When the online sports betting market opened in Croatia in 2010, the national lottery was late to the party, launching three months after the World Cup, after its private bookmaker competitors. But since then, the lottery has been making the most of the opportunities afforded by interactive channels.
When the lottery did launch its online sports book it demonstrated the power of its brand, with the Internet channel showing solid revenues. Interactive growth was further stimulated by launching online-only e-instants.
The lottery first showed an interest in online casino games three years ago, but it was only in the first half of 2015 that online casino games were launched with heavy advertising even before the launch. Undoubtedly helped by the fact that the lottery has no locally-licensed competition in this segment of the market, the iCasino has proven successful.
The land-based casino industry in Croatia is very fragmented, with the vast majority of operators having only one venue. It is the smallest sector by revenues, with most venues catering to both domestic patrons and tourists and located on the coast. The licensing fee is also very high, with the cost of an Internet licence (HRK 3 million≈€ 400,000) equal to the fee for six land-based casinos. For this reason GBGC believes there will be limited competition for the lottery in the Internet casino market in the short term.
The lottery has used its monopoly position in the Internet casino sector well, with the restructuring of the entire company, closing down of unprofitable land-based gaming venues and focusing on profit-making enterprises.
Thanks to the launch of the iCasino, the lottery’s casino GGY doubled in 2015 to HRK 28 million. The iCasino revenues of HRK 18.9 million in the first year were more than double the land-based casino revenues, even though the iCasino was not operational for the entire year. The iCasino’s margins are also much lower than in the land-based casino.
The success was helped by very low minimum stakes of just HRK 1. For now, the online casino offers four types of Roulette, three kinds of Blackjack, 46 slot games and four kinds of video poker, with the offering constantly expanding.
The introduction of the iCasino in 2015 has helped increase the share of the total lottery’s sales made over the Internet from 22% in 2014 to 47% in 2015. It seems that, with the iCasino, the Croatian lottery has finally hit the jackpot.