Dmitry Starostenkov: “Latin America was waiting to start playing massively online”

Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at EvenBet Gaming.
Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at EvenBet Gaming.

In dialogue with Focus Gaming News, Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at EvenBet Gaming, remarked that the company is ready to take another step into the future, as the number one provider of poker software.

Exclusive interview.- In 2020, EvenBet Gaming registered a 100 percent increase in its revenue, and for this year, it expects to achieve at least 80 percent growth. In an interview with Focus Gaming News, Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO at the company, talked about the exponential growth of poker, the possible rebound effect of the strict regulations imposed on the markets and the neutral role of cryptocurrencies.

How was the performance of the company this year?

After 2020, that has brought the pandemic and has started the revolution in the online poker vertical, many were predicting a setback in the enormous poker growth, but that didn’t happen. Those poker rooms that had a groundbreaking 2020 have reinforced their success, and changes in the key markets allowed the launch of the new projects.

By that, I mean mainly the regulatory initiatives in the USA, South, and Latin America. And while the traffic to the poker rooms leveled out this year, new gamification and promotion formats allowed the operators to keep high retention, further increasing the players’ LTV and revenues.

If talking in numbers, in 2020, our revenue has increased more than twice, and we expect that in 2021 we will get at least an 80 per cent increase year on year.

EvenBet has recently appointed Roman Bogoduhov as Head of Business Development LatAm. What will he bring to the company?

Roman will enforce our team working with the emerging markets in the region. He has solid experience in sports betting – the most developed vertical in LatAm and used to be a passionate poker player himself.

Earlier this year, our team has also welcomed Manuel Jiménez, an industry veteran based in Colombia. Yet, the number of projects and potential partners in the region in 2020-2 021 has been increasing so rapidly that we needed more experienced staff to handle all the business communication and secure our further growth.

These are exactly Roman’s objectives. He will work with online and offline operators across the South and Latin America to make sure we keep our position as the number one poker software supplier in the market.

“Pressure on operators will not decrease the number of gambling problems.”

Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO en EvenBet Gaming.

In recent years, regulatory measures have increased in the main markets. How effective do you think they are?

It was expected: with more users playing online, gambling fraud and addiction problems become more pressing than ever. Unfortunately, new restrictions and increased pressure on the legally operating companies remain the only tools used to fight these issues. However, for those involved in the industry, it’s not a secret that most of the problem gambling activity is happening in the black and grey markets not controlled by the government.

Due to the highly regulated markets entry demands, black operators will never come out of shadow, and they are not bound by any financial, advertising, or privacy regulatory frameworks.

Therefore, we are in a paradox situation right now: increasing pressure on operators will not decrease the amount of problem gambling, and more than that, it can push some of the operators to the black market activity, which will have the opposite effect.

The only way to change it is to start an open talk of the authorities and the industry: I’m sure that with the current level of technology and resources accumulated in the iGaming, operators and vendors are capable to propose effective and innovative solutions that could work better to prevent and fight problem gaming, money laundering, and other crimes associated with online casinos and sports betting.

Cryptocurrencies came to benefit or harm the gaming industry? What role do you think cryptocurrencies will play in it?

A cryptocurrency is just a financial tool, and like every tool, it’s neutral, unable to bring neither good nor bad. If used by the operators within the regulatory framework, cryptocurrency and cryptotechnology will only benefit both users and the industry.

It is a secure and easy financial tool. And deeper cryptotech integration (using tokens, for example) may lead to creating more innovative gaming formats. Now, crypto money is being blamed for its active use for money laundering, but it is a rare case for the regulated iGaming market.

“We are also one step away from launching a big poker project.”

Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO en EvenBet Gaming.

A month ago, you told to Focus Gaming News you were planning to extend your presence in Europe, Malta, and Latin America. What are the main focuses where you will work to achieve it?

In Latin and South America, EvenBet Gaming’s performance this year was outstanding. Since 2019, we’ve been working with the operators in the region to discover its potential for online poker, and this year proved that our optimistic assumptions were correct: Latin America was waiting for the beneficial circumstances to start massively playing online.

That’s why we are continuing to strengthen our LatAm-targeted business development and support team in 2021-2022. Since the return of face-to-face events in the region, we’ve participated in five of them, held in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic, and we will continue our events activity to further promote online poker for local projects.

See also: Dmitry Starostenkov, EvenBet: “Malta remains one of the most influential igaming hubs”

Right now, in the last days of 2021, we are also one step away from launching a big poker project targeted at players in Eastern Europe. I can’t say more, but I hope I’ll be able to share more details just in a few weeks.

We are also planning to enter the US market, which is opening for online poker state by state. There are still many regulation barriers, but America was always a poker land, so we expect that in 2022, the positive changes will continue.

After a year and a half signed by the pandemic, what are your prospects for the next year?

I suppose that now it’s clear for all of us that the world will never be the same as it was before the Covid-19. The pandemic has changed the way we shop, communicate, travel, and of course, the way we play. That has forced operators and vendors to create new games, innovative retention mechanics, promotional models to acquire and keep the new audiences that have joined online poker or other iGaming communities.

Next year, we want to keep doing the same. In 2021, we have redesigned our mobile applications, have created several highly demanded marketing tools for operators (quests, missions, new types of leaderboards), and it’s just what the players see. In terms of management and financial control, even more improvements are now available.

Online poker and our platform are evolving now like never before, and we want all our customers to become a part of this evolution. With a better product, completely fit for the emerging and growing markets, EvenBet Gaming is ready to take another step to the future.

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