Marcello Magaletti, COO of Superbet, talks about the company’s recent acquisition of Napoleon Sport and Casino, allowing it to enter the Belgian market, as well as revealing the operator’s global ambitions
Speaking of Superbet’s recent acquisitions and expansions into new markets, COO Marcello Magaletti alludes to the company’s ambitions to “take over the world”.
So with a goal like that, the operator’s latest acquisition – Belgian company Napoleon Sport and Casino – would seem like a perfect fit.
As Magaletti (pictured) explains, however, Superbet had considered a large number of deals across Europe before determining that Napoleon made the most sense.
“I think over the past three or four years it’s no secret that our mission has been to grow far beyond our stronghold in Romania,” he says. “We have of course already taken other measures, we have expanded into Poland and we believe that our domestic market is quite central in Eastern Europe. So we looked at several transactions in this region, but we were also keeping an eye out for several other transactions in Western Europe as well.
“I would say we’ve looked at dozens of transactions over the past two or three years. When our advisor first presented us with the Napoleon opportunity, we started digging deeper and it kind of snowballed us into making this deal.
“So we didn’t target Belgium from day one and then attack Napoleon, but rather it was an opportunity that presented itself to us in a very interesting market: Western Europe.
It is a good size market with a good solid regulatory environment, which makes it very attractive. Then after learning more about the company and meeting the management team there, we learned that it was a really good deal for us.
But when Superbet decided to acquire Napoleon, it kicked off a process that went exceptionally quickly. According to Magaletti, the timeline for the deal was only “a matter of weeks,” which meant that everyone involved had to ensure that administration and paperwork were properly completed for the deal to be concluded. as quickly as possible.
“Of course that meant that all parties involved in the transaction had to focus: the sell side, the buy side, the advice side, the banking side, we all had to make sure everything was correct,” Magaletti said. “In the end, getting the deal through with all of the administration and bureaucracy in a very, very short period of time was the only real challenge.”
The next step
Now that Napoleon is under the Superbet umbrella, Magaletti says he doesn’t expect a massive overhaul of his operations. However, with Superbet having more experience in areas such as sports betting, to complement Napoleon’s casino experience, he says he believes there is plenty of room to share knowledge and improve the brand.
“Napoleon has always mainly focused on the game,” he says. “And Superbet being Superbet, we have sport in our DNA. So we thought, not that we would radically change Napoleon, but that we could maybe bring some expertise to the table after leading the sport for 12 years on our fully proprietary platform.
“Likewise, on the omnichannel opportunity, where Napoleon is almost two entirely separate units – retail and online – we have a lot of experience in Eastern Europe as a multichannel operator that we can bring to the table. profit, ”he continues.
“So in the short term don’t expect a big revolution, but I think the home team we have there will be able to take this team to the next level.”
Shortly after the deal was concluded, the Belgian Council of Ministers announced a major change that would affect all market operators.
The country’s weekly deposit limit is now set to drop from € 500 to € 200, if a bill proposed by Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne comes into force.
However, the announcement did not come out of nowhere. The country’s Gaming Commission proposed a lowering of limits in April, while the Council also considered keeping the limit at € 500 but applying it to all operators, similar to the ‘global’ spending cap of the Germany.
Although Magaletti spoke ahead of the introduction of the new bill, he said he had little concern that the cap was a major issue. Instead, he said he believes a strong responsible gaming framework could prove to be good for business.
“From a business perspective, I think a strong responsible gaming platform is actually beneficial in the long run,” he said. “I see – in the short term – effects that could be more negative, but in the long term it makes the whole industry much more sustainable. “So on the Napoleon side and in general Superbet in general, we adhere to all kinds of regulations that can protect clients in the long run while allowing clients the freedom to do what they love to do. If you are wondering if we see limits as a major risk, nothing is going in that direction yet. We just need to keep adjusting and keep working with the regulator to help build what is already a strong responsible gaming platform in the country. “
However, the Belgian online gambling market is not limited to the limits that attract attention. Magaletti says that while customers in Belgium tend to be similar to those in other Western European countries, a key difference is the popularity of dice-based games in Belgium, which play a role similar to slot machines in most. from other countries.
“I cannot claim to be an expert on Belgian clients, but obviously we have done a lot of research and I would say there are a lot of similarities with neighboring markets like the Netherlands or even the Scandinavian countries,” says Magaletti. “One thing I noticed was their fondness for dice games.
“In fact, the Belgian market, the gambling market in Belgium, is dominated by dice games, which is sort of a spin on slot machines, except that they are dice-based of course, and they are a bit more interactive because you have to make micro-decisions. I think you really have to play these games to figure it out.
More than money
Superbet’s expansion – not only the acquisition of Napoleon but also its 2020 agreement to acquire a 60% stake in online casino operator Lucky 7 – has been aided by a strategic investment of 175 million euros from private equity giant Blackstone Group.
While this investment helped secure funding for these two acquisitions, Magaletti says the value Blackstone provided went beyond money.
“This investment, I have never seen it as a simple injection of liquidity,” he says. “What Blackstone gives us as a partner is, of course, the working capital that helps us accelerate our growth, but also the ability to sort of consult with very smart people who understand some of the intricacies of the industry. and help us create sound. strategic decisions.
“Then there’s the opportunity to tap into the network of a company like Blackstone. We were able to interact with companies like Amazon, in collaboration with the innovation team of [Amazon Web Services] AWS due to Blackstone’s investment.
“They helped us think about innovation the Amazon way and leverage some of their resources. It helped us launch the Superclub, which is sort of an enhanced loyalty program. “
But Magaletti notes that the investment hasn’t stopped Superbet from being guided by the vision of founder Sacha Dragic.
“The ownership of Superbet is still in the hands of the original shareholder and founder Sacha Dragic,” he said. “Having a founder who thinks long term like that really lets you not just look at the day-to-day income statement, but rather think of long-term deals.
“This deal with Napoleon is a great example because once Sascha determined it was a good deal, we were able to act very quickly, unlike a large company. And his contagious enthusiasm for growth is one of the main elements behind our mission to take over the world. ”