Sylvain Boniver, GAMING1 Co-Founder and COO

A strengthened presence across Belgium, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, and The Netherlands is being sought by GAMING1 through the current year, driven by the strength of the company’s omnichannel approach.

In part two of a CasinoBeats special, Sylvain Boniver, GAMING1 Co-Founder and COO, examines how to balance strategies for expansion across online and land-based operations, a potential French online casino expansion, where growth will be achieved through the next year and much more.

CasinoBeats: How does GAMING1’s in-house casino game development studio collaborate successfully with platforms? What process do you take when approaching each new collaboration?

Sylvain Boniver: Gaming1’s in-house casino game development studio has been a cornerstone of our success in Belgium, primarily because it has enabled us to create games specifically tailored to the Belgian market. These games are unique to us and do not exist on the international stage, giving us a distinct edge in our home market.

The studio has also been instrumental in our international expansion. For instance, we became the first operator to receive and operate an online casino licence in Portugal under the brand Estoril Sol Casinos. 

This milestone was achieved partly because no other game provider had certified their games in Portugal at that time. We launched our Portuguese site exclusively with our own content, which allowed us to take a leading position in the Portuguese market as early as 2016.

Currently, we’re expanding our ambitions. We aim to distribute our games, initially designed for the Belgian market, to international platforms. A significant step in this direction was the launch of our Gridders games in the Netherlands at the end of 2023 on several sites, including 777.NL. These games have been met with increasing success, which is a promising sign for the future of our studio.

CB: How do you balance your approach to land-based and online operations and expansion? And what strategies do you have in place to adopt unity between the two?

SB: Gaming1’s strategy for balancing land-based and online operations revolves significantly around our omnichannel approach. This strategy is not only beneficial for the players, offering them a seamless gaming experience across different platforms, but it also aligns with the increasing marketing restrictions in many regulated markets.

The omnichannel approach allows us to leverage the strengths of both land-based and online operations, offering a cohesive experience to our customers. For players, this means they can enjoy a consistent gaming experience, whether they’re playing online or in one of our physical locations. 

For instance, players can earn loyalty points online that they can redeem at a land-based venue, and vice versa. This interconnectedness enhances customer loyalty and engagement, as players appreciate the flexibility and integrated rewards system.

In terms of strategy, we focus on harmonising our offerings across channels. This involves ensuring that popular games are available both online and in our physical casinos, maintaining consistent branding and marketing messages across all platforms, and providing a unified customer service experience. We also invest in technology that facilitates this integration, such as cross-channel promotions.

Another key aspect of our strategy is adapting to the increasing marketing restrictions in regulated markets. As direct advertising becomes more challenging, our omnichannel approach becomes even more vital. Of course, advertising regulations are understandable and a laudable intention when it comes to the most vulnerable people.

By offering an integrated experience, we can rely less on traditional marketing methods and more on the natural draw of our cohesive and engaging player experience. This approach not only complies with regulatory demands but also establishes a more organic and sustainable model for customer acquisition and retention.

Overall, our omnichannel strategy is central to balancing and unifying our land-based and online operations. It not only meets the evolving needs and preferences of our players but also positions us well in the face of changing regulatory landscapes. 

This approach reinforces our commitment to providing a comprehensive and enjoyable gaming experience while adhering to industry standards and regulations.

CB: As markets you currently operate in, such as France, prepare to legalise online casino, how will you ensure your land-based games are accessible to online players? What key differences have you observed between land-based and online customers?

SB: As markets like France move slowly towards legalising online casino gaming, Gaming1 is strategically preparing to expand its land-based casino offering to online. This involves preparing our network to support the launch of the online operation. 

Most of the games that you can find in land-based casinos already exist online in other regulated countries so this is not the biggest challenge.

Understanding the differences between land-based and online customers is crucial. Online players often prioritise convenience, playing anytime and anywhere, which contrasts with the physical experience of land-based casinos. 

They also tend to be drawn to games with more innovative and interactive features, showing a preference for technology and regular updates. On the other hand, land-based players might seek more immersive experiences, often in longer gaming sessions. The online gaming demographic is also broader, capturing a wider age range and diverse behaviours.

To cater to these varied preferences, our strategy focuses on integrating the essence of our land-based games with digital innovations suitable for online users. We also emphasise a deep understanding of player analytics to tailor our offerings, ensuring a compelling and engaging experience for both online and land-based gaming enthusiasts.

CB: With plans for global expansion for Q4 and beyond, what is your forecast for the next year?

SB: As we start 2024, Gaming1 is strategically focusing on a few key areas, aligning with our plans for global expansion. 

Our primary objective is to concentrate on strengthening our presence in our six core markets: Belgium, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, and The Netherlands. These markets represent significant opportunities for growth and consolidation of our brand, and we aim to deepen our engagement and market share in these regions.

A major part of our strategy is to accelerate the progress on our technology foundations. We understand that a robust and innovative technological base is crucial for staying competitive in the dynamic gaming industry. This will involve not only enhancing our existing platforms but also developing new, cutting-edge solutions to improve the overall product experience for our customers.

Streamlining our operations is another critical focus. By optimising our processes and workflows, we aim to increase efficiency and agility. This will enable us to respond more quickly to market changes and customer needs, ensuring that we remain adaptable and proactive in our approach.

Developing our high-performance culture is a key goal. We believe that our people are our greatest asset, and fostering a culture that encourages excellence, innovation, and continuous learning is vital for our ongoing success. 

We will invest in training and development programs to empower our team members, ensuring that they have the skills and knowledge to excel in their roles.

Leveraging omnichannel strategies will continue to be a significant part of our approach. We see omnichannel not just as a business strategy but as a way to enhance the customer experience, providing seamless and integrated gaming experiences across all platforms and touchpoints.

Lastly, we are committed to going even further with responsible gaming. As we grow our customer base, we will intensify our efforts to promote safe and responsible gaming practices. 

This includes implementing advanced tools and measures to protect our players and ensuring that our gaming environments are secure, ethical, and enjoyable for everyone.

Overall, our forecast for this year is one of growth, innovation, and continued commitment to excellence in all aspects of our operations. With these strategies in place, we are confident that we will not only meet but exceed our goals for success in the global gaming market.

CB: Europe is a key focus for GAMING1, with growth opportunities across France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain. What are you most excited about? And do you have any new partnerships or offerings to share details of?

SB: Europe indeed presents exciting growth opportunities for Gaming1, particularly in key markets like France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain. Among these, Switzerland stands out with particularly promising developments.

We’re thrilled to announce that Gaming1 group has recently been awarded the renewal of two concessions for the casinos in Davos and Crans-Montana. This is a significant milestone for us, as it not only recognises the quality of our management and our strategic development but also reflects the trust placed in us by various authorities.

In Crans-Montana, we have ambitious plans to modernise and expand the casino. Our vision includes the addition of a sports bar, seminar rooms, a new restaurant area with stunning views overlooking the pond, and versatile function rooms. 

Moreover, we are committed to sustainability and have set a goal to reduce the casino’s greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2035. Additionally, we are eagerly pursuing an online licence to leverage our technological expertise and offer Swiss players an immersive multi-channel experience.

As for Davos, our plans are equally dynamic. We intend to relocate the casino to a nearby facility to facilitate its further development. This move will also allow us to add a brand-new sports bar to the operation, enhancing the overall gaming and entertainment experience.

These initiatives in Switzerland are just a part of our broader strategy to grow and enhance our presence across Europe. We’re not only excited about these developments but also optimistic about the potential they unlock for Gaming1. 

These projects are a testament to our commitment to providing top-notch gaming experiences, our dedication to sustainability, and our ambition to continually innovate and expand in the European market.