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Mike Johnson January 13, 2021 7 min read
EvenBet Gaming CEO Dmitry Starostenkov: “We’re very confident that online poker will continue to grow this year.”
EvenBet Gaming CEO Dmitry Starostenkov offers a wholesome insight into his company’s operation, discussing consumer numbers, licensing opportunities, market growth and more. The company’s revenue surged 200% year-over-year in 2020 and Starostenkov expects EvenBet to retain its momentum well throughout 2021.
A recently-obtained license by the Malta Gaming Authority coincides with EvenBet’s own ambition to grow internationally, says Starostenkov and the company’s commitment to product enhancement is unflagging. One of the noteworthy changes that transpired recently is EvenBet’s decision to empower partners to personalize their poker rooms to create more tailored products fit for specific customer bases.
The company’s mobile product has improved significantly over the past 12 months, EvenBet’s been gathering steam. So, what lies ahead for EvenBet in 2021? Dmitry Starostenkov, EvenBet Gaming CEO comments:
How do you assess your company’s performance over the previous 12 months and responding to the challenges of Covid-19?
I’m proud of the way in which our team pulled together to overcome what was undoubtedly a challenging time for everyone concerned. I believe EvenBet has come out of the previous 12 months stronger than ever. From our perspective, we experienced significant growth in business activity following the shutdown of live sports. While active players were always expected to drop off once live sports returned on a regular basis, 2020 ensured that the vertical received a welcome boost that would see a number of new customers enter the lobbies and experience modern online poker. This is likely to put our product in a strong position moving forward, with a large volume of players continuing to enjoy our services well beyond the return of live sports.
The strong performance of EvenBet is reflected in our most recent financial figures. In 2020, company revenue grew by over 200% year-on-year following the influx of new customers from the land based environment to the digital space, as well as the restrictions on a wide range of sports for several months. During the first Covid-19 wave, our operators reported that their traffic had doubled and even tripled in some cases. In autumn, growth was always expected to drop off but it was still notable at around 25-30%.
What’s been the biggest lesson for you from the events of 2020?
Last year showed just how important being flexible in your business operations can be for a company. Our quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic ensured our pioneering poker platform helped bridge the gap left by the hiatus of sports, but that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the flexible approach to business that we adopted.
We’re proud that our flexibility in the face of a complex socio-geographical lockdown has entertained players worldwide and provided operators with the content needed to keep customers engaged.
Looking ahead to 2021, how optimistic are you about the future of online and mobile poker? Can the vertical maintain the growth it has enjoyed this year?
We’re very confident that online poker will continue to grow this year. While we understand this won’t be at similar levels that we experienced during the initial lockdowns of 2020, increased activity is set to be driven by emerging markets and new poker regulations across multiple jurisdictions. In particular, we’re anticipating countries such as Brazil and Argentina to become poker hotspots, as well as new territories in Asia.
Of course, product development will play a key role in driving interest too and we anticipate yet more features to be introduced as the vertical continues in its steps to attract modern players. Expect to see an influx of social and entertainment features to the poker experience, such as live chat, side games functionality, gamification through promotions and much more. This is being influenced by the growth of mobile-first players, the new generation of customers and the lack of physical social interaction, a knock-on effect of new lockdown measures imposed in both 2020 and the first half of 2021.
EvenBet is more than ready to capitalise on these emerging territories. Our robust and advanced platform is already live with partners worldwide and we’re capable of meeting the requirements of any new market.
EvenBet recently obtained an MGA B2B licence, how important is this for the year ahead in securing further penetration of your core products?
The MGA licence is of significant importance and will form an integral part of our ambitions to grow internationally. Our B2B licence covers the core EvenBet poker platform, as well as the complementing gaming platform that includes our innovative side-games functionality, which allows players to play casino games while sitting at the virtual poker table. Our casino and mini games functionality was built with player retention in mind, providing the ultimate tool that keeps poker players engaged in one place.
We’ve held discussions with numerous MGA-licensed operators who are excited about how our products can differentiate their offering. The next few months will be very busy for us as we look to roll out the EvenBet poker platform with several new customers.
From a product perspective, what recent improvements have you made to your poker and gaming platforms to improve stability?
Constant product enhancements is very important to EvenBet, especially as we aim to maintain our status as the industry’s leading provider of poker products. In recent times, we have enabled operators to customise their poker rooms to highlight their specific brands on the front end, while also benefitting from a continually upgraded and localised UI. We understand localisation is the key and are currently working on market-specific games for our customers, such as Rummy and Teen Patti in India, Turkish Poker for our Middle Eastern markets, and the addition of interesting side games such as bingo for our South American customers.
With the growing importance of easily accessible content within mobile devices, the previous 12 months has seen us further improve our mobile product. Our app is faster, brighter and more immersive than ever. We also made casino games available in our mobile applications, sitting alongside our core poker offering to provide players with a greater choice of content. Such enhancements are critical in providing the best possible experience for players. With just one click, our innovative product can now be seamlessly installed on both smartphones and tablets.
And of course, last year saw the introduction of our innovative side-games and side-bet functionalities, which increases cross-selling opportunities between poker, casino and sportsbook. The concept, which allows players to either play casino games or place bets while sitting at the poker table, have proved very popular and we’re expecting even more operators to roll out the product in the coming months.
Finally, what plans does the company have in 2021? Are you targeting any new markets to enter?
We’re very much focused on building the momentum that we generated through 2020. Last year was very important for the poker vertical in attracting the new wave of online players, and now we must continue with our efforts in making sure the product can be as attractive as possible. We’ll never stop thinking of new ways we can make the experience more immersive for players.
Extending our presence in markets across the globe will also be very important for EvenBet in 2021. Over the last decade we’ve launched over 100 poker rooms, reaching over 5 million users, and the ambition is very much to increase those figures.
In 2021, we will continue to expand our presence in South and Latin America, where we have witnessed a surge of new customers to the online poker market. We’re also closely watching the regulatory changes within the burgeoning U.S. market, as online poker legislation in new states may present us with an opportunity to return to the market.