Kevin Wimer – Rivalry.gg – Meeting the new kid on the block

Rivalry.gg just launched its esports betting platform in February. In this, the first of a three part series, we'll be finding out more about the Isle of Man licensed operator

After ten months of careful preparation and articulation, Rivalry.gg officially launched its betting platform in February with aspirations of becoming a choice bookmaker for all walks of esports bettors. 

Kevin Wimer, Rivalry.gg

Rivalry’s simplistic and glossy site is not only eye-catching, but extremely inviting; couple this smooth performance with an Isle of Man betting license and adoption into the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) and Rivalry boasts some pretty worthwhile qualities.

We had the opportunity to sit and talk with Kevin Wimer, Chief Marketing Officer at Rivalry.gg to discuss the betting platform as a whole and what they believe will give them a leg up as a new bookmaker.

Esports Insider: Tell us a bit about your background and how you got started with Rivalry.gg?

Kevin Wimer: My team and I first entered the scene with LootMarket.com, a marketplace which provided users with a safe and easy way to buy and sell CS:GO and Dota 2 items. Unfortunately in June of 2017, the Steam accounts we used to hold and move these items were banned by Valve.

Customers lost items. Investors lost money. Our staff was left without a job. Bad news all around. We quickly realised that being dependent on a third party service to run a business was too risky.

“We aspire not just to be “another betting site” but to create an experience that fans cannot get anywhere else”

We surveyed the landscape and decided that we wanted to create a trusted, safe, responsible way for fans to bet on esports matches. We aspire not just to be “another betting site” but to create an experience that fans cannot get anywhere else.

ESI: What can you tell me about your team? Who is Rivalry.gg comprised of and how are you leveraging that into creating a competitive esports betting platform?

Kevin: We’re gamers, fans and lovers of the esports scene. Some of us were pro gamers before it was cool to be a gamer. Every single person on the team lives and breathes gaming. We play casually and are usually glued to our devices watching tournaments.

On top of that, a few of our partners have more than two decades of experience in the securities industry in Canada, founding and operating an investment bank, in addition to an advisory role at the venture stock exchange in Toronto. This has provided us with necessary depth when it comes the regulatory and compliance elements of gambling, which we find quite similar.

“We’re esports fans looking to create a kickass betting experience for other esports fans”

Many of the existing offerings for esports fans have been developed by traditional sportsbooks  looking to get into esports as just another market to bolt on to their offerings. We’re esports fans looking to create a kickass betting experience for other esports fans. Our knowledge and passion for the space will help us to create a site that we believe other fans will appreciate and enjoy.

ESI: What is Rivalry.gg doing to separate themselves from the rest of the pack?

Kevin: Right now, our core offering is similar to a lot of other sites… You can venture over and bet on esports. Simple enough. This is just the beginning. Our team has nearly 2 decades of experience building online products. With the base product launched, the process of continually iterating and constant development can be put into practice. Our mission isn’t just to give people a way to safely bet on matches. We want to be every fans first stop for everything esports!

We are also heavily focused on producing content we think fans will enjoy. We want to give them an inside look at the players, teams, coaches, casters, and everyone else else that makes up this scene we all love so much. As fans learn more about players and uncover the rivalries and hidden storylines, each kill, map or tournament win will be all that much more thrilling. Throw $5 on the outcome and now you’re having a good damn time!

In addition to pre-match fixed-odds betting, we’ll soon also be offering live betting. That will be the last feature that looks like a traditional sportsbook. From there we will start a fast paced roll out of some really compelling features. For instance, the team is working on something called Rivalry Quests, that provides customers with additional challenges and rewards as they bet. For example, if you bet on 3 underdogs and win them all, you’ll get some sort of reward. Or maybe if you crushed it and won 10 bets in a week, you’ll get a reward. We’re looking to create games within the betting experience.

“We are exploring a number of ways to mirror the ways that gamers play and compete socially in games and bring that into a wagering experience”

There are a lot more ways that fans can bet with and against each other. We are exploring a number of ways to mirror the ways that gamers play and compete socially in games and bring that into a wagering experience. The experience starts with leaderboards and then expands into deeper social components. There is much much more but these features are still in development and are rapidly changing.

In the coming weeks and months, we’re going to be releasing a lot of features to take us from just another betting site to something fans will want to be a part of anytime they’re watching a match.

ESI: Talk to me a little about your values and how Rivalry.gg plans to operate. Transparency appears to be a core value of Rivalry.gg, can you elaborate on why you think this is important as an esports bookmaker?

Kevin: Transparency and honesty is the key for any business, especially one that deals with customers’ personal and financial information. This is why we’ve acquired a license through the Isle of Man. It’s one of the most reputable licenses in the world. We’re required to actively partake in extreme due diligence to make sure we’re abiding by the various global laws and treating customers fairly.

“By not adopting these aggressive practices, we may suffer short term but we know customers will appreciate the transparency and honesty and come to recognize us as a brand they can trust”

We treat customers just as we’d like to be treated. One prime example of this is our policy towards deposit bonuses. You’ll find all sorts of ridiculous “bonuses” out there, even claiming to give hundreds of dollars for free. Well bad news everyone…there’s always a catch. You either have to bet on underdogs, make an absurd amount of bets, or some other nonsense. By the time you’ve completed the required steps, you’ll likely have lost what you deposited and your bonus money.

It’d be easy for us to offer $50 deposit bonuses and play those same games but we’ve decided against that. We’d rather just be honest with customers and not try to trick them into depositing with predatory tactics.

By not adopting these aggressive practices, we may suffer short term but we know customers will appreciate the transparency and honesty and come to recognize us as a brand they can trust.

ESI: With the wealth of speculation and attention being drawn to esports cryptocurrency coins, what made Rivarly.gg decide to stay out of that space?

Kevin: It seems to us that many companies offering tokens are doing it as away to raise unregulated non-dilutive capital while potentially turning a blind eye to the long-term regulatory implications of their actions. This seems great for the business and early regulated equity holders but we are concerned for the long term protection of the token holders. When we took a hard look at the opportunity of a token we struggled to define a token that would not require economic value to be conferred to the holder (like rev share) for intrinsic value to be had, and thus implicate securities law. The underlying value of a token who’s primary use is say to place wagers on a single site also feels like a high risk investment for any token holder.

We think in the coming months and years, a lot of people are going to have trouble continuing on the path they are on. As we have seen in many case studies through history, you often pay for easy money later. We have no interest in being one of those people or bear the reputational risk of a token that, at the end of the day, has limited value.

“We would rather have people betting on esports instead of betting on crypto values”

Despite passing on ICO opportunities, we are all HUGE advocates of cryptocurrencies. We believe in the technology and personally hold. With regulatory approval, we will offer customers the ability to deposit with cryptocurrencies. Does that mean we should go out and create some Rivalry Token? Probably not.. Nearly every benefit of crypto and blockchain can be realized through existing coins (ETH, BTC, BTH, LTC, and many more). That may change, but for now this is where we stand.

The reality is that whether it’s Rivalry Token or any of the others that exist, volatility is enormous. We don’t want a customer to pay $20 for a token that might be worth $5 the next week. We would rather have people betting on esports instead of betting on crypto values.

ESI: Where can you bet on Rivalry?

Kevin: Laws and regulations are constantly changing. Rather than list out the approved or prohibited countries, we’ve found it’s best just for users to sign up for our site and see for themselves. If you’re not in a region where online gambling is allowed, we’ll let you know!

Overall, Rivalry.gg is rapidly positioning themselves to be a premium brand; due diligence in becoming fully licensed and accepted as the latest member of the ESIC showcases its intent on longevity. Rivalry.gg truly embodies its core values of transparency and fun which gives the betting platform a neighborly feel – a characteristic we’re not used to seeing in bookmakers, but one we can certainly get used to.

ESI Conclusions

If you found this article on Rivalry interesting, you can head on over to their website to check it out for yourself. If you’re in a betting-friendly region, Rivalry is also offering a free $1.50 (£1.07) wager to those that register; it may not be the ridiculous bonuses you’re accustomed to seeing from other bookmakers, but as Kevin mentioned – Rivalry has assured us there’s no hidden catches with this one.

Disclaimer: This is a part of a sponsored content series with Rivalry.gg