Evolution Gaming & Unregulated Asian Gaming Markets

Former Managing Director at Ezugi, Hong Kong

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Asia unregulated market structure
  • How unregulated gaming markets work
  • Risks to Evolution Gaming in China and Turkey
  • Evolution's advantage over competitors
  • Outlook on European, Asian, and US market growth

Evolution Gaming

Why is this company interesting?

Evolution is a B2B live casino gaming operator which provides customers with professional croupier services via its online casino and gaming platform. (Live casino refers to a game where a game presenter runs a gaming table followed in real time via a video stream.) The company has a large addressable market.

Live casino is the fastest-growing segment in online casino, with an annual growth rate of 31% from 2017 through 2021. Evolution dominates this space. Sales increased 90% in 2021 and are 6x greater than in 2017. The business has high and increasing margins; EBITDA margins were 68.9% in 2021 and management believes they hit 69%-71% in 2022. The business is capital-light with capex of less than 6% of sales in 2021. Evolution generates substantial free cash flow and has no net debt.

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Executive Bio

Former Managing Director

Former Managing Director at Ezugi, Hong Kong

The executive has over 25 years experience operating RNG game studios and live casino operations in Asia and Europe. He is a Former Director or Ezugi for Asia and has experience running operations in Macau and Europe. The executive has deep experience in China and South East Asia gaming.Read more

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Interview Transcript

Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

We would like to better understand what is going on there and what the implications are of getting players and gamers from China?

When they refer to unregulated markets, you can include Germany from 1st of July as well as Canada, LATAM, all of Africa, Finland and Russia. The Chinese share is very small. The reason for that is because in Asia, when you try to launch a live casino or any gambling product, you need to give out very low rates. You have to do that because otherwise the operators cannot be profitable due to the transaction cost they have for each deposit or pay out, which is extremely high because quite often they have to do things in cash.

When Evolution entered the Asian market, I had a meeting with them in Malta where I offered to work together with Asia Gaming to distribute their live casino. I explained that we would purchase their game at 5.5% and resell, but the 5.5% was theirs and they would fall under our contracts. They would not be contractual with anyone else in China, in order to effectively hide them from illegal gambling. They declined because they were only willing to sell at 8% or 9%. I told them it would be impossible to make any money. After that they made inroads. First, they put a guy in Manila, then grew a team there. They do well in Asia but not as big as you would think.

In China specifically they wouldn't be that big because they do not have the required CDN they need. Asia Gaming were successful because they had a CDN in China, which is highly illegal.

What is a CDN?

A CDN is a content delivery network. For anyone playing online games in Asia on an illegal site, they need to have a proper stream which is fast enough to play a live casino. That works in Europe where you can even use the cloud, but a cloud solution does not work in China. Many companies place servers in Taiwan to service China from there, but it is not strong enough. That is what we did at Asia Gaming, which is a technical part I was not directly involved with. I know we had servers inside China, which is impossible for Evolution to do. It is too risky and they do not have the right connections to do it. All these factors make China a small market for them.

The two reasons are the pricing or commercial side of the business, plus they also lack the technical access to get to the market with a viable CDN?

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