The online gambling market is thriving and there is no better time to set up a gaming company. But the process from start to finish can be a bit daunting. In this article Fast Offshore will take you through the process, giving you all you need to know about establishing your first gaming business.
Business Planning for your Gaming Company
So you’ve been nurturing the idea of setting up a gaming company and you’re ready to take the first steps. Before you get carried away or start setting up legal entities, you need to do some serious business planning.
- GOALS: Your business plan should start with your goals, what you want to achieve, and how. It should also drill down into who your target markets are, where they are located, what they are interested in, and of course, what kind of games they are into.
- COMPETITORS: This is also a good time to check out the competition. See who else in the gaming business is offering a similar concept to yours. Look at regional and international competitors, as well as those that are offering products like yours. Try to find a niche that is currently not being served or find a competitive advantage that will differentiate you from those that are already established. The online gambling industry is a huge, international market and there is a range of demographic groups that all have specific preferences. Do you want to offer eSports to the Latin American market or slots and lotto to the EU? All of this needs to be carefully considered before you move onto the next step.
- COMPANY NAME: Once you have established this, you need to pick a name for your gaming company. Make sure the domain is available, buy it and consider registering trademarks and copyrights relating to your new brand. This will prevent someone else from coming along and taking your idea, or coincidentally launching a similar concept before you.
- Figure out your goals
- Who are your clients? What do they want?
- Compare the markets to find the best fit for you
- Decide on the games you will offer on your site
- Check out the competition and find your niche and/or competitive advantages
- Name your business
- Figure out if there are any necessary trademarks and copyright protection to register
Consider your Finances and Set Up a Budget
In addition to this, decide on your budget for set up and a reasonable deadline for going live. This will help you decide on which gaming license is best for your needs based on a range of factors. Which license you opt for may also have some influence on the kinds of games you will be offering. These usually include live casino, online betting, esports, poker, bingo, lotto, online casino, and slots.
Last but not least, you need to think about how you will maintain your business in the long run. As you grow and take on more clients, you will find you don’t have time to dedicate to behind-the-scenes matters. Reporting, filing, renewals, compliance, and regulatory obligations are all serious matters and should be managed by an experienced professional.
Set up a Budget for your Gaming Company
Back at the business plan stage, you should have already given some consideration to your budget. Knowing how much you can afford to spend is important as this will have a direct impact on your profitability in the first months and even years. Setting up an online gaming company can come with lots of costs- some of which you probably haven’t even thought of. Here are some ideas to help you set realistic and achievable goals, as well as efficiently manage your budget.
The setup costs are what it will cost you to get your gaming business up and running. These usually include, but are not limited to:
- Legal fees
- Corporate service provider fees
- Company incorporation
- Hardware and software licensing set up
- Gaming license fees
- Required capital
- Merchant account set up costs
- Office rent and set up
- Staff hiring
- Pre-launch marketing
- Website design and integrations
- Domain purchase and hosting
- App development
- Compliance fees
- Other certifications where applicable.
Once you’ve paid out for the initial costs, you need to factor in ongoing fees and maintenance. Firstly consider practical costs such as renting an office space, staff salaries, electricity and water, office supplies, insurance, software provider fees, marketing, and costs relating to maintenance of your license and company.
The best practice is to set a budget that will cover the first 1-2 years of operation and go from there.
Do your homework
When considering your budget, you also need to ascertain how much profit you think you can realistically make in the first year. Set a figure for how many transactions you think you will facilitate, what currencies and payment methods you will accept, and how many customers you hope to have.
Additionally, you should set an average purchase price based on research into the market and what other companies are achieving.
Choose a Corporate Services Provider
Once you have a clear idea of what your new gaming company venture will look like, what your goals are, which are your target markets and the type of services you’d like to offer, it’s time to appoint a corporate services provider.
There are countless providers out there, but not all are going to be suited to your needs. Keep in mind that they will vary in quality of service, price, attention to detail, professionalism, experience, services offered, and location-specific factors as well.
When choosing a service provider, consider the following points:
EXPERIENCE: Ideally, your service provider should have at least a decade of experience in your preferred jurisdiction. They should also have over a decade of experience in the iGaming sector. General experience isn’t enough – they must have hands-on, local knowledge of the licensing process, compliance matters, and corporate considerations. Fast Offshore, for example, has over 23 years of corporate and iGaming experience in the world’s leading online gambling jurisdictions.
TRANSPARENCY: Choose a provider that is transparent about the services they offer, which products you need, and how much they charge. Some unscrupulous providers will offer you the lowest quotation possible and then charge you additionally for add-ons that you don’t need and didn’t ask for. Don’t let yourself be misled- always ask for a breakdown of costs and question each one before signing anything.
CUSTOMIZATION: Does your service provider give you the option to create a customized package? Every client is different and your provider should offer the opportunity to pick the services that suit you. The quote should include everything you asked for, as well as everything necessary to operate.
RESPONSIVENESS: Does the service provider respond to your needs efficiently and promptly? Or do they leave you calling without a response and with your emails unanswered? You need a partner that will put you first, ensuring the lines of communication are always open. They should also ensure that your requests are dealt with within a reasonable amount of time.
Form a Legal Entity for your Gaming Company
Once you have all the background work completed, it is time to get the corporate ball rolling. Setting up the corporate entity- usually, a company is next on your ‘to-do’ list. It is no good just picking any jurisdiction to incorporate your gaming company in. You need to consider if the regulations in that country suit your needs, what the applicable licensing environment is like, and of course fiscal considerations.
CORPORATE SERVICE PROVIDER: A smart idea is to engage an experienced iGaming Services provider such as Fast Offshore, to help you weigh the pros and cons of each location. Once you have decided on the one that is best for you, the process of collecting the right documents and submitting to due diligence processes can begin.
Be aware that some countries regulate online gambling in-country, and some have banned it within their jurisdictions. Others lack regulations completely, so you need to make sure that your jurisdiction of choice allows you to carry out the activities you want.
OFFSHORE JURISDICTIONS: If you decide to opt for an offshore betting company, the most popular jurisdictions are Curacao, Kahnawake, Malta and Isle of Man. Each of these jurisdictions has different obligations when it comes to company incorporation, time frames, costs, and requirements. Make sure to discuss all of these variables with your corporate services provider.
Once you have your gaming company set up, you need to make sure you stay on top of maintenance and ongoing obligations. These include filing, reports, statement and compliance and can vary greatly between jurisdictions.
Choosing a Software Platform
Now the fun begins. Once you have all of the corporate matters being taken care of by Fast Offshore, you need to turn your attention to what games provider you will use on your online gambling platform.
There is a wide range of software and game providers out there. They range from high-end and super expensive, to basic games or platforms with a lower price point. You need to ascertain your price point and be sure to balance what you pay with what level of quality you want to offer your players.
Making sure that the software is legitimate and reputable, as well as having popular games is key to making a good decision.
But your gaming company also requires other kinds of software, not just gaming software. Here are some key questions you should be asking yourself when you get to the stage of considering software for your new venture.
- Do you need a CMS? If so, what features do you require?
- Will you use a Customer Relationship Management system?
- What about a game management system?
- How will you manage promotions and bonuses to your clients?
- What type of payments platform are you planning to use?
- Do you intend on offering different payment methods including cryptocurrency?
- Will you require reporting software to pull off analytics on revenue, clients, retention, game popularity etc?
- How do you intend on protecting your customers from hacks, fraud, and security breaches?
- Do you intend on working with affiliates? If so, you’ll need software to manage them
- What about an email platform to handle customer service and promotional emails?
- Do you plan on offering tech support to your clients?
These might seem like tough questions to answer, particularly for a startup gaming business but thankfully your iGaming Services Provider will be able to assist. Fast Offshore has been working in iGaming for over two decades and has a vast network of trusted companies that can provide all of these services and more. With a focus on software that is reliable, reputable, and flexible, we are on hand to offer suggestions and guidance for you at this stage.
Register for taxes
Tax is one of the least enjoyable aspects of setting up a business but it is a necessary consideration for law-abiding operators.
How much tax you pay and if you even pay tax at all will depend on where your gambling company is incorporated. Some jurisdictions have an income tax and gaming tax, others none at all. Your corporate service provider will be able to advise what your fiscal liabilities are in the jurisdiction you have chosen.
Think about Your Business Security
The security of your site as well as you and your client’s data should be of paramount importance. This is not something that you can or should attempt to manage yourself. Instead, it’s wise to onboard the services of a reliable company that will provide your user’s data and keep it out of the hands of fraudsters.
Depending on the jurisdiction your gaming business is located in, you may have security obligations that are required as a part of operating there. These can include KYC policies, due diligence, underage gaming policies, a verification process for each user, and compliance with anti-money laundering legislation.
Furthermore, your website should be encrypted as a standard, as should all communications between you and your customers.
Website Creation for your Gaming Business
Your website is perhaps one of the most important parts of your business. It is the first thing your clients will see and if you don’t get it right, they will go elsewhere. The website must be attractive, modern, easy to navigate, and of superior quality. After all, it is the face of your gaming company. Make sure it looks nice, works well, and is different from other companies that offer similar gambling experiences. A failsafe way of ensuring your site is up to scratch is by employing a UX expert to make sure it’s user friendly and intuitive.
Another key consideration is how the website displays on mobiles and tablets. A growing number of gamblers are using mobiles and tablets to access online gambling sites. If your site is not optimized for these devices, those users will go elsewhere and are unlikely to return. Loading time is very important to players, as well as search engines who take this into account when ranking you.
Lastly, take great care to properly integrate the front end of your site with the backend. The transfer from the website to the payments platform and provider’s game page should be seamless. The entire process should be smooth, including the back and front end, payment page, in-software communications, emails, etc.
Open settlement accounts and select payment options
Ensuring you can get paid and make payments is crucial to your gaming company. Therefore you need to set up a settlement account and a network of payment methods for your gaming business.
You should be providing your players with multiple payment options including credit and debit card, bank transfer, ePayment providers, and cryptocurrency. There are lots of providers out there so you have to find ones that are widely used and offer favourable terms and usage conditions. Doing so enables your customers to make quick and easy transactions through a method that is convenient for them.
Your corporate service provider should be able to help you get even better corporate and merchant accounts with favourable rates and terms, as well as help you set up the accounts. Remember, they have been working with most of the leading names for decades.
Set Up Business Accounting
Regardless of the jurisdiction, your gaming business is located in, you will have to have business accounting in place. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts is not only best practice but it’s the best way to ascertain the health of your company and platform. It will also greatly simplify your annual tax filing if this is something you’re required to do.
Thankfully, most good corporate service providers can offer business accounting services as a part of ongoing maintenance. Matters relating to reporting, filing, and accounting can be handled by a trusted partner, or in collaboration with your in-house team.
Staff Search for your Gaming Business
So you’ve taken care of the company formation, games, website, and accounting but who is going to make your gaming company tick? It’s now time to hire staff.
As a startup, you need to find a selection of highly qualified and experienced individuals that can manage your business. They should also be able to train up your other team members. Most likely, you will require at the very least, professional experts in the following:
- Customer Service
- Fraud Management
- Payment Processing
Under each of these senior-level individuals will be a team comprising experienced and less-experienced individuals. Through this multi-layer approach, you’ll have the necessary human resources needed to keep your gaming business running smoothly.
But having a great team isn’t just about qualifications and experience. You need to be sure that everyone is in-line with your vision, goals, culture, rules, and of course, the industry. Build a company culture that is open and informative, make ongoing development a core part of your ethos.
Set up your Key Performances Indicators for every department, make sure each team understands them and tracks them properly so your company can move fast and optimize your strategies when you spot a problem. Also, make sure your team understands what sets you apart from others.
Marketing Tips for Your Gaming Business
Now that you have set up all the other important aspects of your Gaming Business, you need to focus on getting the word out about your Gaming Business. A sound marketing strategy will help you connect with potential customers, keep existing clients interested, enhance your reputation, and of course, boosting your sales.
You’ll need to come up with a marketing plan, learn what your competitors are doing, establish your competitive advantage(s), define your corporate identity, design special offers based on your audience needs, promote your services throughout the different channels, incentivize customer loyalty, identify your top clients and keep a close look at your numbers to ensure you are meeting your company’s KPIs.
Before you decide on any strategy, you need to study your competitors. At this point, you should have already carried out extensive research to see what market leaders are doing.
Look at your competitors from a potential customer perspective. Try their product, go over their Customer Journey and ask yourself; where are they failing? What could we do better? This is where you need to focus your efforts- on doing what others can’t. Find your competitive advantage, create a unique offering and fill the gap in the market, you can create a truly enhanced product.
How you visually market your gaming company is very important. Based on your target audience, you need to pick a simple but desirable logo, a tag line, a colour scheme and a voice for your company.
Be consistent, ensure your user experience is seamless from beginning to end. From the fonts, colours and content on your website to the imagery and design on your emails and general communications, to banners and marketing materials used to promote your brand on other websites.
Have a Proper CRM System in Place
A good way of keeping on top of your marketing successes and fails is by implementing a Customer Relationship Management system or CRM. This means you can collect data on users, get to know them, know their gaming patterns and preferences, their preferred payment methods, their average betting size, etc.
It should also allow you to keep your customer’s contact details, date of birthday, exceptions granted, special notes for your team and much more.
You should take steps to identify your most profitable customers and figure out how to keep them happy. Creating a dedicated VIP team to take care of them by sending them gifts is a great way of building brand loyalty.
It’s worth getting their feedback on new products, letting them test beta versions, and listening to what they have to say.
Bonuses, Freebies and Loyalty Programs
There’s a myriad of tools to attract signups and retain your clientele, according to the type of gaming business you are in. You can offer signup and redeposit bonuses, as well as limited-time offers based on special events or occasions. You may also offer free spins, free chips, tournaments, social media challenges, contests, rebates or cash backs… the list is endless.
It is also recommended to create a loyalty programme that rewards existing players for positive behaviours. You can award them with points based on the size of their deposits, their betting volume, social media actions, challenges accomplished, and much more. The rewards can include cash, free bets, spins, deposit matches, or simply points that can be exchanged for branded merchandise and products of their interest.
However, you must pay close attention to your terms and conditions. Make sure your bonuses are structured properly, that they are transparent, contain all the necessary details and that they are not misleading. Once you’ve upset a customer, they will likely tell others and cause damage to your efforts.
You also need to think about how you will reach out to potential, current, and future clients. What methods will you utilise? SEO, SEM, email marketing, in-software tools, text messaging, push notifications, sales calls, affiliates, paid advertising campaigns, are some of the most popular ways of contacting users but there are other things you should consider as well. Social media marketing, forums, press releases, sponsorships, gaming directories, networking, article writing are all great ways of reaching current and potential customers.
Customer Support for your Gaming Business
Efficient customer service is a key component of a successful gaming company. If you don’t respond to your client’s needs or resolve their issues quickly, they will go elsewhere. In some cases, failing to offer good customer service can find you on the wrong side of your licensing authority too.
To obtain a truly outstanding level of customer service:
- Offer round-the-clock customer service, 365 days a year
- Provide a variety of different communication channels. These should include email, phone, and webchat
- Run periodic quality assurance checks to ensure your standards are maintained
- Conduct regular surveys and use customer’s feedback to improve your service and tools
- Adhere to best practices to be fair, honest, and transparent
- Be clear with your rules and make them easily accessible
- Provide manuals, guides, how-to, and FAQ sections and ensure they are regularly reviewed
- Be transparent with bonuses and offers, how they are calculated and how users can withdraw money
- Ensure your CS representatives are fully aware of your marketing promotions as well as their terms and conditions BEFORE they are launched.
- Keep an open channel with your players, listen to what they are saying, and know how to respond appropriately
- Don’t keep your players waiting. Always acknowledge them immediately, even if a proper response may take a little more time.
Contact Us to Start Your Gaming Company Today
Fast Offshore has worked in the gaming business for over 23 years. During that time we’ve assisted with incorporation of gaming companies, right through the business, fiscal, and licensing matters. To draw on our experience and to benefit from our advice, contact us today to find out more.
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