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With the stage now set for history in the making, Ukraine is preparing to open its market for the first time in more than a decade.
Proven as one of Europe’s most in-demand live casino suppliers and headquartered in neighbouring Vilnius, we caught up with BetGames.TV’s CIS Sales Director Yury Mikhaylov to get his views on Ukraine’s potential, as well as his own plans for the market.
With BetGames.TV gearing up to bring its products to the Ukrainian market in the near-term, how do you see prospects here?
As the CIS’s second largest country, we’re looking at one of Europe’s greatest growth opportunities. Infrastructure factors, such as widespread internet access and the prevalence of online banking, have laid a great foundation for a digital-first approach from the outset. Twinned with a market crammed with tech savvy players, and you’re looking at a serious boost for national revenue with plenty of potential for online casino, making it an exciting time for all involved.
I would encourage anyone who remains sceptical of the benefits of regulation to consider the example offered by neighbouring Georgia (on a smaller population scale of course!). The country has improved player safety, widened consumer choice and boosted the national economy by attracting new investment. For that reason, it’s pleasing to see Ukraine follow the example set by several other regional European markets by putting a framework in place to establish its own gambling industry, and we look forward to playing a part in the market’s development.
Has BetGames.TV already established a footprint in the region? Are there any further steps which the regulator needs to take before you do so in Ukraine?
We already have a well-established network with Ukraine’s biggest global hitters (such as Favbet and Parimatch), who, as regional heavyweights, are going to be key in shaping how the market develops in its early stages. Both operate an extensive network across the CIS and Europe, and we are on excellent terms with them given the number of jurisdictions we’re actively working in together.
On a macro level, the Ukrainian regulator has certainly taken steps in the right direction, although having said that, several inconsistencies remain within the proposed framework, which the authorities must work to clarify in order to fully realise all the advantages of regulation. I’m confident this will be addressed and look forward to seeing updates on this soon enough.
And what are your plans for the market going forward?
From what we’ve seen so far, I’m certain that the full legalisation and improved transparency of the Ukrainian market will add a wealth of new opportunities for us, particularly when it comes to online casino.
We’ve been hugely successful in Belarus in a similar format – where we went online with the country’s first digital offering (launched by Parimatch) and have already outperformed every slot supplier on the market there. We also offer far superior margins to our competitors, and in many cases, theseare greater than sports betting itself, so I see plenty of potential for us to sit alongside newly established Ukrainian sportsbooks too without cannibalising spend.
Accordingly, I believe we’re in a strong position to capitalise on the Ukrainian market’s likely huge customer base as soon as we go live there, and I’m sure we’ll prove to be key in helping operators make their mark on the territory. As well as our award-winning live dealer offering (fully developed in-house), we’ve also got a raft of marketing and promotional services that are going to be tailored to a jurisdiction where we are already familiar with what players are looking for.
How do you envisage Ukraine’s commercial landscape will shape up in the coming years? Do you expect to see a lot of competition?
New market entries require considerable resources. Compliance procedures can be complex, time-consuming and geographically differentiated. For that reason, local knowledge and contact networks tend to play an important role. Ukraine is no different: with a high bar set for entry, many anticipate that the territory’s commercial future belongs to those who are already present within it.
Of course, given a population of close to 40 million, we’re dealing with one of Europe’s largest markets in terms of potential– so I’m sure plenty of our international operator friends and partners will also be eyeing it with interest. Given how pivotal we have been this year in boosting global partners’ operating revenue and acquisition efforts, I’m also sure we’ll prove ourselves to be a valuable asset in helping our partners’ operations get going there as soon as they go live.