Operating in the US market for almost three years, NetEnt is looking to build on experience and continue to establish itself as one of the leading suppliers in the growing US market.
Having previously played a key role in the firm’s expansion in Europe and with WLA customers, Managing Director of NetEnt Americas Erik Nyman spoke to SBC about NetEnt’s strategy for growth in North and South America.
SBC: Can you please detail NetEnt’s US market presence and its stateside operations to date?
Erik Nyman: NetEnt has been operating in the US since the fourth quarter of 2015, and we are today one of the market leading suppliers in New Jersey. We just submitted our license application for Pennsylvania and we monitor all other regulatory opportunities closely.
SBC: The repeal of PASPA has liberalised US sports betting, however, online casino remains a divisive vertical for incumbents? Why is this the case?
EN: Sports betting is a new business segment in the US as it has been illegal both from a land-based and online perspective, apart from in Nevada. Hence a new vertical is easier to introduce than expanding casino to online as you need to figure out how to cross market and utilize your existing player base.
SBC: Are you planning to partner with any sports brands/providers/operators to tap into the current surge in strategic deals?
EN: If a sports betting operator wants to introduce online casino to their offering, we will certainly be interested in discussing a partnership. Our core objective is to provide the ultimate player experience through our world class games, which in turn helps operators grow their business. This is something we do very well and sometimes that also includes helping operators expand into new verticals. We are fully focused on developing our business and are continuously evaluating new partnerships.
SBC: What learnings and dynamics have you gained from your New Jersey operations, acting as one of the first online casino games software developers to enter the Garden State?
EN: In the beginning, US online casino players recognised the land-based content so it’s taken some time to familiarise New Jersey players with our games. However, we have a strong market position, and this has been achieved through a very tight collaboration with our partners, raising the general awareness of what works and what doesn’t with the online casino player top of mind. Our strong portfolio has really made a difference for us in New Jersey, and it’s positive that we can capitalise on our learnings as we expand into other regulated states.
SBC: Furthermore, operating within restricted confines to date, what do we really know about US online casino players?
EN: As we only operate in New Jersey, we have limited business intelligence, but what we can see is that the player profile in Europe looks very similar to the one in New Jersey. This is good news as we can scale our operations, which will benefit our partners. The mobile penetration ratio is almost the same and, looking at game preferences, it’s also virtually identical. NetEnt prides itself on frequently releasing unique games, something we see is highly appreciated. Our branded game titles, such as Guns and Roses and Motorhead, have been very well received by players.
SBC: Leading NetEnt US market propositions, what factors do you consider and research when undertaking potential partnerships… why is selection such vital component to US market strategy?
EN: For us, every partnership counts, and NetEnt has a business partner mindset at the top of its agenda. We do not have any specific qualification criteria as such, the importance is that we see a great fit, and that we have a common view on the partnership, and what we want to achieve together. All partnerships are for the long term, so we are truly dedicated to every one that we decide to enter into. Operators in each state are of course in the strongest position but we do have a good number of existing customers that we would love to expand business with. Every new prospect is carefully considered, and we do thorough due diligence prior to entering a partnership.
EN: SBC: How do you foresee NetEnt’s involvement in the US in the next three to five years?
Very active. We look forward to new states opening up and our goal is to enter them as they do.