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PROFILE WHO’S WHO: This month: Helio Gaming’s CEO

How/when did you first get involved with the gaming industry? This takes me a long way back, 17 or so years ago in fact, when I was a software developer with a Maltese company called Megabyte. I was involved in managing and maintaining the operations of the national lottery of Malta when it was still owned by the government before being taken over by Intralot. That was my first taste.

What attracted you to this sector? I believe innovation and the mystery of what will come up tomorrow is what attracted me and keeps me passionate about it. This is a sector where yesterday is a long way away. Tomorrow there will always be something new coming up. This keeps me on edge and eager to be part of constant great happenings.

What were you doing prior to the gaming industry? In some way or another iGaming was always an integral part of my career, even though in the meantime I did try to get involved in other totally unrelated industries such as the system software industry, insurance, telecoms, automotive and more recently blockchain. I’m always drawn back to iGaming.

What are you responsible for in your current position?

I am heading a very exciting company called Helio Gaming which I believe is well on the way to being one of the top lottery providers in the iGaming industry. We have developed a very innovative product with numerous market firsts. Since we are still relatively young as a company my input to the organisation is on various levels from product development, sales, marketing, strategic and obviously I have full P&L responsibilities. It is a very exciting time and I think you will be hearing a lot more from us in 2019.

What have been the biggest industry changes you’ve seen in your time? I remember the early days of the igaming industry, so everything has changed from way back then. I’ve seen affiliate marketing being created, the introduction of social media, which are obviously two major innovations that have totally changed the whole way we do marketing. From a product point of view, today’s games and user experience is nothing like what it was in the old days. We have made tremendous improvements and we still have a long way to go. Finally, my own niche, lottery, has been left untouched for so many years for various reasons, mainly the dominance of monopolies. But I strongly believe that it is the time to shake this up and give the consumers a product they really deserve. This is what we are trying to do here at Helio Gaming.

What are the biggest positive factors for your sector right now? We are operating in a niche which has been untouched for a long time as I touched upon above, so there are loads of opportunities. This gives us great motivation to challenge the status quo that state lotteries are constantly trying to protect. We want to shake things up and bring to best in market product and service to our customers.

Favourite… Richard Mifsud

And what are the negatives ones – the obstacles to growth? I believe the largest challenge we face is convincing the operators that lottery can be utilised to their advantage along with their other gaming verticals. Since most operators have no experience with a lottery product it is sometimes challenging to get them to look into new areas of growth. I understand that they are already overwhelmed with what they currently have on their plate, but it really is too good to miss.

Looking at your entire career, what do you think was your smartest move? I think that was when I decided to move from hands-on development into management. It wasn’t that I didn’t like doing that, but the move has enabled me to grow. Having said that, having been on the ground doing the actual work helps me in my day-to-day understanding and speaking the language of the people who are in the field.

And dumbest one? That was certainly not taking the opportunity to invest enough in companies that I was involved with when they were start-ups. Some of them are now multi-million dollar businesses.

What do you think the igaming space will look like in ten years’ time? I think that it will still be the most cutting-edge industry around us. We will see more and more inclusion of AI. Information is on the one hand much much more available and yet its use has become so much more restricted by the likes of GDPR. AI will really help here. I think that operators in this space have the courage to do things that no other industry does, so it’s a difficult one to predict with certainty. If I had a crystal ball it would be so much easier – and I’d be so much richer!

If you’d never embarked on this career, what other line(s) of work would you have liked to pursue? I have a passion for cars and boats, so it would most probably be something related to that. It would certainly be something totally different.

Past time: Off-roading Football Fishing

100 JANUARY 2019

Movie: La Vita e Bella

TV Show: Suits

Band: Queen

Book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Food: Fish

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