Greentube is moving its focus to the exciting US market where it recently took its content live with Golden Nugget. With plenty more deals in the pipeline, SBC Americas spoke to CEO Thomas Graf about the supplier’s plans for the US market and what will set them aside from the competition.
SBC Americas: First of all, why should US-based operators look to European suppliers?
Thomas Graf: With the US market being relatively new, there is currently not a very diverse games offering available. From a player perspective, the market is underserved and what is on offer is mainly the same games that are available on land-based casino floors.
European suppliers have years of experience in providing content for diverse markets and we have seen impressive innovation in terms of mechanics, features and engagement tools that will become in demand as the US market matures and players want new and unique games. Just as we have seen in Europe, there is space for a wide range of content, and European suppliers can offer a fresh take on this and lean on their insights from more established markets.
The main challenge for European suppliers wanting to enter the US is the heavy compliance requirements which are very costly and time consuming, so some might struggle to get access to this exciting market opportunity.
SBCA: In the rush to market and with M&A activity continuing to heat up, what are the successes – and mistakes – that you see are being made at this stage?
TG: It’s still too early to predict mistakes that will be made and we must wait and see how it all plays out. Further consolidation is inevitable though, and on the operator side of things we will most likely see a handful of big players dominating the space, who will hold more than 80% of the market share and a long tail of smaller operators will fight for the remainder of the cake.
It will be similar for the supplier segment with the bigger players having more financial and human resources to enter the US with a bang and quickly grab market share. It’s not all about size, however, and by paying close attention to player preferences and trends and ensuring the content you offer is always relevant, anyone can grab a slice of success.
SBCA: How important is boots-on-the-ground knowledge of the market for suppliers in the US?
SBCA: It is crucial to have boots on the ground in the US, for compliance reasons and being able to communicate with all stakeholders on a regular basis. There is no single market as you see with many other consumer sectors and different rules and requirements exist in each State – not just for your tech and products but also for the company itself and its staff.
This is a very time consuming and expensive task and having local expertise will ease this burden; furthermore, working closely with your partners is crucial to develop and improve your relationships as well as your product offering and this can only be achieved by having an efficient and customer focused US based B2B unit.
At Greentube, we are looking at how we can further enhance our local presence to ensure we have a dedicated office in close proximity to most of our partners.
SBCA: How do player appetites for online casino differ from more mature online markets?
SBCA: It slightly depends on how you define mature markets. New Jersey, for example, was the first state in the US to regulate online gambling back in 2013 so we can look at that as being a mature market already and we can gather a lot of information on players from the activity there.
If you compare US players to European ones, there are substantial differences. What we see in the US is that a large proportion of online players are similar to the social casino player base and those visiting land-based casinos – this is a group that is female dominated and age wise generally 50 plus. In Europe, this is the other way around and the typical casino player resembles that of a sports betting punter – male and a younger age between 20 and 35.
We expect this shift is also likely to happen in the US as the market takes shape. Online sports betting is still a very young industry in the US, and as that vertical gains more of a fan base, these players are then likely to also consume other products within the ecosystem, such as table games or slots.
SBCA: When do you expect to see player protection introduced and what will be the impact?
SBCA: Player protection will become very relevant in the US and it will play a key role in the future. It’s still an ongoing development in Europe where some jurisdictions have player protection and responsible gaming at the top of the agenda with advanced rules and regulations in place, whereas others have just started to give it some serious attention.
In general, governments and regulators learn from each other, and the US will be no different, especially as player protection measures are already commonplace in the land-based sector. What we believe is that the convergence between the heavily regulated land-based business in Europe and online will not happen to the same restrictive extent in the US because in general, there is more of an open approach to gambling in general, and it is socially broadly accepted as part of the entertainment and leisure industry.
In the next three to five years, we will see how the online casino market will proliferate throughout the US, but at the moment, we can observe a rather slow-paced rollout phase compared to online sports betting.
SBCA: And finally, how do you see Greentube playing an important role in shaping the overall market across the US?
SBCA: It’s quite clear that our core focus will be on game content and aggregation supply built on our vast experience in European, Latin American and, increasingly, North American territories but we also want to develop dedicated content for a diversified and new generation of US online players.
We already have content that is used and proven in the land-based US casino and video gaming (VGT) markets so that differentiates us from most of the European ‘online only suppliers’ and gives us an edge.
We have had people on the ground for a while and we have strong connections to the US land-based sector, which means we will bring a mix of all our land-based and online experience from Europe to the US, combined with the games that have been developed specifically for US slot machine players. That puts us somewhat in a unique position.
In our portfolio, we have games featuring highly successful and popular mechanics that the US players love, we also have very competitive and high performing versions of land-based favourites. Importantly, we also offer other innovative titles that are not ‘typical US content’ so we are targeting new players with that to give them a diverse and broad choice of games.
In addition, as well as NOVOMATIC and Greentube content we also have in-house and third-party studios from around the globe that develop innovative game mechanics and game assets for us.
Our first games were launched with Golden Nugget online in New Jersey and we are also preparing ourselves for more launches with other licensed operators and in more states where iGaming is legal.
We have an experienced team in the US with local knowhow and we maintain local technical infrastructure as well. US players have shown great interest in playing our games both on social casino and real money platforms.