How to Start an Online Casino:
An Interview with Ivan Montik
Can you explain to our players how they can start their own online casino brand?
If you would like to give your players step-by-step instructions, then I’d recommend visiting our website, especially our How to Start page, for a very detailed explanation of the process, the knowledge required, and the professional assistance that we can provide. From settling the legal issues to getting the software, budgeting, and marketing of your online casinos, there’s quite a bunch of questions to think about. We are eager to help with the investigation and lead our client through all the procedures, but first, we perform a thorough analysis of the client’s intentions and potential. I mean, we are very consequent in selecting the partners we start working with. Two categories have the most potential to succeed. The first are investors from any other industry who probably do not have that much experience in online gaming but possess a certain budget they are ready to invest in hiring real experts to do the job. The others are experts themselves with previous experience in the area, important contacts, and marketing expertise, but also with a clear understanding of the budget.
On average, how much does it cost to start a casino?
The costs vary and depend on many factors. Such things as custom design, the number of game providers, supported currencies and target markets all have an impact on the initial budget. That’s all included in the setup costs that SoftSwiss charges for launching a new brand completely from scratch, with the approximate range of 35 to 100 thousand euro. Besides, there should be a certain budget for team hiring, marketing, and promotion, which also varies a lot depending on the client’s strategy and experience. We don’t offer an out-of-the-box product but use a very personalized approach to each client aiming to launch really unique and classy brands, so the prices and budgets are individual.
In a general case scenario, if you set up a casino, how long will it take before you break even?
That depends on your knowledge of online gaming business, market expertise, and your business connections. Like in any industry, connections are very important and help bring any new brand forward. Those who have ready-to-use marketing channels that will bring players to the online casino as soon as it is launched can break even within the shortest time frame of 3-5 months. Another case is brands who start building the marketing strategy from scratch and mainly focus on affiliate support. They will probably need over a year to reach break-even.
What would you say is the key to having a successful casino? As we know many casinos go bankrupt. What’s the key to success?
The most important thing is to be realistic about your own financial possibilities and management skills. A solid budget to spend on promotion and a professional team significantly increases the chances to build and maintain a successful and profitable brand. But even with enough investment, a casino can go bankrupt without efficient management. The knowledge of your players’ psychology and behaviour is vital. Attracting new clients and retaining the existing ones, constantly offering them new gaming experiences, smart bonus management – all of that helps to grow the player database and makes a casino competitive. Besides that, a high level of first-line support is critical. Today it’s hard to stay on top without 24/7 top-quality first-line support.
In the entire process of starting a casino, where does SoftSwiss offer help? Can you please tell us more about SoftSwiss casino services?
We cover practically all stages of online casino launch doing it a one-stop service. In close cooperation with our clients and making their vision our top priority, we do branding and design, create a website, integrate different game providers and payment gateways. We also provide services for better interaction with the players. Legal support is another huge part of the work that we do for our clients, just taking the beaten path and saving our client’s time and paperwork.
The same is for payment processing and financial reporting. These complicated tasks are taken over by our professional team and structured in the most transparent and clear way so that our client – casino operator – gets the complete vision of the casino finances and can follow all transactions easily. Being particularly scrupulous about security issues, we pay a lot of attention to anti-fraud and AML issues, using the most advanced technologies developed in-house. To complete the list, SoftSwiss offers 24/7 first line support including VIP player support, as well as player retention and affiliation services.
As affiliates, we always check if a casino has a valid license first before it can make the list of casinos on our websites. If anyone wants to set up an online casino, how can you help them get a license?
If a casino operator wants to obtain his own gaming license, we can consult on that, but most part of the work is then done on the client’s side. With that said, I would recommend starting with our White Label service as a much faster and more effective solution. It means that we provide complete legal, licensing and financial infrastructure on our side, saving a lot of time and paperwork for the casino operator. Interacting with legal authorities, spending money on the new company and office, exchanging tons of documents and waiting for months until the license is granted is no fun, especially when the time-to-market factor is so critical. For instance, for obtaining a Maltese gaming license, signing contracts with game providers and payment systems and opening necessary bank accounts, an operator can spend over a year. Our White Label service is a great time and money saving solution allowing us to speed up the time-to-market and concentrate on other important issues, such as marketing.
You mentioned White Label. Can you elaborate, what does White Label Solution mean?
As I have already mentioned, SoftSwiss is not only providing the software but also offering a more extensive service encompassing legal and financial infrastructure and bringing all spheres of casino operation under one roof. We become a real partner who cares about the business and uses the industry expertise, experience and connections to 1) facilitate the fast launch of the brand, 2) conduct day-to-day operating including complete payment processing, 3) consult on possible improvements like bonus policy, client service, player management, etc. It means White Label is there to make the life of a new operator easier. The percentage of successful casinos launched under SoftSwiss White Label is very high, whereas the brands who opt for their own license and infrastructure sometimes die before even going live.
How many casinos have you launched in the past?
In the past 6 years, we’ve launched over 100 casinos. More than 50 from this list are operating on the market today, and about 20 brands are taking leading positions in the industry.
As part of your services, what kind of games do you offer? How many games do you offer? Which providers?
In our portfolio, we currently have more than 35 providers and 4000 games. The range is truly impressive, from the slot and live games to different amusement varieties, lotteries, and bingo, to all types of roulettes and card games, etc. Exciting bonuses are also there to keep players coming back for more. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that even the pickiest casino client will be well entertained in any of our partner projects.
You also provide eSports betting solutions. Can you tell us more about that?
Our own eSports solution is work in progress. It will encompass both eSports and traditional sports betting. The launch is planned for the end of 2019, which is pretty soon. For now, we are using partner solutions to cover eSports which are integrated into our platform and ready to operate.
We have great feedback about SoftSwiss from online casinos, what makes you stand out from your competitors?
I would put the highest standards of our technology solutions in the first place. We’ve been pioneers in introducing certain know-how into the world of online casino which was new and fresh and brought the whole industry to a new level. For instance, back in 2013, we were the first to introduce play for Bitcoin. No other online casino with traditional games, such as slots and roulette, accepted cryptocurrencies before. Since not everyone had a credit card or an account with an electronic payment system, online casinos were inaccessible to many potential players. We opened up the world of online gaming to such people because paying with Bitcoin was fast and easy. Instant payouts, security, and transparency of cryptocurrency transactions that SoftSwiss platform offered helped build our reputation of the leading online casino provider. We are proud of it and put a lot of energy into sustaining positive relationships with our partners and players.
Can you explain to our players, how does it work with games that are linked to a centralized jackpot? What does that mean to a casino?
Centralized jackpot is a type of progressive Jackpot when a certain game of a particular provider is present in several different casinos, and the jackpot for this game is accumulated from all of those casinos. It’s also called wide-area progressive, and its amount is much higher than in a stand-alone jackpot. Winning such a jackpot is a matter of big luck and makes one a millionaire in just one click, but of course, it happens rather rarely. Local or stand-alone jackpots are won much more often but are smaller amounts. However, since we are running many brands under our White Label, our local jackpots are higher compared to other casinos, so players have better perspectives when playing at a SoftSwiss White-Label casino. In the end, nothing brings more satisfaction than hitting the jackpot.
Do online software providers require a cash balance reserve to be maintained by the casinos and why?
As a White Label solution provider, we require a reserve deposit or a so-called bank-roll from the operator immediately after launch. Our aim is to ensure that even at the early stages of operation the casino has an opportunity to make payouts to players in case they win big amounts. We also ask to always keep bank-roll at a certain level which is calculated as a percentage from players deposits. For example, if the monthly deposits at a casino make 100 thousand euros, we require another 25 thousand euro bank-roll on the casino account.
As you are an industry expert, we would like to ask you a few industry-related questions. What do you think is the future of BitCoin casinos?
Today, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are no longer as unique as payment instruments. Despite their vivid advantages and huge popularity among users, many regulators still prohibit accepting cryptocurrencies to casino operators working under their jurisdiction. It’s probably the result of very conservative views and lack of some technical understanding. Unfortunately, it results in ignoring the key benefits that Bitcoin brings into online gaming: increased safety and security for both, players and operators. If I had enough authority, I would introduce a single casino-cryptocurrency which would be recognized by all jurisdictions and would have blockchain nodes to guarantee safe storage of all transactions and clients data. It would be a real breakthrough, and the whole industry would benefit from it.
What’s the future of the gambling industry?
The future is innovation, so I hope to see and create new top-grade gaming projects which extend the boundaries of online entertainment. My biggest wish is that the regulators won’t stop the organic development of the industry by introducing unreasonable requirements that kill the initiative and make it dull and static, e.g., the ban of bonuses limits operators in their opportunities to offer cool perks to the players. I’m not against regulation as such. It’s cool when everyone pays taxes and follows well-thought-out rules, but when those rules are established by regulators with very limited knowledge and understanding of the industry, it doesn’t bring any good. I really hope to see some positive movements towards wise legislation.
Is eSports betting the next game changer?
It will definitely open up new horizons for sports betting operators as it extends the target audience. It will no longer be limited to the traditional sports amateurs but will also include people who just enjoy any type of computer games. Esports might not be a game changer, but a big trend for sure.
Entrepreneur in the sphere of information technology, founder of SoftSwiss, a pioneer in Bitcoin online casino solutions and strongest supporter of cryptocurrency, currently running a number of successful projects in IT and iGaming. With a background in economics and management and track record in journalism, he founded a custom software development company and further launched two products, online auction software under the brand Merkeleon and online casino platform under the brand SoftSwiss. Under Ivan’s skillful management, the company reached a top position in the iGaming industry and turned into the leading provider of turnkey white label solutions for online casino operators. With the profound knowledge of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Ivan managed to implement the technology in the online casino software and led his company to become a pioneer in the area of Bitcoin gaming.