Dmitry Voshkarin, CEO of GG.BET, shared his thoughts on the results of 2022 and prospects for 2023. The online sports betting and esports betting company was able to make significant progress last year, but also faced some challenges. In this article, Dmitry Voshkarin looked at what happened to GG.BET in 2022 and what can be expected from the company in 2023.
GG.BET was the name on everyone’s lips in 2022. We saw a lot of news about new partnerships with major esports tournaments and big-name teams. You also worked with a number of esports influencers. What do you make of the results of 2022 and what’s GG.BET working on at the moment?
Dmitry Voshkarin: GG.BET has achieved a tremendous amount in the last 12 months. We’ve grown significantly in a number of business areas, despite the difficulties and challenges we faced in 2022. The number of GG.BET customers grew by 41%, while our total turnover skyrocketed by 96%. To make this a possibility, we had to change a lot and add a lot of new things. I’ll start with what’s most important for the customer: the service itself.
We now offer a wider range of opportunities, including unique markets on individual players’ results in CS:GO matches, as well as our in-house developed virtual sports leagues. We’ve made plenty of changes that may not be noticeable to the user at first glance, but which greatly improve their user experience on the platform. One example would be an AI algorithm that intelligently selects events for individual users.
We put a lot of work into transforming our Customer Support service. Moreover, we reinforced our list of markets with official data from Bayes, giving our customers access to super-fast data on the GG.BET website.
2022 was the year we began expanding into new markets. We now have our sights set on those market segments and regions where a large esports fan base already exists, such as Brazil, Southeast Asia, and a number of European countries.
We partnered up with some of the largest esports tournaments in the industry — PGL Arlington Major 2022 and PGL Antwerp Major 2022 — and carried the torch for bookmakers everywhere as GG.BET became the very first official sponsor of the DPC stage of The International, the biggest event in the Dota 2 calendar.
In addition, we gained another key partner last year in the form of French esports collective Team Vitality.
As our team continues to grow, we’ve implemented plenty of internal changes, too. We’ve built departments stationed by our ambitious colleagues to try out new approaches to growth and help us achieve our goals for 2023. We’re now sharper and more confident than before. In 2023, we’ll be converting the years we’ve invested into R&D into new practical approaches and clear, tangible results.
There are those who say that interest in esports is waning in the business community. Lots of companies are turning down sponsorship deals with esports teams. How would you explain this and what are your thoughts on the matter?
DV: It’s true that recently several major brands have announced the end of their collaborations with esports organisations. This is because the esports market is currently undergoing a series of transformations.
It’s a young industry, where a lot of contracts and agreements are signed in the wake of a lot of hype and short-lived excitement. Now, esports is settling into a more secure, stable, and predictable position. There is no longer space there for people who want to manipulate prices and present something as more than it really is.
Prices should be dictated by the market, and should also fit the product. The situation today means that it is more profitable to work with a traditional sports audience, as the investments required from us are smaller. For GG.BET, as for any other bookmaker, it’s a joy to work with this vast audience as well. We hope to attract users who love esports as much as they do regular sports. We’ll still be covering sports, but in our own unique way and while maintaining our passion for esports.
We know that GG.BET has Ukrainian roots. Why don’t we talk a little about the Ukrainian betting market, especially since it’s undergoing some fundamental changes. Is this a market you’re focusing on, and do you see potential in it?
DV: We are keeping a close eye on the development of the Ukrainian market, as there’s certainly a lot going on at the moment. Some of these changes are positive, such as the emergence of a number of companies from the shadows.
At the same time, the legal and taxation foundations of the industry need reworking, and the draft law introduced 2 years ago is still under review by parliament. Also, because of the revelations of various tax avoidance schemes, a large number of platforms hosting gambling payments have been blocked en masse, which has impacted even those companies working completely above board.
In addition to this general turbulence, we’ve been noticing several cases of unfair competition between some market players. Companies are waging information wars against each other, which is having a negative impact on the overall business climate. Despite all this, however, we see huge potential in the Ukrainian market, believe it has a lot to offer, and therefore consider it among GG.BET’s areas of focus.
Volodymyr Zelensky recently signed a sanctions list which included quite a few big names in the gambling industry. The list includes BET.RU, which formerly had ties with GG.BET. How has this affected your work?
DV: Until March 2022, BET.RU was a GG.BET franchise operating in the Russian Federation. Because of the full-scale invasion, the question of operating within Russia became a critical one for us, and on the very next day, 25 February, we made the decision to withdraw our franchising licence and leave the Russian market. We took every step to break relations with the invading country immediately in order to ensure the safety of our staff.
By the end of March 2022, the site was no longer available to Russian users. We also cut GG.BET service across all platforms for users in Russia. Today, GG.BET has no connection to BET.RU, which means that the recent sanctions list has had no effect on our daily activities, decisions, or plans for the future.
Forbes Ukraine recently published materials touching on the question of GG.BET’s links with esports organisation Natus Vincere and broadcast studio Maincast. The publication also claimed that GG.BET is owned by businessman Maksim Krippa. What comments do you have about this issue?
DV: Unfortunately, Forbes Ukraine regularly makes claims about companies without checking the facts. The authors of this material tend to base the claims they make on information from anonymous sources which can neither be verified or confirmed. Therefore, we consider these materials to be authors’ materials.
As for GG.BET being owned by Maksim Krippa, I feel it’s worth clarifying once again that this businessman does not own GG.BET.
When it comes to Natus Vincere, we share common values with the team and are working on a range of joint projects designed to assist the development of the esports community, as well as organising charity initiatives to help those who have suffered as a consequence of the war.
We’ve been working together to achieve all of our marketing goals for some time now. Our collaboration with Team Vitality is based on the same principles. For this reason, any rumours about the owners of these companies don’t hold water.
Maincast is a longtime partner of ours, and we work together to create content and integrate our brand into streams of some of the biggest tournaments, as well as coming up with new shows and activities for viewers all around the world. Any information about other connections between us are purely fictional and come from Maincast’s competitors.
Can we expect the same kind of large-scale projects from GG.BET in 2023 as we saw last year? Could you share your plans for the future with us?
DV: We’ve got off to a flying start in 2023; we’re actively expanding into new regions and consolidating our presence in a number of markets, as well as working to gain new licences.
We are continuing to contribute to the development of the international esports community. You can be sure that you’ll be seeing GG.BET at major tournaments, and hearing about lots of exciting projects with esports talent and teams in the future.
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