Julian Borg-Barthet, business development director at RISQ, talks to CasinoBeats about how insurance-backed jackpots are pushing the industry in new directions. 

CasinoBeats: We hear RISQ is made concerted steps in its targeting of the African market, what appeals about the region?

Julian Borg-Barthet: In terms of the African market, we are mostly pushing lottery products and sports competitions. Our limits used to be £25m on a random number generator draw and now that’s up to an unprecedented £150m which has been really well received.

We can insure jackpots for the betting-on-lottery industry, which are big in Africa. Our RNG, which is fully licensed and fully insured up to £150m, allows operators to build their own games on it. They can build their own lottery to rival, say, EuroMillions (at least up £150m), or have keno games with big jackpots, or side bets on anything they want.  

We’re trying to push operators to build their own lotteries – not just in Africa, but industry wide. For a sports betting provider, for example, we would be doing sports competitions. These are ‘Pick 6’ kind of contests – which essentially offer very long odds tied to a prediction game. Whatever those long odds might be, we’d put a jackpot behind them, and the operator would pay us a small fee to cover the insurance per entry. 

CB: How important is to offer operators a flexible service? 

JBB: Well, as I say, we can give operators the ability to run prize draws on absolutely anything. We’re able to put our draw engine behind a gamification platform, for example, operators can offer any prize based on any trigger mechanism. A player might be entered into a contest for downloading the operator’s app for the chance to win £100k, for example, or they might win a jackpot for coming first in a slot tournament. 

The prize doesn’t have to rely on the liquidity behind those games – it can be entirely separate, where we build a jackpot on any vertical without having to rely on suppliers getting involved, or even the operator having to refunnel certain products.  

It’s really about giving operators the ability to offer jackpot-based incentives right across the platform, whether they’re based on deposit, download, volume of play – anything really.

These are all insurance-backed jackpots, and we deal only with A-rated insurance companies. We’ll also pay out big prizes insanely fast, making sure a big winner gets their millions right away. 

CB: What has the reception been like in the industry?

JBB: Generally great, but sometimes it’s a tough sell because operators can literally be limited by their own imaginations. 

Most of the time, when we meet a new client and start talking to them about all the wonderful things they can do, they want something pre-packaged – like, “where’s the API and how do we plug it in?”

They don’t always have the resources to build certain things themselves, and this is why we built the integrated partnership program,

Our IPP has over a dozen suppliers within the industry and growing – whether they build sports competitions, or gamification layers like Competition Labs or Blue Ribbon, for example, or 3radical, which built the Foxy Bingo loyalty platform. 

These are all companies that we’ve integrated with, so that together we can offer clients a feature-rich layer in terms of gamification of their platform, with the additional feature of being plugged into the biggest insurance partner within the gambling space. 

CB: How can organisations such as RISQ help clients adapt to market changes in the UK?

JBB: The UK market isn’t exactly rife with innovation at the moment but there are areas where we are making a big impact, especially through our hedging service. In September, we announced an industry-first deal with Amelco, which gives new operators the ability to launch a fixed-margin sports-betting product, instead of exposing themselves to the volatility of that product.

It gives casino operators who want to tag on a sportsbook as an acquisition tool – or just to keep up with the Joneses in the market – the ability to put a sportsbook into their business model in a way that they’re familiar with. 

They’re familiar with casino products being a fixed-margin, and to deal with such a volatile product as sports betting is a little bit daunting for some. Even if they’re externally managed, the finance and admin side of the businesses is a lot to contend with in terms of those ebbs and flows.

For example, while attending G2E Las Vegas, I got chatting to a representative from a big marketing agency who told me that one of their sportsbook operators slashed their monthly marketing budget by 90 per cent simply because they had suffered a bad month of trading. 

The representative was excited by our fixed margin service as it would allow their sportsbook client to ensure consistent revenues month in month out, which in turn would allow them to accurately budget for marketing activities and stick to that budget over the course of the year. 

CB: RISQ also offers sports trading services. How do you stay competitive in an increasingly busy sports trading/data market? 

JBB: It is a very saturated part of the market. Everyone seems to be offering data-feeds and pricing. Where we’ve decided to specialise – and we do use the world specialise – is in cricket, tennis and combat sports. 

The reason why we picked those three is that we’re exceptionally good at them and we’ve got a very, very long seven-year history in trading specifically in tennis, for example, where we believe we have the lowest latency and the best pricing. 

There are a lot of companies out there that are offering the full breadth of sports but whether they’re doing well on every single one of those sports they offer is questionable. We choose not to be a jack of all trades.