The changing face of gaming recruitment

betbazar, hr, gaming

While the online gaming industry has traditionally been associated with recruiting staff in hubs such as Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, a recent trend of teams being built across a wider number of territories has emerged. A panel of experienced professionals within gaming recruitment discuss this trend and why companies are looking towards new territories to grow their teams.   


Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Chief Commercial Officer, Spribe 

Nana Shneider, Human Resources Director, Betbazar

Cosmo Currey, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Van Kaizen 

Can you give us an overview of where your company is based and where your staff are based?

GT (Spribe): Our headquarters are located in Tallinn, Estonia, but we are a remote working company with employees based all over the world. We have team members in Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Armenia, Portugal, Germany and the UK. We also have development offices in Kyiv, Warsaw and Tbilisi.

NS (Betbazar): Betbazar is a worldwide company, so while I am based in Kyiv, we have colleagues in Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Lisbon and Serbia.  

CC (Van Kaizen): Set up around four years ago, Van Kaizen is the largest geographically spread iGaming recruitment firm globally. Our mission was, and still is, to seek out the top performing recruiters in iGaming and collaboratively join forces, building out a new gaming specialist recruitment firm. Today, we have 37 consultants across 18 countries and six continents. We have been actively recruiting across Europe, Asia, LatAm, Africa and North America. Australia is next on our hit list.

Which territories outside the traditional established gaming hubs like Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have proved to be fruitful to your business in this regard? Why?

CC (Van Kaizen): We have been seeing huge growth across Latin America, where we currently have two recruiters leading the charge. The US market is continuing to grow year-on-year. We’re also seeing a lot of movement in Asian markets, as well as the more traditional gaming hubs in Europe, like Malta and the Isle of Man. In terms of future growth, we’d expect to see more US states pass regulation for iGaming, and we feel confident that LatAm’s online gaming offering will continue to grow as territories in the region move from being grey markets to regulated markets.

GT (Spribe): We have found the Ukrainian employee market to have been one of the best for our business because of the high number of experienced, quality professionals within it. This makes it a competitive employee market within the iGaming industry, but we have emerged as one of the biggest employers in the country thanks to our flagship title and our crash game, Aviator, being a major draw for talent.

NS (Betbazar): While many of our staff are based in continental Europe, we have particularly made use of the expansion of regulation in the US in recent years. Regulation can in part dictate the thinking in this regard, so we are likely to keep an eye on which US states may open up to iGaming in the next few years, along with other territories across the Americas and Asia.

To what extent did cost of talent play a part in your thinking behind employing staff in those particular territories?

NS (Betbazar): We are looking for people who will be growing with us, and who will be opening new markets along with the company. I do not like to talk about cost when we talk about staff. When you have the right employees who buy into what you are trying to do as a company and work effectively as a team, that is priceless for any business. 

CC (Van Kaizen): On the surface, cost of talent would make sense, but actually, it’s rarely to do with thundering cost, but more to do with the local knowledge, creating a local product for the local territory. The successes of our clients are based on having local people on the ground, speaking the unspoken language of the territory. While cost may seem attractive, it’s more of an added benefit as opposed to the primary motivator. It’s also worth noting for a lot of clients, these jurisdictions ‘follow the sun’, where they have 24-hour customers and clients, with 24-hour access to them. 

GT (Spribe): We don’t really consider the cost of talent when it comes to hiring. Instead, we focus on their skills, experience and how they will fit within our organisation and the culture we have in place. The key to building out an organisation with the best people in the business is to focus on the value they bring, rather than the cost of their salary, as the value of talented employees far outweighs the cost of hiring them.  

Which particular teams within your business have been established in international territories? Does employing from other countries work well specifically with tech teams or can this be applied to other parts of a gaming company?

GT (Spribe): Spribe’s tech teams are mostly employed from the international market and these people tend to work remotely. We extend the option of hybrid working to all employees and use scrum and agile management systems to facilitate seamless office and home working. This allows us to access the best talent out there by not restricting our search to specific locations.

NS (Betbazar): Our IT department is fully remote and fully worldwide. Specialists working in different countries, united by tasks and mutual goals work like a family under the Betbazar roof. We also have sales in different regions. I`d say if work is organised well and there are clear goals and regular team meetings, then this is a very beneficial cooperation.

CC (Van Kaizen): Business development, sales, account management and developers are the natural choice to have international staff working remotely. Their jobs often require client meetings, so they don’t have the necessity to tie them back to the office. In contrast, finance, operations and HR require more of a visual presence in the office.  Marketing falls into the hybrid of both, as it is a creative role, but there’s also a necessity to brainstorm with the rest of the team. 
Tech has multiple sub-categories to it and a number of growing tech firms have their teams working remotely. Developers are not an issue, but with engineers, there is a great necessity for them to be based on site, to avoid situations like Facebook’s 2021 outage. It’s very much in two camps at the moment.

What impact did the Covid-19 pandemic have on your thinking in this area? With working from home becoming a more normal way of working, did it give you the opportunity to cast the net wider?

CC (Van Kaizen): Covid definitely brought about remote working as the norm. However, there were two trains of thoughts here. Working remotely was created out of necessity to solve a global issue; that necessity no longer exists. Some clients are happy for employees to work remotely, and others are vehemently against it. I suspect we will see a greater movement towards working from home in the coming years, but there is still anticipation and anxiety around that. Out of the 400 clients that VK represents, around 30% are happy with remote working as part of the norm, and there’s a real interest in consideration. There will always remain a portion that will have to be office only. 

GT (Spribe): Covid had no impact on our tech teams, as they were working remotely prior to the pandemic so it was very much business as usual for product development. That said, it did have a big impact on our event marketing team, as no trade shows took place for more than a year. This made it difficult to meet with partners face to face. 
In addition to the pandemic, we have also been impacted by the war in Ukraine; 60% of our employees are from the country and most work remotely. At the onset of the war, we offered these employees relocation opportunities to either Georgia or Poland; this policy is still in place, but most wanted to stay in their home country, which is a testament to their courage and bravery. Because we have always been a hybrid working company with modern management systems in place, we have been able to take advantage of the upsides that remote working presents, including being agile, efficient and effective. We also have access to the biggest pool of talent.

How does the competition for staff in these territories compare with the traditional gaming hubs mentioned above? Do you find you are competing with fewer companies for the staff, or is it more difficult to find staff particularly suited to gaming? 

NS (Betbazar): I think it is hard to find a true professional independently from the sphere. To be honest, it takes a lot of effort; to begin with, you have to make sure you shape the questions for each candidate and create an appropriate test task. Finding the right person for you takes time and careful consideration, and you have to be very emotionally intelligent to do so. You have to feel you have made the perfect match not only for the company but for the team that has already been shaped.

CC (Van Kaizen): The competition for great employees is rife. With low supply and a high demand, finding and presenting the best talent available for these territories is where we step in. It’s worth noting the candidate pool of these territories is further limited, with iGaming only just being legalised, so in many cases the ‘five years’ experience required’ simply doesn’t exist.

GT (Spribe): The wider move to remote and hybrid working that came off the back of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine made it harder to find highly-qualified candidates. Remote working was seen as a perk, but now it’s seen as standard. Employees are also more discerning when it comes to the companies they work for and look at factors beyond their salary, such as the company culture and its approach to social responsibility. Candidates have personal ambitions and want to create the best products and experiences, but they want to do this within an organisation that aligns with their values. We are also competing with businesses outside the iGaming space and in sectors such as fin-tech, healthcare, government and cyber security. 

How likely are you to change your strategy in this area as your company continues to grow? Would you be more likely to look towards more traditional gaming hubs for staff as and when your company reaches a certain level of growth?

GT (Spribe): We have tripled the size of our workforce in the past year alone, and we continue to welcome new members to the team each day, mostly in the countries where we have offices. Of course, all team members have the option to work from home no matter where they are located. As we continue to expand, we are considering offices in core iGaming jurisdictions such as Malta or Isle of Man, but for now, we are happy with the locations we have and the hybrid approach we have taken from day one.

NS (Betbazar): We are always open to trying new techniques in hiring and onboarding, and we also have a great referral system. Since we are aiming to strengthen our positions in LatAm, we are actively looking for new faces there as well as in other markets that we could find to be beneficial for us in the future.   

How do you see this landscape developing going forward? Are we likely to see more ‘gaming hubs’ spread out across Europe or other parts of the world in 10 years’ time?

CC (Van Kaizen): Yes, absolutely. We’d expect to see the ‘herd’ mentality: if one country establishes a gaming hub as part of the doctrine, others naturally follow suit. Across the next 10 years, iGaming will likely maximise market share over land-based gambling, utilising the latest technologies to create a truly virtual world of entertainment.  

NS (Betbazar): One thing events of recent years have taught us is that the world can change very quickly, so it’s difficult to speculate on where any potential new hives of activity may spring up in this industry. I think in 10 years’ time we could be facing something completely different to what any of us could have imagined, but it would not be surprising if the trend of building teams across several different territories continues. 

GT (Spribe): This is a rapidly changing and dynamic industry that is unpredictable, and that makes it hard to predict which jurisdictions might become ‘hubs’ in the future. I think a deciding factor in this is the regulations the jurisdiction has in place and how it adapts to new technologies and market demands, along with its ability to find a balance between protecting players and offering a viable environment for operators and suppliers to thrive.