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Lotos Casino just opened last year. What has the first year been like? And what have you learned that will let you improve the business going forward?
We officially launched in September, but the preparation process, of course, started much earlier and took a while. It was not easy at the start and it is still not, but were moving on and getting better day by day. So it was pretty hectic as you may imagine getting everything done in time, solving the legal issues, dealing with numerous unexpected problems. . . . At the same time, it was a great experience and Im looking forward to the new challenges!

You offer English- and Russian-language support. What are your primary target markets? And do you plan on offering more languages in the future?
The primary markets we target at this point include Russia and the former CIS countries, like Ukraine and Kazakhstan. We also do offline marketing where it is possible. The legal situation for gambling is not stable here, so we have to fit in the requirements to stay within the law. This year we plan to expand our reach to Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. At the moment we are planning to add the Ukrainian language to our software and website, but in our long-term plans we are looking to offer other languages as well.

The graphics on the Lotos Casino home page are focused much more on table games than slots. Do your players tend to be geared more to table games or slots? Slot games are more popular than table games among gamblers in Russia, and our players are not an exception. The reason our home page is focused on table games is because people associate casino with table games rather than slots. And it all looks more attractive, of course! Nevertheless, we plan to use slot images as well.

You also offer a poker room. What has drawn more players, the casino or the poker room? And what poker network are your players in? Is it a stand-alone network? Or are you part of an existing network?
Poker draws more players, of course. Online poker is extremely popular almost everywhere in the world right now and Russia is not an exception. The majority of our marketing campaigns are poker related as we are not allowed to promote casino offline in Russia or Ukraine. Poker players tend to gather in communities much more than casino players and this brings a lot of new players who are just starting to get familiar with the game, so the social aspect is a key factor here, I think.

LotosPoker is a white label project of the 888Poker network, which currently ranks fourth on PokerScout and is one of the most rapidly developing networks at the moment.

What do affiliates need to know about Lotos Casino and Lotos Poker in order to effectively market the brands to their players? What distinguishes Lotos from other casinos and poker rooms, both in terms of the player experience and what you offer affiliates?
First of all, at the moment we target a Russian-language audience and offer Russian-language technical support, including toll-free telephones in Russia and Ukraine. This is very important, because the share of bilingual people in those countries is much less than in Europe, for example, and people value support in their native language.

Second, its the 888 network and the 888 software, which is very popular among players all over the world. We also offer exclusive localized promotions, drawings for tickets to major offline tournaments and other valuable prizes.

Lotos Affiliates offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of commission plans, with affiliates able to choose from revenue share based either on players or gaming revenue, CPA and a hybrid plan. What deal do most affiliates choose? And why did Lotos Affiliates decide to offer so much flexibility in terms of commission options?
Most of the affiliates tend to choose income-based revenue share, which is probably popular everywhere. We are new to the market and commission flexibility helps us to fulfill the needs of most affiliates.

Describe the office culture at Lotos Affiliates. How many affiliate managers work on the team? If we were a fly on the wall, what are some of the topics of conversation we'd hear about at the water cooler?
Well, we do not have a very big team at the moment, which helps to maintain a friendly atmosphere in the office. We only have two affiliate managers right now, which is enough at this point, but we will definitely expand our affiliate staff in the near future. The fly on the wall would probably hear something about sports this is what guys are usually talking about! The second topic right now is probably weather Europe is freezing this winter, while -30 Celsius in Moscow this February is not as cold as it usually gets.

Some brands, especially those focusing on Europe, use sports betting sites to acquire customers for their other products (casinos, poker, etc.). That's not a path you've chosen to travel. What advantages, if any, do you feel you have operating without a sportsbook? What disadvantages do you feel you have working without a sportsbook?
We are actually planning to add a sportsbook project to the list of Lotos brands in the future, but at the moment we prefer to concentrate on poker and casino. The idea is to develop those brands to gain market awareness and trust at first and prepare a marketing platform to launch a sportsbook project. We do not really see disadvantages here, because in the short run we might be losing some of the traffic we could get with a sportsbook, but in the long term we have an opportunity to develop a better product which will bring more players due to the strength of a brand.

Prior to your first job in the gambling industry, you were a marketing manager for Championat.com, a Russian sports media site. How did that industry prepare you for the Internet gambling industry?
It was a very interesting experience that really helped me to broaden my professional background and meet many amazing people. Sports and marketing really fascinate me, and the time I spent at Championat was fantastic. At the moment Championat.com is the number-one sports media project in Russia, and I feel I made a small contribution to this. Online industries have similarities, so I knew what to expect when I started at LotosPlay. People behave differently online and offline, and this is something that has to be taken into account at all times. The marketing is different, and so are the strategies and techniques.

What do you know about the industry now that you wish youd known when you first started?
I guess I still learn something new every day! The Russian online-gambling market is growing rapidly and things change fast. I feel much more confident now, because I know market specifics and player behavior trends. When I first started, I wish I could have had more theoretical materials for the online marketing, so I could have been more efficient in the early stages. Everything else comes with experience.

How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?
We use the most popular payment methods, including Skrill (Moneybookers) and WebMoney (which is popular in Russia). The payments usually go out once a month before the 15th.

Where do you think the industry will be in five years?
I guess it will be much more regulated than now. The industry is relatively young so I forecast quite a lot of changes coming. At the moment, poker is not considered to be a sport and offline gambling is not legal in Russia, which makes it difficult to do efficient marketing here. At the moment Russia ranks second in Europe for the number of Internet users and I forecast a number-one spot in a few years. It is a very big market with good potential.

You're originally from Russia, and you've spent more than 10 years in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Where do you live now, and if you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I live in Moscow now, the city where I was born and raised. It is very big and busy, which makes it different from peaceful European cities. If I could live anywhere, I would probably choose one of the Scandinavian states Norway or Denmark. I am not afraid of the cold since Im Russian and I really like the northern mentality!

Rumor has it that you're quite the basketball player. What position do you play? Did you ever have dreams of playing professionally?
I play shooting guard, but my career was paused for five years due to a serious injury. I was practicing with a semi-professional team when I was younger, but I never really wanted to become a pro. At the moment, I play in Moscows amateur championship and we also have a corporate LotosPoker team, which finished second in the Business Champions League. We hammered Microsoft in the playoff semis, by the way!

Whats the best movie food?
Id go with nachos!

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? And did you read it on an eReader? Or do you need to have a copy of the physical book in your hand?
That was one of the latest books by the French science-fiction writer Bernard Werber. I guess Ive read most of his books. I like them because they differ from the work of the majority of the contemporary authors. And I still prefer good old books, but I was considering buying an eReader last week, by the way!

What is your favorite movie?
This is a tough one. I do not really enjoy most of the modern Hollywood stuff, so I would probably choose something from the classics. . . . Let it be The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Ive watched it quite a few times!

If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Radiohead Karma Police.

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
I am an experienced traveler, having visited 25 countries, but all of them are in Europe. So I guess the ideal plan for a vacation would be going somewhere out of Europe next time!

If you could have dinner with three other people, living or dead, who would they be?
Michael Jordan, Robert Smith from The Cure and Mark Zuckerberg.

What would you do if you just inherited a pizzeria from your uncle?
Id redesign it into a sports bar. It is one of my dreams!

What are three things that no one knows about you?
Ive already told about my dream of owning a sports bar. Lets keep other secrets for the next time!