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Starting Small

Anna Shahbazyan, Regional Director, Latin America, BetConstruct

Starting Small

It all began with tennis.

Anna Shahbazyan, a lifelong fan of the sport, played as a child right through Yerevan State University in her hometown in Armenia. Upon graduation, she learned that a local company which focused on sports betting was hiring.

“I thought it would be an interesting way to get paid and watch Rafael Nidal!” Shahbazyan says. “Never did I think it would lead to a life-changing career that would send me around the world.”

The local company, BetConstruct, was a startup business at the time. Shahbazyan was one of just 10 employees. “I saw potential and a future for growth.”

She began by researching horse racing, then migrated to trading and odds setting.

“This gave me a thorough understanding of the basics of our business. I understood early on that BetConstruct had a unique and innovative suite of products,” Shahbazyan says.

She also desired to utilize her knowledge of the Spanish language.

“I asked if I could head up our expansion into Latin America,” she says.

Shahbazyan is now regional director for Latin America, overseeing offices in Montevideo and Lima from the firm’s Los Angeles office. “Additionally, I am actively involved in directing the development and expansion of the North American market.”

As a company, BetConstruct has grown to over 3,500 employees. From one office in Armenia, the company has opened 17 offices globally.

“In the span of my career I have seen the global increase in sports betting, online casino, esports, virtual sports, and live casino studios. As the industry grew and matured, so did BetConstruct,” Shahbazyan says.

Then came Covid-19. Shahbazyan worked harder and for more hours during the first stage of the pandemic.

“Because we are first and foremost a software and technology company, my colleagues and I were able to work very efficiently remotely,” she explains. “Perhaps the biggest silver lining was showing brick-and-mortar operators and government regulators the need to establish online gaming revenue streams.”

As her response to the pandemic illustrates, Shahbazyan confronts obstacles head on.

“I don’t avoid or ‘wish away’ challenges,” she says. “I look at them and logically conclude what will be beneficial to all parties involved.”

As for mentors, without a doubt Shahbazyan names Vigen Badalyan, CEO and founder of BetConstruct.

“You have to be a forward-thinking visionary to take a small company and grow it into a global leader in gaming in less than two decades,” she says. “Vigen, through his hard work, has changed the lives of literally thousands. He has allowed me to fulfill my potential, and the best is yet to come.”

Her advice to younger employees entering the gaming industry? “Take time to enjoy the moment and have an attitude of gratitude.”

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.

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