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Meet Dejan Đurović – Head of Sportsbook

Welcome to Lion Gaming’s monthly employee insights series! In this edition, we delve into the world of sports betting technology with Dejan Đurović, our esteemed Head of Sportsbook. Join us as we gain valuable insights into the dynamic world of sports betting and explore the strategies driving our success at Lion Gaming.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the sports betting industry, and how did you find your way to Lion Gaming?

My journey into the sports betting industry was a combination of my technical background and the passion that I have for sport. Since I was little, I have always been involved in sports, so during my childhood, I played football, basketball, and even handball. Even though I never managed to play it professionally and make a living out of it, sports remains my biggest passion.

When it comes to my technical background I hold a Master’s degree in Mechatronics – a branch of engineering that integrates mechanical, electrical, and software engineering with a combination of robotics, computer science, and AI. However, it wasn’t until later in my career that I found a way to merge these two together.

Upon completing my studies, I sought to apply my technical knowledge in a field that resonated with my personal interests. This led me to join a private bookie as an IT specialist, where we worked on developing a platform for private betting as well as a sportsbook for the mass market. While my primary responsibility was to support the development process, I actively embraced opportunities to learn about the sports betting industry.

As I gained experience in the company, I became increasingly intrigued by the trading aspect of the business. Recognizing my potential, I underwent training and successfully transitioned into a trading role. Over time, I progressed within the trading department, eventually assuming the position of Deputy Head of Trading. In this role, I had the privilege of leading our trading team alongside our Head of Trading, shaping strategies and ensuring the smooth execution of operations.

During my tenure at the private bookie company, I had the opportunity to work closely with Samee Bhatti, who had the position of the CTO, and Milos Ojdanic who was the CSO. Throughout my efforts, I learned a lot from them, and, to this date, their mentorship has helped me shape my career path. When Samee and Milos moved to Lion Gaming they recognized my potential and extended an invitation for me to join them.

Being aware of the great future that awaits at Lion Gaming, I seized the chance to continue advancing my career in an environment where there is a high rate of innovation and performance. Entering the Lion Gaming family was the natural move for me, having the opportunity to utilize my expertise and simultaneously fulfill my passion for sports in a dynamic and forward-thinking organization.

As the Head of Sportsbook, how do you foster a culture of innovation and experimentation within your team to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving world of sports betting technology?

One of the core principal tasks that I emphasize as a Head of Sportsbook, is to create an atmosphere where new ideas and creativity are appreciated. The other approach to the establishment of this kind of culture is by offering the team members open communication and collaboration channels. I ensure that everyone participates in sharing ideas and viewpoints irrespective of their position or amount of knowledge. With this inclusive method not only does it create an environment of belonging where all participants are part of the process of innovating but it also gives a sense of power and a drive to contribute to the innovation process.

Continual learning processes and ongoing professional skills training also have a place in our innovation culture. I strongly believe that to cultivate our organization’s success, team members should keep the pace with news of the industry and technologies being introduced through various trainings, meetings, and conferences. We seek to invest in our team’s growth as this will keep us informed of the trending innovations that we can always adopt for the future. Moreover, I inspire by example by always adopting a growth mindset and exploring new ideas.

What do you think sets Lion Gaming’s sportsbook apart from competitors in the industry?

Lion Gaming’s sportsbook stands out from competitors due to our pioneering efforts in adopting web3 technology, integration of the blockchain, and cryptocurrency utilization. The use of crypto is what enables us to advance the security, transparency, and the empowerment of users which is the new standard that the industry must comply with. It is this forward-looking view that underlines how innovative we are and our ambition to bring first-class betting to a new generation.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the sports betting industry in the coming year?

In the coming year, the sports betting industry faces transformative opportunities and challenges driven by the adoption of AI and crypto technologies. Leveraging AI for predictive analytics and personalized recommendations optimizes betting strategies but requires addressing ethical concerns and maintaining user trust. Integrating crypto offers faster transactions and global market access but requires addressing regulatory uncertainty and market volatility. Additionally, utilizing blockchain enhances security and transparency but demands significant investment and interoperability challenges. Transitioning to web3 promises decentralized interactions but necessitates overcoming technical hurdles and establishing new governance models. Navigating these challenges while capitalizing on these technologies’ potential will be crucial for sports betting operators to drive innovation and deliver enhanced experiences in the dynamic industry landscape ahead.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in sports betting or technology within the gaming industry?

I would say to specialize and stay adaptable.

Given the diverse nature of the industry, it’s essential to specialize in specific areas such as trading, software development, or data analytics. By honing one of these skills you can differentiate yourself and become an expert in your field. The sports betting and iGaming industry are constantly evolving, driven by technological advancements, regulatory changes, and shifting market trends. To thrive in this dynamic environment, it’s crucial to stay adaptable and continuously update your skills. Embrace new technologies, learn from industry leaders, and remain open to new opportunities that may arise. And if you are passionate about sports this could be the perfect industry for you.

As the Head of Sportsbook, what are your long-term goals and aspirations for Lion Gaming’s sportsbook offering?

Well, I would say leveraging cutting-edge technologies and innovative strategies to provide an unparalleled betting experience for our users. Key among these initiatives is our Roar project, a sophisticated notification system empowered by AI. Roar will revolutionize our trading operations by identifying betting patterns and potential system abuses in real-time. This AI-driven tool will provide invaluable insights to our trading team, enabling proactive risk management and ensuring a fair and secure betting environment for all users.

In addition to Roar, we are committed to enhancing the reliability and accuracy of our data feeds by partnering with top-tier providers. By aggregating multiple feeds, we ensure users have access to the most up-to-date and precise information, further enhancing their betting experience.

Moreover, we aim to leverage AI capabilities to personalize offers and optimize player retention on our platform. Tailoring promotions and incentives based on individual preferences will foster greater engagement and loyalty among our user base.

As part of our long-term vision, we are actively embracing web3 and on-chain betting technologies. This involves a complete transition to web3, offering decentralized and transparent betting experiences. Furthermore, we are exploring the full potential of crypto integration to streamline access and transactions for all users seamlessly.

In what ways do you see blockchain technology revolutionizing the sports betting industry, and how is Lion Gaming leading the charge in this regard?

Blockchain technology is revolutionizing sports betting by providing transparent, immutable transaction records. Every bet on our platform can be recorded on a tamper-proof ledger, boosting transparency and trust. Additionally, blockchain enhances security, safeguarding user data and funds from unauthorized access. With blockchain-based security protocols, Lion Gaming ensures platform integrity, offering users peace of mind while betting online.

What are some challenges and opportunities associated with implementing crypto payments and smart contracts in the sports betting ecosystem, and how is Lion Gaming addressing them?

One challenge is regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency usage, which may hinder adoption. Additionally, smart contract vulnerabilities and scalability issues pose risks. However, these challenges also present opportunities for innovation. By embracing crypto payments and smart contracts, sports betting platforms can offer faster transactions, lower fees, and enhanced transparency. At Lion Gaming, we address these challenges by staying abreast of regulatory developments and implementing robust security measures to mitigate risks associated with smart contracts. We also prioritize user education and engagement to foster trust in crypto payments. Overall, we view crypto payments and smart contracts as key drivers of innovation in the sports betting industry, and we’re committed to leveraging them to provide a safer, more transparent, and more efficient betting experience for our users.

Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives at Lion Gaming that involve leveraging emerging technologies to disrupt the traditional sports betting landscape?

Absolutely! We have several exciting projects in the pipeline. Among these is our flagship initiative, Roar, poised to revolutionize not only our sportsbook but also other product verticals like casino and payment systems. Roar is a sophisticated notification system powered by AI capable of identifying potential fraud or abuse across various aspects of our platform. This ensures the integrity of our operations and enhances user trust. Furthermore, we’re actively exploring web3 and on-chain solutions to enhance transparency and security in our operations.

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