Having proven itself as one of 2020’s standout industry performers, BetGames has not been one to rest on its laurels in the first six months of 2021, launching a host revamped games, as well as establishing its Malta hub with plans to take the company from 100 to 300 team members by the end of the year.
We caught up with BetGames’ Head of Sales, Thomas Aigner, to talk through the studio’s latest moves and plans for continued global expansion.
Looking back at the last six months for European markets, how can we assess performance and what we’ve seen as an industry?
There’s been two main stand-outs that we’ve witnessed: the increasing player preference for low-stakes entertainment and the popularity of live gaming generally as a remedy for quarantine. As lockdowns have continued in the first half of this year, our games have retained a wealth of players since we intrinsically attract a lower spend with far more regular play – as well a fixed-odds betting format that has ensured we’re a welcome home for sportsbook customers looking to try something new.
In light of what has been effectively an ongoing recession, we’ve also learned that the key to player engagement is a low-spend proposition without the risk of big losses, combined with simplicity in gameplay and the high-frequency in sessions. Given that the majority of players the world over have been observing social isolation, this makes perfect sense – with a strong preference for pick-up-and-play products that offer live entertainment for hours without emptying their wallet. The live experience has been a well-placed antidote to the seclusion that many have experienced over the last 12 months or so.
I think one of the biggest lessons learned has been that diversification is imperative. Pre-Covid, we’d expect operators to be focusing up to 70% of their spend on promoting sports and little else. Those who continued with that approach through 2020 and indeed, the first six months of this year, given the lack of retail environments in Europe, have really felt the pinch.
Moving forward, there needs to be far more focus on alternatives such as ours, as we’ve clearly learned that sports fans are unaccustomed to the majority of casino, or indeed the playing format available, even with Live Casino. It is essential that suppliers take onboard the lessons learned from betting activity, especially when it comes to providing the low-spend, extended sessions that have proven to work so well, and adapt accordingly.
When it comes to BetGames, what regions have been key in Europe so far? Where have you been focusing your energy?
Europe is an incredibly diverse continent when it comes to playing styles, and the BetGames customer certainly varies between markets. On the whole, we attract sports bettors, which is particularly the case in Eastern Europe, where we know that 70-80% of our returning customers are sports fans – and this is one way we really differentiate ourselves as a supplier against our competitors.
For mature markets, such as Scandinavia and the UK, products such as Bet on Poker have performed particularly well, as they offer a playing format that resonates very strongly with players, delivering a winning combination of both poker, which is a continental favourite, alongside the fixed-odds betting format we are famous for.
Looking to new entrances, expansion in Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Ukraine and Georgia are top of the agenda for us, with this summer’s sporting calendar likely to give a welcome boost for all. Having said that, we’re aware that is hard to bring in new game types that can resonate with established players – this requires significant time and resources. We’ve revamped our commercial department accordingly to handle both expansion and our existing partners, which means we have close to triple the resources from last year to have the helping hands in place to support the day-to-day.
As has been evident from many of our recently agreed partnerships, We’re set to work together on pushing and promoting our products with the operator group, dedicating a separate category for our games. This kind of approach will be particularly effective as we differ from traditional Live Dealer and Live Casino Games – which means our target demographic is different. This means that together we can focus on particular player segments that we can engage and retain.
Tell us about the launch of your Malta Hub – that’s certainly big news for BetGames – that must be big news for your recruitment plans?
To keep pace with our rapid recent growth, we realised that we had to expand our capacity and we’re planning to greatly increase our headcount. Opening the Malta office was a logical step in that roadmap, not only to cater for the extra bodies but also to position ourselves closer to the heart of the igaming industry.
Looking at the numbers, we have incredibly ambitious plans to increase our 200-strong team by more than 50%, with our Malta hub ready to provide a platform for attracting the best of the industry’s talent. It will also be a hugely convenient place to meet our clients and friends, and while we understand the way that businesses and people have evolved in the last 12 months, we recognise the need to have that base where our colleagues can be inspired and productive – offering a home, a meeting place, and a space where we can collaborate and innovate.
The long-term strategy we’re currently on course with is set to change our operations as we know them. By planting our flag in Malta, I see it as an excellent chance to transform the company to a new level of growth that will help us to increase in size and revolutionise the way we deliver service to our partners.
When looking at Europe – how would summarise the changing trends of player demand? What products do you plan to offer accordingly?
Increased regulation in Europe is also going to have plenty of influence on shaping player demand over the year ahead. In my view, the key to success if going to be offering regulation-friendly, low-stakes, simple and easy extended entertainment that can keep players engaged without emptying their wallet.
Economic circumstances (as well as lockdowns) demand this – and players want an easily accessible experience that can be enjoyed in a low-spend format. This is especially going to be the case this summer – and our approach is to always offer complementary products that can boost engagement and sportsbook spend, rather than drain it.
BetGames is a great acquisition tool for new players – while also broadening the target group for live content because of the simplicity and availability of content, odds and betslip format, attracting sports bettors. Accordingly, our partners need content that can fit in seamlessly alongside a sports betting offering, and we’ve specifically designed our catalogue to work in this way. Sports betting margins will always be inherently higher for operators as they don’t carry the cost of using a third-party, making us one of the few suppliers globally that can truly offer a partnership that can boost both sides of the coin.
Last but not least – where are the key markets in Europe for growth our readers should be watching over the next 12 months? Where has BetGames got its eye on?
We’ve got our eye firmly fixed on Greece at the moment, as already mentioned, but looking further afield, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Brazil, Ukraine and Georgia are other territories that we see plenty of potential in, as I’m sure most of our fellow European suppliers and operators see too.
In evaluating where’s best for us, there’s a host of regulated markets available and we’ve got to make sure that we’re entering the regions best suited to us and our portfolio. We’ve significantly changed our assessment criteria to make it a far more comprehensive process to apply due diligence. This means that we’ve now got our own taskforce dedicated to performing key market analysis with a criteria that encompasses both qualitative and quantitative data. This now totals 14 different key factors that we analyse to work out where our products will work best – and we’re very excited for the bringing our unique catalogue to more players than ever before!