Ruslan Bangert: How PokerMatch International is building on the successes of 2021
While 2021 was filled with many challenges for the betting and gaming industry, PokerMatch International CEO Ruslan Bangert believes that this was the company’s ‘best year yet’ and hopes that this success will continue into 2022 and beyond.
Speaking to SBC News, Bangert outlined the key areas for growth over the next 12 months, highlighting that newly regulated markets and freshly signed partnerships will help strengthen the PokerMatch International brand.
SBC: 2021 was a year filled with ups and downs. What was the stand-out moment for you?
RB: I believe that a slight turbulence is the best state for both humans and businesses. I completely do not recognise a state of calm. And I am very comfortable in a state of challenges. I think I was able to build that vision into our company’s DNA as well, so 2021 has gone very well for us. I would say it was our best year in many ways.
The most notable event in the world for me was the rise of cryptocurrencies. In 2021, the volume of the cryptocurrency market became bigger than in all the previous years combined. The most notable event in our company for me was the deal with the international holding Parimatch Tech. We are now part of a large holding company, which is very encouraging for our new achievements.
SBC: What will be the key lessons from 2021 that will shape your strategy in 2022?
RB: Every year I learn the same lesson—you have to speed up your rhythm of life and get used to living in an environment that changes faster and faster each year. You can no longer afford to wake up at 10 a.m. and have coffee until 11 a.m. Chances are, by the time you finish your coffee, you’ll have already missed several important events.
Getting up earlier, getting to work faster, and strengthening your spirit and body are my lessons from 2021. On the business side, I’m clear, and I haven’t experienced any shocks.
SBC: The PokerMatch brand recently launched the PokerMatch Residence. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
RB: Yes, quite recently a residence under the PokerMatch brand has opened its doors in Kyiv, inviting guests to play sports poker. This was a great decision that the industry has enjoyed ever since. The Residence is in high demand. There, the company holds both public sports poker tournaments and many private events for itself, its VIP players, and partners. By the way, PokerMatch has partnered with Playboy Ukraine for 2022 and will hold joint high-profile parties.
SBC: And what are your plans for the land-based sector over the next 12 months?
RB: PokerMatch predicted all the activity in the land-based sector back in 2019, when the status of sports poker in the country began changing for the better. Back then, the brand had set a plan to be present in 99% of the legal clubs in the country and is following it to this day.
SBC: Where do you envisage the main areas of growth being in 2022?
RB: If we talk specifically about the growth of our company, then our strategy will mainly be combined with the strategy of our holding company Parimatch Tech. Of course, first and foremost, it’s the opening of new markets. Most likely India and Southeast Asia, but there are other directions as well.
And since I’ve mentioned the strengthening of spirit, we plan to do extensive work in the area of responsible gaming. We are trying to study the experience of countries where gambling traditions are much older than in Eastern Europe. Like Great Britain, for example.
I am convinced that working on responsible gaming is now one of the main priorities for the whole gambling sector. We have to educate our players on how to handle the game properly. Talk about financial management in the game, psychology, provide appropriate support and introduce modern technological tools for self-exclusion from the game.
SBC: Are there any exciting plans in the pipeline that you can give us a sneak peek of?
RB: At the moment, the company is considering an offer from a major poker network. If we decide to join, this network together with us will be immediately in the top four in the world, and we, in return, will get a reliable modern and technological partner.
The development of blockchain is also very much at hand. We are still thinking about how all this can be combined with poker, as well as with the technology that we use.