ComeOn Group may be best known for its casino brands, but CEO Juergen Reutter is determined to pursue a growth path that involves making sportsbook a central part of its offer.
When musicians try to do something different to what made them famous, it can go very badly – think Metallica’s dalliances with orchestras and Lou Reed, or Dee Dee Ramone’s best-forgotten hip-hop album. It can also lead to even greater success, as the bank balances of The Beatles and Radiohead undoubtedly show.
One man who is confident that his attempt to do something different will turn out to be more John Lennon than Lars Ulrich is ComeOn Group’s CEO Juergen Reutter, who is aiming to increase the Nordic online casino powerhouse’s revenues by developing a strong sportsbook offer to augment its core gaming products.
“Our strategy is to become a tier one operator in the sports market,” Reutter affirmed.
“For us, it’s a key goal because we are very dominant in the casino market, where we have significant market shares in our territories. But when it comes to sportsbook, we are underrepresented.
“We are running at around 15 per cent of our revenues from sportsbook, but we believe our fair share, the fair share of the sports-led operator, lies at 30-35 per cent and above. So we are here to double our sportsbook business in the next three years.”
“We can only achieve that through the investment we have now made in product, platform and people”
This is no idle boast or a figure simply plucked out of the air, as the ComeOn Group team has shown the diligence and ambition of Paul McCartney in preparing for the change.
“We can only achieve that through the investment we have now made in product, platform and people to unlock that growth, and follow up on our strategy to become a tier one sportsbook operator,” he added.
The investments that Reutter, the former Chief Experience Officer of William Hill Online and CEO of Addison Global, is referring to have been at the heart of the transformation he has driven since joining ComeOn Group in 2020. His initial goal was to ensure the business benefited from what he described as the “untapped synergies” from the 2017 merger between ComeOn and Cherry.
“When I started, one of the transformational projects we were running was to move our entire business onto one platform, one technology stack, as the business was running post-merger on two separate technology platforms,” he recalled.
“This entailed a big transformational change for the organisation, but it was successfully conducted and now all of our brands in all of our markets are running on our core proprietary igaming platform. This obviously unlocked a lot of synergies, but also paved the way for growth in the business.”
He continued: “We also undertook an in-depth assessment of our market portfolio and refocused it on some core locally-regulated markets, which meant we also exited some markets. This focus means we are now in what I call a peer-leading position in those locally-regulated markets, if I compare our business to competitors who give their numbers publicly.”
“We developed and upgraded our culture in the business, and introduced new company values”
Every bit as important has been the investment made in people and in changing the culture of the business, to make it a great place to work and ensure the team has fully bought into the company’s goals.
Reutter explained: “We developed and upgraded our culture in the business, and introduced new company values guiding the operational framework. Now we are in a position where we are taking the bright heritage of the past into the values that are driving our approach to future challenges, making sure the organisation stays agile and is running a winning culture.
“With all this done, we’re looking ahead and we are delivering double-digit growth year-in and year-out. Our outlook is very clear on where we want to be and what we want to achieve.”
Refreshing and Repositioning
With the core of the business primed and ready for expansion, the company has embarked on a rebrand of its flagship ComeOn! brand. One of 15 operated by the Group, it is more than 12 years old and during that time has built a reputation as a casino-dominated platform with strong relevance to local audiences in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia.
But every successful brand has a refresh from time to time and it has now been updated to reflect the shift in the company’s priorities.
“The rebrand of ComeOn! goes along with the strategic change in moving the business more towards a sports-led organisation. The brand got a refresh and also a repositioning from a casino-led brand to a sports-led brand,” said Reutter.
“We are now taking the brand and the strategic repositioning on to the next stage, as we want to become a leading sports betting destination for our audiences in all our markets. This time, we are doing it with our own platform and our own trading capabilities.”
“We keep assessing entry from all angles, including an inorganic step into the market in the UK and Italy”
In Reutter’s view, ownership and control of the platform technology is vital to the success of the business. It gives ComeOn Group the flexibility to innovate, differentiate and localise whenever it needs to, and that is an approach that has delivered “strong market share positions” for its casino business.
“We are basically taking what has been successful in the casino world into the sports world, and we couldn’t have done that with an outsourced solution,” he explained. “It was very clear for us that we needed to fill the gap in our technology value chain and add our own sportsbook to have a full end-to-end technology capability to drive the business and the sportsbook.
“Our strategy is very clear. We want to become a tier one sportsbook operator and we believe this has to be done with a differentiating, innovative capability that can only be delivered with an in-house sportsbook.”
To meet that need, the Group acquired Austrian sportsbook technology company Arland Technologies and its team has worked in tandem with ComeOn’s existing in-house tech team to deliver the new sportsbook proposition.
“The cultural fit of Arland is working very, very well and joining forces with them was a key enabler for our sportsbook strategy,” said Reutter. “The engineering team in Austria has delivered a top-notch sportsbook platform and the trading capabilities of our joint teams are making sure we are continuously delivering against our goals.”
With a clear aim to be as successful in the sportsbook vertical as it already is in the casino market in Sweden and the rest of the Nordics, coupled with recent market entries in the Netherlands and Ontario, you could be forgiven for thinking that ComeOn Group has more than enough to keep its staff occupied.
Reutter, however, enjoys a challenge, as long as it is one that has the potential to build further success for an already thriving business.
Asked about future plans for ComeOn Group, he replied: “Obviously we are a European-centric operator, and we are continuously assessing new market entries and looking at our locally-regulated portfolio.
“If you look at the European market, there are two obvious markets we are not operating in – that’s the UK and Italy, two of the biggest markets in Europe. We keep assessing entry from all angles, including an inorganic step into the market in the UK and Italy.”
It appears then, that Reutter is definitely a man who relishes a challenge and values ambition. From attempting to make the company a serious player in the sportsbook sector to targeting Europe’s two most competitive markets, it promises to be an eventful next two years.