Tim Kennedy, VP of Sales, Europe

SUZOHAPP: "The key to keeping retail relevant is to allow consumers a seamless transition between playing online and in-venue"

2022-11-15
Reading time 5:32 min

BEGE's 2022 edition is already fully booked, with more than 85 exhibiting companies from nearly 60 countries set to exhibit in Sofia, Bulgaria, November 23-24, at the Inter Expo Centre. Among the companies attending the event is SUZOHAPP, with the gaming products manufacturer and distributor to showcase its latest products.

Ahead of the expo, Yogonet held an exclusive interview with Tim Kennedy, Vice President of Sales for Europe. In this conversation, the executive describes the company's plans for BEGE, SUZOHAPP's sports wagering "ecosystem," and the keys to offering a seamless retail and online betting offering.

This year has been marked by the general return of in-person events and BEGE is no exception, making a comeback after a two-year gap. What are the company's objectives and expectations for this exhibition?

We're really excited to be back at BEGE in Sofia. It's been a while. The industry thrives on face-to-face communication, face to face meetings, and we're looking forward to the meeting. So we have a number of OEM partners in the region, but also operators as well that we'd like to talk to about our range of sports betting products.

What will the company's booth and presence at the event be like, and what kind of conversations do you expect to have at the expo?

The booth is very much focused this year and we're focusing on two areas. One is a range of new products that we're launching for the first time for OEMs. The second is a range of sports betting products that we've shown around the world, but never in this region. We'll introduce both streams to this show for the first time.

What do you think will attract the most attention from attendees and what impact could this event have on the company's strategy in the region?

From a sports betting point of view, we've got some quite unique bar top terminals and also a point of sale terminal that can be used in a variety of environments. I think they'll be attractive to a number of operators. And then from an OEM perspective, we're very much looking forward to having conversations about where people see the industry going. We've got a number of products that we feel will address those opportunities or concerns that they have, particularly around player identification.

We have a specialist card reader with three different technologies, depending on what the ID card contains. We also have a facial recognition system with a camera and we feel that player recognition or age verification is going to become mandatory in a number of different jurisdictions in the coming years. We're trying to prepare the market.

Finally, we're also showing a couple of interesting new products for both gaming and sports betting OEMs. One is a free-fall coin mechanism; you can put coins rapidly through the coin mechanism, which is a first for us. And then secondly, our own PC. That was specifically developed for the sports betting market but its graphic capabilities mean for a number of different gaming providers it would also provide a competitive platform for a gaming machine as well. So quite a lot to show everybody.

The expo is expected to attract stakeholders from more than 60 countries. Which markets will the company target for this event? Which jurisdictions are a priority and how can SUZOHAPP's solutions help operators and partners in these markets?

For us, the local market, Bulgaria, is very important. I would say the Eastern European markets will definitely be our priority. I think the split for SUZOHAPP is in the past we always serviced the OEMs really well and we want to continue to not only service our current customers but expand into new customers. We've got a lot to show, and we also believe there's a new opportunity for SUZOHAPP to bring some of those solutions also to the local operating market as well. 

What would you say are some of the challenges that SUZOHAPP's partners currently face in the local market, and how do the company solutions tackle this environment?

I think everybody wants to re-invent what they're doing in a retail environment. They're always looking for something new. We have a good blend of new products that attract players, but also products that anticipate changes in the law that everybody will be facing; every operator or OEM in the future will have to make some additional steps to comply with the new legislation.

We are trying to anticipate those changes and introduce those products. But we also want to understand from our customer's point of view where they see the opportunities; and also where they see the issues that as a company we can address.

As you said, retail is in a re-invention phase in the sports betting industry, with the sector seeking to adapt to stay relevant as online betting gains a bigger presence. SUZOHAPP has said its sports betting solutions act as an "ecosystem." How does this work?

If you're a sports betting operator, traditionally you have to shop or work with a number of different vendors to get the full range of terminal times and over the counter solution, or any POS terminal and a solution that would also bridge the gap with an online payment system. What we've done with our ecosystem is basically have a one-stop solution for a retail betting environment with a full range of terminals, an E POS terminal, and also a cash redemption terminal.

We see the key to making retail relevant, or keeping retail relevant, is to allow consumers a seamless transition between playing online and in retail. The payment processing is as easy as possible. It is a key weapon in the armory of the operator that they need to address; the ability to transfer funds from an online account to allow you to play in-store or in-venue. I see the ability to fund an online account from a venue as a key feature that people need to address if the law allows it locally.


BEGE, in Sofia

Experts have been championing for a while now the idea that online and retail betting should not be competitors, but complementary offerings. Do you think that operators have understood this idea and are willing to invest in having them as complementary offerings, or are they still seeing online as a competitor segment?

It depends on individual companies, but I get feedback from a number of customers that they are now seeing that consumers like to engage with gaming in different ways, at different times of the day, or at different times of the week. You can no longer say any consumer is solely an online customer or a retail customer.

The way to provide the best experience, and therefore to get the best return from any player, is to have that seamless integration between both. They're not competitive environments at all. It's actually two ends of the same spectrum. It's a way of providing customers with great experiences if retail and online can work in harmony.

Increasingly the view of the industry is that retail is very important. In fact, we have a number of online customers who in the past said they were 100% online talking to us now about introducing retail because they also see the benefit. I think there is a shift towards retail coming back.

What do you see as the main strength strengths of each channel at the moment and taking into account how they have been developing over the last few years?

For online, there's obviously a convenience element that is hard to beat. For a player who is very savvy with technology and is used to transacting everything on their mobile device, online betting makes a lot of sense. To have a mobile device that you can play any time anywhere makes perfect sense.

I would say the flip side of that is that in retail you have an environment that is friendly, and entertaining. It's more of a social environment. The challenge is how do you make online more entertaining and more social, and how do you make retail have all the convenience that you get online? And how do you make the transition between either environment as smooth as possible?

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