“The business is now very well established, it has built up a lot of knowledge,” reflects Richard Carter, CEO of Bragg Gaming, when pushed to elaborate upon previous suggestions that the firm “has never been better positioned for long-term success”.
The comments come towards the culmination of an examination of Bragg’s most recent pair of acquisitions, as well as a brush across the US igaming ecosystem within which it hopes to make significant inroads moving forward.
Previously, Carter praised the transactions of Spin Games and Wild Streak Gaming as “very strategic for us,” adding that “it’s clearly showing strategically how we’re looking to pivot away from what we did previously and can move towards a full turnkey fully integrated company that owns its own content.”
In the second, and concluding part of our recent sit-down with the Bragg CEO, we begin by looking at the importance of gaining local market knowledge, as well as asking how crucial it is for the company to bring in functions, features and mechanics tailored specifically for the US market.
“I spent a lot of time talking to Doug (Fallon, MD of Wild Streak Gaming), but he believes, [and] the metrics bear this out, that the games are different in America because obviously they’ve only really had access to land-based games.
“Those land-based games feature slightly different RTPs, jackpots and bonus mechanics, along with other nuances, and that’s what an American player is used to.
“I think that there’s no doubt that a lot of the land-based casino operators were quite sceptical about online”
“That’s why these games, the land-based titles that are ported online, tend to be very very successful.
“Now, that’s not to say that some European slots, some of the best from NetEnt and Red Tiger and some of the other guys out there, won’t do well in the US. I’m sure they will.
“But I think from a generic perspective, there’s no doubt that the evidence so far is that the more US focused, more land-based type slots have tended to perform better in the US.”
Continuing, Carter asserts the necessity of localisation, citing experience gained in Europe and pinpointing Scandinavia as one particular example where the success of certain games doesn’t necessarily resonate across the continent
“So, I think that localisation is very, very important for me,” he adds. “There’s also another genre of games called steppers and those games, we think, are under penetrated and that’s what Spin are looking at building.”
“So I do think that having a localised strategy is quite important for a casino operator and provider like ourselves.”
With igaming being widely discussed as America’s next great gold rush, talk quickly moves on to look at the potential consequences of an increased online uptake upon the region’s land-based sector.
Is an increased digital uptake going to be mutually beneficial, as slots in particular become much more accessible to Americans, or could there be a fear that the appeal of land-based could be dampened somewhat?
“I think that there’s no doubt that a lot of the land-based casino operators were quite sceptical about online – they feared that it would be very cannibalistic and that a lot of their players potentially would stop coming into the casino and interacting with them.
“And I think there’s definitely going to be more focus on omni-channel”
“Now, what you’ve found with the Golden Nuggets Resorts and the guys in New Jersey, is that actually, number one, it’s been very incremental and they’ve seen a new customer but they’ve also seen their existing customers – let’s call them the omni-channel customer – with whom it’s actually been a benefit to them.
“This is because you obviously have the loyalty element, with loyalty rewards you can do specific bonusing and things like that, where they leave the casino and they can log-in. So it’s actually been very beneficial.”
Adding on a belief as to what the future holds for the country’s gaming ecosystem: “And I believe that you’ll start to see a lot more omnichannel, which is something that we’re looking at internally.
“Now, speaking to Kent Young, the founder and CEO of Spin, some land-based operators are mandating that they’re only going to launch omni-channel. So, if you want to get the terminal inside the casino, you have to have an online version.
“And I think you’ll start to see a lot more of that, I think with Gamesys and Bally’s, you’ll start to see that they’ll link, and you’ll start to see the rewards and a very close relationship with the online and land-based channels. Additionally, with COVID, suddenly these casinos were poleaxed and if they didn’t have the online distribution channel, their business would have been absolutely destroyed.
“With the Resorts and Golden Nuggets, what they did was see their online business almost double, and that helped partially offset this COVID crisis. So I think that the casino operators in North America now have started, over the last years, to look at the online sector differently and not to view it as a necessarily huge competitor but as something that could be very symbiotic and actually quite incremental.
“And I think there’s definitely going to be more focus on omni-channel, land-based and online, potentially looking at releases of new games and content at the same time, and that’s partly going to be a new phase of the whole evolution of this ecosystem going forward.”
“…I think we’ll see a lot more local companies performing and coming through”
Amid all of the talk of an increased digital uptake across the country, as well as the importance of local partnership and knowledge, comes the question of how much influence European expertise will play moving forward.
“It depends how you look at it. If you look at what has happened so far, the market is pretty dominated by the IGT’s, SciGames, and the local guys from a content perspective,” Carter explains.
“And that’s just because, if you rewind, we only really had New Jersey, it wasn’t a ginormous market pre-COVID, getting games through the lab and this wasn’t something that people were really focused on.
“I think now with Michigan, and the numbers that Michigan is producing, the potential changes in Canada, and with more states likely to be looking to regulate online casino, then I think there’s going to be more focus from a European perspective.
“There’s definitely going to be more deals done over the next six to twelve months with some European content that will look to try and go into the US market.
“As you can see from ourselves we think some European content will resonate, but we think actually the premium end of the market, a higher return on investment will be more from localised content.”
Adding: “In terms of European expertise, you’ve got BetMGM, which is effectively run by Europeans, and that’s a major player. So you’ve got DraftKings, you’ve got FanDuel, which is partly European and partly US but taking a lot of knowledge, so I think there’s definitely a key element of European knowledge in quite a few companies. But I think there’s also this new industry that’s forming in America and they’re developing and creating their own knowledge.
“So, I think if we look forward a couple of years, this is going to be a pretty well established sector and I think we’ll see a lot more local companies performing and coming through.”