Bringing More Value to the Online Community
Interview with Sergey Kiritchenko, the founder of KeyToCasino.com—a recent addition to the LCB network.
Consistent with the mission to add the most reputable and useful new portals to its network, Latest Casino Bonuses has signed several successful acquisition deals this year. Among them is the merger with KeyToCasino, a promising resource that is bringing unique value to the players.
“Don’t take a gamble on your internet casino” is the portal’s key mission. In order to help the community to navigate through thousands of online e-gaming operators, it offers the innovative Key Rating™. At its core lies a semi-automatized non-biased search among more than 750 brands, up to 8,500 games, and around 2,500 bonus offers.
Today, the portal’s creator, 39-year old mathematical statistics major and professional scientific researcher Sergey Kiritchenko talks about how one simple idea has grown into a successful business that received a strong response from the online gaming community.
“When I finally decided to start my own business, the idea was very clear—it should be my own portal about the e-gaming industry with true, unbiased information, well-structured, thus enabling the filtered search.”
Q: How and when did you decide to switch to building a business in the online gambling industry? What did the industry look like back then, when you started?
A: I have had a passion for cards, games, and gambling for as long as I can remember. Some of the people I played with or met during that time, became professional gamblers, such as card counters or advantage players. They occasionally asked me for an odds calculation or another piece of strategy advice. That’s when I first became familiar with the Wizard of Odds great site—now a part of the LCB network.
When I finally decided to start my own business, the idea was very clear—it should be my own portal about the e-gaming industry with true, unbiased information, well-structured, thus enabling the filtered search.
Online gambling was already well established back then; it recovered from the UIGEA blow of 2006 and continued growing. There were already hundreds of reputable operators out there and of course many rogues. Probably the main change since then is the prevalence of multiplatform in-browser titles. In 2013, and prior to that, most places to bet and win were powered by a single software and required a download, e.g., there were strictly Microgaming, Playtech, or RTG platforms. So it has become more diverse now, and of course, mobile games were added to it.
Q: What makes KtC portal different from its competitors?
A: First of all, a scientific, data-oriented approach, and trying to stay honest in this industry with so many suspicious customers. Also, being a comprehensive source, with the largest database of new and already existing online locations and games available.
What makes KtC differ so much from other resources is the way the rating is formed. I can say for sure that many websites rate brands not by unbiased professional criteria, but by the amount of money paid to publish high rankings. This is what makes unprejudiced evaluation such a rare thing in this business.
KtC’s rating, in its turn, is not only non-biased. It is also automatic, as it gets updated once every 24-hours based on any new data. It also takes real reviews from players into consideration. In total, there are 111 factors that later convert into ten sections, as seen below:
These are the vital sections that KtC’s rating consists of.
The amount of sections allows us to cover a lot of concerns. Thus, some gamers do not care much for the small game library and the limited amount of software developers but are worried about the owner’s reputation and payout speed. So they can take a look at the detailed rating and get their answers from that section.
Q: Where did the idea of the portal with its structure and filters come from? How long did it take you to figure out the concept?
A: The idea of structure and filters wasn’t new at all in 2013; those existed on multiple shopping sites, such as eBay or Amazon, or other resources where people need to narrow down the selection using their own criteria. I was particularly inspired by Kayak.com, a travel metasearch engine which became very popular around that time.
So the concept did not take long to materialize, but it had to be redone and tweaked several times before I finally liked it. Was it an easy road? I wouldn't say so because, of course, some mistakes were made. Among them were miscalculations in driving traffic because I honestly believed that it would take a good resource a short while to gain many visitors. I also underestimated the size of the project. The mission that I signed up for required a big staff, and there weren’t many of us on the team at the beginning.
Q: How many of you were on the team in the beginning? What were the biggest challenges in first building, and then running this business?
A: First it was just me and Olena, who also lived in the US and agreed to devote some of her time helping me. Then I quickly realized I needed a dedicated person to work on data collection and organizing. I turned to a local job board in my home city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, in the hope of finding qualified labor. There were two top candidates, and after hesitating a bit, I decided to take them both on. I never regretted the decision, because it was soon clear that I needed even more people. In a little over a year, there were six people working for me in the Ukraine, and then after taking the other writers on board, that number went up to ten.
“… after putting online hundreds of those scientific reviews, I realized I was holding an enormous amount of gambling-related data …”
Q: Unique researches written by the KtC's team are now quoted by numerous sources online. Was it part of the original idea – to take a scientific rather than entertaining approach? Or did you just realize with time that this is the right strategy?
A: No, the original idea was just to create a site with a data-oriented approach, a—“scientific rather than entertaining approach” as you put it—to reviewing online brands, bonuses, and games. At that time, most of the reviews online were purely advisory in nature. Then after putting hundreds of those scientific reviews online, I realized I was holding an enormous amount of gambling-related data. Given my background in research, that was an easy decision. This is how articles on online gambling access around the world, poker room casinos studies, and currencies in online casinos, for instance, appeared.
“I remember logging into one of the affiliate accounts just a few weeks after the site launched and seeing a real depositor there. It was such a good feeling I even saved a screenshot.”
Q: When did the portal start generating the revenue, and what did you do in order for it to happen?
A: Depends on what you call revenue. I remember logging into one of the affiliate accounts just a few weeks after the site launched and seeing a real depositor there. It was such a good feeling I even saved a screenshot.
It took more than a year for revenue sufficient enough to pay for further site development. It required the usual effort of an owner of the site in this industry—bringing more traffic to the site, making the site more customer-friendly, and getting better deals with affiliates.
Q: Have the competitors ever contacted you?
A: Yes. Almost as soon as the site’s launch, it was noted by competitors, and I was contacted. One of the reasons for such a quick response was the page I created in 2014, and it is still on the portal. The page summarizes all of KtC’s best competitors. I created an honest list in 2014 and just posted it, as there is nothing to be ashamed of. These are good, but we can do even better. Since then, I believe, I was in touch with people from every major gambling portal. For some it was just a short email exchange, others I have met personally—in one instance it took a 4000 km trip.
Q: When and why have you realized that you are ready to sell the portal? Why did you choose LCB?
A: Like most people, I am ready to sell any product at any time, provided the conditions are right. In the case with KtC, the right conditions included a bright future for the site, a secure work perspective for the team, and of course, a satisfactory compensation for me. I had received offers in the past having only one or two of the three components. When Joshua Chan came around this year, all three checked out, and I was ready to sign the deal.
The transition of KtC to the LCB network was not immediate, and it required my attention. After it was done, I took some time to relax and think of different opportunities. I am now working on a project related to a niche insurance industry and possibly will start on another one for the international money transfer business.
“If you are looking for inspiration, simply start with a list of gambling-related Google searches—tens of thousands of search terms last time I checked.”
Q: What do you think of the online gambling industry and affiliate business today? Is it still possible for newbies to find a niche and bring some new value to the readers and players?
A: I think that with robots taking over jobs and technology otherwise freeing up people’s time, any entertainment industry in general—and online gambling, in particular—has an excellent future. There is so much more to do, and many new niches to explore, and certainly, it can be done by a newbie with a fresh look. If you are looking for inspiration, simply start with a list of gambling-related Google searches—tens of thousands of search terms last time I checked. Check it out and see if there are one or two queries you can tell the world about.