Nasdaq Stockholm-listed Betsson serves millions of customers every year, winning accolades for its player-centric approach along the way. Jesper Svensson joined the company as the Managing Director of its flagship brand in 2013, eventually being appointed as CEO of Betsson Operations.
Betsson was among the first iGaming operators to set up shop in Malta. Today, it is one of the world’s, and Malta’s, largest and most successful gaming companies. What drew you here, and what keeps you here today?
Malta has been at the forefront of regulation when it comes to iGaming. In 2004, Malta became the very first EU jurisdiction to embrace regulation and licensing, and as a result of that, many operators looked at Malta as a potential base for some of their operations. At Betsson we embraced the opportunity presented by Malta some 20 years ago and opened our very first office here back in 2004.
Since those early days, Malta’s whole business infrastructure has developed exponentially. More importantly, we have seen some of our vendors set up shop in Malta in order to service the industry, making it easier for us to run our business. All of this means that we now have thousands of professionals who directly or indirectly work with the gaming industry, vastly increasing Malta’s talent pool and providing even more opportunities.
On top of that, there is, of course, everything else that Malta has to offer – its rich history, diverse culture, amazing weather, fun entertainment venues, the Mediterranean lifestyle, and the Maltese people themselves – hospitable, hardworking and welcoming.
Today, we consider Malta as our operational headquarters, with two offices on the island – one in Ta’ Xbiex and one in St Julian’s, employing close to 1,200 talented Betssonites. Our people represent approximately 60 different nationalities. In Malta, the largest proportion of them (around 30 per cent) are Maltese.
What support has Betsson found from local authorities?
We have always felt the support of local authorities in myriad ways. We also feel a strong connection and support from the Malta Gaming Authority, and I feel that it has always had a two-way communication which is beneficial to understand each other’s position and perspectives. I must also mention the valuable work that Gaming Malta is doing in promoting the island as a centre of excellence in the digital and remote gaming sector globally, while the educational initiatives, the student placement programme, as well as the Basecamp workspace, further nourish local talent.
Can you highlight some major milestones and successes in Betsson’s evolution?
Betsson traces its origins back to 1963 when it all started with a single slot machine in a restaurant in Sweden. In the mid-90s, we started exploring the world of online gaming through the company Net Entertainment, even though the internet was still in its early days. We started working with the Betsson brand in 2003 and acquired it fully in 2005. Net Entertainment and the Cherry Group have since been separately listed and eventually bought for billions of euro, creating fantastic shareholder value. Over the years, we have acquired more brands and developed our own. We currently have a portfolio of more than 20 brands running mostly on our own technology platform.
In terms of regulations, we started off our online gaming offer on one licence from Malta. In the following years, the topic of regulation of online gaming started to gain momentum on a wider European level and some countries started looking into introducing their own licences. This trend is ongoing, and today we are licensed in 19 jurisdictions around the world.
What does the future hold for Betsson?
We are lucky to work in a sector that is expanding and in the digital space, where there are countless exciting options that are worth exploring. We have historically concentrated on Europe, but we are now looking for prospects beyond. Indeed, our growth strategy includes geographic expansion, and we intend to enter regulated or regulating markets where there are favourable circumstances and significant potential for growth. Lately, this has caused us to concentrate on Latin America.
Malta will remain strategic for us, of course, but because of the nature of our business, together with some of the limitations when trying to hire for specialised roles, we need to have presence in other countries too. Currently we have offices in 14 countries, with the latest one being Bogota, Colombia. That does not mean that we are planning to leave Malta – we still believe that Malta is the hub and centre of excellence for online gaming.
Editorial Note – This interview was conducted for our sister brand, and international investment guide, Malta Invest 2023
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