PlayStar CEO Per Hellberg took time out with SBC Americas to discuss the firm’s entry into the US online casino sector and how it intends to differentiate its offer in what is shaping up to be a crowded marketplace.
For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with the Playstar Casino brand, can you talk about your business, where it currently operates and its main offer?
PlayStar is a challenger online casino brand with a very clear mission – to deliver a player experience like no other. We are solely focussed on the North American market where we have already secured market access in two states – New Jersey and Pennsylvania – with many more to follow.
Earlier in the year we announced GiG as our platform provider and since then our exceptional team has been fine-tuning the casino ready for launch in the Garden State early next year. We will stand out from our rivals from day one by focusing on three key areas.
They are – personalization, engagement and customer experience. This will ensure that our players feel like the star of the show from the moment they engage with our brand and will ensure once they walk through our digital doors for the first time, they will return again and again.
You have well-documented plans to launch into the US with your sights set on New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Can you tell us more about that and what progress has and is being made?
We have entered into market access agreements in New Jersey with Ocean Resort and in Pennsylvania with Caesars. Our plan is to launch in as many US states as possible and we are currently in talks with several market access partners to ensure we meet our ambitious goals.
We will make our US debut in New Jersey and are now in the final stages of preparing for launch. We want to make an immediate impact for those players who really enjoy playing casino as we will put the player first from day one.
For example, players will receive a personalized experience from the moment they arrive at PlayStar thanks to meticulously detailed user journeys. We will also set the standard for use of platform technology, CRM and machine learning all working in unison to deliver an unrivalled experience.
We are putting the finishing touches to our unique player engagement concept which remains a closely guarded secret until we go live. All of this will be underpinned by the best customer service in the market – think the magic of land-based casino play but online and for all players.
Once up and running in New Jersey, we will then get ready for our second market launch in Pennsylvania. While there is a first mover advantage to be had, we are focused on the long term and when we do enter a market we want to go live with the best possible product.
Earlier this year you talked about PlayStar’s ability to differentiate in what is likely to be a busy marketplace? At the time you cited brand strength and value to the player? Can you expand on that and give us an idea of what players can expect when they go to your site?
As I mentioned, unlike the vast majority of brands currently live in the US market we are putting online casino first. In fact, it is the only vertical we will be offering to start with. This is so that we can deliver an online casino experience like no other, and especially to players that love casino.
When it comes to the type of online casino games offered, PlayStar will be very similar to the other brands in the market. Players want to be able to choose from the widest range of games and providers, so it is an absolute must that a casino provides this variety.
Where we will stand out is in the events that take place in between playing the games – sign up, payments, bonuses, loyalty, customer service, etc. Our user journey has been modelled so that it is similar to a land-based casino and to make the player feel appreciated and looked after.
We believe that the overall user experience is the area where a brand can have the greatest point of difference from its competitors, and this is where we have focussed a lot of our resources.
You’re partnered with Internet Vikings to supply hosting services – how did that relationship come about and what have they been like to work with?
We initially engaged Internet Vikings for their brand protection service, however, as one conversation led to another, we quickly realised they were a very formidable hosting provider in Europe and the rest of the world and had high aspirations of a US entry.
That was around the start of the year and they’re now in multiple US markets and growing which makes them the ideal partner for us.
Thinking more long-term, what plans does PlayStar Casino have beyond the New Jersey and Pennsylvania launches?
We plan to be in every viable US state and are currently in discussions with various market access partners. We understand that not all US states might be suitable for us, but we have an ambitious, comprehensive market access plan that we are working to.