Christian Maglia recently moved from WeAreCasino to become Chief Commercial Officer of Magellan Robotech, the B2B division of Stanleybet Group, and SBC News caught up with him to find out about his new role and plans to grow the business.
Maglia is also set to speak at Betting on Sports 2019, the leading international event for the sports betting and igaming industry, where he will share his insight into regulation and opportunities in the Latin American region as part of the Emerging Markets conference track.
He will be part of a notable Stanleybet Group presence at the event, which has its strongest ever speaker line-up of 300 high-level experts and will be attended by more than 3,500 industry professionals from around the world.
Stanleybet Group is to sponsor the VIP Networking Area at Olympia London from 17-20 September, while its IT Director Pierluigi Chiusolo will take part in the CTO Panel as part of the Technology in Focus conference track.
SBC: How excited are you to be starting out with Magellan Robotech and Stanleybet Group?
CM: I still can’t believe how inspiring and rewarding it is to be working for a company as innovative as Magellan Robotech, part of the prestigious Stanleybet Group.
During my onboarding, I have travelled around Europe to visit the group’s various companies and partners. From Liverpool to Brussels, Rome to Malta, Bucharest to Cyprus and Zagreb, the group’s culture is thoroughly oriented toward teamwork, know-how and shared objectives. Some of the people I have worked alongside or collaborated with in previous roles and some I have met for the first time, but the whole team is remarkable and I’m certain this accomplished group can achieve great things.
I have to mention Giovanni Garrisi (CEO of Stanleybet Group). It was thanks to him that, even though I had no intention of moving and changing jobs, I fell in love with this project, the objectives and his vision for the company and for the future of betting.
SBC: What is the growth plan for Stanleybet Group’s B2B division Magellan Robotech?
CM: Our main client, of course, is Stanleybet, but for some years Magellan Robotech has been working to become a leader in the B2B sector. We also collaborate with and offer our products – online and retail betting platforms, self-service betting software, virtual sports, keno and lotteries – to companies such as Novomatic, to name just one of the biggest. We are established in Denmark, Belgium, the UK, Italy, Romania, Cyprus and Nigeria, and are building a strong presence in numerous other countries.
In an increasingly regulated sector, Magellan pays a great deal of attention to its partners and processes, to compliance and security. This means we won’t do business just anywhere and that we will focus on regulated markets. Nevertheless, I can say with certainty that in the next 12 to 24 months we will extend our presence to at least three other continents.
SBC: What can you take from your time with the likes of Sportradar, BetGames.TV and WeAreCasino to help put this plan into action?
CM: No doubt I take my suitcase, since I spend at least five or six days a week travelling! And with it something from each of these past experiences. The importance of networking, organisation and professionalism is a cultural baggage of sorts that I bring with me from the years I spent at Sportradar.
BetGames.TV opened my eyes to the need to merge gaming, gambling and entertainment. The industry often takes itself too seriously, and some operators have become quite dull and boring with offerings that are mere imitations of their main competitors. This Lithuanian company brings joy, fantasy, life, imagination and beauty to the sector. Everything is built on the big idea of offering fixed-odds betting on the outcome of various live-presented games, from poker to lotteries, to dice to wheel of fortune.
From WeAreCasino, I bring with me the awareness that, even in a multimillion sector such as gaming, you can make a name for yourself on a minuscule budget as long as you have good ideas.
SBC: You will be joining a Betting on Sports panel looking at regulation in Latin America; how difficult is it for international companies to find the right way in?
CM: Being able to have a truly international approach is not at all easy. We need to be ready to receive every type of signal from the various countries. Only in recent months, since the opening of the US market, have strong signals or openings arrived from Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Poland and Switzerland, to name just a few.
It is certainly necessary to have a team that is capable of managing all the processes without neglecting the various facets of compliance and the legal requirements. The certifications are often similar but vary from country to country, which also affects the available budgets.
The South American market, together with Mexico and the Caribbean, is likely to be much more important in terms of economic impact than that of the United States. Brazil has more than 180 million inhabitants. Buenos Aires alone comes in at 15 million.
The passion of these countries for football and sports in general is something closely linked to their culture. Sports betting will undoubtedly be the gateway for many operators, but we must then find the right balance of products to offer. Some big brands operate in Brazil without offering bingo, and video bingo in particular. This happens when the customer and the customer’s needs aren’t fully considered.
Magellan Robotech and the Stanleybet Group will approach these markets with great care, working with important local partners so as to avoid arriving as complete outsiders.
SBC: How has the landscape changed for B2B service providers in the industry? Do you think the speed of innovation has slowed in recent years?
CM: I think that technological barriers have been lowered and this has encouraged the entry of many small companies with innovative ideas and products into the market.
My previous experience was with a small company with innovative ideas and products that rapidly became quite popular within the industry, but often this isn’t enough. To be able to offer products to operators, one must have a solid organisational structure and IT department with hundreds of developers and engineers. One must be capable of developing innovative solutions, but also of delivering maximum security, and proven and certified processes.
As time passes, the companies that remain standing will be those with all their certifications in order. I’m not just talking about certifications related to the games and platforms, but also to processes and security. At Magellan we have achieved ISO27001, which demonstrates the seriousness of our approach.
Regarding the slowdown in innovation, I’m not certain this is something that has actually happened. Just a few years ago, the mobile sector was less than 20 or 30 per cent of the overall share and products were neither responsive or in HTML5. There have been numerous advances in terms of technology, but most companies have focused predominantly on product improvement, user experience optimisation, and usability of their products on different platforms and operating systems. This is a slow but essential process.
In my opinion, the next cycle of innovation will lead to greater use of the data stored in our databases. Data drilling will grow up AI applications and will bring the creation of new gaming offers and custom bets.
SBC: Finally, what do you think will be the biggest new trend to emerge in online gaming over the next 12 months?
CM: I don’t think it’s necessarily possible to find a single ‘next big thing’ among the products offered today in the various markets. You should probably look at the world in its regional particularities, facets and diversity.
Certainly, there are products that will perform incredible numbers as soon as the right markets become legalised. One example is the success of games such as Teen Patti and Andar Bahar in India. Whoever is capable of offering them in exchange mode (with back and lay) will most likely hit the jackpot in that region.
There are different products and trends for each region. Virtual sports, virtual football leagues such as our Trident, are already breakout hits in Europe, the Middle East and especially in Africa. I also expect a similar trend in South America. The same goes for numerical games such as bingo, keno and lotteries.
In my view, the key word is ‘glocal’. We talk about it a lot in other industries, but we won’t be able to do without it in ours either. The global must be engaged with the local. Responding to local tastes, culture and traditions with a global approach will be the real answer to continued growth and expansion – it’s what we’re preparing ourselves for.
Finally, I think the real game changer in the coming years will be the use of Artificial Intelligence and Robots. I can’t share any details at this stage, for obvious reasons, but what is being prepared in our offices in Liverpool could definitively change the way we are accustomed to betting. However, I think that before we see robots in action in our stores, steps will be needed to prepare us for the ‘revolution’. And in my view this will take longer than 12 months to happen.