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Meet Ian Zerafa, our Associate Gaming Specialist

Ian's spent his iGaming career working on some of the industry's top supersites. Across three years in casino and sports, he's covered hundreds of products in different markets, including the US, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. He's a go-to authority for English-language casinos worldwide, and his drive makes sure that we bring top-quality products to players. His current focus is on Ireland and New Zealand.

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About Ian

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Ian's an ambitious all-rounder who likes to excel at everything he does. During the pandemic, he was enrolled in two master's degrees in two different countries simultaneously, and achieved distinctions in both. His high standards and zeal show through in his work, and he's got a flair for ferreting out the tiny details that make casinos sink or swim, and recommends the best ones to our readers.

What makes Ian an expert?

Ian's been working at some of the biggest casino and sports betting sites in the industry for over three years, and has led teams of reviewers, editors, and freelancers. He's built out extensive libraries of information about some of the biggest gambling markets in the world, most notably the US.

As an experienced editor in both creative and commercial contexts, Ian can spot jargon-heavy vaguery in T&Cs and fine print a mile off, which has led to many deep explorations and call-outs of gambling sites' terms.

Experience

Casino.org

  • Associate Gaming Specialist - Oct 2023 - Present

Time2Play

  • US Content Team Lead Feb 2023 - Oct 2023
  • Senior Content Editor Sep 2022 - Feb 2023
  • Content Editor - May 2021 - Sep 2022
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Education

Ian's university career provided him with ample opportunities to hone his deep research skills, practice critical thinking, and understand the best methods to share and communicate information online.

Free spins deposit bonus

3 years in iGaming

Ian has reviewed hundreds of gambling sites in this time

Rating Stars

High achiever

An ambitious talent, Ian's work ethic has led to multiple promotions in his short career

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Journalism background

Before switching to iGaming, Ian worked in news, and knows how to fact-find

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Always learning

Two Masters degrees, one from a World Top 100 university. Served as a consultant to The British Library

How does Ian stay up-to-date?

In Ian's job, it's vital to keep up with changing rules and market trends. He's the one who makes sure everyone knows what's going on. To do this, Ian regularly checks specific websites and publications that focus on iGaming news. These sources help her stay on top of what's happening in the industry.

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EGR Global

EGR Global is a leading provider of business-to-business information for the online gaming industry.

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NEXT.io

NEXT.io is a platform for enthusiasts of the tech side of gambling, offering insights and resources on technologies, innovations, and news.

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Gambling Insider

Gambling Insider offers industry news and analysis for the global gambling sector.

Q&A with Ian

Why did you start writing about casinos?

I grew up playing chess, cards, and dominos with my grandad. Having a big extended family, some of my earliest memories are everyone being over for the holidays in my grandparents' dining room, playing Rummy for a few cents a hand. Just before I hit my teens, the online gambling industry exploded in Malta. It brought in thousands of workers from all over the world, all competing and collaborating together.

With the background I had in journalism and my endless thirst for learning, it was a match made in heaven. A truly global industry in my small island home, playing the games I grew up with. How could I do anything else? Throw in the fact that I could indulge my pedantry and help people by calling out and correcting others' misinformation, and I was sold.

What's the first thing you look for at an online casino?

Wagering requirements. Every single time. It's an obvious, basic choice, but in my opinion it's one of the simplest and most accurate litmus tests you can get at a casino. If they're easy, simple, and up-to-standard, most other things at the casino usually are too. If they're needlessly complex in ways that aren't player-friendly, it's usually a sign that the rest of the casino will be the same way.

The other great litmus test for me is customer service. I always test the live chat. There is a world of difference between a casino that invests in good people who truly know their product to help and guide their players, and ones who hire a couple of people to sit there and read off a script. Or worse, hook up their support line to ChatGPT and try to convince you it's a real person.

If you could only play one casino game forever, what would it be?

Certainly a tough one. I don't think I could pick just one, but if I had to narrow down to two, it's poker and blackjack. They're both strategic, and I like to feel like I'm improving when I play games. I certainly couldn't pick something purely luck-based forever. I need to feel like my knowledge of both the rules and the most effective strategies is deepening with each hand.

One (former) poker pro I identify with is certainly Liv Boeree. As someone who has a varied array of interests and hobbies, and likes to improve in everything I do, I think she's a good one to look up to. An accomplished professional in many different fields, a great science communicator, and above all, an exceptional poker player.

Ian's top tip

"Interesting fact: casinos don't make their own games most of the time. They 'rent' them from studios called software providers. My top tip is to learn who the top providers are, and get familiar with their top games. If you find a casino that has none of the top studios represented there, something's probably up. If a casino can't get any of the best names in the industry to work with it, it's usually a big red flag."

Ian's areas of expertise

With many niches in the market, specializing is beneficial. While Ian knows a lot about iGaming, he's particularly strong in these areas:

Online gaming in Ireland

Online gaming in Ireland

One of Ian's duties at Casino.org is taking charge of the Irish iGaming market. The cyberspace around the Emerald Isle is absolutely chock-full of gambling sites. Part of Ian's job is to be clued up on the latest market changes, all regulation and legislation, and to stay up to date providing our readers with the latest scoops on the newest casinos.

Software providers

Software providers

Ian likes to dig into the studios behind your favorite games. He finds that there are lots of patterns and specialties between different studios. If you're a fan of a particular style of game, there's a good chance that they're from the same (or partnered) providers. Ian likes to keep track of the innovators and upstarts as well as the established giants.

Ian's favorite iGaming influencer

Daniel Negreanu - KidPoker

Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu is a poker legend who's super fun to watch. He's great at breaking down tricky poker strategies into simple, easy-to-understand tips, and makes everyone feel like part of the action. Beyond the game, he's a positive voice in the poker world, promoting fairness and fun for everyone.

Find him on his RealKidPoker X account (formerly Twitter)

What iGaming events does Ian recommend?

Lots of iGaming events happen around the world every year, and Ian has been to quite a few. If you're keen on learning about the industry, he recommends checking out ICE London, SIGMA World, and the CASINOBEATS Summit. They give you a good peek into what's coming up in iGaming.

ICE London

ICE London

"ICE London is a major gaming expo where professionals showcase new ideas and discuss industry trends. It's a great place to network and learn about innovations in game tech."

CASINOBEATS Summit Malta

CASINOBEATS Summit Malta

"Events on the home turf in Malta are always a big event, and CASINOBEATS Summit Malta is one of the biggest. You'll find presentations and discussions focused on key trends and topics shaping the future of casinos."

SIGMA World

SIGMA World

SIGMA World brings together industry leaders and stakeholders from around the world. If you want to follow casinos around the globe, this is a great one to attend, since the location's always changing — but there's usually an annual Malta edition sprinkled in.

Ian's top casino memories

Best gambling experience

  • A sportsbook gave me a free bet to use on a live game, and I forgot about it. I was watching the EPL later, and it was 75 minutes in, United were up 2-0, and that bet was about to expire. I said 'what's the worst that could happen?' and bet on a draw. The comeback happened. Easiest (and silliest) €80 i've ever made.

Worst gambling experience

  • I went to a casino-themed party when I was at uni, and they gave us a bunch of fake cash. The rule was 'there are prizes for whoever makes the most money by the end of the night.' It was on. I spend two and a half hours at the blackjack table, and turned 2,000 (fake) euros into 15,000. And I still only came second because some knucklehead went all-in on roulette, and came up trumps 7 times in a row. It was a stark reminder that luck's often more important than skill and strategy when it comes to gambling. Still, second place was a steak dinner for two, so I didn't get off too badly.
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I joined a major site when it was still a concept on google docs, and helped build it out into a massive brand. I've worked on hundreds of casinos across many different countries, and all kinds of products from real money live games and sports betting to sweeps and social slots. But digging into gambling sites and understanding what makes them tick is certainly the best part for me. It makes a real difference when it helps to protect players' wallets.

Ian Zerafa
Associate Gaming Specialist