The US market is one that presents a plethora of new opportunities for European operators looking to expand their reach, but more often than not, establishing a local partnership is the key to success.
Ashley Adir (Photo), CEO of Vegas Kings, and Ed Andrewes, CEO of Digital resorts, spoke with SBC Americas about their partnership and how this alliance has helped Vegas Kings “break into” the rapidly growing market, now being fully entrenched in the sports betting scene in the United States.
SBCA: What initially attracted you about your expansion into the US market? And how will your offer be different from that in Europe?
Ashley Adir: The attraction to the American market has always been there for us because of its iconic brands and history around gaming.
We have accumulated a great deal of experience in the UK and European markets for almost two decades and when we started getting inquiries about work in the US we jumped on it. It was a great opportunity to help leverage our experience in a new market and at the same time discover the American customer, and design and develop products that attract the market.
We have always dreamed of working with inspiring brands such as Resorts Casino and Mohegan Sun and now that our dream has come true we can really deploy our skills and expand our knowledge. As a creative agency, we are excited about bold design and the US market needs creative solutions that stand out and brands that stand out!
SBCA: Being a company based in South Africa, what were the barriers to entry to start working with US clients?
AA: We never take barriers as an excuse not to progress, we have worked with almost every country and time zone in the world since our inception over 22 years ago. We have optimized our workflows to provide our US customers with world-class service and availability.
The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was getting suppliers registered with the Department of Gaming Enforcement. We were fortunate to acquire our seller’s license in New Jersey, which allowed us to serve US operators.
SBCA: As the sport is now making a comeback and more states begin to legalize sports betting, what does the future hold for the Vegas Kings in the United States?
AA: We are honored to have the opportunity to be invested in the growth of the US gaming market. We have seen a sharp increase in work demands from new and existing customers. There is a lot of new action around sports betting, casino, lottery, social media, fantasy, and esports. There are so many new brands coming out and a lot of them are going through the Vegas Kings Studio.
As new states open up and Native American tribes join us, we will see a huge influx of opportunities throughout the industry. There will be a phase of intense learning and adaptation to the market, but the United States is quickly becoming a very healthy gaming market. What comes with a healthy market is innovation and we believe America is the place to innovate.
SBCA: As an agency, what have been the biggest challenges when it comes to working with large companies to establish their presence in the post-PASPA market?
AA: We don’t find it very difficult to work with larger operators. Large companies are building deeper and more lasting relationships with us. We still have clients with whom we have worked for 20 years! The greater their workload, the more they fit into our studio and relationships are built through frequent communication. The resorts and Mohegan Sun are good examples of this, as we have made some real friendships.
Vegas Kings also works with big partner companies like Microgaming, Greentube, Betconstruct, EveryMatrix, etc., but these are relationships that have been built over many years. It can be difficult for a mid-size specialist like us to get noticed by large companies.
The other challenge is teaching large operators that we can support their internal teams even if they have in-house designers and developers. We seamlessly connect to their internal processes and become a creative conduit for them to run more campaigns and boost their acquisition initiatives. We can give a new boost of energy to any team.
SBCA: Why did you choose Vegas Kings when you decided to outsource your design and development rather than keeping it in-house?
Ed Andrewes: When we launched, the market was relatively nascent in New Jersey and we thought we would really benefit from VK’s experiences in other global markets. VK already knew what had and hadn’t worked in the online gaming sphere and RDG really took advantage.
SBCA: Do you find working with a company outside of the US and in a different time zone a challenge, or is it working well for you?
EA: In fact, the time zone difference works quite well, and we’ve perfected our working practices over the years. The fact that South Africa is 7 hours ahead of NJ means our guys can provide feedback overnight and the VK team can work on it nonstop the next day. We also have a 2 hour time slot at the start of the day where teams can interact in real time if necessary.
SBCA: With Resorts Digital running both Resorts and Mohegan Sun online casino, how imperative is it to ensure that styles and creative directions are separate for each brand?
EA: This is really very important to us, especially since the two services run on the Scientific Games platform and therefore will inevitably be quite similar products. A few years ago we underwent a redesign of the www.mohegansuncasino.com website and we believe both properties now have their own unique look and feel.
SBCA: The US sports betting market continues to grow very rapidly. How do you see your partnership with Vegas Kings fitting into the development of legalized betting?
EA: For now, Resorts Digital will remain focused on iGaming. However, as other states roll out online sports betting, we believe games will inevitably follow and RDG intends to capitalize on that. We hope VK will follow us on this journey and continue to support us with our design requirements!