Magnus Grinneback of Betsson talks business in Asia


Magnus Grinneback, Director of Asia for correspondent Angelia Ong recently caught up with Betsson’s director of Asia, Magnus Grinneback, to discuss a wide range of topics, including the future of online gambling in China, Betsson’s success in the Asian gaming market, and the stark difference between regulations in Europe and Asia.

Grinneback knows the challenges companies end up facing if gaming operators try to enter the Chinese market with only Macau and Hong Kong as the only sites where any form of gambling other than the lottery is explicitly allowed.

But with the Chinese market becoming without question the largest in the world, a number of online gambling operations have taken steps in establishing a presence in the Chinese market. Betsson, for one, successfully struck a business relationship in the country last year with a Chinese company that was able to set up a joint venture in the sports lottery related industry with a Chinese state owned company.

Despite the inroads Betsson has made in the region, the Scandinavian online company knows that online gambling is still illegal in the country, and thus, they had to be creative on how they do their marketing. In order to tap into this huge gambling market, Grinneback tells Ong about the effects of ‘proper’ marketing, especially in a country like China. “You have to be really smart with your marketing,” he said. “Obviously, with the regulatory challenges, you can’t just go out and buy TV ads; you have to find efficient marketing channels, and certainly, that’s not the easiest thing to do.”

Grinneback also points out the reason why Betsson has become successful in the Asian market. “We’ve been very patient. Things take a lot of time. You have to build a lot of contacts and you have to work really hard to get things done. It’s not like how it works in Europe where you can rely and depend on certain regulations. You have to be out and meet people and, most importantly, you have to be patient.”

And as far as the differences between regulations in Europe and Asia, Grinneback wasted little time telling Ong that it’s a lot easier for companies to enter the European market because of the clearer regulatory structures present in the region. “The framework of online gambling is much clearer in Europe,” he said.

“There is a licensing system that is open to anybody who qualifies whereas in Asia, it’s a lot more closed. You probably need to have political connections and you have to meet and be plugged in to the players here.  It’s much more complex here.”