Wazdan COO Michal Imiolek: One Year Later in the USA

It has been more than a year since slots studio Wazdan took its products to live in the US, beginning
with the state of New Jersey. Having gotten over 50 games certified in this state alone, the company
has gone on to expand to two other states, Michigan and West Virginia, as well as the Canadian
province of Ontario. With no signs of slowing down, Wazdan will soon be entering Pennsylvania and
Connecticut, as well as releasing new games with innovative, engagement-boosting features.
We caught up with the company’s COO, Michal Imiolek, to discuss its aggressive expansion and its
plans for the future.

How would you describe the company’s first year in the US?

Everybody knew when it first appeared that the US opportunity was a massively appealing one, but
we have been truly taken back by the uptake of our games in the states that they have been rolled
out in.

There is a huge amount of cultural crossover between America and Europe, so we were confident
that our games and mechanics would resonate with US players considering they have been tried and
tested in a more mature market. What will be interesting is seeing US customers’ tastes develop as
they become more discerning.

With that in mind, we’re working to have our portfolio feature a mix of established content from our
existing catalog and innovative new games. As well as that, we’re making significant headway
through our unique games range with pioneering features, innovative reel arrays, attractive
bonuses, and new ways to win.

Of course, this rapid progress doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenging year on the other side of the
pond. Introducing an offering that has been successful in a mature market doesn’t necessarily
translate to immediate uptake in a brand-new one – rather the sector will need to constantly
monitor and learn from the situation in order to ensure continued success.

What have been the most important factors in appealing to the US player base?

There is absolutely no doubt that a mobile-first offering is essential to appeal to the US player base.
A recent report indicated that a staggering 95.3 percent of slot players use mobile devices.
Players in every jurisdiction are constantly on the lookout for something new, and the US is certainly
no exception. Nowadays, new features don’t just need to be entertaining but also functional and
easily understood at the same time, so often it is not a case of reinventing the wheel and more a
case of finding a niche in the market.

It’s still early days, but the initial signs are that the US iGaming market is as seismic as anticipated.
There are some wrinkles to be ironed out, and the sector has yet to crack customer needs,
expectations and preferences, but the sheer potential of the landscape will make this effort well
worthwhile.

What do you expect from the US opportunity going forward?

New Jersey is the number-one state in terms of iGaming revenue, with Pennsylvania and Michigan in
second and third place. All three states generated an impressive $1bn in gaming revenue last year; a
record no state had achieved before this, and we expect this momentum to continue.

However, there are significant barriers to entry that don’t exist in Europe. The challenges presented
by the fragmented nature of the developing landscape are well known. Every jurisdiction has its own
distinct licensing requirements, which vary greatly from state to state, representing a high cost in
terms of resources and the amount of time it takes to be granted a license.

The country’s size, scale, and potential are different from any other market, but this is also balanced
out by operators and suppliers having to be regulated in individual states, which means high
regulatory costs and barriers to entry for many of them. This will require a deft hand and careful
attention to how customer preference sways, but the gains justify the input.

What should operators be doing to maximize retention?

While a great deal of operators in the US have made player acquisition their priority, which has
made sense as the market is not new, those looking to succeed in the long term should now turn
their attention to retaining the customers they have already accumulated. This is easier said than
done, of course. There are many factors to consider, including customer service and quick payout,
but the most important element is making sure the customer enjoys the product.

We are glad to say that our products, including Hold the Jackpot titles Power of Gods: Hades, Sun
of Fortune, and Fortune Reels, have seen positive uptake. However, the reality is that this is a new
market, and we are still identifying what will resonate effectively with its audience.

Of course, few tools are more effective in acquisition and retention than innovative jackpots, and it
has become apparent that the US audience is strongly receptive to the dynamic. Given how iconic
jackpots have been in US land-based casinos, this shouldn’t surprise us, but our Hold the Jackpot
bonus series has undoubtedly captured imaginations. US players appreciate a great deal of control
over their gaming experience, with customizable volatility being highly regarded. With that in mind,
we have ensured our proprietary customization tools are available, enabling audiences to set their
games to what suits their style of play best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.