In this Q&A, brought to you by Soft2Bet, Soft2Bet CEO Uri Poliavich about his plans for the business, the concept of motivational engineering and international expansion
Soft2Bet is a B2B casino and sportsbook platform provider. Since its foundation in 2016, the business has grown from an ambitious startup to an international organisation and trusted business partner, committed to making the igaming industry a reputable and responsible space. The firm was present at G2E in Las Vegas to showcase its in-house developed platform and CMS, bespoke casino and sports betting solutions, as well as customer support, KYC and risk compliance and CRM. EGR met with Soft2Bet’s CEO, Uri Poliavich, to hear about the firm’s motivational engineering feature and why it’s the perfect fit for operators looking to customise their products.
EGR: Having experienced all levels of the Soft2Bet business from its founding to the present, how has this aided your understanding of the firm and its potential?
Uri Poliavich (UP): Over the years, I have come to understand that to be competitive in the market you have to develop a high-quality product and a stable platform to attract tier-one operators and retain your end users.
What makes Soft2Bet stand out from other platforms is our motivational engineering feature which combines real-money gambling and casual gaming. When players are playing real-money gambling they create loyalty points, these points can be used in casual games to get real-money prizes which then brings them back to the real-money market. We’ve created these kind of cross-sell loops which make customers stay longer with us, creating higher KPIs for the business and the screen time is good. FIFA, hockey, player-to-player games, different football games, FarmVille and the like, they are all examples of the type of games we’re using now, combining them with real-money gambling. That’s our differentiator.
When it comes to regulated markets, to create a stable business, a local business, you need to work on realising new markets and expand into the EU, Latam and North America. That’s our plans for the next year and something we have achieved already this year to an extent.
EGR: What is motivational engineering in simple terms? How and where do you use it?
UP: As Tony Robbins said, we are no longer in an information age, we’ve moved into the entertainment age. So, what Soft2Bet does is follow the gaming trends; we see the quality of casual gaming, the quality of FIFA, of FarmVille – we see the quality of engagement – and that’s what we’re trying to bring into the real-money game.
Looking into the games here at G2E, it’s like going back to 2010, 2012. They are all 10 years behind casual gaming. We want to beat that high quality. We take from existing games (apps on the Google Play and Apple App Store) and convert them from Unity to HTML, which allows us to operate as an app because they have the Unity code, while the HTML allows us to use web, mobile and desktop.
We have over 8,500 games and we combine them with real-money games, sports betting and casino games. We have recently created a city builder game where you generate crystals from playing slots or live sports which are then used to gradually build the Roman Empire. You have maps of the different neighbourhoods and once you complete them you get real-money prizes in the form of free spins, cash and free bets. That then takes you back to the real-money game, sportsbooks, or live casino.
It keeps the customer engaged as they enjoy both proposals. Of course, if the customer is very focused on the real-money gambling and he wants to stay there, he can, we’re not forcing players to go into the casual game. Many B2B operators tell us ‘guys, we know our customers, they are 50 years old, they’re not willing to take casual games’, and that’s fine because we have the ability to compartmentalise our offering; we can integrate our motivational gaming or provide a more traditional offering. We hope and anticipate that this totally revolutionary technology will give us leverage in regulated markets and also in North America.
EGR: You mentioned motivational engineering for igaming, but how would you apply that concept to something like sports betting?
UP: When it comes to sports betting, it’s pretty easy. We have this type of technology platform and we’re using it for card games like Panini. Just like in igaming, Panini cards can be bought with loyalty points, and once you collect a full team you win a cash prize that can be used for betting.
The next step for us is bringing in someone like FIFA, from the casual gaming world, who know gambling and sports betting. That way when you place money bets, you get loyalty points to build your own team, which you can then pitch against other players, win some cash prizes and then go back to sports betting, to casino and even to live casino. We can do the same with soccer, football, hockey and so on, we can do it with any sport. Soft2Bet’s motivational engineering is very easy to customise.
EGR: One of the current buzzwords in igaming is ‘gamification’. Where for you are the next big trends of gamification?
UP: People are hiding behind the term ‘gamification’, behind outdated technology, just exchanging loyalty points to bonus money. It’s outdated. That’s something we did seven years ago. Soft2Bet closely monitors trends, we look to see where the world as well as where the gaming industry is going. We give players something unique – marketplaces where the can trade features or NFTs acquired from real-money gambling games with other players. Players want to exchange features and we can give them that, for example, my free bets for your free spins, or my player in FIFA for yours. We can do this with hockey, basketball, all FIFA-type games. For us, that’s the future and why we use motivation engineering.
EGR: How would you characterise your appetite for the global expansion of Soft2Bet?
UP: Last quarter we obtained three licences in Europe – Italy, Greece and Romania – and we are also hungry to grow in North America. Latam has huge potential and we will apply for a block of licenses as soon as the local regulators finalise it. When it comes to North America, the fact that Soft2Bet is here at G2E Las Vegas means a lot. This is the first event for us in the US and our next step as next year we’ll finalise our launch in the US. We also want to be live with our new products in Ontario, Canada by the end of Q1 2024.
EGR: You mentioned the licences in Greece, Romania and Italy. How do those markets fit into your ultimate vision for the Soft2Bet business?
UP: We obtained the Greece, Italy, and Romania licences within less than two months. In Italy, for example, a lot of B2B operators are using outdated technologies that are lacking in analytics, CRM retention, many payments and even games. Without that type of content, you cannot compete in the market, so we will bring these new technologies and use our motivational engineering to customise brands and products.
We are currently doing analysis on each market to understand their respective needs. For example, in Ontario we will definitely go with hockey, for Italy and Greece we will use FIFA-style games, and for the US we’ll go with something similar to FarmVille. Using our motivation engineering to combine real-money gambling with casual gaming, we will customise products, boosting customer retention and increasing the number of players within those markets. We can customise the products for every market on every continent.
Local B2B operators are looking for stable technology and point-of-sale integrations. They have their local payments service providers, local game providers and local retention tools that they want to combine with Soft2Bet platforms using a microservices approach [separating applications into independent smaller parts], enabling very fast and very efficient integration of their API into the core of the software.
EGR: What are Soft2Bet’s objectives for the next 12 months?
UP: We recently hired Martin Collins as our chief business development officer as we are a tier-one B2B operator to oversee our plans to move into regulated markets. We will continue to work on our motivational engineering, developing and growing it through collaboration with big brands and casual game providers and users. Last but not least, we want to expand more into EU markets and are planning to obtain Portuguese, Spanish and German licences next year, as well as going live in Ontario in Q1 and the US by the end of next year.