In this interview, Roland Andrýsek, Sales Director of SYNOT Group sits down with SiGMA News to discuss the company's vision, operating regulations, challenges the land-based sector faced and more
SYNOT Group was founded in 1991 by entrepreneur Ivo Valenta, along with his father and brother. Initially a small family business with just three employees was transformed within a couple years into a strong, internationally respected group, which operates in several countries and belongs to the biggest gaming operators and suppliers.
When and where did you start your career in the gaming industry?
I started my career in the gaming industry as an international sales manager with SYNOT Group back in 2008.
What were your biggest challenges when starting out and what’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Before I started working in the gaming industry, I worked as a sales manager for PepsiCo, which is a completely different type of business. So, I guess that biggest challenge for me when I started working in this very “specific” industry was to accommodate myself to a little bit unusual business approach and challenges connected with the gaming operations at the new markets.
However, I must admit the biggest nightmare in my entire career is the current pandemic and all business related consequences caused by COVID-19.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
What I have been really enjoying in this industry is the fact that we are not only passive market participants but also an active market condition creator. The region where we are one of the strongest players, Eastern European region, still has its legacy of communism era, therefore there were many business areas where the rules and regulation had been created on the way.
Due to the specific market conditions in our region, I do not think that additional knowledge of the gaming industry from countries where the gaming industry had been already established for many years could have helped me.
What will be the main challenges for the land-based sector in 2021?
There is no doubt that the biggest challenges we have been facing since March 2020 are COVID-19 related business restrictions, which have a whole range of mainly negative consequences for the land-based sector in 2021 and also upcoming years.
Probably the best examples of these negative consequences could be closures of gaming operations due to the economic reasons and also very aggressive transfer of gaming activities to the online world. Regarding, the online gaming business, the growth of this segment has been inevitable and most of the markets participants expected it but the main problem is the speed of this process as there is only a very limited regulatory framework, which would address the existing challenges of the online gambling.
You recently opened a showroom in Ukraine. Please tell us more about that.
Ukraine is a market where we have played a key role as one of the biggest land-based operators before the gaming ban back in 2009. It has been very difficult period for our business partners and ex-employees in Ukraine but I am pleased that we have survived this long period of time when we could not have been active in the gaming business there.
The recently opened showroom in Ukraine is just an initial step to a complete restart of our business activities in this market. Currently, we have been actively working on the certification of our gaming devices and at the same time we are intensively trying to obtain a license to be able to operate land-based and online casinos.
How is modern technology changing the gaming industry?
I guess that the technological development in our industry is rather similar to any other progressive industry, which is as competitive as the gaming industry. As I have mentioned before, it is crystal clear that the online segment will play more and more of an important role in our business.
On the other hand, the land-based segment is going through developments on the system side alongside with implementation of standards from other industries allowing to apply various marketing tools and activities. All of these improvements and inventions are changing our industry significantly. Personally, I see the most positive impact of these changes in having tools, which make our industry even more transparent.
Your company is also active in the Online Gaming field. When did that start?
SYNOT Games, part of SYNOT Group, has been founded in 2016. We have quickly established ourselves in different markets as a strong supplier of gaming content with offices in Bratislava and Malta. Today online team has more than 100 people.
Our exceptional online products are all in-house created as we do not use outside suppliers. Since the company’s establishment, we have entered many differently regulated markets and created a strong foothold for ourselves. SYNOT Games is an established content supplier with a growing presence, licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority, UK Gambling Commission and certified across Europe. The games are already certified in several jurisdictions including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, Greece, the UK and Malta.
Our game portfolio boasts more than 60 titles with different themes, available in 28 languages and live in over 150 casinos.
How difficult are the regulations in your country to start an online casino?
As a business entity with an international exposure, we have an established compliance department with teams of professionals who are responsible for all of these activities.
SYNOT is a gaming content provider with a footprint in hundreds of world-wide operated casinos. Besides of that we also operate online casinos in several countries. Therefore, we do not consider the requirements for opening an online casino in our home market as too complex. One of the reasons is the fact that have vast experience from other countries and there are jurisdictions where we have started as pioneers and faced far more complex challenges to comply with some regulatory requirements than we experienced in our own market.
What are your predictions for the future of the gaming sector?
Personally, after most of the COVID-19 related restrictions are lifted, I expect a period of stabilisation followed by a stable growth of performance in the land-based operations. There might be some initial drop in online casinos performance but the expected drop should not be under the performance levels, which were regularly achieved just before the restrictions were applied.
These presumption are based on our experiences from the first wave of pandemics when the performance of land based operations reached pre-pandemic levels just after most of the measures have been cancelled.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Do you think it is good that SiGMA now also includes the land-based sector in addition to iGaming companies?
I have never participated in person at SIGMA, however our online teams have not only visited but also actively exhibited our products at this fair. In regards to an inclusion of the land-based sector products to this fair, we are strong supporters of it. SYNOT could have actually been one of the companies, which triggered this initiative as we have as probably the only company presented also our land-based product at SiGMA a couple of years ago.
Besides, there are many business reasons for interconnection of the land-based and online activities in our industry where many companies active in the online sector have started as land-based products producers or operators.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
I really like sport mainly soccer and running, reading books and spending my free time with my family. My favorite book is: “The world according to Garp” and my favorite quote is: “You don't always have to fight to win“.
In regards to gaming, I really enjoy the casino environment and its specific atmosphere.
SiGMA Roadshow - Next stop: Las Vegas:
After our successful roadshow in Ukraine -The SiGMA Roadshow's next stop is Las Vegas. Our Virtual Roadshow reflects SiGMA's global events opening in 5 major regions over the next few years, specifically Europe, the CIS region, Asia, the Americas and Africa. Our previous virtual event, held in Ukraine, welcomed over 2,500 delegate registrations and over 1,500 conference views. There were also over 75 exhibitors and the number of total booth entries hit close to a 6k mark. Join us for our next Virtual Roadshow to learn more about the US gaming market!