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Strive makes a big step forward

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Max Meltzer, chief executive of Strive Gaming, says that if the US gaming industry’s first five years were dominated by speed, quality will be the driving force for the growth of the US market in the future. He tells iGB that despite the deal struck by the gaming platform providers with PointsBet there is still room for a new challenger in North America.

Strive Gaming is a North American gaming platform that focuses solely on this market. It’s taking on industry giants to expand its client base in the US and Canada. With some of the biggest operators planning to build a vertically-integrated proposition, Strive Gaming is competing with both proprietary solutions and suppliers.

As this week’s agreement to power PointsBet’s igaming offerings in Canada shows it can compete with the largest competitors.

An industry-leading team

Strive is a strong contender in the industry, and with its leadership team, which includes three US betting pioneers. While at Kambi, CEO Max Meltzer along with president and CCO Damian Xuereb negotiated a flurry deals following the repeal of PASPA. Jamie Shea, CMO at DraftKings, oversaw the launch New Jersey’s very first mobile sportsbook.

Max Meltzer founded gaming platform Strive along with Damien Xuereb

Meltzer explains that the platform was designed based on his industry knowledge. We have more B2C experience than other PAMs and know what it takes to succeed: deploy quickly, have a customizable solution, transfer customers between states from a single office.

Its client list, even in its early growth stages, will be a source of envy for larger platform providers. DraftKings is already supplied by Golden Nugget Online Gaming via Betsson Betsafe, and Desert Diamond Arizona. PointsBet has added Strive PAM to its list of partners, after signing a 4-year agreement to use the platform.

PointsBet deal “a natural next step” for Strive

Meltzer believes that it is the perfect time for Strive Canada to accept a large client like PointsBet.

He explains, “It was a natural step.” Over the last two years, we’ve been building ourselves up, showing we are quick to market and scalable, without any tech debt. This has resonated with the industry.

Since then, we have built up our Vancouver, Newcastle, and Malta offices to create a slick, efficient operation. The decision to run a multi-state business makes perfect sense.

It’s an important moment for us. Since day one, we’ve planned for [the size of the client].

Have North American operators reconsidered their partner rosters?

This announcement comes at a time when the entire industry is hopping from bed to bed. Operators are switching suppliers, acquiring systems, or building their own. Strive can now entice more organisations to leave their current partners. It can also increase risk as businesses look to take control of their tech stack.

Strive believes there’s still plenty of operators looking to outsource tech in North America

Meltzer says that outsourcing is becoming more common. He points out that there are many examples of vertically integrated offerings not being the best way to succeed in the long run.

The strategic value of buying businesses is not sufficient. Markets have told us this. “You need to demonstrate success by the bottom-line, and with a sticky product that drives long-term values,” he says. That’s where we are.”

Strive is a competitive advantage. Meltzer says it has more integrations with sportsbooks and casinos than any PAM. The PAM also provides a variety of payment solutions, KYC services and geolocation.

Strive PAM

Meltzer explains that Strive’s platform is unique and difficult to duplicate. It would take many years to build anything from scratch.

In the initial years of US Sports Betting, operators built up a large player base through a frenzy of acquisition. They need to keep players engaged as the focus shifts from acquisition to retention.

He says, “Our platform allows operators to track their customers with just a back-office and move from one state to another using a single wallet.”

The infinity engine of the company automates processes to engage with customers better, and a data analytics team builds AI models. The use of data in this way is “a major battle” for the industry, as it uses data to engage customers and encourage them to play responsibly.

Laser Focus on North America

Meltzer thinks Strive has an advantage because of its “laser-focus” on North America.

He explains that the global regulatory landscape has become more complex. It’s a complicated landscape with many regulatory and technical requirements. This means that there are even companies who have their own gaming platform, but use our PAM.

Betsson’s internal PAM is its own, but it recognizes the benefits of using ours, such as in North America.

Strive’s team has a sole focus on the North America market

Suppliers who are competing with each other may also spread themselves thin. It’s hard to concentrate on one launch while also trying to prepare for Brazil, Peru or Germany.

It means that “it’s not been difficult for people to get involved in the discussion if they want to outsource PAM”.

People know that it is incredibly complicated. Operators may want to focus on more exciting aspects of their business, such as marketing or the front-end. “We provide expertise, so that they can build upon it.”

Does a lack progress in online casino regulation slow down growth?

Strive targets growth in all of the verticals but two major deals with Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) and PointsBet are focused on icasino. The current legislative session has dashed hopes that a wave legalisation would expand the vertical beyond its six current states by 2023.

Meltzer believes that online casinos are “a very profitable and engaging area of our industry, and operators recognise it’s not enough just to provide sportsbook”.

He is not concerned about the lack of progress made in 2023. The industry has time to prepare and test for 2024.

He predicts that the year will be “an important year in terms of sports and casino approvals”. The next year, we will see something new and exciting. Everyone has had a chance to prepare their products this year. I can predict something that will happen at icasino New York.

In my former business I was focused more on getting people online than quality. In 2023, you will see what casino games are working. “There are many differences in the state laws, so it is important to learn as much as possible and test as much as we can.

Building an eco-system around games

Meltzer says that adding online casinos to the mix expands the gaming eco-system, which is another key differentiator between North America and Europe.

The way operators approach the situation, they don’t differentiate so much the sportsbook, but the entire experience.

DraftKings offers sportsbook, daily-fantasy and casino. They then bought Golden Nugget Online Gaming to expand their NFT market. “Fanatics has just begun their journey to combine sports betting and merchandise.”

Other providers are also using this approach to reward players with non-cash incentives, including Prizeout. Vertical integration involves less owning of the technology stack, and more assembling products and rewards.

He says, “That is the direction I think [North America] will go; there are differences in the proposition but they’re not following the old-fashioned way to reward players. They’re going be able reward players dynamically, and I believe that is what the major players are doing.

It’s what our platform was designed for. This is not only an igaming site, but it will grow based on the features that people add.

This client base is growing

More clients are already on the way. Meltzer claims that multiple deals are already signed, but not announced.

We’ve already entered Ontario with customers other than PointsBet. Unannounced customers include tribal operators who own assets, new clients, big operators.

Operators are also bringing their own technology in house, which adds to the challenge. Meltzer Strive and other companies are trying to show that there is room for others.

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