Today we also sat down with Athanasios-Thanos Marinos – MD Greece at Betsson Group, and talked about the Greek gambling industry.
Betsson has been active in the Greek market for 12 months now. Has the market performed in line with expectations?
We launched Betsson in Greece on 11 June, 2021, and since then we have gained incredible traction in the market. This is because we have leveraged the tremendous experience we have gained in other jurisdictions and used it to deliver a superior player experience in Greece. This includes providing players with access to a wide range of casino games and a compelling sportsbook product, underpinned by award-winning customer support. This has enabled us to gain a significant share of the market in a short space of time and this is something we will now build on as we continue to improve the product and experience we offer to players in Greece, and as the market continues to mature and grow.
What drew Betsson to Greece in the first place?
Greece is one of the largest markets in Europe, so it was a natural step for Betsson to apply for a licence from the Hellenic Gaming Commission when it moved to a regulated model in 2021. To not only secure this licence but to be the first operator to do so was an incredibly proud moment for us and is evidence of our position as a leading regulated markets operator. Today, we hold licences in 19 jurisdictions around the world with an ambitious strategy to enter even more regulated markets over the coming months and years.
What are the key challenges faced when entering a newly regulated market? How are these challenges overcome?
There are always plenty of challenges faced when entering new markets and this is why it is incredibly important to carry out thorough research before applying for a licence. Operators must understand what players are looking for from an online casino and/or sportsbook and then determine whether they are able to offer this or not while being fully compliant with the regulations in place. This research also helps when it comes to localisation and understanding what it will take to not only compete with but stand out from other brands in the market.
Understanding the regulations is also a must. This is the only way to ensure that the licensing process is smooth and seamless, and that time is not lost going back and forth with the regulator over issues that can be avoided by simply following the rules that are in place. It must be said that the Hellenic Gaming Commission was incredibly professional in this regard and went to great lengths to support operators throughout the process while also ensuring its standards were being met and that players were protected.
Of course, we had to make sure that we had the necessary resources and infrastructure in place to overcome any challenges faced – from regulation to tax to compliance – in order to secure our Greek licence and successfully enter the market.
The market is growing quickly. What is driving this growth and what role is Betsson playing in this?
The market is growing incredibly quickly, and we expect this to continue for several years to come. This will be driven by more players becoming aware that online sportsbook and casino is legal and regulated, and available to them. This will see many consumers shift away from playing at land-based venues to playing on their laptops, tablets and smartphones. We plan to spearhead this growth by continuing to deliver a superior experience to our players.
What player trends are emerging? How do these preferences compare to other regulated markets in Europe?
Due to the pandemic and the lack of sporting events we saw an uptick in online casino play and also in the popularity of virtuals. While the return of sports has seen many players transition back, virtual games and in-play are still incredibly popular across both sports betting and casino. What’s more, mobile is very much the dominant channel of play, and we are capturing a huge share of the mobile market in Greece and right across Europe thanks to the Betsson Native Mobile App which has won several industry awards.
Is live casino popular with players? If so, what makes it so popular?
Live casino is actually one of the best performing verticals in Greece, both for Betsson and the wider market. That is why we have partnered with innovative live dealer providers who continue to launch new games and features that ensure our players can enjoy the most engaging and entertaining live experience with Betsson. In terms of what makes it so popular, it is the combination of the thrilling gameplay, the authentic casino environment and the interaction with the dealer and other players.
How have you localised your brands for the Greek market?
Localisation is absolutely key in Greece. We are competing with retail brands that have been active in the market for more than a decade and know exactly what players are looking for. For Betsson, we are firm believers that a one-size-fits-all approach is very much a thing of the past and that is why we see localisation as an ongoing task with us always looking at new ways of offering a more personalised player experience.
Of course, it is just as important to gain brand awareness and engage with players and to do that we have rolled out a number of marketing initiatives. This includes sponsoring the SuperLeague2, which was renamed the Betsson SuperLeague2. The goal here was to be present at all of the 32 football grounds in Greece rather than just supporting one or two of the big teams.
Other sponsorship agreements entered include the Rally Acropolis WRC and the International Cycling Tour of Greece. These agreements around high-profile sporting events allow us to generate brand awareness both locally and internationally, so they deliver huge value.
What will the Greek market look like in another 12 months’ time?
It will look a lot more competitive, that’s for sure. We expect to see more operators enter the market over the next 12 months and that will undoubtedly lead to some level of consolidation. The market itself will grow and evolve and we expect the Hellenic Gaming Commission to roll out several important initiatives that will help the land-based sector develop and become more involved with the online market.
Is Betsson committed to Greece for the long term? What plans do you have for the market?
Betsson is here to stay, and we have high expectations for the Greek market. We are a challenger brand right now but very soon, with hard work and commitment, we plan to become one of the top brands in the country. We have even opened a tech hub in Athens and have a number of Betssonites working in Greece to ensure that we really understand the market and what players are looking for. There is no better way of doing this than having boots on the ground.