International edition
September 19, 2020

Suren Khachatryan, COO at Digitain

"Digitain is well ahead of where many expected us to be after PASPA’s repeal"

"Differing state tax rates will still frame the gateway for allowing sportsbooks to become operational and competitive in the U.S.," Suren Khachatryan, COO at Digitain, explains.
United States | 10/03/2019

With G2E Las Vegas just around the corner, Yogonet spoke to Digitain’s COO Suren Khachatryan, who provided insights into the innovations the company is planning to exhibit. Simon Westbury also shared his views on the current state of the sports betting and igaming landscape in the U.S., and other fast-developing regions, such as Africa.

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hat products are set to take center stage on Digitain’s booth at G2E Las Vegas?

Digitain’s powerhouse sportsbook is at the forefront of propelling sports betting into a new era stateside. Our unique software caters to a burgeoning portfolio of operators across the globe. It provides an intuitive multi-lingual, multi-currency, customizable interface that can be easily integrated, using unique APIs, with new or existing platforms, whether you are an online or land-based operator. At last count, our platform partnerships number in excess of 100 operators, and it’s my job as Director International Development to extend that trend as regulation continues to roll out slowly but surely in America. We’re well ahead of where many commentators expected us to be after PASPA’s landmark repeal, and we can’t wait to have a real run at this exciting market.

What can attendees expect to see from you in terms of product development?

Talk of personalisation and the “Netflix experience” have created hackneyed industry buzzwords to make your spleen explode. But artificial intelligence and deep data analytics really are the future – and it’s now an attainable future with Digitain. Your sportsbook offering will only ever be as good as the data collected, and the engine that is used to take that data and decide what to do with it is an essential part of that.

Which jurisdictions are currently offering the most potential for gaming growth?

As you might expect, requests for proposals from New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have been the most popular for us. Yet we’re also noticing a surge in interest from the southern states like Mississippi. It’s an electrifying time, but nevertheless an emergent one. 

What is going to be your strategy to out-perform competitors and grow your market share?

Innovation, personalisation and gamification are watchwords. Innovation to keep our partners ahead of their rivals, attracting and engaging the end-user. Cue innovation like Digitain’s new Bet Generator feature, which allows players to intuitively frame their desired bet types, sizes and possible winnings, with the system automatically and immediately generating an actionable betslip which can accommodate up to 30 selections. No more waiting around, even in-play, for your multis to be processed.

As we’ve already touched on, our predictive AI modelling is able to personalise offerings and ensure that when players log on, they are able to immediately interact with the content they are looking for. AI and predictive modelling can also go the other way too – our signature automatic match allocation program uses algorithms to automatically identify which traders are most optimal for each betting market – ensuring the most efficient pricing model is delivered to each of our partners.

Elsewhere, gamification, when integrated into a segmentation and customer retention strategy, can work wonders. A gamified experience – when merged with the right segmented customer, can drive players towards desired content at key times like never before. Combined with bonus rewards, competition against other players and other social elements, and you have an incredibly powerful tool on your hands. 

Which will be the most prominent topics to be debated in the aisles at G2E and off the show floor?

I reckon Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) is going to really prove a key differentiator and discussion point. As competition increases, and customer bases and markets grow larger, it is becoming increasingly important for igaming operators to get more information about their customers in order to maintain,not to mention grow, their market share and build customer lifetime value. The gaming industry has championed the practice of customer relationship management – in fact, casinos have been keeping track of customers for years, and the mega casino brands of the American market (from which we’ve seen many of the most salient sports betting rollouts) are naturally some of the finest exponents of such player management. But with CRM coupled to Digitain’s data insights, they can now take the customer relationship to a whole new level – and that’s before we even get into the cross-sell potential between sportsbook and casino.

Are you planning to attend any other industry-related events soon?

The Digitain roadmap is a truly global one, as is our schedule for the conference circuit. From G2E Asia to G2E Las Vegas, and many stops in between (such as Betting on Sports London and ICE Africa in Joburg) it’s a thrilling and busy time. After Vegas, we’ll be racking up the air miles for tentpole summits in Taipei, Macau, Sofia, Buenos Aires, Manila and Malta to close out the year… and then, of course, ICE 2020 is just around the corner!

Digitain has recently opened new regional offices in the UK and also expanded its presence in Africa through a partnership with Nigerian operator Westernbet. Do you have any further expansion plans in other jurisdictions? Could you share your views on the current state of the African market and the different opportunities and challenges it poses?

In general, Digitain has experienced substantial growth in several international markets over the past 12 months. Strategically, in order to accommodate this expansion, we will have opened sales and business development offices in four core bases, from Sheffield in the UK to the Philippines. The aim of these offices is to locally service existing clients and partner needs as well as increasing our inquiry pipeline. As for Africa specifically, sports betting interest continues to ramp rapidly - so much so that it can be arguably called the world’s fastest developing region. It’s easy to see its value as operators queue up to enter, and those who can successfully enable easy market entry are going to be onto a real winner. With Nigeria and South Africa among the most established, sports are by far the gaming market’s clearest pattern - and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. With the growth of mobile coverage and data usage, in-play sports betting is becoming increasingly popular as players can hit that win immediately, which is far more exciting than placing a bet in advance and waiting days on the outcome. The potential is becoming more and more visible, particularly for operators, who are offering more and more sports products to players, as well as the betting markets that come with it.

The company has released white papers on online and mobile gambling, as well as the newly-emerged sports betting industry in the U.S. What are the key issues, especially in terms of legislation, that have to be dealt with for these market segments to continue growing in the U.S.?

Subsequent to PASPA’s repeal, we’ve seen a trend towards regulators affording the brick-and-mortar establishments, like the aforementioned casinos, the first shot at rolling out sportsbooks stateside. If it’s a totally new venture, on the other hand, the landscape looks rocky and foreboding for now. However, we should remember this is only the beginning. Indeed, the challenge for any casino, as an inherently retail product, is to adapt this retail mindset to online. Conversely, any online start-ups might have to bid to develop a retail presence, depending on the stipulations of state-by-state licences. More crudely but no less significantly, tax rates in any given state provide the first barrier to entry. For, just as New Jersey or Delaware can kick now on for custom (casinos will pay tax of 8.5% of revenue from land-based bets, and 13% on bets placed online), Pennsylvania’s proposed taxes of up to 35% on gross gaming revenue seemed unworkable when first proposed. As a result, differing state tax rates will still frame the gateway for allowing sportsbooks to become operational and competitive.

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