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Оператер Невс

Прекретница за ИЗИ Гроуп као ХХР почиње уживо на Малти

By - 8. јул 2024

Last week, Malta’s IZI Group announced the first Historical Horse Racing (HHR) installation outside the US, with the project now live in a new multi-million gaming centre that serves as a showcase for the international expansion of the Group. 

Speaking from IZI Group’s new offices in Quad Central Towers, Chief Executive Officer, Johann Schembri, elaborated upon a project that marks the third year since the Group, through its subsidiary National Lottery plc, took over the operations of the national lottery of Malta.

What can you tell us about the latest project that IZI Group has embarked on and why is it so special for the Group?

When we took over the operations of the national lottery of Malta, our vision was to provide a gaming experience that is unparalleled. Our focus was to fulfil two very specific and ambitious objectives. The first was to provide a rich, innovative and engaging gaming product portfolio in the market, and the second was to expand internationally. The launch of Historical Horse Racing (HHR) in the local market, bringing the first HHR installation outside the US, is the embodiment of this vision.

Can you tell us a little bit more about HHR?

Historical Horse Racing (HHR), originally known as Instant Racing, is a gaming product that allows players to bet on replays of real horse races that have already been run, using slot-style terminals and visuals to project the game outcome. This is a phenomenon that commenced in the US over 25 years ago and that has seen significant growth rates ever since. We are proud to be the first operator to launch such product outside the USA, through our international showcase here in Malta.

How does Malta lend itself to being the first international showcase for HHR?

Malta is an ideal environment for an international showcase of this type. Our regulatory environment, our underlying technological infrastructure and our geographic location provide the right ingredients for a project of this type. Moreover, as a Group, we have amassed more than 25 years of experience operating within the local gaming industry, and therefore the choice of Malta to showcase a product such as HHR was a natural one.

Our intention going forward is to build a model through which the Malta HHR installation serves to enrich our local product offering but also to be the catalyst for international installations. This is a model that has worked very well for many other technology driven industries in the past, and we strongly believe that it will be one of the key factors of success for our internationalisation strategy going forward. Entities and organisations vying to enter the HHR market can visit our showcase here in Malta to better understand the potential of this business.

You mention internationalisation. What does this mean for IZI GROUP?

Over the past 25 years we have grown from a small business within the retail gaming sector in Malta, to one of the foremost gaming operators locally. While Malta will always remain a focal point for our Group, our next major development is to now leverage our expertise in the industry to exploit international opportunities. 

Having launched the first HHR installation outside the US, with our partners Exacta and IGT, opens up a world of opportunities internationally. Our aim is to replicate the model adopted in Malta to leverage the scale of larger markets in other parts of the world. This is a top priority for our Group.

Who would you consider to be your target clients internationally?

The adoption of HHR technology knows its origin in the US, with the first ever installation taking place in 1999. Since then, while we have seen ground-breaking changes in the product and the technology itself, the intrinsic aims of the product are still the same. HHR provides entities such as Racetracks, Jockey Clubs and Lotteries with a gaming entertainment product that has mass appeal. The revenues generated from these products tend to be directed to Good Causes through the lotteries and/or to support the horse racing industry.

Our aim is to provide a turnkey solution for these organisations, made up of a robust HHR system provided by our partner Exacta Services Inc., a subsidiary of Exacta Systems, LLC, a company owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated, having one of the leading HHR system providers, with 62 HHR locations in the US. Exacta offers a versatile portfolio of HHR games on its system and operational know-how, including a tried-and-tested management system. Our model allows us to offer Racetracks, Jockey Clubs and also Lotteries with a turnkey solution that enables them to reap the benefits of a new stream of revenues.

What do you consider to be the next steps in this process of internationalisation?

As a first step, earlier this month we inaugurated a new gaming centre in Malta, a project that embodies our strategy. This centre offers our full range of gaming products under one roof, including amongst others the first HHR installation with over 120 gaming terminals. This venue also includes a 300 seat Bingo Hall, equipped with the latest technology, and a sportsbook. As mentioned before, the venue crystallises the concept of an international showcase within a live environment. International entities with an interest to supplement their current income via an HHR installation, need look no further but visit our operation in Malta to obtain the full picture of how they can leverage this opportunity.

The key to success is not only in viewing the operations, but also in understanding the legal, technical, infrastructural and connectivity requirements behind a project such as this. We have gone through all of this ourselves, with the aim of making it simpler for others to follow. This very simple but powerful concept is a key attribute of our future success.

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