The Founders of CoinPoint Group Inc. Oron Barber & Eilon Arad — 10 years in the iGaming industry
1. Here we are. 10 years has passed and familiar faces can still be seen at the forefront of the iGaming industry. Both you guys have witnessed a lot — a plethora of changes, evolution of iGaming, and its unification with the blockchain and cryptocurrency. Eilon, how would you briefly surmise these last 10 years of iGaming progression, and which moment would you single out as your turning point hitherto?
I think that over the past 10 years we have witnessed a few transitions within the gaming industry. One of them is the transition from unregulated to regulated whereas in most countries, operators are now required to obtain a license to operate. Of course, There are still regions and markets that are considered grey and even black and are very lucrative, like the Asian market but with time it will also become regulated.
Another big change in the industry happened with the gaming content. 10 years ago and more there was some sort of a loyalty to game content providers. Then we witnessed brands dedicated to a specific game provider. Today brands work with content aggregators to make sure they offer the biggest possible variety of games to cater for any type of players and to ensure everyone has their favorite games on board.
One more significant change is the shift from desktop to mobile gaming. Mobile gaming is more popular nowadays compared to 10 years ago.
The affiliates became the brands is another shift in this industry. This shift was needed due to the changes in ranking algorithms in Google, the most popular search engine but also due to the understanding that in order to survive the competition, you need to stand out.
Responsible gaming is another concept that is becoming a key element in igaming, this and self-exclusion as an option for the player to control gambling additions is another positive shift towards a more friendly and responsible gaming environment.
With regards to blockchain and gaming, this is definitely where it’s headed. Blockchain with it’s ability to record transactions, enables verification of game results stored on the blockchain forever. It also enabled a new concept which is called provably fair which allows the player to check and verify pre-determined results post game and ensure they were in fact random.
Another aspect of blockchain and gaming is of course privacy of players, using cryptocurrency as deposit method. With that they can use websites that do not require registration and keep their gaming habits private.
2. 10 years ago, brick and mortar casino was the superior, go-to place for playing poker, baccarat, and blackjack, but now it seems that the online gaming, especially that on the go, has taken over. Eilon, how important was for the industry to go digital, and has this shift left any scars on the offline counterpart?
Certain type of people prefers certain type of gambling experiences. Some prefer the land-based casinos and some enjoy gambling at the comfort of their homes.
While online gambling did take a bite from land-based casinos, it didn’t have the same effect as online shopping had towards shopping malls (retail apocalypse). The brick and morter gambling experience can’t be fully replaced (yet) by online casinos but this might change in the future. For now both options co-exist together.
3. One of the most successful implementation of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies is specifically with the iGaming. There are currently dozens of iGaming operators on the market who accept crypto bets and deposits, but also those based on the Blockchain have been on the rise. Oron, how important was this for the iGaming industry as a whole, and how did this reflect on your business model?
iGaming industry has always been a sensitive environment, where money played the biggest role. In such an environment, it is essential to seed trustworthiness deeply in the players’ mindsets as they are always on the hunt for the newer platforms. With the emergence of digital coins, the iGaming took a turn for the better. Not only did the players transfer the funds with minimum fees but have found an entire framework very interesting and fun to immerse in.
For me personally, the game-changing casinos were the ones who added Provably Fair games as to verify the game’s fairness, but also implemented non-custodial gambling environment, which protected the players in case of any hacking attempts.
As far as our business model is concerned, we did a lot of adapting to the frequent changes in trends and technologies. You have to know where the players are usually browsing through so that you can catch their attention with a promotion or a unique, proprietary game. I would say that the techniques have changed a lot but the approach not as much.
4. iGaming has always been on a collision course with digital marketing. Most of the social media giants have turned their back on crypto and blockchain altogether. Eilon, how hard it is to overcome this drawback, and which methods do you employ in order to remain on the top of the food chain?
Much like any evolving industry, cryptocurrencies started as unregulated and exposed to scams and crime. Due to this exact reason, social media and mainstream media turned its back on cryptocurrency.
It’s a matter of time until the tables will turn, as the crypto industry becomes more regulated, the scams are disappearing as the eye of the regulator is closely monitoring and the legal system is taking action.
Once things will become cleaner and more in control and the shift will be from using cryptocurrencies for privacy but not for anonymity, this is when there will be no other choice but to embrace this technology and let it shine.
5. When compared to the brick and mortar casino, iGaming ecosystem seems to incorporate more participants such as game providers, affiliates, legislators, security experts, and the list goes on. I think that you would agree with me on this one Eilon, right? How essential is to keep these vendors close at hand and is their role crucial for a successful casino operation?
The same actors in the brick and morter eco-system exist in different type of rules or definitions in the igaming world. All these actors are important to the online gaming much as they are crucial for the land-based casinos.
If we break down these rules and compare them so we have the game providers, some land based game providers are involved in both the online and land based game development, the online affiliates are the junkets, or the advertising companies who work to increase the number of visitors to the land based casinos. The legislators work the same way for land based and online, whereas online is newer so there is more work done there in terms of regulations, security exists in both land based and online so all in all these industries are almost identical.
The main difference between these 2 industries is the payments, online payments is a bit more complexed than the payment at land based casinos whereas cash is king but every mode of payment is accepted with no issues. Online payment methods for gambling is a challenge depending a lot about jurisdiction and the players themselves which is something cryptocurrencies are trying to help with.
6. Taking a look back at all that you’ve managed to achieve by collective effort in the iGaming industry must be thrilling. A decade is a long time to put into perspective, and with that in mind, do you have any idea whatsoever how CoinPoint Group Inc. might look 10 years in the future, and Eilon would you still be part of the industry you backed for so long?
You can take the person out of the gaming industry but you can never take the gaming industry out of the person.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed is that the connections in this industry are too strong to let go, making you stay involved even if you are less involved.
10 years in the igaming industry seems like 100 years in the offline gaming industry, it changes and evolves so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Regulations, new players in the market, payments, innovations and so on are some of the excitement of being in igaming.
If you ask me about my next 10 years predictions I would say we are about to see a lot more blockchain and cryptocurrencies involved, this will be a game changer in the next 2–3 years and 10 years from now it will be as natural as streaming content from Netflix.
We should also expect more consolidations in the igaming industries, giants will merge and there will be more acquisitions. Small players will disappear.
Another thing I predict is that grey and black markets in gaming will completely vanish. There will be no need for these types of players, everything will be transparent and legitimate — gambling will be private but not anonymous and it will be safer for players to play this way.
Mobile will completely rule, applications will be available in the app stores as there will be more legitimacy for these apps and gambling brands.
If the past 10 years were exciting, the next 10 years are going to be even more exciting.
When we started getting involved in cryptocurrency and blockchain, we were attending the same igaming conferences we were regularly attending, started preaching about Bitcoin and its advantages and we got back the facial expression of a question mark from people. This changed after a few years and we built a reputation of “The Blockchain iGaming people” and this evolution was pretty amazing to be part of.