Ahead of the impending debut of the legalised Dutch online gambling market, Markus Antl, head of sales and key account management at Greentube, addresses expectations, European similarities, and the importance of making a strong early impact.
CasinoBeats: It has been a long time coming, but given the regulations as things stand, what are you expecting from the regulated Dutch market when it opens for business?
Markus Antl: We have done our market research and have assessed the size of the so far unregulated market that has been in existence in the Netherlands for many years. We are consequently positive that the market is going to have a significant value for the country as a whole as it opens.
For the first time, the Dutch authorities can derive taxes from revenue generated from online gaming, which helps to justify the regulations that are being put in place to encourage players to move away from unregulated gambling.
Comparing this market to other recently regulated territories like their neighbour Germany, we are pleased the Dutch took a more player-friendly approach and did not impose unreasonable product restrictions. This keeps it interesting for operators in the Netherlands, as well as game suppliers and it will help to channel players into the regulated market
Above all, it is key to keep the market attractive for players. If stake or deposit limits are too restrictive, the black market has a significant unfair advantage. The same is true for taxation – above a certain limit, regulated operators can no longer compete with black market brands as they will simply use the additional margin to attract players away from the legal offering.
From our perspective, the Dutch gaming tax is already above the critical threshold and will therefore leave the regulated market at an uneven playing field.
“…the Dutch landscape will be formed from a very diverse mixture of game content, themes and brands”
CB: How long will it take for suppliers to get to know the preferences of Dutch players, and what advantages are there from having land-based experience in the country?
MA: Most other major provider have been supplying the grey market for years which means they know perfectly well what types of games the Dutch players prefer. We are new to the market but have a lot of experience from our land-based and social gaming offerings.
We are preparing a portfolio of games which we believe will have a strong impact and resonate very well with the players. It will follow our strategy of having both local content, such as Random Runner and Simply Wild, and international titles like our Diamond Link series in the mix. But even if suppliers don’t have a land-based offering, they can still derive a lot of information from it and observe player preferences when looking at what has been offered on the grey market.
I don’t think it will take too long to understand player behaviour and it is certainly key to be one of the first movers. As we have seen in many territories in past years, if you are first to market, that is where a lot of players will stay, as long as you have a portfolio of games that are attractive and that have stickiness.
If players come on board with you at the launch, then it is likely you can keep this customer base and that the games they have enjoyed playing will define the market. Ultimately, the Dutch landscape will be formed from a very diverse mixture of game content, themes and brands that have been famous in the arcades, bars, casino and online markets.
CB: How similar is the Netherlands to Germany, both in terms of the type of regulation introduced and player behaviour?
MA: I would say player behaviour is a little bit different, though when you have regional closeness, such as Germany next door, you can also see that there are also many similarities. We are teaming up with casino operators to gather intel and we know that in the land-based business, especially in the pub and arcade markets, famous Novomatic titles are working really well.
“The next couple of weeks will define the major players in the market for the future”
The main difference is that Dutch players have an eye for old AWP games and enjoy pub-style games with mechanics that were converted for online. Greentube Netherlands (formerly Eurocoin) offers this type of content and games such as Random Runner, Simply Wild and Club 2000 have been very popular in the past and we expect will be again in the future.
We see that players are searching for these titles and if we analyse latest data, it appears these game types are quite successful. We also have the unique opportunity where we are able to deliver the original versions of these games on our partners’ websites.
These Dutch Classic titles are not just popular in the Dutch market however, we can also see from the data that in Greece, content created by Greentube Netherlands helps to boost our numbers there, and the same appears to be true in Hungary.
CB: What is the importance of making a strong early impact in the Dutch market and how far can this impact future growth?
MA: The next couple of weeks will define the major players in the market for the future, while there is always the chance to come in at a later point with innovations that will be accepted by players. The big pieces of the cake, however, will be distributed very quickly, so it is imperative that we present ourselves correctly and that we keep providing state-of-the-art content in the Dutch market.
CB: How optimistic are you that the Netherlands can grow to become one of Europe’s most important igaming markets?
MA: The Netherlands will need to compete with the UK and Italy for the country to become one of the most important igaming markets on the continent. Data and analysis show that the Netherlands will have a key role in the European igaming business, at the very least competing with some of the top territories.
“…the European markets require a different approach in our view”
When we enter a new market, we always try to estimate its potential and the Dutch market appears to be very close in size, in terms of numbers, to markets like Poland and certain US states.
CB: How far can strategies for newly regulated European markets such as the Netherlands apply to new opportunities in the US?
MA: Most European markets are quite different from the US. The European online casino market has developed from a .com approach to a very fragmented country-by-country approach with lots of different regulations in place. On top of this, player preferences in Europe are regionally more diverse than in the US.
Therefore, from a game portfolio perspective, the European markets require a different approach in our view. On the other hand, entering the US markets involves a lot of licensing work with the state regulators even for suppliers. That means as a supplier you need the right people on board that are willing and able to go through this process. For a lot of the smaller suppliers this represents a major obstacle.
So in terms of strategy, and coming back to the question, the US is more of a long-play than most of the European markets. We prepared ourselves very thoroughly before we decided to enter it.