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Spain Spotlight: Relax’s upcoming Spanish debut

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Spain Spotlight: Relax’s upcoming Spanish debut
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

In the second of our two-part series on Spain, Alba Monroy, Regional Business Manager at Relax Gaming, talks through the award-winning provider’s plans for its Spanish debut – as well as the post-pandemic growth opportunities available to suppliers and operators.

Looking at Spain’s performance over 2021 and into the beginning of this year – how much has the market recovered post-pandemic and what are we seeing in terms of trends for verticals?

While 2021 proved to be a difficult year for almost every vertical within the gaming sector in Spain, there are signs for recovery, with online casino enjoying better fortunes than most. I believe this is down to the growing popularity of slots and live casino games, mostly driven by the shift of players moving from land-based to online.

What’s genuinely exciting about this part of the casino space is that there is still a lot of room for growth, especially given that there are some talented slot studios operating within the Spanish market, and I fully expect a number of new and established studios to begin operating in the region in the not-so-distant future.

With regards to live casino products, I feel that there’s still a notable gap in the market here and there aren’t too many suppliers that cater specifically to the Spanish market. This lack of offering means that there’s prime opportunity for someone to come in and take the initiative – as it’s certainly ripe for disruption.

When it comes to online do you see potential for this year to return to business as usual? Are there any strong growth areas our readers should be keeping an eye on?

There’s no doubt the environment for operators in Spain is a challenging one, things became even more difficult in 2020 when the Royal Decree on the Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities was introduced, significantly restricting all gambling advertising.

That being said, I still think that there’s significant space for the iGaming market to grow within Spain. New products and features within games are beginning to create notable trends within a certain demographic of players. The new demographics of players are also starting to appreciate and enjoy innovative content that provides them with that same videogaming they’re experience accustomed to.

Looking back, when iGaming was first regulated within the country more than a decade ago it was simple three-reel slots and table games that reigned supreme, mainly because that was all that was on offer. Nowadays that’s all different – casino players are inundated with exciting content that offers them added value such as table games with side bets and online slots with engaging bonus features and lucrative jackpots.

What’s the current climate for retail and how much do you see land-based players acquired by online to continue there? Is it a case of players returning to their preferred channel once most restrictions are lifted in the coming months?

The pandemic helped the gaming industry in Spain move from something that was primarily land-based towards more of an online landscape, very much resembling something we already see in established regulated markets across Europe.

There will always be players out there that prefer the experience of physically going into a casino and playing games surrounded by other people with real dealers, however, I think a lot of these players have now begun to realise the opportunities that the online casino brings.

The vast offering online casino can bring far outweighs its land-based counterpart, there are so many different games players can access in an instant through a computer or their mobile device. It’s evident that land-based casinos have no way of competing in this sense, you just can’t get the same vast range of products there as you can online.

In addition to this, with current restrictions we can’t predict when or if players will return to casinos en masse, and in many ways, there’s not really any reason for them to do so if they feel comfortable playing games at home or on-the-go when playing from their phone.

How do you see the enhanced marketing restrictions currently coming into force in Spain? Will it affect the jurisdiction’s development, and do you see it as a challenge for operators to differentiate themselves?

Marketing spend within Spain started to decline dramatically back when the pandemic first began, this can be pinpointed to when operators were banned from promoting their brands. Of course, the Royal Decree that followed then only made things even more difficult for operators and suppliers.

Frustratingly, things still aren’t getting any better for them. Advertising restrictions are getting tougher and tougher, pushing operators to focus on other areas such as their product selection and variety of games

That’s why at Relax Gaming we are trying to have the best slots content, as well as the best partners for Spain, so we can at least help them offer some differentiation.

Given Spain’s passion for sports betting, how much potential do you see for introducing sports fans to casino verticals? What’s key for attracting interest?

Cross selling is key regardless of the market, it’s certainly one of the best ways to drive growth. Even though instant sports games aren’t that popular in Spain, I do believe that this a good direction for operators to go. We’re currently entering the Spanish market with one of our partners that offers instant sports games. I believe they offer a great opportunity and with the right strategy can help introduce players to other verticals – it will be very interesting to see how they perform.

Last but not least, talk us through the Spanish online environment when it comes to online tech – do the likes of platform provision vary at all when compared to neighbouring markets such as Italy and the UK?

iGaming, just like the rest of the world, has experienced large-scale disruption due to the pandemic. These disruptions have brought in some significant changes in terms of both employment, delivery execution and restrictions to growth potential.

It’s encouraging to see that we’re starting to get back to some degree of normality now as restrictions soften, both of us as individuals and as professionals within the iGaming industry. We’re under no illusions that it might take a while, but we’re slowly returning to business as usual.

There are huge growth areas within iGaming in Spain, and now trends are starting to set in amongst players, however this is mostly rooted in existing factors that have been on the table for the last year or two, so we’re still waiting for greater innovation, as we’ve already mentioned, it is in many ways ripe for disruption!

Interviews

Go direct – Fantasma Games strengthens partner collaboration with proprietary platform

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Go direct - Fantasma Games strengthens partner collaboration with proprietary platform
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Check out our latest Q&A w/ Fredrik Johansson CEO and Founder, Fantasma Games

 

Fantasma has recently launched its own FantasmaXpand platform, could you please let us know more about this initiative?

We have seen exceptional interest and demand for Fantasma’s premium and innovative online slot games and we wanted to take our offering to the next level. Launching our own platform, which we call FantasmaXpand, is a strategic initiative driven by our operator partners’ desire to collaborate more closely with us to improve overall business operations and access to our portfolio of games and wider development capabilities. The desire for deeper collaboration from our operator partners clearly indicates that our focus on providing high-performing slots with engaging game mechanics has enabled us to take this next important and natural step to support our partners’ local and global business growth strategies. It is very important for us to maintain the highest level of trust and reliability as we roll out Fantasma Xpand to our network of operator partners and the team we have built at Fantasma is more than capable of doing this.

 

How will you use FantasmaXpand to deliver more value to your operator partners?

We are all very committed to maintaining the highest level of quality assurance in everything we do, and we follow a clear plan as we expand our operational capabilities to our partners. In short, FantasmaXpand will provide local and global operator partners with a truly reliable, scalable and seamless gateway to access Fantasma’s “beyond gambling” portfolio of premium and innovative content, along with easy-to-use gamification tools. FantasmaXpand will also enable us to drive continued operational excellence while offering our collaborating partners outstanding flexibility and a reduced time-to-market (TTM) for our premium roadmap and the rollout of new innovative features and functions.

 

How does it enable you to push the boundaries with development?

We pride ourselves on having trustful and meaningful long-term relationships with our partners. FantasmaXpand will allow us to capitalise on these close partnerships and expand our joint collaborative initiatives both locally and globally, in a way that means our partners will be an integral part of how the FantasmaXpand roadmap is prioritised and developed. This means that our teams can focus on enhancing the technology roadmap, tuned and calibrated to our operators’ specific needs, which in turn enhances the overall strategic business partner value we bring and the experience our operators receive when accessing our premium offerings.

 

Why don’t all studios have their own platform? Does it bring challenges? If so, what?

Fantasma has seen outstanding growth from its operations to date, and as mentioned, our FantasmaXpand initiative is a direct response to our operator partners wanting to expand their overall business relationship with us. Not all studios have the strategy or capability to achieve the organisational readiness required to roll out such initiatives. Instead, many studios choose to focus solely on content development, which may be absolutely fine for them, allowing others to do the heavy lifting. Being ready and planning ahead has been key to maintaining focus and quality in legacy operations, and it is crucial for us not to impact the trust and reliability we have built with our operator partners over the years. As an organisation, you need to be prepared and willing to follow through on strategic initiatives that truly matter for continued sustainable growth in a hyper-competitive environment. One challenge may be daring to take this next step. But with our operator partners behind us, it has been a natural and necessary step for us to take.

 

Does FantasmaXpand help you enter new markets? If so, what markets have you got your eye on?

FantasmaXpand allows us to be in full control of our business strategy in close collaboration with our operator partners. From a go-to-market perspective, this is crucial, as seamless rollout and release management are necessary to maximise business value for us and our partners. FantasmaXpand is currently certified in many regulatory markets, and we will continue expanding the reach of FantasmaXpand in close collaboration with our partners. In terms of market reach, we currently offer our premium content in all of the major regulated markets in Europe. Our clear organisational objective is to be live with FantasmaXpand in all our regulated markets globally. However, like any expansion, we will implement a phased rollout approach for FantasmaXpand as this is the only way to ensure we don’t drop the ball with our legacy operations and partnerships.

 

What other developments from Fantasma can you share with us?

We have seen exceptional performance from our 2024 games portfolio, driven by titles such as Gold Pigger, Circle of Sylvan, Pirates Multi Coins and Shadow Summoner Elementals which have surpassed all KPIs. The US market has developed exceptionally well for Fantasma, and we have our eyes on LatAm as an exciting emerging growth market with plenty of opportunities to explore. In addition, our operator partners will benefit from a very exciting roadmap for the rest of the year. This, combined with the rollout of FantasmaXpand, means I am very excited to build continued positive momentum together with our partners. I am very optimistic about the future and our current momentum.

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Interviews

Gaming Corps: scoring big with football-themed games

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Gaming Corps: scoring big with football-themed slots
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Check out our latest Q&A with Graeme Savill, Account Management Team Lead at Gaming Corps

 

We’ve just seen EURO 2024 come to a close – was the result of the tournament what you expected it to be? Did any teams surprise you? 

It’s been a fantastic event overall and I was lucky enough to attend some of the games in person during the first couple of weeks of the tournament. My team, Scotland, failed to qualify out of the group so my time in Germany was very short-lived but the experience of being there to watch my country with our fans was incredible and I have amazing memories of the trip. In terms of surprises, I’d say Georgia and Turkey both defied the odds of last-16 qualification and had great tournaments while the two finalists, England and Spain, were both worthy of the chance to lift the trophy with Spain ultimately coming out on top.

 

There doesn’t tend to be much cross-over between sports bettors and slots players. In your view, what opportunities do major tournaments such as EURO 2024 present to gaming providers when it comes to engaging with new audiences? And how did Gaming Corps achieve this?

It’s true that the two segments do vary considerably in their betting preferences and patterns, but these bi-annual football events (the World Cup being the other) create huge opportunities for the industry as a whole. Creating collaborative content and working with tier-one global sportsbook operators has proven a very successful strategy for Gaming Corps while for our partners it allows them to enhance their casino offering and engage more deeply with their player base. We have several football-themed games within our Arcade portfolio including Penalty Champion, Plinkgoal, Football Freestyler and Samba Soccer that operators can access to help do this.

During June and July, we’ve seen record player numbers introduced to these products through cross-sell efforts so it’s been very advantageous to have these included in our offering. In preparation for the event, our product worked around the clock to roll-out dozens of bespoke branded versions of these games which have been front-facing on casino pages with many of our operators. The feedback we’ve received is that during EURO 2024, many casual sportsbook players have enjoyed being introduced to a different style of casino games like our Crash, Mines and Plinko verticals as they deliver a more compelling experience than traditional style casino games such as slots and roulette.

 

What’s the secret to creating slot titles that appeal to both demographics of players? Should more game developers be turning their attention towards creating slot titles centred around major sports tournaments?

Creating slot titles that appeal to both traditional slot players and sports fans requires a thoughtful blend of themes, features and mechanics that resonate with both audiences. I believe the key to success is around thematic relevance, so creating games for and targeting them to players around key events in the sporting calendar. This allows operators to build hype on the game and players love timely and seasonal titles as a way of being gently guided away from the classic products on the market and towards non-traditional content. Throughout June, a large majority of operators have offered a dedicated category with sports-themed casino games for players to discover which has benefited us immensely as they have stocked more titles from our diverse portfolio. Engaging gameplay features are critical like within our Penalty Champion game where we’ve included the sports-related shootout which adds an extra layer of excitement and engagement. Likewise, balancing game mechanics is important; games must be simple enough for traditional casino players to understand but include exciting elements that appeal to sports fans, such as dynamic animations and fast-paced action. These keep players entertained and eager to sample more products themed around their favourite sports.

 

With player acquisition costs at an all-time high, how can slots developers retain players onboarded during tournaments such as the EUROS and perhaps introduce them to other iGaming verticals? 

There are so many variables here but yes, due to acquisition costs, players must be retained to maximise player lifetime value and loyalty.  One example would be the use of in-game advertisements to promote other verticals. This could mean offering free spins in slots for trying out a new sportsbook feature. This is something that we want to work on together with our operator partners for the remainder of 2024 to maximise the opportunity. Likewise, the bundling of promotions can be highly effective in encouraging players to try different types of games. My belief though is that player engagement and communication is the most important factor whereby the strategy actively engages with players on social media platforms to create a community and keep them informed about new products and promotions. This is very true in countries such as Brazil where influencer marketing has been extremely strong in the overall marketing mix.

 

We have the Olympics coming up in a few weeks’ time, and then the restart of domestic football calendars. Can we expect to see any more sports-themed titles coming from Gaming Corps? 

Yes, I do believe that sports-themed casino games will continue to evolve and will be used by operators to attract and retain players. We’re always looking to innovate and bring something new to market and we’ve discussed our latest vertical Smash4Cash and how we can introduce a sports element to it. This approach has already brought us big success in the Mines, Plinko and Crash verticals.  We have also been working on games outside of football. Due to operator demand, we did create an ice hockey-themed game which we launched with a localised approach for countries in the Nordics and to enhance strategic partnerships with branded versions of the game for certain operators. This is a fun and engaging product and I’d say watch this space for future sports-themed games that take a similar format. We aspire to become an industry leader in creating fun, innovative and engaging sports-themed content and from the success we have achieved with the first few games we have developed, we too will be lifting the trophy in next to no time.

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Interviews

Altenar’s global expansion: Sam Hill outlines plans for growth in LatAm, Europe, and Beyond

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Altenar’s global expansion: Sam Hill outlines plans for growth in LatAm, Europe, and Beyond
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Can you elaborate on Altenar’s specific goals for global expansion? What regions are Altenar focusing on for growth?

We’re not interested in limiting ourselves, so we are actively exploring several global expansion opportunities. Our highly customisable product can be tailored to any region, and we have the content library to support a global audience. Leveraging our existing customer base and success in Latin America, a market where we are already well-established, makes perfect sense. Specifically, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru are regions where we have seen strong results and hold further growth potential.

There’s no reason why we can’t expand further across Europe too, where we already have a foothold, and Asia, a largely untapped market for us. Can we do more to establish a stronger presence in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region? Absolutely! Growing the business globally is a key focus.

 

You have nearly 15 years of experience in the industry, including roles at Betgenius, BetVictor, and IMG. How will your experience be leveraged to help Altenar achieve its global ambitions?

My sales experience and track record in the content and data space were likely factors in my hiring. My network is fairly extensive and a useful asset that can be leveraged to Altenar’s advantage. In my previous roles at IMG ARENA and Genius, I managed a significant portion of the global sales team, including overseeing territories that are key target areas for Altenar.

Altenar stands out as a leader in this area, excelling in both proprietary content delivery and seamless third-party data integration. Our partnerships with over 20 third-party sportsbook suppliers allow us to deliver the broadest and highest-quality content portfolio – a critical advantage for any operator in a competitive market.

 

Can you provide some examples of how Altenar might tailor its approach to different regions?

The foundation of success in different markets is always providing the right products. While UI/UX and front-end features offer customisation options, bespoke solutions are also available. Operators can request or configure custom settings in the backend, including margins, bet limits, customer profiling and across our extensive proprietary bonus engine.

UI and UX are key elements. For multi-territory operators, we offer flexibility in content presentation. They can choose the sports, competitions, markets, banners, bonuses, and bet boosts they want to display. Our deep bonus tool capabilities allow for territory-specific customisation, and operators can enable or disable frontend features based on their needs.

However, differentiation goes beyond just the user experience. Our experienced and dedicated account management team provides exceptional support. We strive to execute any individual operator’s trading strategy, whether they prefer a hands-off approach or a more involved one. We provide the operational support needed for either scenario.

Finally, we can cater to specific market demands. In Brazil, for example, we offer a deeper selection of domestic sports content. This allows operators to differentiate themselves and provide what customers want, ultimately leading to better customer acquisition and retention.

 

Growing Altenar’s revenue and securing high-profile global partnerships is a key aspect of your role. Can you elaborate on the types of partnerships Altenar is looking to establish, and what qualities define a ‘high-value customer’ for Altenar?

I have great confidence in Altenar’s product offerings. We have a well-established reputation for excellence, but we need to continue raising brand awareness and communicating the value we deliver. My goal is to increase awareness of Altenar’s capabilities among high-profile brands.

We are targeting different partnerships. Casino operators are leaving revenue on the table when it comes to sportsbook, that we are perfectly placed to help them recognise. Another major focus is speaking to established operators in various territories. Can Altenar take their brand to new markets, where they can leverage their potential for growth? Even North American operators today will naturally be looking south at LatAm. We can then leverage their brand recognition in new markets. It is a broad remit but ultimately we will leverage the quality of the Altenar product and the strength of the relationships we have to capitalise on our growth potential.

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