may perceive, it matters less to know the answer to ‘Where will poker boom next?’
      There is no reason to believe poker will stop attracting players and be constrained to the current markets. In one of the most important markets today- Sweden – there are only nine million people. We are probably looking at least another billion people who cab be hooked on poker-and I haven’t even started to talk about China.
      We have only seen the begging of the poker boom. The furniture winners will be those being properly positioned on a multitude of markets already today, able to use different powerful marketing channels when the timer I ripe on those markets.