Greece: Space for new brands? With Thanos Marinos, MD Greece, Betsson Group

Greece was one of the first online gaming markets in Europe but has traditionally been a closed market. Recent regulatory changes now mean that for the first time ever, international operators have the opportunity to gain a full Hellenic gaming license. Being one of the biggest markets in Europe means that the opportunity for growth is promising but is there space for new, unestablished brands in this mature market?

We caught up with Thanos Marinos, Managing Director for Greece at Betsson Group to hear his thoughts on the growth opportunities and how operators hoping to enter this dynamic igaming hub can compete with the already established brands and carve out their own share of the market.

Why did Betsson target the Hellenic market as a new jurisdiction to enter? How big is the growth opportunity in this market and what will be the key drivers for this growth?

“We believe there is an opportunity for a big brand like Betsson to enter a mature market like Greece now that the regulatory framework is enabling us to obtain a .gr license. We are entering the market with high expectations and looking forward to providing the best experience for Greek customers.

“The Greek betting and gaming market is one of the biggest in Europe with HGC reporting €500m on GGR for 2020 (+28% vs 2019) and it seems like 2021 will be even better. Looking at Q1, 2021 reports, revenues for the online betting and gaming operators in Greece show an increase of 22% (from Q1, 2020).”

Greece is Betsson’s 18th locally regulated market. As a multi-jurisdiction operator, do you think that increasingly fragmented markets are lessening the need for multi-jurisdiction licenses? Are they becoming redundant?

“When you are aiming to be an international operator, you need to have the ability to move efficiently and decisively in order to obtain the licenses in the markets that are of interest to you and in line with your business strategy. You, of course, need to do this in a compliant way throughout every step of the process.

“We believe that multi-jurisdiction licenses will always be relevant as they have high standards of compliance that they have been used as a benchmark on newly regulated markets.”

Every market has its own trends and specific consumer needs. How do you plan to localise your offering for the Greek market?

“The Greek market is actually one of the first online markets in Europe with the first online brand launched in Greece in the early 2000s. It is a mature market with some very strong local companies which have been operating for a number of years. Localisation has always been very important for any brand that launched in Greece and at Betsson, we know what it takes to bring a localised product and offering to the Greek market.

“The moment we launch, we will be doing it with two unique products for the Greek market that will allow us to kick-off in style and bring fun and entertainment to the betting and gaming sector in Greece.

“Our brand positioning and marketing activities will showcase our Betsson DNA as it blends with the Greek culture and habits of the Greek customers.”

When Greece first officially opened its doors to allow license applications it came under some criticism from the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) who claimed their regulatory framework was too stringent and would deter new market entrants. How has the Hellenic gaming framework impacted your approach to this market and future growth aspirations?

“As of late 2011 the market has been on an ‘interim licensing status’, that confused many operators that wanted to enter the market with proper licensing on a .gr level and with a clear regulatory framework. Almost a year ago, Greece decided to regulate the Greek Online market and we’ve been eagerly waiting for that moment! For Betsson, this is a vote of confidence towards the Greek betting market, and we are happy to be part of the new .gr licensed operators.

“The application process has been a dynamic one with the new regulatory framework coming into play almost eight months ago paving the way for the .gr licenses to be awarded. HGC worked very hard in order to make the whole process as smooth as possible for the applicants despite some obstacles, not least, Covid.”

Editor’s Note: From speaking with Thanos it’s clear that a once ‘confused’ jurisdiction has now transitioned into a clear growth opportunity for the iGaming sector. Although it’s a mature market with some already established brands, revenue growth rates of over 20% prove that there is still a huge appetite for strong gaming products in this jurisdiction.

Operators with a robust and most importantly, localised marketing strategy still have the chance to successfully penetrate and acquire a healthy share of the market.

Greece has been on an upwards trajectory for some time, establishing itself as one of the strongest gaming markets in Europe and with this new, attractive regulatory framework, the opportunities for expansion seem limitless. Exciting times ahead!

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