The US market is one which presents a plethora of new opportunities for European operators looking to broaden their reach, but more often than not, establishing a local partnership is the key to success.

Ashley Adir (pictured), CEO of Vegas Kings, and Ed Andrewes, CEO of Resorts Digital, spoke to SBC Americas about their partnership and how this alliance helped Vegas Kings ‘break ground’ in the rapidly growing market, having now become fully entrenched in the US sports betting scene.

SBCA: What was it that initially appealed to you about expanding into the US market? And how will your offering differ from that in Europe?

Ashley Adir: The appeal for the US market has always been there for us due to its iconic brands and history around gambling.

We built up some great experience within the UK and European markets for nearly two decades and when we started getting inquiries for US work, we jumped at it. It was a great opportunity to help leverage our experience into a new market and at the same time learn about the US customer, and to design and develop products that appeal to the market.

We have always dreamt about working with inspirational brands such as Resorts Casino and Mohegan Sun and now that our dream has come true, we can truly flex our skills and grow our knowledge. As a creative agency we get excited by bold design and the US market requires creative solutions that stand out and brands that make a statement!

SBCA: Being a company based in South Africa, what were the barriers to entry in order to start working with American clients?

AA: We never look at the barriers as an excuse not to progress, we’ve had experience working with nearly every country and time zone in the world since we started over 22 years ago. We have optimized our workflows to provide our US clients with top class service and availability.

The largest barrier we had to climb was getting vendors registered by the Department of Gaming Enforcement. We were fortunate enough to acquire our Vendor License in New Jersey which has afforded us the opportunity to service US operators.

SBCA: With sports now making a comeback, and more states beginning to legalize sports betting – what does the future hold for Vegas Kings in the US?

AA: We are humbled by the opportunity to be invested in the growth of the US gaming market. We have seen a large increase in work requests from new and current clients. There is plenty of new action around Sportsbooks, Casino, Lottery, Social, Fantasy and esports. There are so many new brands launching and many of them are rolling through the Vegas Kings Studio.

As new states open up and the Native American Tribes come on board, we will see a huge influx of opportunity through the whole industry. There will be an intense learning and market adaption phase but the US is quickly becoming a very healthy gaming market. What comes with a healthy market is innovation and we feel that America is the place to break new ground.

SBCA: As an agency, what have been the biggest challenges when it comes to working with the larger companies to establish their presence in the post-PASPA market?

AA: We don’t find it very challenging to work with larger operators. The larger companies build deeper and longer lasting relationships with us. We still have clients that we have worked with for 20 years! The bigger their workload, the more integrated they become within our studio and relationships are built through frequent communication. Resorts and Mohegan Sun are great examples of that as we have created real friendships.

Vegas Kings also works with large partner companies such as Microgaming, Greentube, Betconstruct, EveryMatrix etc. but these were relationships created over many years. It can be difficult for a medium-sized specialist like us to get noticed by the larger companies.

The other challenge is in educating the larger operators that we can support their internal teams even though they have designers and developers in-house. We plug perfectly into their internal processes and become a creative conveyer belt to empower them to run more campaigns and boost their acquisition initiatives. We can be a fresh boost of energy for any team.

SBCA: Why did you select Vegas Kings when you decided to outsource your design and development as opposed to keeping it in house?

Ed Andrewes: When we first launched, the market was relatively nascent in New Jersey and we felt we would really benefit from VK’s experiences in other global markets. VK already knew what had and had not worked in the online game sphere and RDG has really profited from this.

SBCA: Do you find working with a company outside of America and in a different time zone a challenge at all or is it working well for you?

EA: Actually, the difference in time zones works pretty well and we have honed our working practices over the years. The fact that South Africa is 7 hours ahead of NJ, means our guys can feed back any comments overnight and then the VK team can work on it uninterrupted the next day. We also have a 2-hour slot at the beginning of the day in which the teams can interact in real time if necessary.

SBCA: With Resorts Digital managing both Resorts Online Casino as well as Mohegan Sun, how imperative is it to ensure that creative styles and directions are kept separate for each brand?

EA: This is really very important to us particularly as both services run off the Scientific Games platform and therefore will inevitably be pretty similar products. A couple of years ago we did undergo a redesign for the website and we believe the two properties now have their own very distinct look and feel.

SBCA: The US sports betting market is continuing to grow very quickly. How do you see your partnership with Vegas Kings fitting into the development of legalized betting?

EA: For the time being Resorts Digital will remain focused on iGaming. However as other states roll out online sports betting, we believe gaming will inevitably follow and RDG intends to capitalize on this. We hope VK will follow us on that journey and continue to support us with our design requirements!