Online casinos and sports betting are prohibited in many countries – but not in Belarus. She was the first to legalize them in the CIS, and the Grandcasino.by gambling platform became one of the first market participants. Why the team has been preparing for its launch for a year and a half, what difficulties have become points of growth and what myths this area is shrouded in, says the director of the company Andrey Dvoretskov.
– Online casinos and sports betting are serious business. Entrepreneurs who decide to make big money quickly and without problems by opening a gambling platform are disappointed in this area. And clients, due to unfounded fears, deprive themselves of pleasure and, oddly enough, the opportunity to receive an increase in the basic income.
Myth 1: “It’s easy”
Grandcasino.by was born almost like legendary startups of top companies – a couple of people caught fire with the idea. Now we employ more than 40 professionals, and it was extremely difficult to find them, especially in such a specific area. In addition to Belarusian specialists, the team included international experts with solid experience in the field of online gambling and betting. So Grandcasino.by is an explosive mix of “young creators” and “veterans” of the industry.
We started preparation on April 1, 2019, and for almost a year and a half we went through examinations, certifications and approvals. This is monotonous and painstaking work, countless consultations with lawyers and specialists in the field of IT, gambling, information security … Check it out for yourself – this is what you need to open a legal gambling platform:
1. Software. Online literally everything depends on him. It is not necessary to create your own software, there are enough options on the market. Choosing a platform, we were looking for the most reliable foundation that meets world standards, so we took a boxed solution from one of the world leaders in the field of gambling – BetConstruct.
Since one of the most important tasks of the platform is to prevent the leakage of personal data of players and their game stories, the platform of a virtual gambling establishment must be located on the territory of Belarus and comply with stringent legal requirements.
We have been building the security and protection system of the client platform for six months. The software uses advanced encryption methods for information, including communication channels with players. Data leaks and hacks with this level of protection are excluded.
2. License. To obtain it, you need confirmation from a specially created interdepartmental expert commission. It verifies compliance with the requirements of both information protection legislation and the Ministry of Taxes and Duties.
The examination takes 45 days. This is a test of the virtual datacenter that hosts the virtual gambling establishment. IT experts “dissected” the software of the gambling platform, looked for gaps and vulnerabilities, checked it for compliance with republican and global IT standards.
Each game has been and is being certified, and we have over 400 of them. The gambling monitoring center checks whether international standards are not at variance with Belarusian legislation. It is impossible to change the game or change the program code – everything is controlled by the regulator. So the fears of those who believe that the casino can influence the outcome of the event in the game are absolutely groundless.
3. Special account. To open an online casino, you need to have on a special account an amount of at least 96,000 base units to ensure that customers are paid their winnings – which is about $ 1 million.
4. Payment system. You need bank accounts in Belarus to organize acquiring and receive payments from customers. In an ordinary “land-based” casino there is a cash desk, and online we offer a much wider choice of methods for transferring funds:
Payment cards Visa, Mastercard, Belcard
IPay and BPay payment systems
SMS payment from MTS and Life users.
Clients’ money is transferred to a gaming deposit account with a bank. The platform stores only information about the deposit. Simply put, the funds do not leave the player’s bank account, and only the equivalent is credited to the platform.
I would like to emphasize that in illegal casinos and bookmakers, funds from the deposit are often not returned to a blocked client. We, like other legal gambling establishments, have a whole procedure that guarantees a refund.
Myth 2: “This is a magnet for scammers”
To some extent, this statement is true, but not at all from the point of view, as the average person perceives.
The online gambling and betting sphere in Belarus is controlled by the Gambling Monitoring Center. The account of the game turnover is kept by the Special Computer Cash Register System (SCS).
Surely everyone already knows that before April 1, virtual bookmakers, sweepstakes and casinos had to receive the status of a virtual gambling establishment and a license – or block the participants’ access to their websites and personal accounts. Working in this area without a license is fraught with a large fine or even criminal liability – in this regard, I fully support the regulator.At Grandcasino.by, from the very first steps, we adhered to the principle of fair play in everything, therefore, what we “harnessed” for a long time and did not try to follow light “gray” schemes, now allowed us to break into the leaders.
After all the stages of certification and attestation, we cannot make even minor changes to the security system. Any new “feature” requires re-examination. For example, about 85% of our customers use smartphones to play, and therefore the Grandcasino.by website is maximally adapted for gadgets. It is not profitable to create a mobile application – you will have to certify each patch. And if it suddenly turns out that we have turned on uncertified software made “on the knee” in China, the application will be instantly blocked.
Regarding the “magnet for fraudsters” I will add one more important note: as I have already explained, cheating on the part of the gambling platform is out of the question, but we have to fight off attacks from the outside from time to time.
Ensuring the safety of customers is a huge job, not only before the launch of the gambling platform, but also throughout its entire existence:
An online casino in Belarus should have a risk management unit. The tasks of its specialists primarily include checking the identity of users – for example, their age. Online casino customers can only be persons over 21 years old, and the account can only be used by the person who has passed the registration. There was a case when our specialists saw a woman over 50-60 in the number of clients, and a guy named Petya answered the phone support service … If we notice such discrepancies, we immediately block the game account and conduct an investigation
- Another task of “risk takers” is to detect fraud, which is easy to see by the deviations in the client’s game, in particular, suspicious activity that is very different from the standard game. In such cases, the “risk-takers” send a request to the customer support department to call the client and clarify how he played and whether there were any problems. This is how we identify, among other things, the work of computer fraudsters who use special software in the game.
Our platform is protected from standard hacker attacks and DDoS attacks by the information security department. These specialists investigate everything that negatively affects the operation of the business: from banal blackouts to internal security issues. In the event of a conflict within the company or externally with the client, an investigation is conducted. Sometimes clients try to link their losses with our alleged “dishonest work”, write complaints to various authorities. So, in 100% of the proceedings, the truth is established – and this is due to strict technical control over our work by the state.
All player actions in the game are stored with us for 5 years, videos in live games – about 30 days. Any action of the client is recorded in our office and in the Ministry of Taxes and Duties through SKKS.
Finally, to the frequent question about whether employees play on our platform, I will answer “no”, they are strictly prohibited.
Myth 3: “This is super profitable”
The legislator has established that every game in an online casino must give the client at least 92% of the winnings. Next comes mathematics and probability theory. Of course, we do not work for “thanks” – on a long stretch with a decent number of clients, the more people “at the moment” play, the more these percentages are distributed to the number of players.
I don’t think it’s worth explaining how interested we are in our customers becoming more and more. Therefore, the support service regularly informs players about new bonuses and “goodies”. Our commercials and billboards have become an integral part of the cityscape. Information about us and our activities regularly appears on reputable Internet resources, we are in the top three on bookmaker-ratings.by. And this is a success.
With the launch of sports betting, we have brought clients one of the largest lines of sports events on one platform, truly impressive odds and tempting welcome bonuses. The level of trust in our gambling platform is growing, we are constantly working to reduce the time for withdrawing winnings to the client. Compared to competitors, according to this indicator, Grandcasino.by is one of the best.
And yet why are we in the game
The first month of our work fell on August 2020, on the eve of the presidential elections. By the time of the launch on August 3, we were on an incredible emotional uplift, but then there were interruptions in the Internet in Minsk. It was tragicomic to launch an online casino in the absence of the Internet, but honestly having gone such a long way, we simply had no moral right to lose fighting spirit.
Already in December, we caught up with the main competitors in terms of the number of slot games, and now we have launched sports betting. At the moment, there are more than 400 slot games on Grandcasino.by. Few gambling platforms can boast that many. We were the first to present Belarusians with a legal opportunity to play the cult slots of the NOVOMATIC provider and the insanely popular “Cannon” game.
In a short period of time, we have covered a path that for many takes more than one year. Now we are not just a casino or a betting platform. We are rapidly moving beyond these two concepts with a variety of gaming tools and approaches to providing a wide variety of entertainment options for our client.
Plans: ready for big competition
The online gambling and betting market in Belarus has not yet been fully formed and for this reason is largely unpredictable. According to my information, many entrepreneurs from foreign countries want to open an online casino in Belarus. And this, in my opinion, is facilitated by the reasonably demanding, but rather liberal legislation of our country. In Belarus, the gambling business tax is 4%, and in Ukraine – over 18%. I’m not even talking about Western countries, where everything is much worse in this regard. In Russia, casinos are generally prohibited.
We are expanding the number of directions. Now it is a casino, sports betting, an online game “Cannon”, a lottery “Keno”. And since the Belarusian market is somehow limited, we are already thinking about attracting clients from other countries. First of all, we are considering the CIS.
The plans are ambitious, but first we need to strengthen our position in Belarus, provide our people with high-quality, international content. I am confident in the bright future of Belarusian online gambling and betting. The gambling platform Grandcasino.by is a bright innovative confirmation of this!