Exclusive Q&A with Mike Fox, CFO at Crystal WG

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Q. Let us start with a quick intro of yourself for starters. Could you briefly describe your career?

A. I have 20 years’ experience in the gambling industry. For more than 10 years, I worked as the Group CFO of Euronext listed company Thunderbirds Resorts in Panama. I was lucky enough to work on some fantastic land-based casino projects in several emerging markets. At the time, the group operated 30 casinos and 10 hotels with 5,000 employees in the Philippines, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

I played an integral role in helping expand our remit, opening two large properties in the Philippines – one included a hotel, golf course and casino and the other a hotel and casino. In Lima, Peru the group purchased six hotels and opened a flagship casino in the heart of Miraflores along with acquiring several slot parlors around the country. In Costa Rica, the group opened a flagship casino adjacent to the International Airport and subsequently several more casinos. In Panama, the group operated six casinos. At the time these properties were built, they were the best casino products to enter the markets.

In 2015, I joined Crystal Wealth Group to offer my financial consulting and investment experience for casinos, iGaming and the crypto/NFT space before helping launch new online casino BetCoco this year.

Q. You are a veteran casino professional. How challenging is a shift to the online casino segment?

A. One key difference is the ability to reach a global audience using the power of the internet. This is where a lot of time is spent with every territory we target in making sure we match the specific compliance requirements and own the correct operating licences to be able to offer our product to specific regions.

However, whether it’s land-based or online, the premise of operating a casino brand remains the same. If you can provide a service that surpasses customers’ expectations and offers them an experience that they cannot get anywhere else, they will return.

This is something we have focused on heavily in our design of BetCoco.

Q. Tell us about BetCoco. What are the immediate objectives of the company? Could you also tell us quickly about your job brief.

A. BetCoco is a fun brand that offers the best-in-class player experience with the leading games and services that the industry has to offer. Innovation is at the foundation of everything we do through creating the best features to continuously improve our user experience.

We initially launched in cryptocurrency, yet now offer fiat. One of our immediate objectives is to onboard new customers from the territories where we are operational. We are going to be working with the industry’s top affiliates and media partners to bring quality traffic to our site in every location we are situated.

My role is to facilitate this by focusing our investments on markets that are not necessarily saturated with competitors where our players get excited about a new brand with attractive bonus and loyalty programs.

Q. Could you now talk about your digital marketing strategies and the benefits that customers are going to get from BetCoco?

A. We’re quickly deploying exciting paid media marketing and affiliate campaigns to let the markets know about us such as in Brazil we are partnering with the top affiliates in the market to promote our recurring bonus offers.

We also have a very clear approach to making customer satisfaction one of our key goals. For instance, our aggressive customer bonus plan with 100% bonus up to 0.5BTC is designed to attract keen crypto players – and now we are on the verge of releasing industry-best bonus rewards for fiat customers.

Q. According to your recent press release, BetCoco wants to bring back “more thrill” for customers, which is something that “iGaming operators have lost in their brand promotions in recent years”. Could you elaborate a bit on this point?

A. We think some of the bigger operators with a large market share lose touch sometimes of what will attract players that are new to online gaming. Especially, in emerging markets like Latin America, Asia and Africa, we plan to be the trusted brand that excites new players to begin their online journey into iGaming.

Q. What are the features BetCoco offers as of now and in which markets they are available?

A. We have created a best-in-class suite of tech with our iGaming software platform integrated with the best gaming providers, My Affiliates for affiliate management and Customer.io for CRM. Our intention is to give our players a first-class betting experience and a seamless user journey. This includes making them feel special and appreciated with our special offers and VIP treatment.

We understand that some of our users enjoy the feeling of betting next to friends / other users. So, we are offering exclusive live tournaments and daily challenges and leaderboards with new games announced weekly. Our platform allows players to collect loyalty points and redeem for special rewards and prizes.

Q. Could you outline the new initiatives of BetCoco that are in the pipeline and likely to roll out in the next two years?

A. Our group is the process of launching new sites under a Malta license that will allow us to enter higher value markets. We are also acquiring best in class technology to continue to build additional brands under Malta licensing using our own CMS platform to allow complete control over the customization of our sites for each market.

Thanks to the metaverse and advanced VR Technology, players can now visit physical casinos from the comfort of their homes. We plan to have all kind of VR Games – Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, Game Shows, and even a Sports betting room, where the player can wager on a sports match and stay to watch the game next to other users, just like in Vegas! For this, player just needs to have a VR headset.

We have built relationships with the world’s best metaverse and VR tech companies and will integrate this technology into our brands over time.

We also plan to offer the ability to mint NFT slot machines with a shared revenue model and NFT player passes with in-app purchases.

Q. You plan to enter new markets, especially in Africa and Asia. What are your plans to tackle the fluid state of regulation in many of the African and Asian countries, with respect to cryptocurrency. For example, in India, a potentially large market, the legal stature of cryptocurrencies is in a disputed state. What will be your strategy?

A. While our view of the markets is worldwide, including Asia and Africa, we also see solid opportunities to secure country level licensing in places like Peru and Colombia. In addition, in the short term, we plan a major push in Brazil during the World Cup period. Since we have a presence in Latin America, for example, it allows us to understand better the local players and create brands that appeal to the particulars of each market.

Q. Finally, what is your take on the future of igaming segment, especially in relation to advances in technology such as machine learning and block chain?

A. Artificial intelligence and machine learning is becoming and will be a very important part of the iGaming industry in years to come.

From better understanding user experience through advanced data sets to more complex security measures via anti-money laundering detection software to faster transaction speeds via blockchain-powered cryptocurrencies, the advancements in technology can benefit the industry in so many ways – and it’s still growing.

These developments allow us to operate in a sector that is safer, more enjoyable and just generally more informed. For instance, with machine learning, we can hone the information we have on our customers to create better experiences. With blockchain, we can offer users the most streamlined and frictionless approach to playing.

As technology is always evolving, part of our mission is to evolve with it, so our players can enjoy the best and most advanced gaming. To bolster customer experience, we are already looking at planning to design and incorporate our own VR Games on-site. These games will be available in 1st person view, as well as in 3rd person view. Our VR Casino Games will offer players the most immersive experience on the market.

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