When was BetConstruct founded, and what was the aim of the company from day one?
BC: BetConstruct came into existence some 13 years ago. A small betting operation was looking to upgrade its technology and was snubbed by large suppliers, so its owners had no choice but to create everything themselves. This small betting shop spawned what became a leading supplier of advanced gaming technology with a great number of partners, employees and eleven sales and service offices around the world.
The initial goal, which has not changed, was to create and provide technology and services that would allow our operators to outcompete market leaders anywhere.
Because of our history we don’t want a marketplace dominated by a few oversized operators and providers. We think that every company should have equal access to the tools and support they need to achieve the growth and success they aim for. We supply start-ups and market leaders alike with the most advanced products without overpricing them. Probably we are the only company in our industry that publishes its prices and does not require its partners to pay minimum monthly revenue share unless it is mandated by a third-party content provider. Time has shown that our offerings – in combination with the efforts of our partners – bring success and profitability.
Who are the key personnel behind BetConstuct?
BC: The company was founded by two brothers: Vahe Badalyan, a dentist, and Vigen Badalyan, an economist. Besides gaming, they have also achieved success in hospitality and banking businesses.
Since 2015 the company’s CEO is Vahe Baloulian. In the 1990s, Vahe started a niche online retailer which has become recognized for its outstanding customer service. This led to Casino-on-Net (now 888) asking him to help with their customer facing operations in Antigua. The following 17 years saw Vahe Baloulian becoming 888’s Director of Gaming, turning a struggling Canadian poker network around, creating and running an award-winning gaming sales and marketing organization, and engaging as an executive gaming consultant with a few companies, including BetConstruct.
For over four years Harutyun Hambardzumyan has been the Vice-Chairman of BetConstruct. He made a journey from a call centre agent to his current position during these 13 years. The company’s COO is Sergey Harutyunyan, a former banker and technocrat, who prior to joining BetConstruct successfully led the Badalyan brothers’ largest hospitality project.
How has your focus changed over the last few years?
BC: BetConstruct has always been known for its powerful Sportsbook technology. Over the last two years we have developed and launched the Spring platform, which has been extremely well-received by our partners. We have expanded our Live Dealer Casino, which will move into new purpose-built studios by the end of this year. Our RNG Casino portfolio has been growing exponentially owing to our expanding proprietary content and thousands of third–party games by small and large studios and suppliers. These developments, combined with addition of skill games, fantasy sports, virtual betting, financial betting and many other verticals developed in-house and licensed from others, turned BetConstruct into an all-encompassing provider of technology and services.
What key changes in people’s playing habits have you noticed in recent times?
Players want entertainment. That is something that will never change. What changed is how they want their entertainment delivered. Content is king but comfort of being able to enjoy this content anywhere and through any channel is no less of royalty. Players expect and make their choice of an operator based on the variety of content but don’t necessarily make use of it. Their attention span is shorter. Whether it is customer service, length of the game, sign-up process or anything else – they want things faster and as simple and less cumbersome as possible.
How often do you have to review the direction the company is taking and alter it based upon player trends?
We typically don’t follow trends as they are often overhyped. It takes time for something to be labelled as a trend and by the time it happens we would normally be one of the initiators or part of that development anyway. For example, we covered eSports and our Fantasy Sports product was in the making long before they became the much discussed subjects at the trade conferences. We are very flexible but changing direction because of some temporary drift, regardless how powerful it seems, is not part of our culture.
Is Live Casino still a key sector for you?
BC: Live Casino is simply the most dynamic, fastest growing and customer-engaging gaming vertical with no signs of slowing down. It combines the thrill of the real gaming floor with the convenience of play-anywhere games on desktop, tablet and mobile. Since the product was released in 2013, the number of operators has reached 120 unique partners.
According to H2 Gambling Capital, the segment “live,” as part of the European online casino market, now exceeds 25 percent – and keeps growing. Very similar situation is in the Asian and other markets. Thus, we definitely see Live Casino product as maturing and with excellent perspectives for the future.
Do you have an interest in the fantasy betting market?
BC: We diversify our approach for fantasy sports: what will work for the American market may prove unpopular in Europe. With soccer and eSports more popular in Europe than NFL in the US market, we provide six sports with Counter sport contests. We bring the industry a unique social platform allowing players to interact, challenge each other, share and comment while we analyse this data to personalize the platform per every user.
We sought to create a product with a large social component that will be fun to play. Our Fantasy Sports product offers this key component of social interaction.
Do you think financial trading will ever be as appealing to the general public as betting on sports is?
BC: Financial worlds have always been an intrinsically complicated matter for a layman. Financial trading allowed those who are not specialists to participate in this sphere on the terms that are understood by most people who have betting experience. However, we don’t believe that as popular as this vertical will become, it will have the same appeal as betting on sports does.
As BetConstruct offers so many different services and products, how hard is it to keep all aspects of your portfolio at 100%?
BC: It is not a simple task but it is fun. It is like raising a big family where every child requires and receives consistent and specific attention. Just like with children, we continuously work on improving what has been achieved with each product and service and discovering new ways to make them more useful to the outside world. What we learn from one product we use in the process of upbringing and maintenance of the rest of them.
What have been the key points of focus for BetConstruct over the last 12 months?
BC: Key points of focus for any period of time are offering our partners and their players extraordinary experience and never disappointing them.
Also, growing the company while keeping in mind that the growth is not defined solely by growing profits. It is also defined by the growth of employees as specialists, as innovators, and as ethical business people.
In the last 12 months we have expanded our partner base along with our sales and service centres. We also continued migration to our powerful Spring platform. A lot of attention has been paid to strengthening our casino products through our own and third-party content. To support our partners’ marketing efforts, we put more power into auxiliary products such as our gaming CRM system.
What will be the key point of focus for the next 12 months?
BC: One of the most exciting developments coming up is the release of the Spring’s core as open source. This is an unprecedented step and will take a lot of effort to do it right. Along with this, we are focused on strengthening our award-winning customer services with the opening of the European contact centre.