Per Widerstrom: Winning in Eastern Europe

Per Widerstrom: Winning in Eastern Europe

Navigating the Eastern European markets can be a little tricky, but it’s not too different from any other region. Fortuna Entertainment Group has gotten quite good at it though, and Per Widerstrom, CEO of the operator, joined our Becky Liggero to explain how they’re doing it.

One of the key hurdles to manage in Eastern Europe are the many regulatory regimes, as there are several different countries with different expectations. That’s not unmanageable though. “We do like regulation as long as it’s reasonable,” Widerstrom said. “But if you look at the different five markets that we have at the moment now, there’s different level of volatility that we need to be prepared for. But I would say that overall, its rather stable now, but I think what we see now, there’s some positive changes as well.”

The Fortuna CEO gave us a couple of specific examples to consider. “We see in Slovakia we have gaming to be introduced,” he said. “And as you know, we’re in Romania, and I think that has a very reasonable and also attractive, both regulatory and tax framework. So at the moment, we love regulation as long as it’s reasonable. I think that we’ll continue to stay in regulated markets.”

It’s not just the regulation that needs to be considered though, but also the tax burdens of each country. “Depending on the jurisdiction, the regulatory and also tax framework is very different,” he noted. “I think some of the markets, like 2 out of the 5 markets now, there isn’t an over tax. In some of the markets, we have the opportunity to transfer some of the tax to the consumer. You have to do that in order to ensure and sustain the profitable growth. But overall, I think what we need to do, we need to have a fantastic customer experience.”

As Liggero notes, blockchain has been recognized to be a key technology for the future of the gambling industry. She asked Widerstrom if his company has started to use the technology. “At this point in time, and I have to be absolutely honest and frank, we are not investing any time in that whatsoever,” he responded. “I think there are companies and people, at this point in time, much better suited to do that. Obviously I’m watching very, very carefully, and we believe that you know, it’s definitely going to have an important role to play for the future. But I think at this point in time, you know we are so focused on the basics, what we need to do on our side.”