In the world of online gaming it doesn’t happen too often that you get a chance to interview a CEO. Norwegian born Robin Reed holds the keys to the Guts Casino headquarters in Malta, and he was kind enough to free up some time for us. Let’s start off with a little introduction to what Guts Casino exactly is, as there is a good chance you are not familiar with them just yet.
The number one online casino discussion forum, Casinomeister, gives Guts Casino a nine out of 10 rating, and that while the company only launched back in May of this year. Casinomeister bases their ranking on all the things customers care about, like software and cash out time. Guts, for instance, ranks higher than other top-notch sites as Betsafe and Betsson (8/10), Ladbrokes (8.9/10) and just as high as Bet365.
Reed started Guts from scratch after he was successful with the Norwegian poker website Donkr.com.
“About a year and a half ago there were a few guys who had been involved in a lot of businesses together who saw an opportunity. We see business as something where you’re contributing to making someone’s life better. We thought that the online casino industry was a bit underdeveloped, so we were sure we could do better for the players. As time progressed more people that we knew could contribute, with the same amount of integrity and vision, became available and we decided to put the shovel into the ground and get the show on the road,” Reed said about the founding days of Guts casino.
“In September 2012 we decided to do this and go full throttle as an online casino operator. We started building the product and spent months working on it. In May 2013 we felt like we were finally ready with something that deserved the attention of the customers and went live,” Reed said about the road to Guts going live in May 2013.
Starting an online casino is not a decision to take lightly, and Reed explains how the financial commitment is not something to understate.
“I cannot stress enough that if you do decide to start an online casino, and you’re going to do it properly, you do need a substantial amount of cash. You want to make sure that if someone comes in and wins big you’re able to pay out instantly. In our group of people there were many who started successful businesses before like Donkr.com, for instance. We invested our money, got an angel investor on board and we closed a series A funding. By the time we came to the commercial launch the company was very well funded,” Reed said underlining the outstanding financial situation Guts is in.
“There are a lot of people who want to start a casino these days. They start white labels and think it’s not going to be that much of a commitment. It is though, and it's very important that you have enough money to start with,” Reed added.
In times where not every poker room is doing too well, casinos seem to be in a much better spot. Starting something new in a business with giants such as Unibet, Bet365 and 888 casino is still a huge challenge, and Reed explains why he thinks Guts has a chance at succeeding.
“It’s about going back to the roots, and why we started Guts. It’s really important to look at not only at what your product is, but also at what your value propositions are. It’s mostly what your company is all about, and when we started Guts it was because we thought of a casino as something that should be a hassle free entertainment destination. When you go back to the early days of Las Vegas it was a bit rogue, but it cleaned up and reached a wider demographic. It became much more a people and customer anted business. We saw a similar thing happening online. A lot of companies that started online casinos in the early days, they did things different than what we would perceive as top notch. When you talk about how we get customers, we established a whole range of best practices with our casino we felt should be the industry standard. We saw that those were not the industry standard. We know that there are companies that do things well, but all over we thought that there were enough areas where we could improve and I think that gives us the right to live,” Reed said with a passion for his casino.
“When we went live, we were immediately published on Casinomeister, the biggest casino forum. A user saw that we went live and on the forum they started discussing our policies. It immediately caught a lot of traction and interest. We were at the top of the forum for weeks, as the thread about us kept growing. We entered the Baptism by Fire on Casinomeister within a couple of weeks after we launched, and that’s when you’re basically ‘under the gun’ for a couple of months so people can evaluate your casino. If all goes well you will get placed on their accredited list, and the fastest you can do that is in two months,” Reed said about the biggest casino website picking up on their favorable policies.
“We made it within two months, and if we’re not the fastest to get accredited we were definitely one of them,” Reed proudly added as they are now on the accredited list at Casinomeister.
The Guts Casino Facebook cover photo
“We had a lot of affiliated traffic from website portals that thought it was a safe and good destination, so from there it grew organically. We had anticipated something like 15 to 20% of our traffic to come from word of mouth, from random people who have heard about it from others. I think it all comes down to what your business is about, what your vision is, where you come from and what you want to do. If people share that vision, and you get some early adopters on board whom like you, then the rest will follow,” Reed said confidently.
Word of mouth only grows if a website or online casino really stands out in the crowd, and Reed thinks his website does just this.
“I think it’s really important that you build something for the players, the customers. If you do that well I think you should be able to make money. One of the aspects that make us one of the best companies out there is the speed of Guts casino cash outs and deposits. Cash outs in particular, because there are a lot of casinos that have this practice from back in the day where you can easily get your money in, but it’s much harder to get it out. Things like sending in all your documents should be an easy process, but it not always is. What happens in other casinos is that they will stall your cash out with a big reversal button showing in the cashier. This makes it so that you, at any point, can cancel the withdrawal so you can continue to play. That’s obviously something they hope that you do so you lose it all back. We actually want to celebrate winners, and people who win in our casino should be able to get their money out as fast as humanly possible. This way people will be happy with our service and advocate the win, and the service to other people. We have the ambition to process cash outs within two hours, so that the customer cannot even change his mind about it,” the Guts CEO said about the unprecedented cash out speed of his online casino.
“We are operation with a EU license provided by the LGA in Malta. By LGA requirement you have to verify your player so that nobody can abuse a credit card. That’s what they call the ‘know your customer’ routine, a process where the person proves that he’s cashing the money out to the same source it was deposited from. We are doing this as well to avoid fraud, but I think it’s important to stress that this procedure should come as early as possible. When you’re registering with Guts Casino, we are trying to get you to send in these documents right away. When the cash out actually happens, we then don’t have to ask you for any documents, we can just send the money right away. Most other casinos will wait until you want your money until they start this process, which can be quite frustrating,” Reed said.
Like every other casino Guts also has some interesting bonuses. Guts wouldn’t be Guts if they didn’t decide to take a slightly different approach to things.
“If you have a Guts casino deposit bonus your money is free. If you deposit €100, we give you another €100, but it would be abuse if you were to cash that out immediately. For as long as you are playing with the deposit bonus on Guts casino, you need to clear it before you can cash it out. You can obviously cash out your own deposited money at any time,” Reed said about the Guts casino deposit bonus.
“We see a lot of casinos offer huge bonuses, but we offer a more balanced starter package. We split up the deposit bonus Guts casino into different parts, because we’ve noticed that a lot of players don’t want to deposit a huge amount of money all at once. Our welcome package is split up into three bonuses, and they are as following. For the first €100 you deposit you get a 100% bonus and 50 free spins on Guts casino. For the second €100 you deposit you get a 50% bonus, and for the third you get another 100% bonus with 50 free spins. We feel that this is the perfect way to try out our casino, and we’re not looking at changing it at all,” Reed said.
About free spins Reed decided to add a little something, as his online casino does things a little different when it comes to free spins.
“I think that free spins are a misleading marketing term for many online casinos. You get those free spins to play with, but you cannot cash out after you win with those. You are subject to wagering requirements most of the times, and that’s fair enough when you have deposited money and you’re playing for your bonus. The free spins however should be free, that’s what the name says. What we are doing different with the Guts casino free spins is that you can cash out the money you’ve won right away. The money is credited to your real money wallet. When people get treated honest in the first place they will come back for more, and that’s something we’ve noticed,” Reed said.
In the past there have been many discussions about bonus abuse, or bonus whoring as some might call it. Reed gives us his very clear vision on this problem; that’s not a problem to him at all.
“The discussion on bonus whoring is a bit weird to me, because why would you be that suspect towards your own customers with something like bonus abuse, something you don’t see that often? Secondly, you really have to look at what bonus abuse is. If somebody is playing within your terms, and they are able to beat your casino with the bonuses, then it’s certainly not bonus abuse. Bonus abuse is only the case when somebody is creating multiple accounts, or violating the T&C in other ways. We don’t have problems with it, and much of that is due to the extensive work we do in the background. It’s an area we’re putting a lot of work into, because most people don’t abuse the casino in any way. They are just taking advantage of your offer, and they should never feel the problems that are arising from the players that are being dishonest. And then we’re talking about a very small amount of players. We are doing an extensive job in the background, we have our own in-house support, payment and fraud team, a development team for the algorithms and we are looking for all kinds of patterns in people’s play. In the end, it doesn’t violate any players, but it makes sure we pick up on problem players before we get any problems,” Reed stated.
“With online casino deposit bonuses it’s all about the casino terms. If you’re offering a bonus that can be cleared with blackjack, then as a casino you’re just going to have to deal with that. I would be surprised if our bonuses were subject to abuse, and I think our bonuses offer players something more to play with from the start,” Reed said.
The Donkr Poker Cruise hosted by Guts Casino
In the old Las Vegas days people were easily excluded from playing if they won a lot of money, but those practices are far behind us now. Reed answers very directly when asked what his policy is on big winners.
“The casino sets the betting limits, and you will just have to pay up if people want to bet big. If you can’t afford certain stakes then you shouldn’t offer those. The stakes on Guts casino are subject to be raised in the future if that’s within our comfort zone, but keep in mind that most casino players don’t play for huge amounts. It is an option for entertainment and most of the players on our site play for €20 and €30 deposits. With moderate stakes we can reach the vast majority of our audience.
"We’ve had quite a few winners on Guts casino, and there were some people that won high five-digit amounts. We did not have any jackpot winners yet, but with the amounts of players that are coming in, we’re sure it will happen soon. We are also looking at launching a community page where people can talk about what they’ve won in our casino,” Reed said about his platform being used for much more than just gambling.
“Guts was vested on four value propositions which we identified as being really, really important for online casino players. We should have the best selection of games, by going with multi software providers. We are constantly talking to software providers to ensure we have the best deals. We are also trying to accumulate the largest online jackpot pool, increase the cash out speed always, and hire customer support from countries all over the world to be able to provide them with the adequate help. We are also very product oriented, and even though I can’t tell too much about what’s going on at the casino right now, I can say that we want to do even more for our loyal players than we are doing right now,” Reed said.
As the interview reached an end, Reed brought up one more very interesting thing. Just like many of his rivals Guts casino will also start offering sports betting and poker in the upcoming months.
“In the fall we are also adding poker and sports betting to our site, so Guts casino is going to be a one-stop shop for online gaming,” Reed said.
“When we decided on the brand name we decided to go for Guts.com, because we like people who challenge themselves. Like I said earlier, we like to celebrate winners and we like people who reach new levels and expand beyond their comfort zone. Guts is a lifestyle brand and it’s all about having fun. We use social media very actively to promote this and we’re looking to see what casino players have in common so we can endorse something like that. On our Twitter and Facebook page you can find other stories of people who have achieved remarkable things in addition to those related to casino. When you’re heading into the world of sports, it becomes an even more viable approach, because people who succeed in sports have a great amount of guts,” Reed closed out with.