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Exclusive CEE interview with Evoplay Entertainment 

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Exclusive CEE interview with Evoplay Entertainment 
Exclusive CEE interview with Evoplay Entertainment Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

With the CEE region no doubt set to be one of Europe’s biggest growth stories this year, we caught up with Evoplay Entertainment’s CBDO, Vladimir Malakchi, to talk through the region’s demographics, opportunities and hottest markets through 2021 and beyond.

The CEE region has become an increasingly important factor for growth on the continent, which markets do you see being the main drivers?

It’s all about the big-hitters that have an established framework in place, whether that be Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Croatia or any of the other regulated markets. What we’ve seen in the last few years has been exponential in terms of growth, and that’s undoubtedly a good thing. Solid, concise frameworks that allow a safe and level playing field for both player and operator has created a wide berth of entry for multiple international brands across the region. Given the windfall on revenue for governments, rather than seeing GGR go offshore, will undoubtedly prove to be a good thing for local economies, and has already proven to be a significant contributor to national budgets.

In hand with that development comes a surge in the quality of gaming available – as well as a more advanced menu of entertainment experiences – whether that be table games, instant games or slots. I’m fully confident that the advantages of a safe, regulated market will continue to be felt by countries that have established a steady GGR growth rate and a favourable environment for doing business.

In general, how would you define the typical CEE player’s profile towards slots, instant and table games? What kind of entertainment are players looking for?

The typical CEE player mainly shares characteristics with those you’d find elsewhere in Europe. Having said that, the transition to online has indeed come later than in the West, so it is inevitable that we see games that have a lot in common with the land-base sector to appeal to players. We’re also seeing plenty of interest in instant games (especially when it comes to our stable of titles), which I believe to be a massive growth area. Why? The clue’s in the name – they give players a chance to enjoy instant entertainment, lighting-fast game rounds and a quickfire result.

Are there any particular territories that stand out for you as having a unique player demographic?

While we’re certainly not a brand that believes in a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to global delivery, from personal experience I can say that the extent that one sees unique player demographics vary from country to country is relatively minimal. A greater factor that shapes delivery of product, and in effect defining the demographics of the players you deliver to in each market – is the infrastructure and accessibility. For example, with rural or highland areas, slower internet speeds are inevitable and therefore require more adaptable content that can either be leveraged via game engines to enhance the download speed, or alternatively through the application of light technical requirements for the game itself.

Having said that, CEE is digitising at an impressively fast pace. Heavy investment in high-speed broadband coverage can be observed throughout Europe, with 86% of the Czech Republic’s rural locations now connected to the internet, for instance, while Romania (as I’m sure any citizen there will be fast to tell you), has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world!

How should operators in the region be looking to tailor / customise their content to further drive retention and engagement?

There’s really no substitute for analysing the market in depth. That means closely studying the preferences of local players and the state-of-play for any potential competitors. Operators who get that process right can adapt their offering accordingly, thus driving revenue in the long-term.

We know that while session durations are relatively consistent across Europe, the average stake value is not. This is especially the case in the CEE region, where arguably the economic fallout from COVID-19 can be felt harder than most, which requires a gaming experience that can provide extended entertainment without draining player’s bank balances in minutes. This is especially the case for what is a hugely tech-savvy demographic – who are far more discerning than many outsiders would assume – and therefore require a solid product with the maths to back it up. Success here is all about authenticity, and players will recognise a lack of it from a mile off.

Gamification’s going to be a hot topic in the months ahead given the need for entertainment – as a market expert, what types of features do you believe will be key in 2021?

Tournaments are very strong right now – and formats that allow players to compete against each other in real time are going to be a mainstay in gaming development this year. I see this as being indicative that providing players with an additional sense of competition, such as pitting players against players through formats like multiplayer gameplay, is a whole new level of gamification in itself that can do wonders for making your products more interesting for your audience locked down at home.

I’m particularly excited about what multiplayer can offer, and we’re taking this area very seriously. They’re going to be a serious asset when it comes to providing an additional dimension of gameplay. Combine that with faster rounds with instant games (which are very hot right now), as well as the opportunity for more varied stakes – and you have a lightning-fast experience that can create a hugely exciting betting environment and really drive engagement and retention.

Ukraine of course is going to be very closely watched – how would you rate the regulation process so far and do you believe we’re on track to go live by mid-next year?

We’ve seen good progress in Ukraine since July last year when online gambling was officially made legal – and the government has been working hard to get a regulatory framework in place, with a commission already formed to monitor the issuing of licenses to casino operators.

It is also expected that the number of licences that the authorities choose to grant will be limited – this, just like we’ve recently seen in Argentina, means that we have a queue of foreign operators waiting for certification, and I predict will start seeing the results show in around six months. I look forward to contributing towards the creation of a safe and regulated gaming environment for all, as well as seeing the benefits that gaming revenue will bring to our national economy – just as it has for other regulated CEE territories. The future is certainly looking bright!

And last but not least, are there any leading figures or businesses you can recommend to our readers for 2021 inspiration?   

The biggest source of inspiration to me personally continues to be the fantastic team of staff we’ve got right here at Evoplay Entertainment. The tremendous success we’ve enjoyed as a company drives me to strive for more, and I genuinely believe that when we work together as a company, there is almost nothing we can’t achieve.

Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from your own accomplishments, no matter how large or small. It’s a reminder that your greatest days lie ahead – something that’s particularly important to remember in the current circumstances!

George Miller (Gyorgy Molnar) started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Hokkaido Excludes IR from 2021 Budget

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Hokkaido Excludes IR from 2021 Budget
Hokkaido Excludes IR from 2021 BudgetReading Time: < 1 minute

 

Hokkaido has announced its initial budget for 2021 on February 19, with a 15.4% (JPY432.9 billion) increase over last year to JPY3.25 trillion (US$30.9 billion). This is the third-largest initial budget ever for the prefecture, which will now be proposed at the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly regular session on February 25.

However, the fund for IR development was a notable absentee following a recent comment by Governor Naomichi Suzuki that an IR was not in the immediate future for Hokkaido.

Funds being set aside in prefectural budgets have traditionally been considered by experts as a strong indicator of a prefecture’s intentions regarding IRs. The fact that no funds have been set aside for IR development in Hokkaido’s 2021 budget appears to signal the death knell for any remaining glimmers of hope that Hokkaido could somehow jump back into Japan’s IR race.

At a press conference, Suzuki positioned the new fiscal year’s budget as “a budget that protects lives, livelihoods and creates a path for the future.” It is hoped this will help the prefecture navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and build a society resistant to infectious disease while also promoting Hokkaido’s future in a post-pandemic world.

Revenue has declined in the economic downturn and the prefecture’s financial situation is strained. Governor Suzuki commented, “We will firmly defend ourselves while at the same time starting on proactive policy. Balancing defense and offense has been difficult but we will accept the challenge to build a future for Hokkaido while controlling the pandemic.”

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Japanese Politician Raises Concerns Over China Blacklist on Overseas Casino Tourism Destinations

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Japanese Politician Raises Concerns Over China Blacklist on Overseas Casino Tourism Destinations
Japanese Politician Raises Concerns Over China Blacklist on Overseas Casino Tourism DestinationsReading Time: 2 minutes

 

The Japanese government has refrained from commenting following a question from House of Representatives member Kenji Eda regarding concerns that Japan’s first integrated resort developments could see the nation added to a blacklist being compiled by Chinese authorities on foreign casino destinations.

The blacklist, originally revealed by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism last August and expanded earlier this month, is said to comprise overseas tourist destinations that are “disrupting” China’s outbound tourism market by opening casinos targeting mainland Chinese customers. The blacklist system would see travel restrictions imposed on Chinese citizens going to overseas cities and scenic spots named on the blacklist.

Eda revealed via his personal blog that he had submitted a question regarding the blacklist and its potential impact on Japan’s IRs, stating, “In August 2020, China announced that it would create a blacklist system to restrict travel to foreign cities that had a casino, with the allegation that overseas casinos threatened the property and safety of their citizens. With that in mind, we can understand that there are concerns that overseas casinos are a hotbed of crime, particularly corruption and graft. I request an answer if the government is aware of this system.

“Further, this, adding to the impact of the coronavirus, could have a major impact on IR (casino) operation in East Asia, which relies heavily on wealthy Chinese visitors. In the past, The Chinese government has restricted travel to South Korea because of deployment of the US military’s ground-based missile interception system, and there is a risk they could use this system politically.

“Considering this system, even if we build casinos (IR) in Japan, we cannot have expectations that foreigners, and especially Chinese tourists, will be able to visit.”

In response, the government said, “We are aware that the Chinese government has announced the establishment of a system as you described in August 2020, but the specific details are yet to be announced so we will refrain from comment.”

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Enjoy a fantastic fruit cocktail with Fruits’n Jars, the new release from Red Rake Gaming

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Fruits’n Jars, the new release from Red Rake Gaming
Fruits’n Jars, the new release from Red Rake GamingReading Time: < 1 minute

 

The specialist casino game provider, Red Rake Gaming, has just released its latest game, a 5×3 reel video slot where players can obtain a wide variety of different wins. Bonus symbols that hide surprising multipliers, a mini game with a huge roulette, jam jars with mysterious symbols and a wild symbol that rewards the player with lucky multipliers.

A video slot with a great cocktail of fruits and classic symbols, including “mystery symbols”, which reveal a symbol adding to the excitement of much of the action.

The wild symbol rewards players with lucky multipliers. A sidebar will be displayed with different multipliers of either X2, X3, X5, X10, X15, X20 or X25, and one of them will light up to multiply the player’s win by the number in question.

The most impressive feature in this video slot is the Major Roulette, where players can multiply their bet and obtain wins as interesting as the already well-known Minor, Major and Grand wins.

Not only do the bonus symbols grant players access to the free spins feature, but they also hide surprising multipliers. With 3 or more bonus symbols players can earn up to 25 free spins.

Fruits’n Jar has been released today, 25th February, with all Red Rake Gaming operators. As with all previous releases, this new slot will be available on the new tournament tool, making it even more exciting to play.

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