The UK market has fallen out of favour in recent years. With the government white paper rumbling on and now consultations running well into 2024, there remains great uncertainty about how the market will look. Combine this with margins becoming increasingly squeezed and it should come as no surprise that operators have been slowly exiting the UK over the past two years.
But the tide does seem to be changing. New online casinos are opening their doors, and back in October, a new comparison site broke cover. Comparasino is on a mission to help players find the right brands and bonuses for them, matching them with casinos and offers based on their preferences.
To learn more about Comparasino, we caught up with Founder and Managing Director, Martyn Hannah, who also shares his thoughts on the wider UK market and the challenging landscape and stiff competition his comparison site is up against.
The UK is fiercely competitive and is currently growing at a much slower rate than other markets. Why did you decide to launch Comparasino here?
A market doesn’t have to be growing to offer opportunities. Online casino participation has been fairly stagnant over the past couple of years, but it is significant. At the same time, the tough market conditions have seen many comparison sites shut their doors with just a handful of brands now dominating.
This means there’s space for a new casino comparison site to enter the fray, shake things up and offer more value to consumers looking for online casinos and bonuses. As for the wider market, the government’s delayed gambling white paper and the uncertainty this created, combined with tightening margins, has forced some operators to exit the market and others to hold back on plans to make a move in the UK.
The publication of the white paper, and the conclusion of the consultations that are currently running, should provide the certainty required for the market to bounce back.
The competition is incredibly high. How will you differentiate and add value to players looking for online casinos and bonuses?
It is indeed. You only need to do a quick Google search to see that it’s the same five or six comparison sites that reign supreme. Some of these sites are run by publicly listed companies with tremendous resources at their disposal. But they too were once start-ups and disruptors, and we see these companies as an inspiration for what can be achieved.
As to how we will differentiate, we have developed a powerful recommendation engine that matches a player’s preferences with the brands listed on Comparasino so that they can find the casinos that offer exactly what they are looking for. We only list relevant brands on our pages, too.
So new online casinos are new – some of our rivals list brands that are 15 years old under the premise they might be “new” to the player. Players are incredibly savvy and can see right through this. That’s why we treat our players with the respect they deserve while making it easy for them to find brands that hit their jackpot in a matter of seconds.
What matters most to players when deciding which casinos to play at?
Our data shows that bonuses, casino age – so whether it is new or not – and payment methods are the most important factors players consider when deciding where to play. The welcome offer is the main driver, and we continue to see a large volume of players looking for casinos that offer no deposit free spins offers.
New casinos are always popular, especially given the lack of new brands in recent months, although it’s great to see the likes of Winlandia making its debut to fill this gap. As for payments, PayPal, Apple Pay and Pay by mobile are among our top searches. Of course, it’s common for players to combine factors and they can do this with our recommendation engine.
What are your thoughts on the government’s gambling white paper and the consultations that are rolling into the new year? Will the outcome of all this provide the certainty operators, suppliers and affiliates are seeking?
The publication of the white paper was long overdue, and the uncertainty caused by the delays has undoubtedly impacted the market. It’s not the sole reason we have seen an exodus of brands, but it has played a part and has prevented other operators from getting in on the action.
I think its contents are fairly balanced and proportionate, but some areas require further attention, especially around affordability checks which the consultations should provide. We are also interested to see what happens around bonuses and incentives given their importance to players when deciding where to play.
We will always support efforts to better protect players, but actions have to be proportionate to the risk and my concern is that if bonusing is heavily restricted, players will venture to the black market – the exact opposite of what the government is trying to achieve.
Will momentum build behind the UK online casino market once again? Or will it stay as-is for the time to come?
It can, but it will take time. Operators will need to understand where the changes from the white paper and consultations leave them and determine whether the market remains viable. My belief is that it will and the stability that will come following the conclusion of the consultations will provide the confidence many need to invest more heavily in the UK.
It is and always will be a significant market with a strong appetite for online casino and slot play among a broad demographic of players. The casinos that can engage players and deliver a fun, exciting and safe experience can build a sustainable, successful business.
This absolutely applies to online casino comparison sites, too, and with Comparasino we are committed to the UK market for the long term.