Raising the game, racing ahead

Rebecca Anastasi - 22nd June 2019

Ongoing efforts to attract the right talent, fostering professional development and expanding its mobile gaming capabilities are at the forefront of LeoVegas’ priorities, says COO Richard Woodbridge.

Eight years ago, in Sweden, two friends were taking some time out of the humdrum normality of everyday life by playing with their mobile phones when they saw something: their devices were spinning swiftly, mimicking the movement of a whirling roulette table. While most of us would have simply gotten on with our mindless routines, Gustaf Hagman and Robin Ramm-Ericson decided this could be adopted to create a new gaming experience. LeoVegas was born.

Today, the iGaming company has offices in Sweden, Italy, the UK, Poland and Malta, employing over 900 people, across all its sites. It also reported a 25 per cent increase in revenue to €84.5 million for the final quarter of 2018, and boasts 587,712 active customers, according to Gaming Intelligence, an industry news and analysis portal. “We are one of the fastest-growing mobile gaming companies, and the company today is a market leader in mobile casino in its main markets,” Chief Operating Officer, Richard Woodbridge, affirms.

Indeed, the company, which was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2016, has moved from strength to strength over the past few years. Following the implementation of their original idea in 2011, Mr Hagman and Mr Ramm-Ericson went on to launch the first version of the game on 12th January 2012. Key acquisitions – Winga, Royal Panda, Rocket X, IPS, Casino Grounds and Pixel.bet – quickly followed, bringing “added value and strength to LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group,” Mr Woodbridge underlines, adding that “these achievements have truly rewarded us for our hard work and they have been incredibly proud moments for all our employees.”

The company’s passion – “leading the way into the mobile future” – taps into an attitude which is key to the firm’s philosophy, according to the COO. In this regard, he describes LeoVegas’ user interface as “simple, clean and intuitive,” highlighting its “consistent, yet adaptive design across web and mobile.”

LeoVegas office

Furthermore, this push for growth has also seen LeoVegas’ base in Malta prosper, according to Mr Woodbridge, with the company now boasting 400 employees locally. “In October 2012, LeoVegas opened its first office in Malta – which was a fraction of what it is today – and this has been a great environment for us to flourish,” he says, citing Malta’s “advanced regulatory framework” as the main reason for the firm’s decision to open up offices on the island, and praising the local tax system for attracting the industry to the island. “Over the years, multiple operators started opening up shop here and that, eventually, started attracting a wider base of companies, including gaming providers, payment gateways and so on.”

Despite an optimistic outlook, however, the COO acknowledges that challenges remain, particularly with regards to recruitment. “Being part of such a competitive industry creates a number of problems when it comes to providing your employees with the best working spaces or relocation conditions for those coming from abroad. And, we are continuously working to mitigate any issues, so our employees can consider the Sliema office their second home,” he explains.

“International employees who have kids, for instance, are concerned with the scarcity of spots available in international schools. This has forced them to put their children on never-ending waiting lists,” Mr Woodbridge outlines. “And, these conditions have made it challenging to attract the best out there, although with the help of the responsible authorities this can surely be tackled in the right manner,” he affirms.

LeoVegas Office1

The firm strives to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth to those willing to progress their careers in the sector, the COO continues. “We’re constantly on the look-out for candidates with the right set of skills and the right type of attitude – people who are able to fit into the company culture. It’s not an easy task, but once we find the right fit, we are sure they are able to integrate easily, be a great team player and succeed within the company,” Mr Woodbridge states. In addition, once recruited, “LeoVegas allows its employees to develop throughout their journey at the firm and we encourage them to take on further responsibilities over time. I am happy to say that quite a large proportion of our job vacancies are actually filled by internal talent,” he underlines.

For those who make the cut, benefits include “gym subsidies, classes at a leading fitness club, a fully-paid private health insurance, sports allowance and breakfast on Mondays, lunch on Fridays, as well as a fully-stocked snack bar with healthy snacks all year around,” the COO smiles.

The company also espouses responsible gaming, having launched LeoSafePlay in 2017, “a site based on machine learning and algorithms, helping us create a risk profile for customers who might develop unhealthy gaming behaviour,” he describes. This contains a self-assessment tool allowing customers to become more aware of their gaming habits and identify any problematic areas before they escalate. Moreover, as part of LeoSafePlay, the firm is “piloting a new project where we pay for initial therapy and counselling sessions for those customers who might require professional help,” he explains.

This article first appeared in the June edition of iGaming Capital.