Ahead of his appearance at CasinoBeats Summit 2022, we caught up with Glitnor Group CEO David Flynn to talk about the US online casino opportunity and the company’s plans for one of the world’s most exciting markets.
It’s been a busy few months for Glitnor Group, as the Malta-headquartered gambling business has hit the headlines with its acquisition of leading affiliate KaFe Rocks, enjoyed further growth for its Sweden-facing B2C brand LuckyCasino, and expanded the reach of its B2B brand Swintt into a host of new markets.
After that whirlwind of activity, Glitnor’s CEO David Flynn could be forgiven for being a little weary, but the reality is very different. When we talk, he’s back at his desk in Malta feeling revitalised after a cycling break in the beautiful scenery of North Yorkshire and excited about the company’s prospects.
Part of that excitement is due to Glitnor launching a new brand “very, very soon”, but there’s also a very real enthusiasm about the subject that he will be discussing at CasinoBeats Summit 2022 – the potential of the US online casino market.
Flynn estimates that the total addressable market for igaming operators in the US could be worth $35bn should regulation follow the same pattern as seen for sports betting legalisation. That possibility is obviously interesting to any company involved in the industry, but even the current market situation is attractive.
“It is early days, but there’s six states with casino licensing available now and in each of those six states, one continually sees the majority of revenue that’s generated is from casino, and not from sports. And the spend per player in the US is very high in comparison with European markets, so there is a solid opportunity in the existing states today,” said Flynn.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for us and we’re starting to drive initial revenues already”
It is an opportunity that Glitnor is already exploring via its affiliate and B2B divisions.
“Through the acquisition of KaFe Rocks, and we’re just about to announce an investment for the US, we are in the US in a big way,” he said. “We have access now to 12 states through our affiliation business and we’ll be driving increasing amounts of traffic through the Time2Play.com and USCasinos.com brands, while we’re looking at a number of other assets as well. There’s a lot of opportunity for us and we’re starting to drive initial revenues already in the US through to the group on the affiliate side.
“Then our B2B business, Swintt, has already signed a number of LOIs with operators to take our content and we’re going through the licensing process at the moment. So there’s ample opportunity for the business across each division, and certainly collectively, as we manage the different regulation speeds of the various parts of the value chain.”
Flynn is also looking at the possibility of replicating Glitnor’s three-pronged approach to the European igaming industry by establishing a US operator brand.
“It’s all part of our strategy in order to continue our growth profile in the US,” he said. “We envisage a significant amount of our revenues coming from North America over the course of the next few years and our B2C operation will be a significant part of that. A number of discussions are ongoing, as you can imagine, and I’m looking forward to making announcements in the near future.”
Establishing a successful operator in the US market will involve taking on some of the biggest brands in global gambling, but that prospect doesn’t faze Flynn, who believes Glitnor’s experience of growing LuckyCasino in Sweden will help his team to compete.
“We came in at brand number 90 when we launched the business and now, looking at the publicly available numbers, we’re overall about brand number five in the market with LuckyCasino. It’s performing extremely well, with continuous growth of well over 100 per cent year-on-year,” he explained.
“I really believe that in the long term, it’s more about good-quality games”
“We have proven that we can enter into a very strictly regulated market against very strong competition and become a top-five player in a relatively short space of time. And, I hasten to add, without the crazy marketing spend that many operators are doing at the moment in the US market. Through having a great team, great product and great marketing strategy we’ve managed to do extremely well, and that’s exactly what we’re going to replicate as we enter into the US.”
Glitnor’s B2B division Swintt will also have to compete against some long-established brands in the US, including some industry giants that can offer the country’s best-loved land-based casino slots in a digital format for instant player recognition.
Flynn does not necessarily see this as a disadvantage though, preferring to view the situation as an opportunity for innovative games studios – and not only because online casinos need to appeal to a broader audience than just players who enjoy the land-based experience.
“In a previous role, I’ve proved that online content that’s never been land-based in the US before can be a winner,” Flynn said. “I really believe that in the long term, it’s more about good-quality games, with good mathematics and good models, as opposed to just copy-pasting what you see in the land-based and putting it online.
“As an operator in the US, it’s important to have a good mix of games. For some operators it’s important to have something that players will recognise from their land-based brand, so that when they go online they get a familiar experience. But, sooner or later, they will actually look at the online content and understand that these types of games are good games. Then it becomes very, very similar to the European market and good games, good game providers and good mathematics will win out in the long term.”
Flynn also believes the preponderance of land-based games developers active in North America is something that could actually benefit Swintt’s content distribution operation.
“There are a number of land-based providers who still aren’t online today, so we’ve now launched SwinttStudios, which partners with those game providers to help them to get their content online in an efficient way,” he explained.
“We certainly won’t shy away from those opportunities”
“We already have a very strong partnership with a German land-based provider and have taken all of their content online – and that performs extremely well. Previously, it wasn’t known online, and certainly not known in many of the markets where they are today through distribution via Swintt.
“That’s just the proof that the concept works. What I’m saying is that we can actually work with a number of different smaller land-based studios who really want to get their content online and make a difference from them, combined with new content from online-only studios will make for a compelling offering.”
While the SwinttStudios partnership programme is in its infancy, there is already interest in the idea and it recently announced a deal with Fine Edge Studios to distribute six titles in the US this year.
Growing that B2B operation, along with Glitnor’s affiliate brands, in the US is a key immediate focus for the business. However, its management team, which boasts a combined 125 years of gaming industry experience, also has other targets in mind.
“Obviously, Canada is an interesting market and then there’s a number of the European and Latin American regulated markets that are interesting and that we’re assessing. Suffice it to say, you’ll see us entering into around two to three other regulated markets over the course of the next 12 to 18 months,” said Flynn.
“We have been growing very, very quickly and have created a very good team over the course of the last few years, which is now more than 370 people across the group. Now it’s about really investing in the team as we continue to grow out organically and, you know, there’s a lot of M&A opportunities in the market moving forward. We certainly won’t shy away from those opportunities as we continue to grow.”
David Flynn will take part in ‘The US: What’s next?’ panel at CasinoBeats Summit 2022, alongside Adi Dhandhania (COO, Bally’s Interactive), Benjamin Truman (COO, MediaTroopers), and Lee Gwillam (VP Operations, Gambling.com).
The igaming industry conference and exhibition takes place at the InterContinental in St Julian’s, Malta on 24-26 May. For full details of the agenda and how to book passes, visit the Summit website.