Why is now the right time to enter the US? Some companies entered earlier, some later and some are yet to make a move. So why now for Relax Gaming?
We see it as perfect timing for us. In recent years, Relax has been focused on its own development, building a top-tier product and strong presence across neighboring territories. We’ve now reached a point where our technical infrastructure has enabled us to cement a foothold in key markets, adapted to new legislations and compliance changes, and supported a portfolio of size and caliber that leaves us in good standing to take on new frontiers. As a company, we pick and choose opportunities based on our industry knowledge and never risk spreading ourselves too thin.
Although we may not be the first to enter the US, the market is showing signs of growth and potential, with operators welcoming new suppliers and hungry for fresh content. Great things take time and it will take a good three to five years to establish ourselves in this new jurisdiction. Nonetheless, we feel that market conditions are favorable and our maturity as an organization make it a prime time for us to plant the flag and really drive differentiation there.
As a company, we pick and choose opportunities based on our industry knowledge and never risk spreading ourselves too thin.
What pitfalls are you hoping to avoid while entering the US... you mentioned one already in terms of not spreading yourself too thin?
I have experience entering the US market with a previous company, so I’m well aware of a few minefields to skirt around. Firstly, it is vital to understand the compliance and regulations specific to the US, and indeed each state, which includes certification and nuances that may differ from other markets. Without prior experience, this can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience.
Secondly, it is crucial to recognize that player behavior and operator needs in the US may be different from those in Europe. Tailoring your approach to meet these specific requirements is paramount. Finally, it is essential to acknowledge that, despite having an established brand in Europe, the US market is a new territory where we have no prior recognition or reputation. To succeed, we need to build trust and brand recognition among players, starting from the ground up. This means reconfiguring many of the formulas that have made us a brand to be reckoned with in Europe – starting with trust, then player affinity and, most importantly – hard work to ensure players fall in love with us.
In terms of making your content loved, which products are going to be front and center for Relax Gaming in America?
From a content perspective, Relax has many strings to its bow. We have a diverse portfolio ranging from jackpot products to poker, bingo, slots and aggregation. However, that doesn’t mean we’ll be firing on all cylinders from day one! Our strategy is focused, targeted and specific, starting with our best-performing slot content to lay the groundwork, and then building upwards gradually as our reputation grows.
In my experience, what performs well in Europe can, with the right push and brand awareness, perform extremely well in the US. Therefore you can expect to see a lot of our Tumble games and western hits in our first run in the territory.
This means reconfiguring many of the formulas that have made us a brand to be reckoned with in Europe – starting with trust, then player affinity and, most importantly – hard work to ensure players fall in love with us.
We understand you're targeting New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. It’s obvious why: they’re massive markets, but naturally they're competitive. So this question may touch on some of the points you've already made – but how are you looking to stand out, given the competitive nature of these marketplaces?
In short, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan are the three biggest markets in the northern region of the US. Looking at the landscape today, however, we can see plenty of gaps to address. Yes, we can see that gaming content is flooding the market, but I genuinely believe our level of quality will differentiate us despite the number of competitors currently in play.
To succeed, our strategy has always been quite simple – innovating, never resting on our laurels and being transparent and commercially competitive. It involves really investing in our product and, as a result, making sure our games are the highest quality on the market. We’re not in the habit of reskinning, remaking or replicating. At Relax, we release fresh, new and innovative titles each and every month – a proposal we believe not many can match.
On top of that, our ethos is to offer stability, reliability and ultimately – first-rate entertainment. We’re applying our core values to a new market with a very humble mindset, and aiming to build affinity and trust that will last.
Finally, you mentioned a three to five-year growth plan, but if we were to have this conversation this time next year, where would you ideally be positioned within the market?
Realistically, the US will take time to penetrate and to carve out a share of pocket for Relax, or any supplier for that matter. Licensing takes time – and with our slow-but-steady strategy in place, our goal is that within 12 months, we hope to be operational with a decent body of casinos and showing signs of initial success with our hit games. This groundwork will then serve as a springboard to start building share of pocket and trust for the long term.