Keys to a Successful Casino Migration: An Interview with Galit Shani-Michel
Galit Shani-Michel, VP Product and Technology at Aspire Global, has been responsible for the migration of six casino brands in the past few months. We met Galit to learn more about the new trend for casino operators to upgrade their solutions to complete service packages, and exactly how the process works.
Tell us about your previous roles and the responsibilities of your current position.
I entered the industry back in 2006 as Fraud Department Manager at Playtech. It was an amazing introduction to iGaming, based on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua. I then moved to payment processing company SafeCharge as Head of Risk, before joining Aspire Global in 2009 as Payments Director.
Later I became VP Payments and Compliance, assuming responsibility for the Payout and Risk Department and regulatory compliance. This prepared me for my current role by giving me a deep understanding of players’ expectations and regulators’ demands. The Product and Technology Division at Aspire Global comprises four main departments. Product is responsible for our roadmap, ensuring that our partners and players enjoy the best possible experience. Planning and executing projects are also at the core of achieving successful migrations.
R&D develops our product and conducts QA to ensure the optimal functioning of our systems. In a migration process in Gaming, the client migrates his data from platform X to our platform. R&D are involved when migrating the new data, transferring it to our DB, updating it accordingly, and performing QA.
The Payments Department processes both business and player transactions, such as deposits and withdrawals. Payment methods are continually optimised to ensure successful deposits and minimise fraud. For a migration project this is crucial, as players always look for their preferred banking methods.
Finally, our Regulation Department ensures that our product and entire business are fully compliant with the legal requirements of all our markets. When migrating a website, it’s crucial to work closely with the relevant regulatory bodies, following all guidelines to the letter to mitigate risk.
How do you feel your previous experience has prepared you to supervise migration projects?
Coming from the operational side, my knowledge of player behaviour helps me understand what they are looking for. The goal is maintaining activity levels after migration and this means collaborating with all departments, guiding them through the whole process under the leadership of the Product and Project teams.
Until the beginning of this year, Aspire Global specialised in launching new brands rather than migrating existing sites. What made you focus on migration? Is this a totally new direction for the company?
We’re continually opening new brands, offering our ‘one-stop shop’ service to new operators and
white labels – our migration activities complement this core business.
Many established casinos lack certain services and must outsource them to several different companies. Our complete solution enables them to maintain their current position, player base and income streams by upgrading the operational side, without starting everything from scratch. In a nutshell, this allows them to focus on what they do best – acquisition – while we handle everything else.
Some of our partners are even choosing to open a new brand prior to migrating one or more existing sites. Six migrations in six months have given us the experience and expertise to grow this area of the business rapidly.
Why do you think migration is becoming more popular? How has the iGaming market changed?
It used to be much easier to operate a pro table online casino. The industry was new, with fewer operators and numerous available markets.
It was also possible to work under one global license, but today an operator must hold various local licenses, a challenge in terms of cost and knowledge. Taxation has also impacted revenues, forcing operators to adjust business models with significant resource implications.
IT sounds so simple. Is there anything holding operators back from migrating their brands?
Operators are naturally protective of their brands – they’ve worked hard to make them successful and want to keep it that way. They might worry about technical problems that could prevent users from logging in and playing, leading to churn or reduced activity.
It’s natural to be cautious about change. You’re making a big decision that affects not only you, but the business you care about, and there’s no way to be sure of success until you do it. Then, of course, you look back and don’t understand why you were so scared in the first place!
How do you work with a client to address any fears concerning migration?
We work closely with each partner from day one, discussing their challenges and expectations, while customising our solution to address them. We explain what we do, how we do it, and why we are a good it. Our operators are our partners – our goal is to reach our targets together through strong day-to-day relationships.
We believe in transparency, so each partner has full confidence in the process, and we’re acutely sensitive to any concerns. Detailed simulations outline internal scenarios and solutions for every potential problem.
Our player migration plan, worked out with the operator, covers everything from the pre-migration notification cycle through to launch and beyond. Together we determine the KPIs that demonstrate success and ensure that each one is fulfilled.
How do you measure the success of a migration?
On the players’ side, it’s about improved all-round experience – heat-maps demonstrate how an upgraded site enables simpler journeys, and players are often happy to feedback on the fresh look and feel new games, availability of support, offers and bonuses, ease of access and navigability, and simplicity of defining limits and preferences.
For operators, immediate success is measured by maintaining pre-migration activity levels, establishing a solid basis for improving overall performance.
What’s next for Aspire Global?
Having established ourselves as migration experts, we’re planning increased activity in this area, and we’re very excited about the numerous new brands planning to join us.
We’re currently focusing on a wider offering of games plus additional payment methods and new features. We’ll also soon be adding sports betting, allowing our operators to provide an even richer iGaming offering.
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