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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Betting online: Casino operator moving into lucrative software development

Betting online: Casino operator moving into lucrative software development

Lucky89’s dealers offer online gambling services to customers via webcams. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN
Lucky89’s dealers offer online gambling services to customers via webcams. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Betting online: Casino operator moving into lucrative software development

A local firm has seen revenues grow by adding online operations to its casino, allowing it to take bets from offshore players. Now it is designing the software that allows other casinos to get a piece of the action

Start Live Casino has established itself as the first Cambodian firm to develop and distribute turnkey online casino software, including a white label product that has attracted international interest.

The technology firm began in 2011 as a subsidiary of Lucky89 Group, which operates two licensed brick-and-mortar casinos in Bavet. Jonny Ferrari, managing director of Start Live, said the casino operator faced fierce competition from nearly a dozen other gaming halls in the dusty border town, which drove it to add online operations that made it accessible to offshore gamblers.

“The casino industry is very competitive,” said Ferrari. “To keep attracting customers, the casino had to find new strategies to pull in more business revenue, and the online live casino was one of them.”

While initially the firm outsourced its online casino operation, it soon identified ways to improve the product and started developing its own software platform. Impressed with its own results, it began licensing its software to others in the industry.

The company now develops its own turnkey solutions for online gaming, specialising in live-dealer systems that allow gamers in other countries to gamble virtually with live human dealers in a physical casino via webcam.

Many of Start Live’s clients are land-based casinos whose early attempts at adding online gaming failed.

According to Ferrari, the winning formula for any online casino platform is simple: “fast connections, zero problems for the player and easy payouts.”

“All of our payment methods go through all of the correct handles, and we set this all up as a complete solution to all of our partners,” he said. “That’s why our business is on the up and up.”

The company provides the software to existing online casino clients in return for 3 per cent of profits. In the case of establishing a new online casino, it charges a one-time startup fee or enters into a profit-sharing joint venture with the client.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Lucky89 started out as a bricks and mortar casino. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Ferrari claims the online gaming platforms that Start Live creates for its clients generate them, on average, $2 million a month in revenue. The company currently has 11 international clients for its white label product, which manages the clients’ online gaming operations, including live-dealer table games, slots, sports betting and lotteries.

Kenyan-owned online sports betting site Lucky2U.co.ke was one of Start Live’s earliest clients, having switched to its software after the existing software it was using proved troublesome.

“Eventually, due to problems with the other system, we researched for a better and more user-friendly system,” said Dunstan Santa Maria, owner of the Lucky2U site. “Our research led us to ibet789 under the Start Live platform, which we ran parallel with our previous system. However, ibet789 proved to be more popular with our clients.”

Lucky2U currently boasts 30,000 registered users, which Santa Maria predicts will expand to 1.5 million as his company further integrates Start Live’s products.

He said for casino operators, a well-designed online platform cuts overhead and management headaches, boosting the company’s bottom line.

“It’s easier and more cost-effective to operate online, as a [land-based] casino attracts lots of problems with security, rental, salaries, and complimentary food and beverages,” he said. “Software gives an operator a better perspective of the clients’ value and we are thus able to reward our customers more effectively and more equitably as the software provides true and accurate records of your clients – and in real time too.”

Eric Mizrachi, founder and chief executive of getluckypoker.com, has used Start Live’s software for its online poker website for six months. The US-based company said its operations are small, with some 20 to 30 players daily, but growing steadily through a $100,000 marketing campaign that included the new software system.

“The more players you have, the more [money] you make, and it can be pretty random,” he said. “One player can lose a couple of thousand dollars or ten thousand, and some players might win a couple hundred or a couple thousand.”

Mizrachi, who confesses to being a former online casino junkie, said the software’s ability to draw new customers worldwide has him considering using it for his online poker site, nationalpokertour.com, and to set up an online sports betting site. It is one gamble he figures where the odds are in his favour.

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