Life of a Sportsbook

Building from the ground up to become leaders in online gaming

The transformative journey of SuperSport and minus5. The constant drive for innovation and the strong dedication to providing the best sports betting experience in the dynamic world of online gaming


In the quiet year of 2000, a spark ignited in the sports betting industry in Croatia. SuperSport, a fledgling company at the time, took its first steps into the market. I couldn't even imagine that this organization would later become a vital part of my life, a platform for my creativity, and a playground for my design and coding skills.

Today, SuperSport is a market leader, a part of the Entain Group, standing tall as the largest sports betting company in Croatia​ and I'm really proud to be part of its story.

The Turning Point

Flash forward a few years to 2005/2006, when I was working on Casino games and Horse Shoe, a virtual horse betting game for SuperSport; It was then that I crossed paths with minus5, then known as Mobilnet, a product-oriented IT company, part of SuperSport, that had been flexing its muscles in the world of innovative and complex sports betting solution development for almost 20 years now.

After the near completion of Horse Shoe, I found myself at a crossroads in my career. It was at this pivotal moment that I decided to join minus5. This decision marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter in my life, as I was about to embark on a journey of growth and discovery that would forever change my perspective on the world of technology, web, and game development.

Joining minus5 allowed me to continue working on Horse Shoe, but my responsibilities soon expanded beyond the realm of game development.

I took over product design and frontend development for all sports betting products that were in our portfolio at the time, including prematch sportsbook, lotto, player account, wallet, and other platform services.

My prior experience was based in the world of game development, where creativity and technical skills come together to create engaging experiences. But web development was a completely different challenge, a field where design and functionality had to work together seamlessly, where the user interface was the top priority, and the digital landscape was constantly evolving and a bit basic compared to the usual game development environment.

As I was stepping out into something completely new, this new role challenged me in ways I had never experienced before, pushing me to develop completely new skills and explore unfamiliar territory.

.. but I was ready for the challenge

Going Live

With time we've added a significant amount of new features and expanded our platform to be fully operational on the side of online betting, especially by adding online payments since the legislation before didn't permit full-blown online gaming with payments. This set the SuperSport trajectory into a completely new era of online gaming, which was a great milestone for the company.

Overall, it was an exciting time, but what's really etched into my memory was our venture to expand the platform by creating a live betting feature.

It was a massive undertaking, and we were pushing the boundaries of technology at the time and what had been done before. But it was also a spark, a starting point that ignited our most productive years in the history of minus5.

The Release into Production

I remember the night we released our first live betting feature; it was somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning. My excitement about going into the production was strong, and the feeling of achievement was incredible. I watched as, within 20 minutes of going live, a large number of users came to the platform, placing their bets and engaging with the experience we had created.

It was a surreal moment; we had elegantly developed and set in production such a complex product, and our users were embracing it.

SuperSport Sportsbook // Live Betting 2011

First poster for SuperSport Live Betting marketing campaign.

When we were near the end of development, along the way, I also quickly created marketing materials. This covered all our bases for launch, and we were ready.

SuperSport Sportsbook // Live Betting 2011

Designs for the first version of SuperSport Live Betting we launched back in 2011

Growing Up

That was just the beginning of our journey. Over time, we adapted to the shifting sands of technology and design. On the backend, frontend, and UI/UX sides, we never stopped pushing for more and better to remain at the cutting edge.

SuperSport Sportsbook // Live Betting v1.5 - 2012

Immediately following the release of SuperSport Live 1.0, we dove straight into the process of ideation, prototyping, and development of an enhanced suite of features for version 1.5.

Some changes were subtle, focusing on user experience tweaks and improvements. Others, however, introduced brand new elements like live video streaming and timelines

For example, we started with long polling for sports data 'streaming' (since web sockets were a thing of the future at that time), then developed a hybrid approach combining polling and the first incarnations of web sockets to support all browsers on the market to end up with pure socket streaming in recent years finally. While doing so and under the helm of our CTO Igor Anic, and exceptional expertise of Sasa Juric (the renowned writer of Elixir in Action books), we changed several technologies, from .NET, Ruby on Rails, to Erlang, then Elixir, and finally to Go.

On the frontend, we transitioned from simple EJS templates to Handlebars, then to Angular, and to React in the end.

The UI and UX

Design of the user interface and overall UX saw several transformations, each iteration striving to outdo the previous. Our goal was simple - to provide the best sports betting experience in the market.

Our strong focus on user experience was the main reason behind our constant drive for innovation.

We were never satisfied with just being 'good enough'; we aimed to give our users the best sports betting experience available, and that meant continuously challenging ourselves to improve and come up with new ideas.

SuperSport Sportsbook // Live Betting v2.0 - 2013 (Wireframes)

We remained relentless in our ideation and innovation, consistently striving to deliver the optimal experience for our players. Approximately a year after the release of version 1.5, we launched SuperSport Live 2.0. This update not only provided more opportunities for our players to immerse themselves in live events, but also unveiled a fully redesigned user interface capable of supporting an ever-expanding array of live matches.

Additionally, we introduced a new set of customization features that facilitated the tracking of multiple simultaneous matches. As our offerings continued to grow, we recognized the necessity of providing a means for our players to conveniently follow several selected matches at once.

The first thing I did was conduct research and create quick wireframe ideations. Once we were satisfied with the direction things were taking, I immersed myself in crafting the actual UI designs and creating live prototypes using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

SuperSport Sportsbook // Live Betting V2.0 - 2013

Following the creation of prototypes, the next step was to design the user interfaces. My usual approach is to produce several quick versions, then experiment with combinations of different elements from each. This method facilitates the swift elimination of prototypes that don't integrate well with the overall system we're building.

Once I've simplified the designs and achieved a balanced aesthetic, it's time to delve into coding. This stage involves populating the interface with actual data and frequently altering states, mirroring the dynamic nature of live betting

A small and passionate team of talented people can create miracles

Thinking about it today, the speed, agility, and pure determination of how we've been able to quickly move and completely redo huge parts of the system over and over again is impressive.

..and at the time, we were a company of 8 to 10 people.

8 to 10 people, who laid the foundations for the most systems and designs SuperSport is having today.

But that is not what ships are built for..

As the years went on, we expanded into many new territories. We ventured into the world of the mobile web, developed live scores on the web, live scores for sports and the lotto that could be displayed on TV screens in shops, created a mobile app for sports betting called Sporti, and many many more.

With each new project, we pushed the boundaries of what was possible, and with each success, we set the bar even higher for ourselves.

This journey has been one of constant change and growth, a story of the dynamic nature of the industry and the resilience of our team.

I've learned that in an ever-changing world, the only way to keep up is to change with it. To never be content with the status quo, to always strive to do better, never fear to step into something new, and to give more. That's the beauty of this process. It's a journey of self-growth, where you have the opportunity to evolve and expand alongside people you are working with, as a professional but also as a person; if you embrace the flow and enjoy the ride.

When in doubt or hesitant to make a new step, always remember:

"A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for."

for Visiting

.. and now that you've scrolled down here, maybe I can invite you to explore other sections of this site

for Visiting

.. and now that you've scrolled down here, maybe I can invite you to explore other sections of this site