Jesper Kärrbrink: Consolidation could shift the games content balance

Jesper Kärrbrink, chairman at Green Jade Games, believes that the imminent takeover of NetEnt by Evolution Gaming, while being a “fantastic deal” for both parties, could shift the balance and provide an opportunity for the smaller games providers. 

Speaking as part of the day-three ‘Leaders Panel’ at CasinoBeats Malta Digital, Kärrbrink explained: “Suddenly, operators might have 30 or 40 per cent of revenues from the same supplier. This opens up more opportunities for the smaller guys because as an operator you need to risk-diversify your content, and not put all your eggs in one basket.” 

He added: “From an Evolution and NetEnt perspective this is a fantastic deal but it could come out good for Green Jade and other smaller suppliers too.”

A strong collection of industry leaders, moderated by Altenar COO Dinos Stranomitis, also discussed the inevitable shift to online gaming during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alexander Martin, CEO of SKS365, told delegates how the Italian government imposed a decree on 8 March forcing the closure of 1,000 SKS365 shops in Italy. He admitted that the subsequent shift to online has left the operator with a broader, and more diversified, online portfolio but that he remains “a strong believer in omnichannel presence”.

Martin added: “What may be a surprise to people is that, during the months of lockdown we invested heavily in our shop operations and shop technology. We brought out a new set of SSBTs and cashier solutions, so it is now easier for customers to play within the betting shops. It also helps nowadays to secure social distancing.”

Pontus Lindwall, CEO of Betsson, wasn’t giving much away when probed by Stranomitis about the operator’s M&A plans, but said that his business was in a “strong position”.

“The only thing we suspended (during the lockdown) was the start-up of new sports betting projects like the launch of our sportsbook with a third party client,” said Lindwall. “That was not possible to do because there were no sports to bet on.”

Kärrbrink was more forthcoming about the prospect of future M&A for gaming, albeit more on the land-based side. “The bigger land-based operators have been very dependent on their bricks and mortar business,” he said. In those boardrooms now there has to be discussions now about M&A to mitigate that risk going forward, perhaps not for a second wave per se, but for the next time something like this happens.”

The Green Jade Games Chairman also recognised that it has been a “fantastic time” for his company, having signed more than 25 operators in the lockdown period. He added: “You can’t blame the coronavirus if your business has not been flying as a game provider.”

Meanwhile, Ariel Reem, CEO of Genesis Global, shared some encouraging signs of the gambling behaviour displayed in lockdown. “Common sense was you’d expect people to sit at home and consume more,” he said. “Actually it was not the case at all. 

“What we actually saw was a drop of 5-10% in player deposits depending on the region. We also saw more use of responsible gambling tools – that was very encouraging to see. So, the database is acting in a healthy way, and at the same time we have seen more traffic coming in from other sources to deliver higher volume.”

CasinoBeats Malta Digital, delivered in association with Gaming Malta, takes place from 30 June to 2 July 2020 and features 40 virtual exhibitors, numerous networking opportunities, 130 leading speakers, and countless business opportunities for 3,000 senior decision-makers from operators, suppliers, affiliates and other industry stakeholders.

Alongside the exhibition, networking and conference, all delegates also gain access to the full range of entertainment on offer, including free-play slots, daily competitions and a selection of prizes such as iPads and cash.

Find full details of the event, including information about how to register and the discounts available on company group passes, at the event’s official website: https://sbcevents.com/casinobeats-malta-digital/

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