As another successful year draws to a close, Michael Bauer, CFO/CGO at Greentube, speaks to iGaming Times about the highlights of the last 12 months, the state of the sector, and plans for supplier in 2020.
iGAMING TIMES: Greentube has been one of the most geographically expansive games suppliers over the course of 2019. What has driven this growth spurt?
MICHAEL BAUER: We have grown at a rapid pace in 2019, partnering with approximately 50 new customers during the year. We set out a clear growth strategy at the start of the year and are continuing to investigate new opportunities. There have been plenty of opportunities, of course, with the implementation of regulatory regimes for online gaming in emerging territories, from Switzerland to Colombia. Our existing reputation in the respective land-based markets of these countries has allowed us to quickly establish relationships with operator partners as they build their online offering. We also made our debut in Croatia, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania and Switzerland among others – entries which have propelled our brand forward in Europe in the last 12 months. Our games are now live in more jurisdictions than ever before and our partnership base is continuing to grow significantly, both in new markets and in our strongest regions.
iGT: Of all the new markets you have entered this year, where do you see the most promise in 2020?
MICHAEL BAUER: We’re extremely excited about Switzerland, as our portfolio is already producing great results for our operator partners there. Again, it is a natural fit for us, as Novomatic’s land-based products are well known in the country. Off the back of that, our online portfolio is performing really well. Additionally, we entered into an exclusive licence deal with Golden Games for the online distribution of their flagship brand Super Cherry. We are therefore well equipped for the market and we expect significant growth for all licensed operators there in 2020. Another focus next year will be Italy and Spain where we have been quite limited in the roll-out of our content so far. We expect significant demand in these two markets, and we are eager to grab market share.
iGT: More as well as tighter regulation has been a dominant trend for much of the gaming globe. How is this changing things, in your view, for better or worse?
MICHAEL BAUER: Regulation in our industry is often perceived as an inhibitor. As we’ve proven by entering multiple markets this year however, the introduction of supportive legislative frameworks can present major opportunities for expansion. All over the world, jurisdictions are opening up to the online gaming proposition, and this is a really positive change. Of course, where regulators are imposing stricter rules, the operating environment is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate for casino brands and suppliers. But ultimately the regulation is designed to protect players, and that is an aim we fully support. Having said that, there are concerns in certain markets that regulation is getting too restrictive for licensed operators to be profitable. This could pose a big threat for the regulator in our view, as it strengthens the black market and therefore contravenes their main goal to protect the player and to achieve high rates of channelization.
iGT: Positive developments in Latin America continue to garner interest. How do you see regulation rolling out there next year specifically – and why are you well placed to make inroads when it does?
MICHAEL BAUER: There has been a ripple effect in Latin America in developing progressive policies towards online gaming, and we are keeping a very close eye on the political and legislative movements in the region. Aside from Colombia, where we made instant inroads in the continent’s largest regulated market, we are also focusing on Mexico and Peru. Given Novomatic’s history in the latter, we are well positioned to take advantage of this soon to be opened online gaming market in the Andean region which shows a high propensity towards slot gambling. Brazil, although progressing more slowly, has powerful market potential and is therefore a jurisdiction we are monitoring closely, together with Peru, Chile and Argentina. Our unrivalled experience in land-based, online and social provides a solid foundation to help local operators hit the ground running once legislators give the green light.
iGT: Can you tell us in which areas you will be focusing on improving or innovating in the near future?
MICHAEL BAUER: Innovation is always high on the agenda at Greentube, as exemplified by the release of our nJoin integration tool in June. It reduces the integration of our games with partner platforms from months to a few days, while providing a simple, interactive and transparent onboarding process. We are currently working on the biggest technological upgrade of the last ten years. In basic terms, we are rebuilding our complete technology stack and we are confident that in 2020, we will present some amazing product innovations to the iGaming market.
iGT: What are your hopes for 2020 – both for the industry as a whole, and for Greentube in particular?
MICHAEL BAUER: To keep growing! 2019 has completely surpassed our already high expectations, and we are set to continue that momentum through to the new decade. With Novomatic celebrating its 40th birthday next year, we are expecting plenty of excitement and buzz around the brand, and Greentube has a few tricks up its sleeve to mark the occasion, too. For the industry as a whole, 2020 promises to be an interesting year with online licensing starting in the Netherlands. With any luck, there will also be a consensus on how to regulate the German online market, which would be good news for everyone.