Recently, the Lithuanian gambling market has begun to be discussed in gambling news more often. The industry is operating quite successfully, however, under the tight control of the regulator. Martynas Matulevicius, CEO at Uniclub, provided detailed information about the gambling business in the country.
Martynas, you have considerable experience in running the business in the Lithuanian gambling market. Please tell our readers about its peculiarities.
The Lithuanian market is not big, but at the same time, it is very dynamic. Lithuania is a technologically very advanced country, so every gaming operator must move forward daily to meet the needs of its customers. Companies compete, so in Lithuania, players can really get interesting and original offers for both casino and sports betting, as market participants are ready to do a lot to attract every customer. If the Scandinavian countries are very fond of slot machines, this is still a relatively new thing for Lithuanians. A few years ago, sports betting was the most popular in the Lithuanian market, as remote gambling was legalized in Lithuania only in 2016. For us, it was a new and big challenge that we took on with great pleasure.
Which casino products are the top picks of players in Lithuania? Why do they choose them? Do they select certain mechanics or game genres?
Speaking specifically about online casinos, Lithuanian players like slot machines the most. Sure, there are real casino enthusiasts who play classic games like roulette or blackjack, but the driving force is slots. Analyzing people’s choices, we see several different segments. However, for other players, especially younger players, elements such as graphics or game presentation are particularly important. We also provide slots where you can buy spins – go to the second level immediately. More active players really like this feature as they save time and can lead to big wins right away.
What can make a company highly competitive in the gambling market? Are attractive bonuses the only thing that can really catch customers’ attention?
Our team follows a simple rule – if you want to be competitive, you must constantly consider the needs of your players. Bonuses are certainly an especially important thing, but they are far from the only one. The presentation of the product itself (such as the layout of the website), direct contact with the company, individual communication, and personal offers are important for consumers.
Not so long ago, the first operator in Lithuania was fined for limiting customers’ bets. Is it difficult to comply with the requirements and service provision conditions demanded by the Gambling Supervisory Authority?
We are still new to the sports betting market, but we are highly active in monitoring and following the situation. I would not say that it is difficult to fulfill the conditions of the supervisory service, but there are always two sides to the coin. I can say so much that we do not limit our customers’ bets, except in cases where customers maliciously seek to take advantage of the company’s mistakes. The sport is too dynamic, so sometimes mistakes cannot be avoided. I think that Lithuania is on the right track – for a long time, the situation was uncertain and out of control, so now is the time to refine the common order and use it in practice. This practice is currently being developed.
Speaking about online gambling regulations in Lithuania, what are the main restrictions, which make gambling business operation more difficult?
The main problem is the rather long and difficult registration process. Often, potential new customers simply do not complete the registration because they must show the document and complete the full identification process. This causes some inconveniences for Lithuanian companies compared to foreign companies. Currently, the websites of foreign operators are blocked in Lithuania, therefore only gambling organizers with a Lithuanian license can legally operate. It looks like we could be happy here, but many players bypass the system and still choose foreign companies because of easier and faster registration. Another problem is the overly broad restriction on advertising. We have nothing against stricter advertising rules, as we understand that gambling is a certain risk, but the current situation practically binds us to present our services in more detail. For example, we would be happy to announce on television how many and which game providers we have, but advertising rules do not allow this.
What digital casino trends can we expect in 2021? Will consumers require a more innovative approach to games or still be interested in a current product offer?
With each passing year, websites are getting faster and more innovative, so this year is sure to be no exception. If we just stood still all year round and did not improve our product, we would definitely lose some of our active customers. Lithuanian players are really demanding, but we are happy about that because it does not allow us to stand still.
Which markets will thrive in 2021? Will social gambling be more in demand?
It is hard to say because every year is different. We live in exciting times when everything was severely affected by the coronavirus. However, if the consequences of a pandemic could be avoided now, I would guess that the year should be remarkably successful for sports betting. Our betting risk analysts constantly emphasize that the European Football Championship and the Olympics are events that are attracting huge excitement from people. On the other hand, online Lithuanian casinos are becoming more and more innovative and therefore attract much more attention.
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