EEGReport Magazine: Mr. Retschitzegger, you are the President of the recently established Austrian Association for Betting and Gaming (OVWG). Could you provide us with some more details of the Association, of its aims and goals and why it has been founded?
Retschitzegger: The Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (in short OVWG) is an Austrian interest group founded in 2016, aiming to create awareness towards opinion leaders in the area of online betting and gambling in Austria. The members of the Association are leading Austrian and European operators offering online betting and gambling services in Austria. OVWG primarily focuses on the regulation of online products (online sports betting, online gambling).
In its role as representative and interest group of this sector, OVWG aims for a modern and competitive regulation of the sector that complies with EU law. This lies in the interest of all affected parties, including the operators and consumers. Furthermore, OVWG acts as voice between service providers, authorities and decision-makers in order to improve the mutual dialogue and understanding between the parties.
As you can see, OVWG covers various important areas that have not been properly addressed so far. We chose to found OVWG since it is very difficult for a single operator to bring about change. However, I am more than positive that the operators on the Austrian market can contribute to an improvement for all affected parties by speaking with one voice which can no more be ignored.
EEGReport Magazine: What are the objectives of OVWG?
Retschitzegger: The circumstances of the Austrian (online) betting and gambling market have changed dramatically in the last couple of years. On the one hand, the digital component has gained more ground which has brought an entirely different aspect to the market. On the other hand, (especially) the European Court of Justice has increasingly substantiated internal market regulations particularly addressing dysfunctions in the legislative system. In light of this, OVWG has made it its goal to interact with decision-makers on all levels and – by means of dialogue – to present our ideas and concepts. In a changing market, important issues could remain unsolved unless the legal framework gets constantly adapted.
The essential medium- to long-term goal of the Association is to implement a market regulation for online betting and gambling in Austria that is compliant with EU law, appropriate for existing and newly entering market players and achieving the broadest possible player protection including the channeling of consumers from the black market to the licensed and legal offer. A well-balanced, solid legal framework including a fair taxation is not only the basis for innovation and investment in the Austrian market, but also a core element for legal security for the sake of all: consumers, operators and the State.
EEGReport Magazine: How does OVWG intend to reach these objectives?
Retschitzegger: We want to work together with decision-makers to create a model preparing Austria for the future and securing regular, safe and fair relations between all parties. In fulfilling this aim, we do not only rely on the knowledge of our internationally active members, but also, for example, conduct studies in order to present scientifically based documentation. Such studies will be launched together with recognized institutes and will especially be addressed at the rectification of wrong facts regarding prevalence issues of betting and gambling as well as the Austrian gambling and betting market.
As we know, proper PR work makes the crucial difference between success and failure of an association. Thus, the OVWG will regularly release press reports in order to get wider visibility and create awareness of the industry. OVWG has built its own staff in order to get its daily business work done and to achieve the broadest effect possible. As the current situation requires the industry to bundle forces, the OVWG also cooperates with other Associations throughout Europe such as EGBA or ESSA. Apart from that, we constantly approach the EU Commission in order to keep it informed of any legal developments in Austria.
EEGReport Magazine: You mentioned that “fair taxation” would be part for a solid legal framework. What taxation rate would be appropriate according to OVWG and why is taxation so important for a well-balanced regulation?
Retschitzegger: OVWG is of the view that 20% the Gross Gambling Revenue (GGR) would be a well-balanced, appropriate rate that would be for the sake of all, consumers, operators and the State; Great Britain for example has a taxation rate of 15 % on GGR, Denmark has a taxation rate of 20% on GGR.
An appropriate taxation rate is crucial since it is decisive whether the legal operators have the ability to compete with illegal operators or not. This is of utmost importance when it comes to the intended channelization of consumers from the black market to the licensed and legal offer, as otherwise a gap between legal and illegal offer is created that still channels players towards illegal offer. Only an adequate gambling and betting regime in connection with appropriate taxation rates creates a healthy and sustainable gaming industry that is capable of competing with illegal operators.
EEGReport Magazine: Austria’s gambling sector has been subject to debate for quite some time now. Could you quickly circumscribe the Austrian legal framework and circumstances for operators intending to access the Austrian market? What are the recent developments?
Retschitzegger: In Austria, there is a very different legal regime when it comes to betting and gambling, with significant legislative differences. The licensing regime for betting is kept rather liberalistic while gambling is monopolistic. Even though digitization has fundamentally changed the betting and gambling market, the current legal framework for online-gambling products still has not been properly adapted. Moreover, in the field of betting we can see an increasing tendency in various Federal States (Bundesländer) to make it even more difficult for cross border operators to newly entering the market.
EEGReport Magazine: You are saying online gambling and betting operators are currently facing a rather difficult situation in Austria. What is OVWG’s approach to improve this condition?
Retschitzegger: When it comes to a proper online gambling and betting regime, OVWG does not intend to reinvent the wheel. In fact, OVWG’s roadmap to achieve a fair and balanced legal framework has some good and prominent examples: If you take Denmark or Great Britain as an example, you can clearly see that an open and regulated market entails a beneficial impact for all, consumers, the state as well as for operators. Apart from these two states, the Swedish market is being transformed as well, with a broad consulting phase to create a new model. Sweden will probably be another role model for Austria where once again we will be able to experience the mentioned positive effects. In my opinion, it is just a question of time until Austria chooses to follow suit. Scandinavian states have been pioneers in Europe in various ways and they once again show us a good way that yet takes some time to be adopted in other states.
EEGReport Magazine: As we all know, there are different regulatory models in every jurisdiction, which makes operators look twice before entering legalized markets. There has not been a huge interest shown by the large international operators to lobby in Austria for a new regulation, do you feel that this will change in the future?
Retschitzegger: We have had various large international operators giving statements and pursuing an improvement of the legal framework in Austria, usually out of a particular occasion such as a new betting law. However, some of these big operators such as bet-at-home.com, tipico or Mr Green recognized that they have a better stand if they speak with one single voice, wherefore OVWG has been founded. In my opinion, the existence of OVWG proves that large international operators de facto intend to make a change happen in Austria.
EEGReport Magazine: Do you think that a common regulatory model that can be adopted on EU level would be a good practice? Economically speaking EU countries differ a lot, thus having an all-governing law in every country regarding the online gambling and betting sector could prove to be a major setback for many less developed countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This is of course my opinion, what is your expert opinion on such a topic?
Retschitzegger: This question is a very complex one and would go beyond the scope of this interview if properly answered. In my opinion, a common regulatory model – if well implemented – could be a great asset from an economical view, whereas it probably would be nearly impossible from a political view in the current situation. Thus, I do not want to lose time thinking about a scenario that is not going to happen within the next couple of years. However, it can be said that even though there is no common regulatory model, the European Union still gave us overriding legal guidelines that govern fundamental principles in regards to economical questions such as the Freedom to provide services or the Freedom of establishment. Yet, the problem is that various states are (already today) in breach of EU-law, wherefore these fundamental principles have been levered out. Instead of considering a common regulatory model, the European Union should rather consider to execute and observe the implementation of its European Union Primary Law.
EEGReport Magazine: Could you give us some insight about the criteria for becoming a member of OVWG?
Retschitzegger: Membership to OVWG is open for any company being active in the area of online betting and gambling and fulfilling certain access criteria. An operator must have at least one online betting or gambling license issued by a competent authority of an EU-Member State, it must maintain active player protection standards, be compliant with tax obligations in Austria and to show commitment to innovation as well as to the aims and goals of the Association. If a company fulfills these criteria it can either become a full member or an associated member. I am happy to receiving requests for becoming a member of the Austrian Association.
Affiliate Superstars: Dan Bâra of Pariuri1x2 (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 6 – June – September 2017)
Meet Dan Bâra, a sports betting/tipster/editorial veteran who’s been active in this field for many years!!! Dan used to write for a famous newspaper, hosted a radio and TV shows as well.
Name: Dan Bâra
Living in: Bucharest
Favorite Food: Spaghetti
Must Read Book: Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson
Profession/Job title: Journalist
Hi Dan, tell us a bit about yourself, we would like to know who Dan Bâra really is, one of the main persons behind Pariuri1x2.ro. What was the key idea of developing this great betting, tipster website?
Dan: Hi and thank you for your interest in our project. There are many ways to look at a game and people have different ideas and a lot of subjectivity. But what is the common element in this? That is what I always wanted to find out and the result I think is a very good start for making a bet. I was looking to simplify the knowledge and the ideas to one simple truth, like the one a 10 year old can tell in a heart beat.
Tell us a bit about your past, and we refer to your past in the betting/tipster industry!
Dan: I started by playing sports games. Especially football, but I was no stranger to any activity involving effort. I think I have a lot of energy and I need to spend it, so cycling, running, body building and playing tennis were current activities when I was young. Then I started to watch sports on TV after the Romanian 1989‘ so called Revolution. The TV programs were more generous with sports than they were before and I was eager to watch everything. A turning point was when I heard about sports betting. That looked very simple at the first glance. I was amazed how my friends were loosing on their tickets so I wanted to help. Therefore I started an website with sports analyzes and betting tips.
What were the bumps on your road when you got started and how did you overcome them?
Dan: In 2006, after one year of struggling on my own, I had the chance to get a job at the Gazeta Sporturilor newspaper. They had an opening in sports betting so we started to walk together on a 9 years long road. First, I had the chance to write on their website and soon I even made my debut in the newspaper. Again, an year latter, I was on TV and radio. Amazing opportunities! However, it wasn’t easy. I had to overcome my stage fright, I had to change and adapt, to learn more and to become very disciplined.
Next to your website you’re also hosting a TV show called “Un Pont Pe Zi” (A Tip per Day). Let us know how the show is going and also from where came the idea for it?
Dan: I left Gazeta Sporturilor in 2015 because of the changes in the press field. I wanted to start something new and I teamed up again with my old friend and colleague Sabin Pîrvan (from my previous job) in a new project. We knew that we had the experience on our side and still a lot of new ideas to put into practice. We started with a Internet blog and then we created our own website www.pariuri1x2.ro, our Facebook page and our TV show. They were the next logical steps. Now, they are all top quality products because we do it for our people, the ones who need them and the ones who are following us. We respect them and offer our best efforts every day.
We have surfed your website (Pariuri1x2.ro) and found some pretty high quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or you have a team of people writing for you?
Dan: Our main advantage was that we had a lot of trust in us. We invented before a lot of things in the betting editorial area and we felt that our approach makes a difference. So we kept doing our thing. Soon, we started selecting people for our editorial team. Only the best of them were selected and they are working with us now. Together, we make a very solid team, the best in the country and one of the best worldwide.
How do you keep the content fresh and devoid of clutter when a lot of fluff and nonsense appear on the Internet on a daily basis?
Dan: We are journalists and we do solid documentation. We check every information and we also have our very own point of view. The team is always watching the sports events and the ideas are at the first hand.
How about your Youtube Channel, we know that a couple of days ago the channel had it’s first million views?!
Dan: The Youtube channel is the biggest of this kind for the sports betting fans in Romania. It has an impressive increase and all of it it is natural, organic increase. At the time of answering this, it has over 1,2 mil views and 6k subscribers that receive daily updates. The channel hosts parts of the TV show ( most interesting moments ) , a weekly podcast , selections from a new sports TV show where I am co-host ( Unspe Metri ) and a twice per week episode series made by a very popular person in the betting world – Doru Craciun which is also commentator for the Liga 1 matches.
We are sure that you receive daily messages from Affiliate Managers showcasing their products. You of course select them by the brands they work with; but what are your thoughts on how Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationships should be built?
Dan: The relationships should be based on trust and stability. We only work with long term deals and we select closely the partners which we work with. As we invest tremendous work and money into our project – we expect that our partners to take this into consideration and work with us to improve performance. A little over 2 years ago we started being a very low profile website and now we are number 2 in the market. This should say a lot to the affiliate managers that work or want to work with us.
How do you see the future of the online sport betting industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon in the near future?
Dan: Well, it is already a global phenomenon and as everybody saw in the last years everything is shifting more and more into online and mobile. Biggest names in the market already have over half of the bets coming from mobile. The expansion to e-sports and other new type of bets shows that this industry constantly adapts and grows no matter what. So betting is here to stay, to increase and to be a part of any new technology or gadget that might appear.
What is your opinion in regards to licenses for online gambling/betting affiliates? How does the Romanian market look, and how do you feel about the present legislation?
Dan: Not to leave the „betting“ field, I would say that the legislation for the online gambling in Romania was a winning bet placed by the government. The licensing costs for affiliates are not the lowest ( 7000 EUR/year ) but any decent person who has a little knowledge can do an affiliate business that would recover this money in a year. It is also a guarantee of trust between operators and affiliates and it ensure a fair competitive market.
How about the situation of the Romanian sports betting market, how does it look in the present, and in which direction is it evolving?
Dan: Regarding the market – it shows a month-to-month increase since the „regulated“ era has begun and based on the size of the traditional land based market it will continue to go up. Players are more and more attracted by the online and companies invest big part of the money in advertising.
Can you name one change that you want to see in the sports betting affiliate ecosystem?
Dan: Taking into consideration that affiliates account for 15-30% of an operator’s revenue I think that affiliates should have a stronger voice in regards with what an operator plans. Being in contact with the players all day long, an affiliate has a great feedback and knowledge of what the market wants and can constitute the key to delivering a more appealing and successful product which in the end would benefit everybody.
What advise you would like to offer to the new affiliates who are looking to venture into this great industry?
Dan: The best advice is that they need to be ready to change, adapt and improve every day. It is not a complicated business and it still can generate a good income – even if started from 0, but as in every industry – success can be achieved only after many hours of hard work and study.
Who is your favorite celebrity/sports person?
Dan: I grew up with some incredible sports legends and the best of them was Diego Armando Maradona. Old school!
If you would just open your YouTube search bar, what would you search for?
Dan: Iron-man contests from Kona, Hawaii.
Back to work. Do you attend any online gambling/sports betting conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
Dan: Yes, I am attending to conferences and if I am not present then my partners or the marketing team are present. The most constructive ones are the London conferences and the most fun are Amsterdam and a long time ago Barcelona.
How do you rate the chances of Eastern Europe becoming potential gaming hotspot of the future? Where do you think the region must improve upon?
Dan: It is for sure that this region will influence a lot the face of the gambling in Europe. Compared with markets like UK, France, Italy, Spain or Denmark which are saturated and competition is very big – Central and Eastern Europe is like a virgin market. We could compare it with the gold rush. The only problem that this region has it’s the geopolitical stability and sometimes the fact that the markets are not really predictable. ( any day you can be put in front of a situation in which a country decides to ban online gambling )
Alright, here comes the fun part…., where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, some part of the region maybe that you haven’t visited yet and favorite destination around the world.
Dan: Moscow, I think, from the Eastern Europe. Also, from the rest of the world I would like to see the beautiful city of Rome and travel to Africa.
Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
Dan: There isn’t such place.
What is your opinion about GAV (gamblingaffiliatevoice.com)?
Dan: I will be very short and clear about this. I think that it should go on and should evolve into an association at EU level which could stand up for affiliates and the industry. This is something missing since a long time and all affiliates must understand that even if we are all competitors on the same market – together we are stronger and only in this way we can fight for our rights.
Event Report: Affiliate Grand Slam – Mission Accomplished, Wheel Reinvented! (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 6 – June – September 2017)
The demand was there for all to see, then the organisers behind SiGMA came up with the magic formula: limit the conference to five affiliate managers and open the flood gates (with strict due diligence) for affiliates.
Affiliate Grand Slam represents the first conference in the history of affiliation where affiliates could apply for an all-inclusive VIP treat, including flights, five-star, two-night stay at the Hilton, excursions, lunches, dinners, and parties thrown in the mix.
Only five operators were allowed to host the Grand Slam, plus another five non-operators were allowed to sponsor it.
The event started off with 250 affiliates flying in to Tallinn from all corners of the world on Thursday 27th April. The SiGMA crew greeted each affiliate at the brand new, five star Hilton Park.
That same evening, each operator sat down privately with give-or-take fifty affiliates for a dinner within the hotel itself. Betting Gods, Olybet, PlayOJO, Quasar and Videoslots lavished with affiliates and nurtured new working relationships in a friendly environment. Good wine in abundance.
The night was far from over. After dinner, all guests headed down to Olympic Casino within the Hilton itself for welcome champagne, dark chocolate, cigars and a free-roll, networking poker tournament.
The organisers were hoping the night would end there and that affiliates won’t head out in the wilderness of Old Town, but, as anticipated, half their hopes went up in flames.
Still, next morning, breakfast was brimming with activity and all affiliates, bar a few casualties, seemed eager for the conference to start. Each operator gave a small presentation, followed by a series of quality workshops. Mini stalls, an exquisite buffet lunch table, coffee and Baltic treats cluttered the meet-market outside the conference hall, where handshakes and business cards were being exchanged.
Following a few hours at the Hilton spa, it was time for the big traditional dinner! Everyone headed to Olde Hansa, walking through the narrow, cobble streets of charming Old Town, for a feast back in time. Traditional cuisine made its way on all tables for everyone to share while more business cards exchanged hands.
Shortly after dinner, the closing night awaited at the Olympic Casino for a VIP, strictly by invite nighter-bender. Few guests joined the party, but the organisers would not elaborate. We can only guess how the night unfolded with 250 affiliates in this charming Baltic city.
The success of Affiliate Grand Slam was such that the industry won’t wait another year for the organisers to launch the second edition. A new city to uncover, new hosts, new affiliates. This is Affiliate Grand Slam. The wheel has been reinvented.
Log on to www.affiliategrandslam.com or www.maltaigamingsummit.com for details about the next event. If you’re interested in hosting or sponsoring the next AGS get in touch with organisers on +356 99263626, by email at email@example.com or by skype at eman.pulis.
Event Report: First International VR|AR Gambling Conference in Prague (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 6 – June – September 2017)
On April 3, 2017 in Prague, Smile-Expo held the first international specialized VR|AR Gambling Conference, dedicated to implementation of innovative technologies in gambling.
Smile-Expo is a leader in carrying out large exhibitions and conferences in the field of advanced technologies. We’ve set a goal to create a communication platform for specialists of the gambling and AR/VR technology markets, and achieved it: our event brought together leading experts from all over the world (the USA, Spain, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Israel, the Netherlands).
The conference included two subsequent streams: Business and Developer.
This section included presentations of six experts:
- founder of Advir.co Samuel Huber;
- founder of ViARsys Konrad Gill;
- CEO at Games fortuna Tal Zamstein;
- co-founder of Alea/SlotsMillion Alexander Tomic;
- owner of KWP Limited Kevin Williams.
The audience marked the two latter speeches with the following topics: “VR in eGaming” and “Mixed Realities Gaming’s Technology Jackpot”.
By the way, Kevin Williams thanked our company and marked that VR|AR Gambling Conference made invaluable contribution to the industry development.
Reports of this section were informative and topical as well. The floor was taken by:
- Artur Sychov, angel investor at I-MMERSIVE GmbH;
- Alexander Bragin, creative director at VR2GO;
- Amir Ebrahimi, team leader at Unity Technologies.
Lectures were practical and held attention of the audience from the beginning to the end. People have even taken photos of the presentation of Amir Ebrahimi from Unity Technologies on the topic “State of the VR Industry in 2017” in order not to miss useful information and apply it in practice.
We have chosen an ideally targeted line-up of speakers and guests, so VR|AR Gambling Conference was carried out in the format of a lively discussion: audience asked clear questions and received vivid answers.
There was a network demo zone from such companies as Advir, I-MMERSIVE GmbH, VR2GO, etc., which became a convenient platform for establishing relationships in the field of gambling. Visitors were able to test the latest developments of VR/AR products there as well.
The event organizer, Smile-Expo that always implements the most innovative and interesting projects, expresses gratitude to all guests and participants for their interest and engagement in the event. See you at the next conferences!
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