Former Digital Delivery Director at GVC Holdings
Mohit has over 20 years of experience working across the largest European operators in the online gaming industry. Mohit led the re-platform of the Ladbrokes sportsbook at GVC as Digital Delivery Director and was responsible for managing all third party suppliers to GVC’s stack. Mohit previously spent 2 years at Paddy Power Betfair and 2 years rolling out licensing deals at Kambi. He started his career spending 7 years at Ladbrokes in technology development and support. Read moreView Profile Page
Mohit, a pleasure to have you with us today. Can we start by laying out the core elements of a technology stack for gaming operators?
It varies, depending on what organization you are in, but the majority of stuff is around player management, which is one of the key areas, the actual sportsbook engine itself and the RGS platform or the remote gaming server platform. Other areas will be the feeds integration and things around liability management. Of course, there is a frontend, as well. The frontend is the shop window for all the bookmakers. It varies from operator to operator, but the majority of people have those sort of core ingredients, around those sort of areas of the business, for their core online platform.
How do you look at that? Do you see them each as an individual component, or do you look at it as a frontend and a backend?
It’s a bit modular. You can call it frontend and backend; a lot of people do see it that way. The frontend, the shop window is basically how it all looks and feels. The backend is where all the logic is done. That’s where all the heavy lifting is, all the integrations to various third-party feeds; your pricing models, your actual RGS goes into it, your gaming engine. All that information is sitting in the backend but the frontend is, as I said, very much a shop window. Most operators do it different ways. You can have it modular, so you just bolt things on. Or you can have it in one big platform, if you wish to.
Because of scalability and performance, you need to make sure that your platform is robust enough to allow for you to tinker with small parts of that platform itself.
What parts of the stack do you think are considered crucial?
I’d say all of it, to be honest. There’s not one area that shouldn’t be deemed to be important. Of course, it depends on who you are. For most parts of the business, it’s the sexy stuff, which is the frontend. No one really cared about the backend. But the backend is where there are the brains behind everything that you’re doing. So you need to make sure that that is performing and resilient enough that you can then provide the frontend, the compute, for it to do the sexy stuff.
But does the operator look at any part of the stack where they want to own it or have it in-house?
Differentiation is the main thing. The frontend is always seen to be the differentiation. Lots of the backends are very similar, all the API and all the integrations to the third-party feeds are very similar. A lot of the gaming companies or operators, pretty much, have similar looking backends, but the frontend is where you see differentiation between yourselves and other providers. On top of that, you’ve got the bonus side of things, your marketing side of things, which is very important. That’s another element which is deemed to be quite a differentiator between operators, as well.
Have you seen any changes or trends in outsourcing, versus insourcing of different parts of the stack, over the last decade or so?
When I first started, many years ago, it was very much new to the market. People were probably looking at outsourcing, rather than insourcing. It was seen as the fastest way to market. Of course, as things have moved on with compliance and the regulatory outlook on the actual industry itself, more and more of it has gone into insourcing because then you have more control over your stack. I think a lot of the big operators are looking at moving all their stack in-house and that’s, primarily, so they can control it more and they can make changes much quicker. When you have a third-party – albeit some of them are very good partners – you don’t have all that control.
You mean control over the regulatory standards?
Because regulatory standards change so often, it’s very hard to maneuver through that. It allows you to dictate what you want to do and when you want to do it. When you have third parties, it becomes a bit harder to do that. It’s more speed to market, really, and that’s where they are keen to do that.
So the logic is, we need to get to market quickly and, therefore, Europe, 10, 15, 20 years ago used these partners to get into the markets quickly and they’re moving it in-house, as they become more mature and understand the market?
It’s maturity and the fact that the stacks are so big now, and the cost of it, as well. Insourcing is a lot cheaper, because you’ve got control of your own costs. When you outsource, it’s a little bit more expensive. It’s swings and roundabouts. What’s important or not important for each operator, right now.
But it takes you time to move? There are some switching costs?
For most operators, switching costs are quite high and with the current pandemic and what’s going on in the world right now, a lot of operators are looking at that as one of the main things. Where can we save costs? Bringing it in-house and moving away from having it in third parties, is deemed to be a good thing to do, right now.
How would you look at the difference between European operators and US operators and that shift between insourcing and outsourcing?
The European operators are much more mature. The Europeans have been doing this for the best part of 10, 15 years. In the UK, it’s probably more than that now. We’ve had all sorts of different regulations and demands, from the countries themselves, so we’ve got a fairly good idea of what’s required and what isn’t. Ideally, it would be nice if we had pan-European regulation, so it covers all of the gambling companies in one go. Unfortunately, we’re never going to get that; every country has its own way of doing things. Of course, over that time, we’ve learnt a lot around what can be done. What we need to do for one country, what we need to do for another country.
In the US, they’re still trying to learn what is important and what isn’t. It feels as if the US is going to go the same way as Europe; every state will have their own version of some regulation. Some of it is painful but, over time, it will mature and it will allow them to learn from what the Europeans have done. Hopefully, they can come to some common set of recommendations that can be followed there, as well.