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Kindred targets “hyper-local” strategy, eyes US market

| By Stephen Carter
Kindred boss Henrik Tjarnstrom expanded on strategy behind Vlad Cazino and revealed European share up from 1.9% to 3.9% since 2011

Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjarnstrom this morning unveiled the online operator’s “hyper-local” online casino strategy, describing it as an “interesting complement” to its aggressive M&A drive.

The CEO of the self-described Kindred “house of brands” went live this week with Romanian-facing Vlad Cazino.

“It’s similar to what we did with Storspiller and Storspelare in Sweden and Norway respectively last year, we launched a hyper-local casino brand”, said Tjarnstrom. “For us as a group, it’s a very interesting complement to M&A where we show we can launch our own casino brands and grow them as fast as some of the offers we are seeing from an M&A perspective.”

Tjarnstrom was speaking as the company unveiled another record quarter for revenue and profit after a strong end to Q4 2017, driven by an exceptional sportsbook margin but also underlying activity growth and a new all-time high in active customers.

He also revealed the company was eyeing a number of new regulated markets during 2018. “One market that’s coming up and that has been talked about a lot now is the US, and we have been keeping an eye on that market for many years, especially since 2012, when New Jersey opened up. So we will look at that.

“We also have markets like Spain, where we are not present today with a licence, and like I said, with the US, we are looking at the global scene and what’s coming up.”

The Kindred boss also quoted figures from H2 Gambling Capital “the go-to experts on data in our sector” which showed the operator had grown its market share of the European online market from 1.9% 2011 to 3.9% in 2017. He added:

“The compound annualised growth rate according to H2 Gambling Capital for the online market has been 12.2%, and at the same time we have grown by 26.3%. It also proves the logic we have doubled our market share over the last six years.”

The mobile channel was one of the key drivers of this, said Tjarnstrom, with Kindred’s average share of revenues coming from mobile growing well ahead of the wider sector to reach 70% for full-year 2017, the industry average being about half that percentage.

On Kindred’s home market of Sweden, on track to re-regulate in 2019, Tjarnstrom said he had been disappointed that the competition issues around the entry of monopolies Svenska Spel and ATG into the market had not yet been resolved despite the proposal being sent for legal review before Christmas.“The inquiry was clear on the direction forward but in the proposal it took a step to the side rather than forward,” he said.

But while keen to “avoid going into a system with a lot of conflicts from a competitive point of view”, he emphasised “we are positive it will happen and are working with the authorities and government so it can happen and open 1st January.”

Kindred is among operators who have expressed concern to Swedish authorities over the proposed split of Svenska Spel into two sections – a competitive section containing online casino, online poker and online bingo, and another holding its exclusive rights over lottery and land-based gaming – on the grounds that there was nothing stopping Svenska Spel co-mingling these databases and cross-selling at will between products, lending it a competitive advantage in the market.

Kindred’s head of Nordic public affairs Peter Ailling told iGB shortly after the legislative proposal was released last year that: “With all those powers from 50 years of monopoly and regulation, and then you take that colossus and just parachute it down into a competitive licensed market, that of course causes concern from a competitive and regulation point of view”.

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