In recent years, platforms such as Netflix and Spotify have found themselves to be firm fixtures in our day-to-day lives. Whilst offering a wide array of films and music, both also draw upon artificial intelligence (AI) as a means of creating a more personalized experience.
Jason Angelides, Founder and President of Epoxy.ai, has plans to bring that personalized experience into the gambling industry. In a sit-down chat with SBC Media, Angelides outlines the ways that Epoxy.ai is making waves in the casino industry and why he believes the demand for personalization is at an all time high.
The story behind Epoxy.ai
Epoxy.ai isn’t Angelides’ first venture in the personalization space. In fact, the idea was born out of two previous companies that originated in the world of sports fan engagement.
He began: “The first company that we had was called OneTwoSee which was, essentially, a sports fan engagement platform. I’ll try to keep it really simple, but 10-12 years ago there was no easy way for sports fans to access additional information related to the teams and events they were interested in. Information was highly fragmented and not personalized for the user. OneTwoSee built a platform that took in stats and data from all over and created personalized “GameCenter” applications that allowed fans to follow games via their phone or tablet, and bring up sports stats and other information that were personalized exactly for them.
“Eventually we actually expanded this technology platform into Smart TVs and even into the paid -TV set top boxes. Prior to our acquisition, OneTwoSee was serving nearly every North American media, cable TV and Smart TV provider on the market.
In 2016, the business was sold to Comcast, who was aggressively trying to capitalize on its significant Sports Media investment. Comcast already owned NBC Sports, media rights to the Olympics, as well as a cable subscriber base of over 20 million subscribers – and shortly after our acquisition, they also bought Sky TV. Comcast then used the OneTwoSee platform to personalize the fan experience across all of its media properties.
“Essentially, at Comcast, we did for sports what Netflix has done for movies. Using our platform, users could access a portal of content that was fully-personalized based on their individual preferences. It included an integrated game center app, voice-prompted stats visualizations and personalized messaging all from your TV. “We were doing this for sports back in 2016 before anyone. Now these personalized experiences can be seen across the leading TV and Streaming platforms.”
As you might be able to guess, this wasn’t the end of the road. Instead, this paved the way for Epoxy.ai – a platform that Angelides is confident will be able to meet the personalization demands of the gambling industry.
He continued: “We learned a tremendous amount about how to use AI and ML to create personalized experiences and from that, we realized that there is a huge opportunity to apply this knowledge to the gaming industry. We decided to spin out and we took the exact same core team that we have been working with for three companies now and we applied that knowledge to the gaming industry.
“In September 2022, we launched the market’s first true one to one personalized sports offering. The next progression was to work out how we can take that same logic and apply it to casino.”
In recent years, we’ve seen somewhat of a shift in focus across the gambling industry, with many looking to create an entertainment-led experience, rather than one that is simply transactional.
For Angelides, this focus on entertainment is a “natural step” for the gambling industry, and one that can be significantly improved by the adoption of personalization software.
He said: “If you think about it, casino and sports betting are both forms of entertainment. They’re all interrelated, right? Watching TV and consuming media is very tied to gaming. We’re coming at this from a broader entertainment and media perspective as opposed to just a pure gambling side of things. I think that’s one of the differentiators for us.”
“We are looking at all of the data around what makes an entertainment experience and then helping to coordinate that. A lot of people who bet on sports also bet on casino. So, bringing those two together and adding that additional element of personalization, for us, was just a logical transition.”
If we look at the US market in particular, being able to place a bet is simply not enough anymore. Players are demanding more from their wagering experience.
Recently, we have seen big-name brands such as FanDuel, DraftKings and Fanatics all turn their attention towards the creation of content. As such, this creates a more well-rounded experience.
But is this convergence of gambling and media something that should have happened a long time ago? For Angelides, the answer is not so simple. He added: “We’re seeing that the leading companies are stacking these different entertainment options together, and merging them into one holistic entertainment experience.
“Should we have done this a while ago? I think that the technology needed to evolve to a point where those experiences were possible. It’s only right now that the ability to connect all these forms of entertainment is coming to fruition. That’s where we come in.”
Rolling out personalized content is no small feat, he continued, noting that sportsbooks and casino operators alike really have to consider the differences in player preferences, behaviors, wider industry trends and – most importantly – technological requirements.
“We see the gaming industry as being like any other industry that has adopted personalization; there is a huge demand for this level of personalization. From a technology perspective, personalization has been nascent,” Angelides noted.
“For us, we chose to apply those same methodologies that we learned from our previous companies and bring that to the gambling industry. To achieve this, there are three things you need to do. The first thing you have to do is understand your customer. Epoxy.ai provides the tools that do that. We give you a 360 degree look at their behavior by looking at data, looking at each players’ different aspects of them.
“The second thing you need to do is you need to make recommendations to those bettors based on what we know about them. Once you’ve made a recommendation, the third thing you need to do is to expand that personalization. You want to continue connecting an individual to other things that they might be interested in. That’s where the third piece of our solution comes in.”
Casino: the time is now
Talk soon turned towards Epoxy.ai’s foray into the online casino space, and the launch of its iCasino solution which aims to deliver a more personalized gaming experience for igaming bettors.
By taking the lessons Epoxy.ai has learnt from the sports betting space and applying this to the casino sector, Angelides believes that his company will be able to fill the gap for personalization. As the saying goes, there’s no better time than the present.
He explained: “Now really is the right time for us to enter the casino space. I think it’s also the right time for the industry to benefit from our iCasino solutions. Everyone is well aware of the fact that casino generates much, much higher margins.
“If you follow the progression of online casino in the US which is where we’re based, sportsbooks came first which was logical. It’s a lot harder to set up a sportsbook. We knew that we’d be able to adapt our models when the time was right for a casino.
“Right now, there is a pretty significant emphasis across the board, both in the United States and the rest of the world, to focus on casino because of the profitability. The market is ripe for differentiation. Everyone is focused on casino, and it’s a dramatically underserved market from personalization.”
In a similar fashion to what Epoxy.ai has achieved with sports betting, Angelides really wanted to prioritize the entertainment factor within online casino.
Drawing inspiration from platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify, Epoxy.ai’s iCasino solution will aim to deliver a personalized experience for casino players by making suggestions based on preferences.
There are some key differences between casinos and the streaming platforms we use in our day-to-day lives, however. Angelides continued: “With casino, quite often you’re playing a lot of the same games over and over again. So how do you personalize that? You have the presentation layer so you can figure out how to change the visuals and how you present the content to your players.
“You can change the organization of the content based on AI logic, things like history, popularity based on similarity of games, how the games perform from a mechanics perspective. Then you can actually adjust the AI logic to help create more loyalty with a customer and to support responsible gambling practices,
“The player just sees a front-end casino lobby. But what’s behind the scenes is about 100 data points about that game. All of those data points are what we use to draw correlations and similarities and that gives us a capability to personalize to your user.”
The best platform gets the player
During the chat with SBC Media, the tables turned somewhat when Angelides decided to become the interviewer, asking “why do you use the streaming platforms that you do?”
After a few moments to think, we tried to rattle off some reasons such as film availability, a wide range of songs, the ability to download content to view offline. And while all of these factors were valid, it all boiled down to one main reason: the platforms are the best on the market.
The reasons these platforms have established themselves as leaders is because of their overall experience. And when applying this to the casino space, Angelides encouraged operators to do the same – create a more personalized experience that is tailored to individual bettors.
This, he emphasized, is what will keep players coming back. At a time of skyrocketing player acquisition costs, this is something to pay attention to.
He said: “We all know there’s very, very little differentiation between sportsbook and casino products. But better products that provide better experiences will, by definition, create more loyalty.
“The other factor to consider when looking at how to use AI as a means of driving retention is that all of the data that we collect and use can go back into your acquisition modeling and your CRM system. We can take that data and say ‘Look, this is your most profitable customer, this is the customer view, here are the characteristics of that customer’.
“When our partners then go to do an ad buy, they can use that data to reduce their overall ad spend, because they’re going to get a higher yield. When I have a customer, I can retain them more because I understand their user behaviors.
“We can do things like term prediction, volatility analysis, abuse analysis and even flag up anybody that might have a problem. All of that data gets used to help create this differentiated experience that actually reduces cost.”
As you can probably guess from this interview, Angelides is very much of the opinion that personalization really is the way forward for the gambling industry. And from discussions that he’s been having with many industry stakeholders, this appears to be a view shared by many.
But while many are open to embracing personalization, there is still a long way to go when it comes to ensuring that each operator – whether that be casino or sportsbook – has the technical capabilities to create an experience that is tailored to each bettor.
One thing is for certain, however, and that is personalization will likely play a significant role in the development of new and existing gambling products.
Angelides concluded: “The demand for differentiation and personalization is higher than it’s ever been. It is incredibly important for all the reasons we mentioned before – cost of acquisition, drive for profitability, drive for differentiation. The standards in the market have changed dramatically in the last few years. We see this as something that is critically important.”