SBC Barcelona: New markets important, but don’t forget the mature ones

September 20, 2023 2:51 PM
Photo: Jake Pollard
  • Jake Pollard, CDC Gaming Reports
September 20, 2023 2:51 PM
  • Jake Pollard, CDC Gaming Reports

The leaders of online-gambling companies Flutter, Leo Vegas, Kindred, Yolo Group, and Betsson emphasized their international credentials as they discussed “exploring global growth markets” in the opening panel of the SBC Summit in Barcelona on Tuesday.

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Daniel Taylor, CEO International at Flutter Entertainment, kicked off proceedings by saying his company always aimed “for leadership positions in local markets” and combined this with its “global scale to be leader in all markets we operate in.”

The industry buzzword “glocal’,” global scale combining with local offerings, was a running theme throughout the panel, with Kindred CEO Nils Anden explaining that for his group, the “playbook is roughly the same regardless of the market we’re in: product, CX (customer experience), and payments”.

Jesper Svensson, CEO of Betsson, said it was “important to have lots of legs to stand on.” He added that there were “so many regulatory risks” that for Betsson, the focus was on “building up new markets to get them to scale”; operating across a broad range of markets enabled it to “diversify risk.”

Gustaf Hagman, CEO of LeoVegas, explained that since the group was acquired by the U.S. giant MGM Resorts, it was focusing “more on regulated markets and we’re seeing more and more regulation coming onstream in the near future. There is Brazil and Finland in a couple of years.” As a result, it has shifted focus somewhat from growth and expansion into new markets toward “the product side of things. Leo Vegas was focused on mobile-first from the start. That’s what we set out to do in 2012 and that will continue to be the focus for us.”

For all the excitement around new markets, such as Brazil, Quirino Mancini, Global Head of Gaming at the Italian law firm Tonucci & Partners, commented that during the previous day’s roundtables, all the focus was on Brazil and Africa and this spoke “to where new competitors are going next.”

He added this was fair and that many of the issues relevant to mature markets, such as the UK, Italy, and France, were known, but that “actually, a market like Germany is very much a work in progress. In Italy, things (reforms) are happening and we still need to keep an eye on these key markets.”

“I was surprised to see there was not much traffic on the mature-markets roundtables compared with the massive crowds overwhelming the poor Brazilian regulator during the roundtables,” he added.

Yolo Group operates the crypto sportsbooks and BitCasino and CEO Maarja Part said most of the operators in the sector “all have the same suppliers.” As a result, “It’s almost more important if you have an unfair advantage. You can put yourself out there with new products and that’s what sets us apart.”

Jesper Svensson concluded, “The winners tend to be those with the best products and this can be with something as simple as payments. For example, in Brazil and Peru, if you have good payment systems, you have a strong advantage. When regulation comes in, it can be tough and if you have a good mix of all those components, you have a good opportunity to compete. Glocal is still relevant — the right products, payments, games, and marketing, but you also need to act on a global scale. It’s a balancing act.”