A few weeks on from his appointment as operations director at Swintt, Etienne Azzopardi has been using his experience from the casino industry to “see things from the customer’s perspective” – a quality which he believes is essential in such a fast-paced industry.
Speaking to CasinoBeats, Azzopardi highlighted some of the key challenges when it comes to expanding into new markets before giving us a sneak peak at some of the new games and products that Swintt has in the pipeline.
CasinoBeats: First of all, congratulations on the new role! What was it that attracted you to working at Swintt?
EA: From the first moment I sat down with David (Flynn) to discuss the role I could sense the can-do attitude and honest approach of the business. Swintt is backed by a team of industry experts, offers a diverse portfolio of games including live dealer, believes in the power of gamification and has been gaining incredible momentum.
It also doesn’t hurt that the company’s motto is aligned with my general attitude towards anything – “let’s do this”! I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to join the company and look forward to a long and successful career with Swintt.
CasinoBeats: Part of your job will be overseeing the company’s expansion into new markets. What jurisdictions are high on the agenda? And why?
EA: We have recently received certification from the Malta Gaming Authority and the Swedish Gaming Authority, and we are already growing our presence in these jurisdictions. We have also enjoyed success in Germany and especially with our land-based online slots that have really hit the mark with players. We are looking to build on this now that the market is regulated and have been working hard to ensure our slots are fully compliant with the new rules and requirements.
In addition, we are keeping a close eye on the Dutch market which is set to open in October as well as the USA, Latin America and India.
CasinoBeats: And what do you anticipate as being the key challenges and opportunities when it comes to expanding into new markets?
EA: Perhaps unsurprisingly, compliance is the key challenge in these markets. Meeting different regulations in each is a huge undertaking and ultimately guides which jurisdictions we target. Due to these complexities, you must commit to the market for the long-term as meeting entry requirements takes significant investment in terms of money but also resources and time.
Of course, regulations can and do change so they must be constantly monitored so that any changes to ensure compliance can be made without delay.
“This is the only way to operate a successful and sustainable business in regulated markets.”
The US market is the best example of this. But given the size of the opportunity on the table, it is a market that Swintt is particularly keen to pursue.
CasinoBeats: How will your experience within the industry help you to drive Swintt to ‘new levels of success’?
EA: I have been in customer-facing roles since before Y2K and the feared Millennium Bug that was meant to bring the world as we know it to an end. My experience is extensive, and I will leverage this in my new role at Swintt.
I also have a great ability to see things from the customer’s perspective and I know how to remain focused and prioritise despite the many distractions that can be faced. This ability, which is often mistaken for multi-tasking, is essential in such a fast-paced industry.
CasinoBeats: From a gaming perspective, what do you anticipate will be the top trends in the next 12 months? Are we going to see more live casino products?
EA: We will see continued diversification of an operator’s game portfolio as they look to meet the needs of different player types and in different markets. As a developer, this is something we are focused on, too.
“Localisation will be absolutely key to engaging players and ensuring they come back to your casino for more.”
Live casino will continue to boom and operators in emerging markets will leverage its potential to drive retail players online for the first time. We will also see more slots players enjoy the authentic experience live dealer offers.
I believe that developers will start to shift away from the churn and burn approach and focus more on the quality of games. Players expect increasingly complex titles with features and bonuses that keep them on the edge of their seat with every spin. Such mechanics, engines and features take time to develop and can’t be rushed.
CasinoBeats: Looking to the future, what can we expect from Swintt? Are there any new products / games in the pipeline?
EA: We are always looking at industry trends and constantly work to improve our games and products each month. The sector experienced a boom with the Buy the Bonus mechanic, and we are thrilled to be launching our first slot to offer this, Book of the East, in October. We have also recently introduced our own ways to win mechanic, XtraWays, which made its debut in Lone Rider.
The mechanic and the game have received great feedback, but we have also used this to make improvements to our next XtraWays game set for release in November. The title, Rock n’Ways XtraWays, has a rock music theme and really makes players feel like they are the star of the show.
We are super excited about our engagement tool, Play-it-Back, where we are introducing a product that entertains players but also supports good causes. This new mechanic works by allowing casinos and Swintt to donate part of the revenues generated from our games to charities.
Finally, we are also expanding our SwinttLive live casino product range with the addition of blackjack, and with a Roulette variant which includes multipliers on key numbers for a more volatile and exciting experience.