ESA Gaming, developer of mobile games that enable cross-selling opportunities for sportsbooks, recently announced its market entry into Portugal following a deal with local operator Casino Portugal.
SBC sat down with Maria Luisa Malfasi (pictured below), Business Development Manager at ESA Gaming, to talk about the potential of the Portuguese market and the company’s future growth plans.
SBC: You recently announced your Portuguese market entry after striking a deal with Casino Portugal, what was your reasoning behind entering Portugal and what potential do you see in the market?
MLM: The first online licence was awarded in the country in 2016 and the market has shown steady growth since then. We have followed the developments in Portugal for a while and have noticed the strong performance and the growing number of operators entering the market. Fifteen licensees are now active in the country and with an increasing number of active users, it makes it an attractive market for us to invest in. The latest data from the country’s regulator showed that sports betting revenue increased 90% in Q4 of 2020 with gaming revenue spiking 58% in the same period, making us even more confident that we made the right move in entering this market at this time.
SBC: Your EasySwipe portfolio integrates into sportsbooks to offer players a casino experience while betting. The Portuguese sliding turnover tax for sportsbook has led to the segment being underpopulated and largely untouched by Europe’s largest bookmakers. How does this impact ESA’s approach in the market?
MLM: We think that it is good practice, regardless of which market you enter, to partner up with established local brands, which is what we have achieved with our deal with Casino Portugal. We hope our impact in the market can prove crucial to growing their business and perhaps go some way to demonstrating the potential of the territory to other brands yet to expand there. The fact that many of the international operators have yet to enter Portugal is not a concern to us but instead gives us the opportunity to partner with local incumbents who know this market and the local players the best which will help us in developing the right products for the audience from the get-go.
SBC: Do you have any plans to work together with operators to develop localised content for the Portuguese market?
MLM: Yes. The Portuguese market and unique requirements of games certification mean we have already started to explore this. We are looking at ways to ensure we bring our most popular titles and the widest possible portfolio of games to the Portuguese market over the coming months. This includes our Mine Series, starting with Goal Mine, with more titles to be added throughout the year. Localisation is important and through close collaboration with our operator partners we will be able to introduce more relevant content or fine tune our existing games to ensure they appeal specifically to Portuguese players. As with any new market entry, we will learn as we go, and we embrace the challenge.
SBC: How can EasySwipe titles compete with the growing offer of gamification tools?
MLM: We know that our games have the potential to offer a high conversion at lower cost as well as creating a unique vertical which is unexplored by most operators, so we are confident in their value as a revenue generator to any gaming brand. Having said this, we do not necessarily see it is a direct competition. Our EasySwipe games and gamification or promotional tools are not mutually exclusive.
While these tools are becoming more popular and important for operators to increase acquisitions and retention levels, 15% of users of our content on a monthly basis are unique to these games, creating new revenue streams and a whole new player demographic, removing operator concerns about cannibalisation.
Our swipe-in games have also been found to convert around 19% of sport players while also helping extend bettors’ screen time by up to 6% and increase sport betting turnover by around 2.8%. Another advantage of the games is the cheaper cost of acquisition as they reduce required bonusing offers by 40% compared with other casino games.
SBC: What is next for ESA Gaming? How important is entering new markets to ESA’s strategy and what other countries are on the horizon?
MLM: Very important! In our sights at the moment, we have Greece, Spain and Sweden as our targets. We have an ambitious growth plan to bring ESA Gaming to the forefront of innovative gaming brands and rolling out in new territories is, of course, crucial to this expansion. We will of course also continue to explore opportunities in the Portuguese market, and we are currently in talks with a number of operators.