Sizzling Slots first to market with Island Bet mobile betting platform
Gassan Azan and business partner Adam Epstein have rolled out a mobile betting platform, IslandBet.com, beating out lottery company Supreme Ventures, which has been touting its plans for more than a year.
Island Bet, a tech start-up and bookmaker, was introduced back in September 2015. It allows Jamaicans to place bets from their mobile devices "simply by connecting to the website with a registered account," Epstein told the Financial Gleaner.
So far, IslandBet.com allows bets in more than 50 international sports betting markets and has upwards of 1,000 users, Epstein said.
He was mum on the investment but said the company outsourced some aspects of the platform's development to an overseas entity.
Island Bet is operated by Sizzling Slots, a gaming company co-owned by Epstein and Azan. The partners are working on a downloadable version of the betting site eventually but for now, gamers log on to the site to make wagers.
"Currently it's a web-developed software. The downloadable version should be ready in two months," said Epstein. "The reason we went web first is that all smartphones can access the Internet, but only specific phones can download from Android or iOS," he said.
To start betting, persons log on to the website and create an account using "a piece of government-issued identification."
Gamers then visit an Island Bet agent location and present their identification, which is matched back to their account.
"Then you can load your account and go and bet from anywhere at any time, at your leisure," the businessman said. "The winnings go straight back into your registered account. Then, you can go to any one of the top-up locations and extract the funds from the account," he said.
Supreme Ventures has been working on its project for about two years. Last October, the lottery and gaming company announced a US$1-million upgrade of its sports betting software with partners Intralot.
The gaming company installed a new integrated platform called IFLEX, which heralded the company's long-touted addition of social space gaming and entertainment. IFLEX also paved the way for Supreme Venture's mobile gaming platform, which the company said at the time is "coming soon".
Meantime, Sizzling Slots said it first rolled out its betting site through Island Bet Sports Lounge at 100 Hope Road, Kingston, and the Island Bet terminal at Mosino Gaming Lounge in Montego Bay.
With Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission bookmaking approvals, the company plans to eventually grow its agent/top-up locations to 1,000, all sporting the Island Bet brand. Twenty-five are already operational, Epstein said.
"I'm working on 186 more Island Bet agent locations (now). We have 25 that have gone live already, but we are waiting on 100 [to open] by next week. Then two weeks after that, I'm adding another 285 agents," he said.
Simultaneous with its Jamaica plans, Sizzling Slot aims to go regional through Island Bet.
"We are currently in talks with several different regional governments, so we are just going through the necessary protocols in order to get approvals there," said Epstein.
"Working in the development stage opened my eyes to the possibilities of not only what technology can bring to the betting industry in Jamaica, but also the neighbouring islands of the Caribbean."