Former Director at Red Tiger
The executive has 20 years gaming experience and a Former Director at Red Tiger Gaming. Previously, the exec worked for Hong Kong-based Sun City running B2C sites with sports, slots, and casino from the Isle of Man. Sun City also had 6 live dealer tables including Evolution Gaming and competing offerings.Read moreView Profile Page
Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.
I’ve been invested in this gambling space for a little while and I’m always interested to learn more about what others are thinking about in terms of Evolution and its larger ecosystem.
I’ve been asked a lot recently about Evolution; there’s an awful lot of interest in it. I’m no expert on Evolution but I’ve been a customer of theirs and also with my Red Tiger hat on, they’ve ended up with Red Tiger as part of their business so I know about it from that perspective. I’m not an expert on the competitive landscape of live dealing.
One of the businesses that I represented, we had a couple of live dealing studios so I’m probably more au fait with the operational side of things than the technicalities of it.
As a starting point, can you tell me about your background, how you’ve come into this space and what are your current responsibilities?
My first contact with the gaming industry was about 12 years ago when I started working for the Isle of Man Government as a consultant in the development agency which is a separate entity to the regulator but works closely alongside and it’s an inward investment program. My role was talking to the industry and encouraging businesses to locate or invest in the Isle of Man. I’m familiar with the Isle of Man ecosystem and how that all connects to the regulatory piece and the exposures for businesses in the Isle of Man in that sense and what business is palatable here and so on.
Through that, I worked with my effective CEO there; my line manager was also a consultant and we worked together for four years, had a great working relationship and team, and we decided that when the right opportunity came up, we would go and work in the private sector again because we were both private sector people. The civil service is quite challenging and very limited in its scope. That was the plan, that’s what we did and it ended up being for an Asian owner who already had huge success out in Asia in the junket market. They operated junket trips into Macau, made a lot of money doing that and then set up private dealing rooms and so forth. That was the Sun City Group; not South African Sun City but the Hong Kong based Sun City.
It was those individuals that wanted to set up something in the West. It’s a big kudos to be successful outside of Asia and that’s what they wanted to do. They weren’t particularly clear about what that looked like so that was part of the job; figure out how to make this happen. It started with a UK-facing business primarily designed to attract Asian people living in the UK because it was a very Chinese offering, that then soon developed into us operating actual Chinese-facing business from the Isle of Man under our license here.
It just grew and grew, both the amount of work that we did and what we took on here. We ended up with five gaming licenses in the UK and Isle of Man. We ended up with a couple of joint ventures, one of which was Red Tiger. We ended up opening betting shops in the UK, so it was a rollercoaster, a very steep learning experience but also got exposure to a great deal of different players in the industry, exposure to the interdependences I suppose and the difficulty of doing business in the Asian market specifically.
You already alluded to Red Tiger and betting shops. What other types of games or bets are you familiar with?
On our B2C sites, we had sports betting and casino. We did have live dealer but primarily we used our own live dealers which were Manila based, also supplying other sites which was the Sun Group and Gold Deluxe, which don’t exist anymore because they were closed down during the first COVID outbreak. They were part of the wider group, so we used those and we also used Evolution because I’m sure, as you’re aware, it’s very incestuous as an industry and you use product from all over the place and plug as much variety in as you can and one of the key factors for Chinese players, specifically, is choice across live dealer.
On our main site, I think at our height, we possibly had six different live dealer suppliers plugged in. If they lose on one, they like to be able to move to another one. It’s all about luck in the Chinese culture and they would frequently migrate between those live dealer suppliers. If you have options available on site, you’re keeping them on site. Whereas if you’ve only got one or two choices they’ll leave to go and play somewhere else. That was the thinking. We had poker for a short time as well.
I’m curious: who are the other live options? Playtech?
We had our own two; we had Evolution. I think one of them was called Enter Asia; it was very specific to the Chinese market. I’ve forgotten the others but they were very niche Asian suppliers.
Setting aside the live part, were the offerings more slot games? We now have sports betting, since 2018 that has become a fast-growing area here in the US. What sort of games were you offering and what was the type of market regulations being handed out to the space? Can you talk a bit about that?
We had two distinct markets. The UK player which tends to be a split across sports and slots; and then we had our Asian market and that is very heavy live dealing. They very much trust live casino in the Asian market more than they do slot games. One of the reasons why our owners went into the joint venture with the company that ultimately ended up being Red Tiger was that they wanted to start to move the Asian player onto slots games.
So Red Tiger started to develop culturally aligned slots for that purpose, for our outlet. It’s a very different profile of player in China than it is in the UK and Europe.
They were acquired by NetEnt, the other Swedish company which in turn was acquired by Evolution; that’s how they ended up with Red Tiger.
I was still there when the NetEnt sale went through.