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Greentube: Star performer in the German online market

By - 28 October 2021

G3 talks to Laszlo Pados, Brand Manager at Greentube, about the company’s StarGames brand in Germany and the opportunities that lie ahead in the market.

Could you tell us more about the history of StarGames through to the brand being owned by Greentube Malta?

StarGames had been around for several years in Germany before it was acquired by Greentube Malta in March 2018. The brand was the first to offer the original Book of Ra title to online players in the country, but the company owning the rights to StarGames back then decided to seize its operations at the end of 2017.

After the acquisition of the brand, Greentube Malta started using it as a social casino and after this period of downtime, while real money operations were seized, we launched it as a fully licensed website under the laws and regulations of Schleswig-Holstein in October 2018.

Since that launch, the brand has gone from strength to strength, as it has benefitted from being well-known amongst online gamblers thanks to its longevity and tradition. Stability and reliability are also ingredients that can help create instant recognition and trust among players.

StarGames has historical licensed operations in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. Now the nationwide German market has opened up, what advantage does this give the brand over its competitors?

Our operations in Schleswig-Holstein since 2018 meant we were ahead of the game when the Interstate Treaty on Gambling was introduced earlier this year. For instance, we already had many of the regulatory requirements in place, such as the ‘reality check’ functionality, strict KYC rules upon registration, as well as the five seconds spin intervals and responsible gambling limits.

The law preventing customers playing two games in parallel was not new to us either. In short, we had a material advantage on the technical implementation level. This allowed us to deliver more than just a minimum viable product that complies with the regulations.

With a large land-based casino footprint, how is StarGames looking to tap into Germany’s gaming culture?

The German market is used to playing casino games and have enjoyed slots for a number of years in the land-based arena. That is a great start for brands like StarGames looking to offer similar products online. The fact that early adopters will be familiar with our products thanks to the Schleswig-Holstein licence should help too, as it shows the brand is a trustworthy one in the mind of consumers.

We’ve seen in the US states that have regulated online gaming in recent times that the conversion of land-based players to the Internet has been a natural transition. I see no reason why a country like Germany, with a similar technology-orientated society, would be any different.

What features have you implemented to ensure the new version of StarGames.de lived up to expectations?

First and foremost, the website is fully responsive on all devices, runs on the latest technologies and is faster than ever. The product is also ready to enter the mobile app landscape, and we know this is normally available with a local nationwide licence in other European jurisdictions already.

On top of this, we have several interesting and interactive player engagement features that improve the playing experience, as well as our library of more than 200 games. Registered customers can participate regularly in real-time leaderboard tournaments, try their luck on our wheel of fortune to bag free spins and several other attractive prizes, or can actively support their favourite game in a slot battle.

And this is just the beginning. We have further innovative ideas on how to make StarGames the go-to-brand for German players seeking the safest and most secure premium online entertainment.

Prior to the market expanding, StarGames had to ensure its offering was compliant with the latest responsible gaming regulations introduced to promote social responsibility and to minimise gambling-related harm. How complex and thorough was this process?

Responsible gaming is the cornerstone of our operations. Several studies have shown that players who gamble responsibly are more loyal, resulting in a significantly longer customer lifetime. Keeping this in mind, we have a dedicated team for the German market, looking after our players on StarGames and assisting or acting whenever necessary.

For more than a year now, Greentube has also been using Mentor, Neccton’s AI-based Responsible Gaming solution, across its consumer-facing online gambling portfolio. StarGames has had it too since our go-live. The Mentor back-office system tracks specific metrics which could indicate that somebody is spending more than they can afford, and alerts our team instantly if certain markers of harm are present.

With the help of this software we also fulfil the strict regulations imposed by the Interstate Treaty on Gambling. Last, but not least, we have prepared and developed our connection to the German central exclusion database, OASIS, in order to protect vulnerable customers in the best possible way.

The new regulations include a “reality check” functionality, five-seconds spin intervals, cooling-off periods, a monthly deposit limit, stake and time limits as well as a ban on autoplay and progressive jackpots. What impact do these regulations have on the player experience?

The new regulations are challenging as a whole for players and operators alike. While I fully agree with previously proven responsible gambling measures, such as the regular reality- check functionality, cooling-off periods, or the offering of different limits to control spending, the taxation on stakes, or the ban on autoplay clearly present players with a different experience than the one to which they had become accustomed.

We will continue our discussions with authorities and industry participants to create awareness for adaptations to the rules to improve this for players. A taxation scheme that does not penalise the player would be an important first step. Moreover, it would be much better to have state- of-the-art player protection concept and tools, while ensuring high-quality entertainment comes with a built-in safety net, instead of blanket limits across all customers.

Is there a typical German player? What types of games are preferred in the country?

Having a customer relationship management background myself, I don’t like narrow generalisations of the market. Instead I think the market can be segmented into many different groups. For instance, there are those who started gambling in an era where they could only play in pre-Internet, land-based casinos.

Surely, this generation has a preference to classic slot machines and nostalgic content. Younger generations, who tried their first games online, might have completely different preferences, such as video slots with higher quality graphics and sounds, as well as more interactive bonus features, lock and spins or the Alternative Ways mechanics.

And then we should not forget that table games, such as blackjack, roulette or baccarat, both in their live and traditional versions, have a huge fan base in Germany. Bearing this in mind, it is a missed opportunity that the Interstate Treaty did not regulate these games on a nationwide level, choosing to leave it in the hands of the federal states. This creates segregation and presents a threat whereby fans of table games will play on unregulated sites, putting the channelisation goals set out by the treaty at risk.

StarGames was the first brand to offer the original Book of Ra title to online players in the German market. How important will be Book of Ra for the future of StarGames?

Book of Ra is the absolute crown jewel amongst our games. German players associate it with StarGames and vice versa. It is THE title if you want to operate in Germany – no wonder there have been so many copies of it over the years.

We feel privileged that StarGames could be the brand which provided the stage for such a blockbuster to return to the fully-regulated German market and I am certain that it will be our most important content piece for many years to come.

StarGames has penned deals with ORYX Gaming and Pragmatic Play, amongst others, to bolster their German market presence. What makes the German market so attractive for online casino suppliers?

There are several factors that make Germany so valuable for suppliers, in spite of the new regulations. First of all, their games and content are highly popular among online players as they have been live for a number of years. Players know the big titles very well and seek these on every website they use.

Additionally, the sheer size of the country’s 83 million population, as well as its advancement in mobile and Internet technology and the public interest in gambling, makes it a top three market in Europe. Studies have shown that the regulations, despite their challenges, will allow the market to further increase in size over the next five years.

What types of content are you looking for to complement your NOVOLINE and Greentube slot games?

Our preferences here are first and foremost based on the preferences of our players. We survey both our new as well as our returning customer base to understand which games they would like to play on StarGames. On top of this, we always monitor our offering and see which provider’s content fits both the market in terms of regulation and localisation, as well as our expectations when it comes to performance and technical reliability.

Our goal at StarGames is not to flood the website with content just for the sake of having a huge library, but rather to carefully select who we partner with, based on the above mentioned criteria.

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