Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and metaverses: an interview with the founder and CEO of Gamblers Connect, Gjorgje Ristikj
Slotegrator welcomes Gjorgje Ristikj — founder and CEO of Gamblers Connect, a portal for anyone from players to operators and affiliates (and everyone in between) to stay up-to-date on the latest news, trends, brands, games, and bonuses in the iGaming industry.
In the interview, we covered the origins and goals of Gamblers Connect, as well as diving into some of the industry trends that have captured everyone’s attention and talking about the technologies Ristikj thinks are going to dominate the future of the industry.
Slotegrator: Could you tell us more about Gamblers Connect and its mission for the readers who aren’t familiar with it? What’s the Gamblers Connect story?
Gjorgje Ristikj: Throughout my 10+ years of experience in the iGaming industry, the idea was always on my mind. I simply waited for the most favourable conditions to establish an iGaming Affiliate & SEO Marketing Agency - LinkDataMedia.com. However, I took a different approach to the whole model — my idea was not just to provide services such as SEO content and affiliate marketing, but also to offer our customers the value they needed through our products. Given the incredible demand we’d witnessed around the growth of online casinos, the logical first choice was to start with our main website: Gamblersconnect.com.
It was clear to me that there would be struggles in the iGaming Affiliate industry, especially as we started with a really low budget for the whole show. But I knew that if we were driven by value, uniqueness, and innovation in the content section of the site, the industry and our clients would recognize the differences. And this was precisely the case: after only a year and a half, Gamblers Connect was awarded Casino Affiliate of the year at Affpapa Awards 2022.
S: What’s the process of selecting casinos for review? What are the key factors a company considers when choosing a casino to review, and what criteria do you use?
GR: We allow everyone to have the opportunity to be listed on our website, but depending on the brand, our conditions change. As an example, for established brands, where we are sure of their transparency, we work without a one-time setup fee.
I completely understand new brands that may not have the budget for a listing fee or had bad experiences with affiliates who just charge the listing fee and never responded. But as affiliates who depend on commissions every month, the listing fee for new brands is a kind of protection for us, considering that some operators unfortunately can’t quite be trusted.
S:There are many iGaming companies you review on a daily basis. There are a lot of unusual and exclusive games for online casinos. Can you tell us which game impressed you the most? What is the most unusual thing you have seen in the world of gambling?
GR: Well, it has to be Mega Moolah. Not only do you get a chance to win 4 different types of jackpot, but Mega Moolah is known for having the biggest jackpots ever, and it even ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the online slot with the biggest progressive jackpots. For example, once, a lucky British soldier hit the Mega jackpot and won a whopping £13.2 million.
One interesting story is how the founder of FedEx won $27,000 in blackjack. The founder of FedEx saved his company through a gambling feat in Vegas. Frederick Smith decided to fly to Vegas and risk everything he had — only $5,000. Even though in this scenario you’d normally say don’t try this at home, work, or anywhere else, Smith's gamble paid off — a classic example of big risk, big reward. Frederick’s win helped the company last long enough to raise $11 million, eventually earning its first profits in 1976.
S:Gamblers Connect is an expert in the iGaming industry. Based on your experience, describe the future of the industry from your point of view. What new technologies and changes do you see on the horizon?
GR: Seeing how things are evolving in the domain, I definitely expect more and more blockchain technologies to penetrate the affiliate world. I also expect to see a drastic increase in the number of online casinos and affiliates. Cryptocurrency transactions will become more established in online casinos. In 2023, I also expect a lot more debates on web3 technology and metaverse affiliate opportunities.
Moreover, as new technologies such as AI and immersive technologies like VR, AR, and MR become more widely adopted, I expect these innovations to spread throughout the iGaming industry as well. These technologies will be implemented to create more smart, dynamic, interactive and immersive games for the end user.
S:The active development of the smartphone market is driving the development of mobile gaming. Now it is not just entertainment, but a large segment of the gambling industry. What do you think awaits mobile games in the near future? What do you think of our one-of-a-kind Telegram Casino, which is a much easier and quicker means of getting to the games than opening a website platform from a phone?
GR: Every year the percentage of players who use their smartphones to play online casinos increases by roughly 10%. Last year the market was worth $73.42 billion, rising to $81.08 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 10.4%. By 2026, the market is expected to reach $115.13 billion, growing at a CAGR of 9.2%. With this steady increase, I expect the number of mobile games to grow, and companies to become more and more innovative.
Your solution with Telegram Casino is a real hit in the industry. The majority of players simply want to be able to play their favorite casino game at any given moment. Payments should be simple, and Telegram Casino has that with cryptocurrencies too. I expect more and more interest in this solution.
S:Cryptocurrencies are gaining in popularity every day. What does Gamblers Connect expect from this technology in the future? What new challenges and prospects does cryptocurrency bring to the industry in terms of regulation, customer engagement, security, etc.?
GR: I expect blockchain technology to bring more transparency to the affiliate domain in general. As things stand now, players’ data is tracked and collected and processed by the operator first, before being disclosed to the affiliate—in other words, trust rests with the operator to provide reliable and honest information.
With blockchain, data can be shared at the source, without going to the operator first. Blockchain technology allows for data to be immutably recorded as it happens — a written, verifiable, auditable record that cannot be changed or amended. Both operators and players can know from the outset that the data in the chain is accurate and unadulterated.
As a result, both operators and affiliates can track the data as it is recorded, knowing they are seeing verifiable information. So I’m sure that with the help of blockchain technology, trust between operators and affiliates simply will no longer be an issue, because all data is verifiably secure and accurate on the distributed ledger.
Also, with blockchain-based payouts, we can cut out the middlemen; affiliate managers can automatically and instantly send commissions straight to an affiliate’s wallet. Without the traditional accounting issues that we face today, and using digital currency and blockchain-based smart contract technology instead, delayed payouts will be a thing of the past.
S:Blockchain technology can also be used to create, for example, provably fair games. Can we assume that blockchain gambling, such as provably fair games, will be actively developed, or is it too early to talk about it? What are their perspectives?
GR: As things appear now, this is an almost ideal technology for security and anonymity, so I am sure that these games will be developed more actively.
As we all know, provable fairness is an algorithm that can independently and transparently verify the results of a game, which means players can see exactly how gameplay is processed.
Blockchain technology will let us establish fairness in every PF game by separating the player’s and casino’s outcomes. Both sides have hashed functions, which encrypt game results. These can’t be changed, and must match the outcome of any wager.
Another really big advantage of every PF game is higher RTP. Provably fair games often have RTP rates as high as 99%, giving you a 99% probability of winning.
At first, provably fair games had poor quality and features. Better games exist now. By the way, I have to commend your company for helping iGaming operators with provably fair game integration — you’re really doing a lot to highlight the importance of the technology.
S: Blockchain technology is also used to create NFTs, as well as metaverses. Do you think these blockchain-based products have a future? How actively is the gambling industry adapting to these innovations? What do you think of the concept of play-to-earn?
GR: This technology could play an important role in the development of live casino experiences. Users can expect to find a wide variety of slots and table games in the metaverse’s casinos. The degree of involvement provided by virtual reality technology will be the primary distinction between a conventional online casino game and a metaverse casino game. As VR technology gains traction in more homes worldwide, more gamblers will gravitate toward metaverse casinos for the level of immersion and variety these establishments offer.
Digital assets, including NFTs, will be a key building block of the metaverse economy. Casinos could use NFTs as rewards for players who achieve high scores or play for long periods. This would give players an incentive to keep playing and make them feel appreciated by the casino. And casinos will have many other options for using NFTs, such as betting with NFTs, giving players a share of the house edge, creating online casinos with NFTs, etc.
I'm sure that the Metaverse is the future, and along with so many inventions and advancements, it will become easier for people to experience things more realistically.