Gextech Presents Fantastic League Footbal

23 March 2006

A UK-based company will launch in May a sportsbetting product that combines the action and excitement of a European football match, including commentary, with a variety of betting options-- all within just five minutes.

The company, Gextech, is a content technology provider for the gaming industry specializing in newer channels of technology, such as Internet, mobile, interactive TV, satellite TV broadcasts and, to some extent, gaming machines.

With its headquarters in the UK, all of Gextech's sales for the European market come out of London while all of its development capabilities are based in Spain--one office in Barcelona, the other in Malaga.

Gextech's newest offices in New York and New Jersey opened in 2005 to cater to the North and South American markets.

Gextech boasts a unique gaming format that was developed in their Spanish offices and introduced in 2005 and which may serve to bolster the overall success of the 5 year-old company.

"What distinguishes us from other technology content providers is that our games are designed to span across all platforms from the start," said David Deprez, managing director of Gextech Spain.

Gextech has developed an exclusive means of sports betting called Fantastic League, which is a virtual soccer match ideal for punters on the go.

"Betting on football, because it is a game that, from beginning to end, runs for about two hours, has a lot of success," Deprez said. "But then in many environments like the Internet or bookmaking areas in casinos it is of limited interest because it is just too long. What the Fantastic League does is offer a condensed, much more exciting version of a football match."

Not to be confused with Fantasy Football, in which players put together virtual American football teams by choosing players with the highest statistical output from real NFL teams, Fantastic Football is a simulated game with its players borne of 3D program, developed by Gextech.

"Imagine you go to a bookmaking area in a casino and on a large screen would see a five-minute game, within which there is a preamble in which the upcoming match is presented, the teams are presented and all the betting options are presented," Deprez explained. "This is also the time in which the players get the opportunity to place their bets and after a minute-and-a-half the betting closes. The match runs for three minutes during which we combine all the action you would normally find over a one-and-a-half football match by using 3D animation technologies."

Instead of using video clips, Gextech has developed what Deprez described as a 3D PC game or PlayStation-type environment. With its own technology platform Gextech generate the matches, with outcomes produced randomly by the system.

"We have certified random number generators that will determine what the outcome of the match is going to be," Deprez said. "Based on that, it calculates all of the events that can take place during the match. All of that is generated in the form of a storyboard and then our 3D engine kicks in and generates a 3D animation of the match from beginning to end."

For rights reasons, Fantastic League players are not based on real players for the time being, but Deprez said it is something that may be considered in the future.

"The format is based on leagues," Deprez explained. "The product is going to be launched in May with 12 teams that play together in the league. Some of the teams are stronger; some of the teams are weaker. Whether or not they win is determined by a variety of factors."

Beta testing for Fantastic League is being conducted in closed-group runs with Gextech clients, but not with the public. It will be brought into more than 7 million homes in the UK in May via SkyVegasLive, followed soon after by the Internet. Eventually, the product will reach bookmakers, betting shops, casinos and mobile platforms.

Deprez said Gextech operates from a clean business model, which means they will not supply the product to customers who are looking to take bets from non regulated territories. They will only work within regulated jurisdictions.

However, the technology design lends itself to the possibility of seeing Fantastic League in the U.S., just not on the Internet.

"In terms of being able to use the product in different territories, not every territory has the same take-up and the same legal environment for the different channels," Deprez said. "So, Internet betting in the U.S. is not an option for the short-term. However, having machines that run the Fantastic League within controlled environments, such as a casino or a bookmaking section within a casino, is of relevance."

In the future Deprez would like to see the company expand its portfolio and apply its multi-channel technology into other team sports.

"Our platform, because of the way it's designed, is going to allow us over time, and based on market demands, to bring out other games like American football, ice hockey or you name it," he said.

Gextech will present demonstrations of Fantastic League in May at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit and Expo (GIGSE).

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.