Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of Betsson Group visited Georgia, for the first time since the acquisition of Georgian leading gaming operator Europe-Bet.
Mr. Bengtsson has held meetings with representatives of the Georgian government as well as local journalists.
The acquisition of a strongly-performing Georgian gaming operator is part of Betsson’s growth strategy which has included acquisitions during the last 3-4 years. “Betsson has had a tremendous growth journey for a long time,” says Bengtsson, “and part of our strategy for the last 3-4 years has been acquisition and buying companies. In the last three years we have bought 4 companies, and this is a continuation of that strategy … [Europe-Bet] is in a region which we know, as we have some of our brands and partner brands in surrounding countries.”
Europe-Bet is Georgia’s second-biggest gaming operator, with a market share of 30%, and the acquisition represents a total investment by Betsson of USD 85 mln. The company shares were purchased for an initial consideration of USD 50 million, with a further USD 35 mln. paying after one year, provided gambling regulations do not change.
“We intend to keep the business in Georgia” says Bengtsson, “and the 750 people who are employed by Europe-Bet.” Betsson does not envisage any large changes to the Europe-Bet’s current management team.
According to Bengtsson, Betsson was also attracted by stable regulatory environment in Georgia, which gives the country a competitive advantage over some of its regional neighbors, and even some EU states. “Another reason why it made sense is Georgia, as it carved out as an island in the region, it actually has a very robust, predictable, fair and commercially viable license regime which we really liked and we looked at this closely.”
Like other gaming operators in the region, Europe-Bet’s revenues come principally from online gaming. In 2014, revenues amounted to USD 52.4 million, of which USD 40.8 mln came from online operations with the remainder coming from land-based business.
Betsson also have an office in Kiev focused on software developments.
Betsson’s strategy for developing the Europe-Bet brand will be centered around improving the customer experience in online operations, including payments and withdrawals, mobile solutions and features making the customer journey as easy as possible. “We want to make every operation as easy as entering a room and flicking a switch,” says Bengtsson.
Commenting on the acquisition, Bengtsson says, “We’re delighted to be in Georgia and we’re very impressed how Georgia has been able to create an island of stability in a region that isn’t always stable. We think Georgia has a great future and we believe Europe-Bet has a great future too.”
Founded in 2010, Europe-Bet.com has established itself as the largest independent operator in Georgian regulated gaming market and the region, offering Sportsbook, Poker, Casino and Mobile games online and offline. From the very first days, Europe-Bet.com has been operating its independent online poker room and organizing numerous tournaments series and has become an official partner of World Poker Tour in Georgia, 2015. In the same year, Europe-Bet was acquired by Betsson Group, the leading company with more than 50 years of experience in the gaming business.
**About Betsson Group
Betsson Group is a leading player in the Nordics and Netherlands active with more than 20 brands globally. Betsson operates a multi-brand strategy with several local strong brands such as www.betsson.com, www.betsafe.com, www.nordicbet.com, www.triobet.com, www.kroon.com among others. Some brands are only present in one market, while others are active in more than 20 markets globally. In Eastern Europe Betsson is mainly operating in Poland and the Baltics, Betsson has a local license in Estonia and operates in Turkey through a B2B partner. With the Europe-Bet brand in the portfolio Betsson Group continues to build its strategic position in the region.