Westport company claims world gaming first

A Westport company is claiming a world first in the United States' digital gaming market.

Loot Winner, part of technology hub Epic Westport, recently gained access to the United States' gaming market, co-owner Ben Dellaca said yesterday.

The United States topped the world with almost $143 billion dollars gaming spending in 2014. However, Mr Dellaca said the US spend on online gaming was small because federal governments had regulated against it.

He said Loot Winner had partnered with the American horse racing industry so Loot Winner's games could gain access to the US.

"We will be the first company that will be able to aggress this market and start expanding that slice that there already was a demand for in the United States, and we'll be able to do that from Westport …

"We've also partnered with Facebook in what is a world first … to be able to market and distribute those games across the US …

"We are the only company that are able to do this in the world. There's a thick, healthy demand segment sitting out there somewhere in the world and our 2017 is all about addressing that opportunity."

Finance Minister Steven Joyce, who was at Epic Westport yesterday to announce the Government's ultra-fast broadband expansion on the West Coast, welcomed the deal.

"I'm just excited wearing my finance hat - there'll be some tax over here."

Mr Dellaca said Loot Winner was able to put 10 products into the UK market last year, with the support of Development West Coast and the Westport community. Previously Loot Winner had managed only three products a year, he said.

Loot Winner makes gambling/entertainment games for digital devices. Players receive 98 percent of the winnings, Loot Winter takes 1 percent and the rest goes on expenses.

Working for Disney

Another Dellaca company, CerebralFix, owns Loot Winner. Cerebral Fix provides software for games to global entertainment companies like Disney.

Mr Dellaca said CerebralFix was leading the world in some of its work for Disney, which showed such work was possible from Westport.

He admitted CerebralFix had tried, but failed last year to come up with a way for its Westport and Christchurch staff to work together.

As a result it had to put off two Westport staff it had just hired.

"When your mission is creating jobs in the district it leaves a little bit of a bitter taste in your mouth… We did, of course, get past that and we are functioning well."

Mr Dellaca said CerebralFix would continue working for Disney and he hoped to reveal something "incredibly exciting" by the end of this year.

He said Epic Westport was also working with innovative Kiwi companies including Springfree, which had invented the first internet trampoline, and Skilitix, which was developing virtual reality training for radiographers.

He suggested that Skilitix, which is based in Epic Christchurch but has three Westport directors, could come back home.

"I'm just saying, not looking at anyone Garry," he said, glancing at Buller Mayor Garry Howard who instigated the CerebralFix move to Westport.

Epic Westport opened almost a year ago in a building owned by Ben's father Murray. The building was once part of the Dellaca family's Postie Plus clothing empire which began in Westport.

Epic Westport co-founder, Ben Dellaca's wife Natasha, said the technology hub had met its target of creating 22.5 jobs last year.

The cost of creating each job amounted to $20,000 - between 5% and 10% of the traditional cost of creating a job, she said.

"Even if half those jobs are sustainable over a five-year period or a 10-year period we are still beating the traditional targets."

--Westport News

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