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Overcoming the start-up struggle
Pallavi Deshmukh is the CEO of NetGaming. Pallavi has worked in the online gaming industry for over 15 years. Starting her career at PartyGaming as an affiliate operations manager, she went on to head up the PartyPoker affiliate team before switching to the B2B sector in 2011, where she managed the launch of Danske Spil. In 2015 she moved to New Jersey to manage Borgata Casino and monitor potential regulations in other US states, before moving to Malta in 2016 to work with NetEnt, and finally back to London in 2018 to take the helm as CEO of NetGaming.
In any established industry, taking on the monopolies and market leaders is no easy feat. Add to that the regulatory requirements and development needed to launch an igaming business within an ambitious timeline, and you face many challenges.
We spoke to Pallavi Deshmukh, CEO of NetGaming, to discuss how the supplier has tackled these challenges since they introduced NetGaming to the industry at ICE 2019, and what comes next in their journey.
She says: “We’ve come a long way. We began developing our games in mid-2018, and I got on board full-time around the end of last year. Eight months later, we have completed the development of our platform and refined the eight games we’re going live with. Our RNG has been approved by one of the best certification labs in the industry and we’ve begun phase two of our games development cycle too.”
However, this has not been smooth sailing, she says. “When I think about the challenges we’ve faced, the topmost things that come to my mind are forming corporate structures that allow for seamless multi-jurisdictional license applications, and these applications processes themselves.”
“The online gambling industry is experiencing an extremely dynamic regulatory environment at this time. Ensuring we adapt and abide by these requirements has been an education. We’re a long way from the relaxed regulatory environment of the past”.
Carving a niche
To be competitive and successful when starting a business in an established industry, carving out a niche and developing specialism is crucial - an attitude that Deshmukh says is no different in igaming, despite there being so much content readily available.
“Aside from the intent to entertain players, we focus on the localisation of our content, and how we capture and manage data for our operators. While there is a lot of content available in the market already, there isn’t enough truly localised content out there. We explore the subtleties that gambling audiences in each region respond positively to, and tailor our content for every region we work in, within and outside of Europe.”
She continues, explaining that some suppliers are already established enough that they don’t tend to make these finer details of localisation a core focus.
“We want to try and address every single aspect of true localisation - from the game mathematics to the design. We ensure that our themes are authentic and familiar, the music complements and bonus features are exciting, adding to the entertainment value.”
This approach has already seen success, Deshmukh says: “When we introduced NetGaming at ICE, our well-localised Asian content really resonated with operators.”
We previously discussed the importance of data with Deshmukh, who maintains the belief that “data is the future”.
“As an industry, we are already lagging behind when it comes to analysing and capturing relevant data. At NetGaming, we want to focus on this to ensure we offer enough information to our operators so that they can analyse and optimise the player experience.”
While she notes that many operators are doing this already, she feels that suppliers are not doing it enough: “If we can provide this, our customers can further enhance the player experience and provide a truly personalised journey to their players”.
The next hurdle, Deshmukh says, is in deciding where and when you take your content at launch. “The remainder of 2019 will see us focus on obtaining our software supplier licences, and developing more games. We are in the process of applying for Malta (MGA), the GB Gambling Commission as well as Curaçao licences. The aim is to go live with clients in H2 of 2019 so we may begin generating revenue that we can plough back into the business, enabling us to innovate even further.”
Initially, NetGaming will focus on the so-called .com markets in Europe and Asia. The UK will be the company’s first regulated market, followed by relevant European territories, says Deshmukh.
“Although there’s a lot of content already available, there’s always a demand for more. We also plan to focus on the actual in-game features and our CRM tools, allowing operators and aggregators to optimise and increase that entertainment value that can be provided to their players.”
She adds that by starting conversations with aggregators and operators earlier on in the process, the company will begin integrations as soon as they have games certified and licences ready: “The certification process is near completion, our license applications are underway, and we have a number of operators and aggregators in the pipeline. We are firmly focused on growth, and excited for our potential to prove ourselves as the real deal.”
Eventually, in 2020, Deshmukh explains the company plans to look into the Americas as a whole: “We want to have a presence in as many regulated markets as we can. We intend to begin in the US with NJ and Pennsylvania, and eventually enter more states as they regulate.”