We met Shino B, Operations manager Japan at Game Lounge Ltd, for an interview about www.japanesecasino.com and thoughts about the industry.
Hello Shino, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?
Hi Marius! Yes, I am very excited to find out more about the new style casinos, payment methods and regulations.
Despite the fact that Japanese Market is very unique, I like to get inspiration and new ideas from various operators all over the world.
Last but not the least, I always loved meeting interesting people who work for different casino operators and who are interested in Japanese and Asian markets. It is very exciting to discuss the situation on the Japanese market, its prospects and make comparisons between Europe, Japan and other Asian markets.
This mixture of cultures and different styles of business management always makes me very excited. I like positive ambitious people and conversations so it is never boring!
How did you enter the online gaming sector and set up your market?
I was working for one of the Forex brokers as an operations manager for Japan. At that time, online casino was not that popular in Japan like it is nowadays.
However, I was always interested in the online casino industry since affiliate is the biggest key to get traffic for all these industries, online Forex, binary options and casino market.
It is well known that casino players and binary option traders are in a very similar market segment. So I was often seeing the casino affiliate sites when I was looking for new affiliates for Forex.
As time passed the Japanese market started getting more attention and I had an opportunity to jump in the online casino market so I joined one of the casino operators.
When working for a casino operator I was always working close to affiliates, and I wanted to see the industry from an affiliate point of view, wanted to learn how to promote the casinos that are interested in the Japanese market. So now I am working in the right place, Game Lounge Ltd.
Can you tell us a little bit about Game Lounge strategy regarding the Japanese online gaming market?
Game Lounge is very strong in Europe especially in the Nordic market.
Our management got interested in the Japanese market, and we are taking it very seriously. For example, Game Lounge pays attention to a small but extremely important detail such as Japanese style graphic design.
Japanese style graphic design is very different but very important for marketing purposes for both operators and affiliates. If it is not properly done, your site might end up looking very dodgy.
To build trust with Japanese players is the hardest part of our job and it might take longer than you expect but no one can skip these details if you want to achieve success in this market.
When it comes to the design, we have our own experienced Japanese designer. If you check our website, you can tell that we are not only relying on SEO but also giving a lot of importance to content, which really helps our readers and potential players.
I believe in SEO but I think that high-quality content is equally important for the Japanese market. This might take time but it allows to build a long-term, closer relationship with players.
With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
Considering the enormous number of affiliates in existence, it is not surprising at all. Game Lounge Ltd operates under the Cherry group.
However, we hold full independency regarding out marketing strategy or contents policy. Rest assured that players can get objective and fair reviews from our site.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus in this area over the next 6 months?
We are aiming to make our site more interactive and we have a detailed plan about how to make it happen.
What is your view on the competition on the Japanese market?
Recently we realized that the number of European affiliates who open Japanese sites have increased a lot and I am very interested their growth.
Am I worried about the competition? Not at all. We have great strengths.
Firstly, it’s the fact that we are located in Malta. We can release information about operators and industry news in real time.
Secondly, we have good variety of content writers including actual players and online casino customer support experienced writers. This means our content covers all the potential queries or interest of the casino players.
This makes us stand out from many other affiliates.
Also, Game Lounge is a very strong and experienced in an online marketing company, which gives us a strong advantage in all the markets that we operate in.
Are there any exciting plans that you can tell us about?
We have just launched a European style site called Japanesecasino.com. We are planning to launch a few more sites in the upcoming months.
The second site will be focused on very experienced players, so it will be challenging but we have full confidence in this project.
The third one, I cannot tell you too many details about, but it will be a first unique trial on Japanese market. Let’s say it’s going to be a hybrid of European and Japanese styles. And I strongly believe this could start a new trend on the Japanese market.
What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your site?
You can watch great unique video content on our site, which gives strong impression and provides good branding and entertainment for our visitors. We are not just an affiliate but we are proud of being true partners of different casinos.
What challenges and opportunities have you experienced when it comes to mobile affiliate websites?
Our sites are fully responsive on mobile and tablet, and we have a good reputation in this respect. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the details, but we have a plan to provide unique features for Japanese mobile users.
What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and for the Japanese affiliate sector in 2017 in general?
Currently, Japanese market has lower competition compared to the European markets. However, we believe that more affiliates will start entering the Japanese and Asian markets as we have seen the new websites opening already.
I would focus on both strengthening our advantages and catching up with the competition. In other words, we will be working with casinos closer and setting up interactive communication with players – these are our goals and challenges for growing big in the market.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new casinos starting on the Japanese market today?
As I mentioned above, a wide variety of payment methods is the first priority. It’s a bit like a cat-and-mouse game because it’s rather complicated for the payment providers to operate in Japan. So when the new payment methods come to Japan, the casinos need be patient and catch up as soon as possible.
Also, the Japanese customer support. High quality support for the Japanese players cannot be covered by just using templates, copy and paste. Accurate information and quality customer support is the fastest way to get the trust. This will strengthen the casino’s reputation dramatically.
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from your jackpot winnings?
Yes, I do sometimes. Recently Game Lounge team went on the company trip to Las Vegas. Obviously, I played slots and table games. Well… with that money, I would like take all my colleagues to Japan in 2020 to watch Olympic games and bet online!
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