NetEnt CEO Per Eriksson discusses the potential of the UK market and how it has become one of the supplier’s number one performing markets
Last year saw online become the largest sector of the UK’s gambling industry for the first time with a market share of 33%. Numbers released by Great Britain’s Gambling Commission show just how colossal this market is. Between April 2015 and March 2016, UK online gambling operators generated a gross gambling yield of £4.5bn. Of that share, £2.6bn came from casino games, while online slots generated £1.8bn.
Compare that 33% to the 17% market share online gambling is estimated to take in Europe as a whole and the UK is clearly an attractive proposition for operators and suppliers alike.
What’s more, the growth of online gaming hasn’t come at the expense of other gambling sectors, with other revenues remaining largely unaffected.
As a company with a strong Nordic heritage, it’s certainly an attractive proposition for us. So much so that in 2012 we entered the UK market and a year later secured agreements with the largest operators in the region. In 2015, we decided to further invest in the market to capitalise on the opportunity.
Fast forward to the end of 2016 and we have achieved many of our ambitions, as for the first time in our 20-year history the UK became our strongest performing market. This is in spite of the weakening of the pound following Brexit, which has impacted intra-group transactions.
The UK has been a driving force behind our record figures, following a huge amount of hard work to establish ourselves in the region. But this is just the beginning of our journey, as we have gathered proof that our offering is attractive to both players and operators we are eager for further growth in a thriving gambling market and aiming for a leading position in the UK.
Much of our UK growth strategy has been centred on developing high-quality bespoke content for the market, as well as ensuring we partnered with all of the major players.
Entering such a huge market comes with risks, and competition is rife. NetEnt games are hugely popular in Scandinavia and the UK, but we quickly realised that transferring the same games for the UK audience simply wasn’t going to be enough.
The Scandinavians have a different way of playing online games compared to their British counterparts. From our experience, Nordic players generally prefer to see more wins in the original gameplay, whereas Brits are more accustomed to add on features and bonuses.
For a company with such a strong heritage of producing blockbuster slots for a candinavian audience, we had to rip up our own rule book and turn our strategy upside down when developing our first UK specific slot.
Our experienced team of developers were more than up for the challenge, and as well as adopting the latest in modern technology, we worked very closely with UK-based operators to ensure we created a winning concept for our customers.
To gain a thorough understanding of what the average UK player wanted from their slot, we worked with renowned bookmaker William Hill. The operator gave us valuable insight into the average UK player, and the result saw us launch Koi Princess, our first ever UK-focused slot, that made a very successful entrance to the market.
We’ve followed up the success of Koi Princess with new slot releases for both online and retail channels, as well as developing our table game portfolio and live casino offering. NetEnt Live revolutionised live casino on mobile, becoming one of the first providers to offer games in both portrait and landscape mode, with our unique Chroma key technology allowing a seamless integration of live HD images and endless possibilities of creating a unique player experience for
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
Central to our ambitions in growing our market share in the UK was to establish ourselves with several major operators, and we have certainly achieved this.
Our slots, table games and dedicated Live Casino offering is live across the UK’s biggest players.
In addition, NetEnt content is available to play across a range of retail venues nationwide, while we have also entered significant partnerships with William Hill and Paddy Power.
Making the UK one of our top-performing markets was a real landmark moment for NetEnt, as it provides us with a platform to continue our growth. In 2017, we have continued to release new games, as well as invest in the development of new technology such as virtual reality, which we predict will change the gaming industry in the future. Our journey in the UK has only just started, and we have ambitions to deliver further success, investing in technology, people and products.