Joe Saumarez Smith, chairman of Bede Gaming, was a guest and roundtable chair at EGaming Review’s Power 50 conference in Marbella, Spain. He reviews the two day conference.
The Power 50 is one of my favourite online gaming conferences and not just because it is held in sunny Spain. The relatively small number of attendees and the fact most are the major decision makers within their companies is a big plus. It also means that in discussions people are more willing to share their experiences and admit what is going badly for them, as well as what is going superbly.
Unsurprisingly, the two main themes of this year’s Power 50 were what is happening to online gaming regulation and the potential opening up of the US market.
Regulation and in particular the need to ensure that Responsible Gambling measures are put in place by all operators was a particular theme across almost every panel and roundtable. The recent UK Gambling Commission fines were widely discussed and there was a general surprise that no operator had yet lost their licence. Over a couple of drinks later in the evening I heard that there is a £10 million plus fine for a household name in the offing, which will certainly cause some big problems for the overall industry.
The imminent announcements around PASPA – which at the time of the conference had not been announced but of course is now the main topic of all conversations – was something that was widely discussed. While most operators were excited about the prospect – especially those who already had businesses operating in New Jersey or Nevada – there was also a feeling that if PASPA was repealed that it wouldn’t be as simple to make money in the US as many commentators would be expecting. Some of the more experienced (or should I say cynical or realistic?) operators were concerned about the potential high levels of protectionism against European operators coming into the market but their greatest concern was the likely level of taxation. Most states seem to be expecting an enormous payday from sports betting and have very little idea about what the correct level of tax should be to allow for a competitive product. Talk was of multi million dollar licence fees, $20 million security bonds and tax rates similar to land-based casinos (mid 30% and upwards) which would make sports betting economically unviable. Add in the sports leagues’ desires for an integrity fee and it starts to get hard to see how anyone is either going to have a decent product or make any money.
I chaired two sessions of roundtable discussions about how the online gambling industry could improve its public image. Surprisingly they were two very different sessions. The first group agreed that the industry has a massive problem with society’s general perception of online gambling (and gambling altogether) while the second was more bullish, saying that the industry was going through a bad patch but that society needs to accept that gambling is a legal activity that pays high taxes and that it is better that it exists in full view rather than as a black market. There was a bit more of nuance to the arguments than that but the opinions did strike me as being quite different, depending on the individuals in the room. It would be pushing it to say that we agreed on a way to radically improve the industry’s public image but there was a feeling that in the UK in particular there is not a single person to whom the media can come to who represents the industry in a credible way. That person could acknowledge that gambling is a ‘sin’ industry but that it is better that it is taxed and highly regulated and that for a large percentage of customers gambling is a fun pastime which does not negatively impact them. However for the small number of people who have problem gambling then the industry should be showing that we support addiction programmes and that we do everything we can to stop them from developing those problems further and to stop gambling. How the industry finds and funds that person was not something we tackled in the hour long sessions but there did seem to be an acknowledgement that it would help a lot to have that person in place to represent the industry.
As ever, the Power 50 was brilliantly organised and I regret that I was not able to represent Bede Gaming better in the Annual Online Gambling Hill Climb Cycling Challenge over a 11km course, where I could only manage second place, 12 seconds behind David Shapton of Akur Capital.
Bede Gaming, an award-winning supplier of software to the online gaming industry, continues to prove its commercial credentials by adding Rocket X to its growing list of prestigious clients.
Following the acquisition of intellectual and Property Software (IPS) Ltd in January in January 2018, LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group (STO:LEO), chose to keep its sites, including top brands 21.co.uk, Slotboss, Bet UK and UK Casino on the Bede Platform. The multi-year agreement between the platform specialists and the leading Swedish gametech company, sees the operator join the likes of The Rank Group (LSE:RNK) and Sun International (JSE: SUI) on Bede’s award winning gaming platform.
Rocket X, will take full advantage of Bede’s suite of industry-leading marketing tools and premium content from first class gaming suppliers, such as Yggdrasil, NETENT, Evolution and IGT.
Ross Haselhurst, Commercial Director of Bede Gaming, said: “LeoVegas is an innovative, mobile-focused operator at the cutting edge of the online sector. They now have the market’s most effective customer acquisition models through Rocket X and a culture that aligns well with Bede and we are thrilled to be supplying them with our unparalleled platform services.
“I would personally like to thank the whole team from both sides who worked tirelessly to bring this partnership to fruition, and offer our congratulations to IPS founders, Joe Saumarez-Smith, Dan Smyth and Michael Brady.
The growth on our platform has been phenomenal, and we are confident that, under the LeoVegas umbrella, Rocket X will build on this success in the UK and beyond as they continue to enhance their outstanding online casino offering.”
Mark Good, CEO of Rocket X, said: “We are committed to building the industry’s most intuitive and comprehensive online gaming experience, and have started 2018 strongly with a series of important agreements.
“The flexibility and solidity of Bede’s platform is an important factor for our growth and we are delighted to be working closely with such a highly regarded provider. We are looking forward to the strengthening and successful relationship between all three companies.”
Platform specialists, Bede Gaming, offers completely flexible gaming solutions with robust security measures, and is fast establishing itself as the first-choice option for innovative operators globally.
Founded in 2012, Bede employs the latest in modern technology to provide operators with high performing software used to create world class gaming experiences.
In February this year, Bede launched its first internship programme to complement its already thriving apprenticeship scheme. Having been inundated with applications, we welcomed 2 students from Newcastle and Northumbria University and mentored them through real life tech experiences.
The internship lasted for 6 weeks and fitted in with the students’ studies, covering 8 hours a week. The girls were supported by members of the team and given exposure to our great tech and how it’s used in the business. Alongside a learning programme and a mini hack project to work on, gave them a real glimpse into what it is like to apply your degree to the working world.
A fantastic experience for both parties, where we received first hand insight into student needs and how we can better accommodate graduates joining our company and the girls could understand the way a company works and have a taste of professional life after uni.
We are also really pleased to announce that one of our interns won a placement at a well known Newcastle company whilst with us. Giving us further belief that inspiring students at this stage is exactly what is needed for the region and the industry.
Off the back of this success, plans are now afoot to launch a paid summer placement role to continue to support our thriving university students. Watch this space!
Rank’s migration to Bede over 2 years ago has been a well documented affair. Watched closely by the industry, it is no secret that it has been a hugely successful partnership with significant digital revenue gains enjoyed by the operator, across its brands. And while we are very proud of these achievements, there is a lot more to Bede than just one of our favourite clients!
Now that ICE is over and the year is getting into full swing, we took the opportunity to reflect on last year and what we’ve done to ready our business for a bumper 2018.
With two EGR Power 50 clients, buzzing interest and a huge USP in the modernity of the Bede platform, our absolute main and paramount focus is on our tech. It is the developing, building and securing of new ways and solutions for our clients to create outstanding experiences for their players that drives us. We want to support them in smashing their digital targets and ambitions.
So what have we done?
What is our motivation for 2018?
How are we going about achieving our mission of becoming the first choice gaming platform in regulated markets?
Last year, we concentrated on 4 areas with the aim of streamlining processes and improving environments for the business and our customers, so all stakeholders would benefit from better operational efficiency and smoother workflows. We also took into consideration what we thought would be the hot topics for 2018 and focused on developing a platform ready for the future.
Those four areas are Scalability, Delivery, Partnership and Compliance.
Continuing to find ambitious digital solutions for our high profile clients and becoming Sun International Group’s preferred technology partner, makes it impossible to sit still, particularly where our technical team is concerned.
Tech companies can face unnecessary roadblocks by accidentally creating silos of knowledge by having specific teams for specific jobs. All that does is ring fence information rather than empower solutions.
In light of this, Bede made the decision to restructure staff into Feature Teams to create cross product knowledge and encourage a “hive” mind. This means no disruption in the face of sickness, holidays, movement and actively encourages innovation and flexibility across the board, providing an army of adaptable engineers.
Understanding that management of change is just as important to ensure process efficiency and stickiness, we introduced a Timebox methodology. Timebox takes an holistic view of a project and employs an agile approach as opposed to a linear schedule, thus identifying the most important part of the project at the beginning – is it the deadline? Is it a feature? What part is non-negotiable and is it possible to deliver all requirements, on time and on budget? If not, what can be pushed from the sprint, to make sure it happens?
These important activities, to be identified at the beginning of a project by our rapidly growing solutions team and upheld throughout its lifestyle, are vital to managing expectations and delivering projects on time and on scope.
It’s the 21st Century way of making sure tech processes flow, making it a perfect fit for Bede values and providing our operators with a swift and accurate route to Go-Live.
So it’s all very well restructuring teams and introducing processes to manage transition but how effective is it? What impact has it had on project delivery?
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. Not only as a business – billing and timesheets have nowhere to hide – but it also means that clients see more projects and more features delivered.
We delivered 41 projects in 2017, with those missing the deadline averaging being over by just 1 sprint (2 weeks). Over 3000 games now run on our platform and we delivered 6 supplier integrations in 2017 – that is an average of 8 weeks set up time, the fastest in the industry.
We spent a whopping 44% of our time on self-investment and developing our own platform, the results of which, all our customers are free to use and enjoy. This is a really important statistic, it means that as well as performing bespoke projects at the request of our clients, we are fully committed to ensuring our platform is the best it can be for our operators, for marketing, operations and compliance.
Highlights of features and projects that can now be used cross-clients:
Player Summary in PAM (Player Account Management)
Games Management System
Fairness to Customer
Single Customer Journeys
One of the fantastic initiatives to come out of 2017 was our Bede Feedback Forums, given the maddeningly catchy moniker BFFs. The BFFs are conducted quarterly by our product team, who visit every customer office to carry out platform workshops.
These forums are so valuable to both parties as we receive real feedback on our products and develop a genuine knowledge of our customers’ needs and requirements. It means our clients gain instant confirmation that their requests have been heard and receive first hand demonstrations of new features and how to use them in conjunction with their marketing strategies.
The workshops also generate common themes, as well as customer specific requirements, which are fed into the product roadmap, giving operators direct access and influence to developing a platform that is essential to their digital offering.
Putting partnerships at the heart of Bede is a vital part of our strategy. Our customers are active members of Bede, not passive recipients of a product; we’re all working together for a shared roadmap.
2018 is the year of responsible gaming and we’re bringing together industry leading operators to drive excellence in platform level compliance. We’re taking it above and beyond minimum regulatory requirements to provide our customers with the most robust and fair gaming platform in the market.
We’ve already made several changes to features, which go further than is needed to keep operators ahead of the curve and we are introducing more improvements to the roadmap for 2018.
Get excited for requirements to come
In depth view of player summary and applying more security and scrutiny to accounts for enhanced player protection are all on the agenda.
GAMstop, UKGC RTS, GDPR and CMA requirements will all be part of the platform as standard facilitating processes for operators to maximise experiences for players in a safe and secure way.
Sarah Hitchcock, Product Director at Bede, comments, “In 2017 we prioritised shifting the way we work to focus on strategic demand and preparing ourselves to scale in various ways. We now have three high performing, world class products to take to market in omni, PLAY and platform and are committed to becoming the first choice platform in every way.
“I’m excited for 2018, as we look to lead the way in compliance and regulation, going above and beyond what is required. We’re not sitting still, we’re building up to set the new standard in game playing platform. 2017 was a big year for Bede but 2018 will be bigger and better. it’s a great time to be a part of it.”
Bede Gaming has signed a partnership agreement with Pragmatic Play, which will see the content provider’s entire offering integrated into Bede PLAY.
Pragmatic Play’s portfolio of more than 80 HTML5 games, including Chilli Heat, Gold Rush, Vegas Nights, Caishen’s Gold and Jurassic Giants will be available to all Bede operators.
The addition of Pragmatic Play’s portfolio is the latest step in Bede Gaming’s expansion of best-in-class content available via PLAY, having already signed several partnership deals with top content suppliers in the last few months.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, said: “We are always looking to expand our offering to clients with the latest and most exciting titles, and integrating Pragmatic Play’s games was an obvious decision as we continue to combine premium content with our leading marketing tools.
“We look forward to enjoying a long and productive relationship with a provider whose games are already performing very well.”
Yossi Barzely, Chief Business Development Officer at Pragmatic Play, said: “We have a strong commitment to growing our footprint in regulated markets, and are delighted to do so in partnership with a provider as respected as Bede.
“I am sure our diverse and expertly-modelled range of games will prove popular with their clients all over the world.”
Bede’s platform offers a completely flexible gaming solution and robust security measures, and is fast establishing itself as the first-choice option for innovative operators globally.
Bede Gaming, an award-winning supplier of software to the online gaming industry, has announced that it has signed a deal to offer Playson’s gaming content on PLAY, its industry leading content aggregator and marketing tool.
Playson provides more than 40 omni-channel HTML5 titles, this deal will see them become available to all Bede’s operator partners once they’ve integrated with PLAY, including their most popular titles such as, Fireworks Master, Clover Tales and Viking Gods: Thor & Loki.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, said: “Playson games are known for their high-quality graphics and superb game play, they will be a fantastic addition to PLAY.
“Our aim with PLAY is to be the leading content aggregator with a broad range of titles, across all verticals that do not sacrifice on quality.
“Playson games are strong performers and we look forward to seeing them available to our clients.”
Adam Daniel, MD at Playson, said: “Playson is committed to producing high quality games worldwide, and this agreement with Bede will see our games reach new audiences.
“By adding our content to Bede PLAY, Playson games will reach a wide range of respected and innovative operators without the need for individual integrations.
“We look forward to continuing to build a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Bede.”
Bede’s platforms offer completely flexible gaming solutions with robust security measures, and is fast establishing itself as the first-choice option for innovative operators globally. Bede Gaming employs the latest in modern technology to provide a secure, high-quality gaming platform.
Bede Gaming, an award-winning supplier of software to the online gaming industry, has agreed a deal with Gamevy that will see their unique instant win content made available via the PLAY platform, Bede’s world class content and marketing offering. Gamevy’s select collection of high-quality games will be available to Bede’s operator partners via Bede PLAY. These will include popular titles such as Red Card and Epic Gems.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, said: “We’ve long been fans of the innovative titles produced by Gamevy, so we are thrilled to be making them available to all our clients through Bede PLAY.
“The games are a proven success across multiple markets. We continually update PLAY with the latest titles demanded by our customers and with instant win games growing in popularity of late, it is great that we can say that Gamevy are now a partner of ours.”
Helen Walton, Chief Commercial Officer at Gamevy, said: “We are always looking for new ways to bring our content to operators in regulated markets, and Bede PLAY is a fantastic channel for this purpose.
“The team at Bede has been a pleasure to work with. We are excited to see our content available to Bede’s operator partners soon.”
Press release by Genii. Amongst other outlets, seen on SBC News.
Genii, an independent UK-based company, offering world-class software solutions to online gaming operators, is pleased to announce its partnership with Bede Gaming.
The partnership will provide Bede’s clients with access to Genii’s extensive portfolio of over 140 HD games which incorporates a broad range of genres to cater to players of all types and from any market. Genii prides itself in having game-types to fit all players who can choose between Genii’s Patented Spin16 range, the industry-first isometric games, multi-level feature games, 3D animated storyline games and much more.
“The Bede platform is very exciting because it allows us to deliver innovative, patented content, with player engagement and interaction firmly embedded in each game, to operators in the gaming market, swiftly and easily,” added Nick Barr, Sales Director at Genii.
The thought provoking games gives players the choice of how they want to interact with the games, from selecting the reel and direction in the Spin16 range to choosing which feature game to play in our progressive reward genre of games, all of which focuses in the direction of adding extra layers of excitement within each game for players.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming said; “This is a great addition to our ever strengthening product. Genii will add a new dimension to our offering with its innovative and engaging content, whilst its broad genres ensure there are games to accommodate all player types.”
The partnership will support Bede’s industry-leading mobile performance as Genii’s offering is supported across all mobile platforms, namely, Windows, Apple and Android devices. Games are also available on desktop.
Bede is further expanding its content offering via an agreement with leading virtual
sports provider Kiron Interactive.
The deal will see Kiron’s full suite of 20 virtual sports and numbers games integrated into
Bede’s content aggregator platform, PLAY.
Kiron’s market-leading virtuals portfolio includes football, horse racing, greyhound racing
and motor racing titles.
The games will be available to all of Bede’s partners, including Tier 1 operator The Rank
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, said: “Virtual sports have become an increasingly
important gaming vertical in recent years and sits well between casino and sports betting.
“We’re always looking to build on our products with high end games, so it was important to
extend Bede PLAY’s virtuals offering, and with Kiron’s portfolio among the strongest of its
type in the industry, adding Kiron made sense.
“Our operator partners will have access to world-class virtual sports games, which will
significantly improve retention, cross-sell and engagement.”
Steven Spartinos, CEO of Kiron Interactive, said: “Many innovative operators have
partnered with, and benefited from, Bede over the past few years, so we are excited to
bring our games to new audiences, where we know they will perform strongly.”
First seen in iGaming Times: https://www.igamingtimes.com/2018/01/08/bede-gaming-south-africa-sun/
Ross Haselhurst, commercial director at UK-based Bede Gaming explains the why and wherefores of expanding into South Africa with casino giant Sun International.
iGAMING TIMES: Much of the sports betting industry has turned its attention to opportunities in Africa this year. Why has Bede felt now is the right time?
ROSS HASELHURST: Most of the growth across Africa has been in the sports vertical with casino thus far lagging behind. Bede has focused on securing an extremely well-placed partner in Sun International, which should smooth our entry into the market. We had been in discussions with Sun International on a number of opportunities since late 2015, so we’ve had our eye on Africa for some time. I suppose you could say we’re ahead of the curve on that one, and the opportunities are no less compelling going into 2018 and beyond.
iGT: Why have you chosen Sun International as your partner in the move?
RH: We really couldn’t have asked for a better partner, they just tick all the boxes for Bede in that respect. They dominate the African market, especially in South Africa where the opportunity in sports is considerable, and we are optimistic that other product verticals will regulate in the coming years. Sun have the perfect footprint across the continent and Bede have the ideal product set to support their ambitions. Furthermore, Sun’s position in Latin America creates huge potential and opens opportunity further afield too.
iGT: What makes the South African market distinctive, in terms of the challenges and opportunities it presents to sports betting operators?
RH: As with entering any market for the first time, the regulatory landscape always provides its challenges, but Bede are well positioned and well-practiced in meeting regulatory requirements in many jurisdictions. Looking specifically in South Africa, one of the most notable challenges is around the requisite certification processes for the regulator at each release cycle, where Bede have set the bar on our short release cycles. However, for the South African market we have had to make provisions for a much slower release pace, so as to allow for certification to run its course. It’s not too often that we’re asked to slow down delivering new features, but we’ve been able to accommodate the requirement while still delivering into our other markets at the same high release cadence our customers have come to expect.
iGT: How does Bede’s technology suit or solve these particulars?
RH: First and foremost, we are truly an open and modular platform, we’re absolutely supplier agnostic. Not being tied to a particular provider for compliance or a particular service or feature, such as payments, or wedded to a particular CRM, gives our customers an incredible amount of flexibility to differentiate in their chosen market. We also offer, a plethora of existing integrations, as we have, for example, with Kambi Sportsbook, which also gives our customers a more ‘out-of-the-box’ experience should they need one. The key ultimately is choice. Our architecture sets us and our customers up well for the scenarios mentioned, and with real-time data at our core, we’re able to meet and often exceed the needs of even the most demanding regulation.
iGT: People often say that South Africa’s more developed infrastructure makes it a good place to test the waters before moving into other African markets. How true is this for you?
RH: Our platform sits entirely in the cloud and is built upon Microsoft’s Azure, so straight away we remove any headaches that come with traditional on-premise deployments and having to source new infrastructure and such. Being able to rely on Microsoft’s global data centre presence means this is seldom a concern for us.
Looking forward we see Latin America as a huge opportunity for us, Colombia especially, but we are also keeping an eye on North America.