In 1970, Richard Branson and Nik Powell formed Virgin Group Ltd. Initially, the company specialized in selling records, but over the years and decades it put its name to many other businesses.
The brand has, among other things, tried to dominate the British radio industry, compete with Coca-Cola, and become the number 1 supplier of space flights. A slightly less eye-catching, but much more successful Virgin venture is the ever-popular online casino site Virgin Games.
Founded in 2003, Virgin Games entered the market at the right time. A few years after its founding, online gambling would go from an uncommon pastime to a cultural phenomenon.
In 2013, the success of blank games caught the attention of Gamesys, a multinational software and game development company. Since then, the company has focused on growth beyond UK shores, with European development high on the list of priorities.
In this article, we take a look at how this expansion is working for the relentlessly ambitious gambling provider.
Virgin Games business overview
As of this writing, Virgin Games is in an excellent position commercially speaking. In the UK, revenue increased by 20% last year, mainly due to the performance of the slot games offered by the supplier.
The most exciting news for investors and shareholders, however, came from Asia, where Virgin Games’ revenue grew by a whopping 30%. Much of this growth has been attributed to the company’s work to solidify its brand in the Asian market.
Domestically, the growth trend has continued through 2022, with the company reporting average monthly users of nearly 750,000 and monthly revenue of just under £65m. The European picture is however a little less encouraging for Virgin.
Why is European growth slower?
The UK was one of the first countries in the world to open up a legal online gambling industry. While the market is regulated here in the UK, it is subject to far less red tape than many countries in Europe.
Confusing legislation and restrictive regulations have been cited as one of the main reasons for Virgin Games’ stagnant fortunes on the continent. On top of that, the continent appears to have rebounded from the pandemic less vigorously than the UK and Asia.
While many UK players have used the lockdowns as an excuse to avoid their visits to physical casinos for a few hours playing online, many Europeans have cut back on their gambling habits altogether. As a result, the continent has seen much slower growth. of the sector since the reopening of the economy towards the end of 2021.
It is also important to remember that expanding into Europe is a difficult task at the best of times. Europe is a continent of around 50 countries, most of which have their own gambling rules and regulations.
In addition to this, there is 24 official languages spoken on the continent and a large number of other non-official languages. It is therefore natural that European expansion will be slower for Virgin Games and more expensive.
What makes Virgin games appealing?
European legislation and language compatibility are hurdles that, if history is to be believed, Virgin Games should be more than able to overcome. The question at the end is what about which company will prove attractive to European gamers?
The answer is pretty much the same that makes it popular here in the UK and Asia – slots, poker tournaments and live casino facilities.
Like the wider gaming industry in general, slots are Virgin Games’ main driver of revenue and they offer a wide and varied selection to cater to almost any demographic. In recent years there have also been concerted efforts to revive the popularity of their poker tournaments.
In the early 2010s, Virgin Games was one of the biggest names in online poker, a reputation they are keen to regain. One feature of the company that could make it a hit on the continent, where land-based casinos continue to fall out of fashion, is its live casino.
This facility allows players to interact with live dealers who stream all the latest action directly from the gaming tables to the player’s phones, tablets or PC screens.
Finally, Virgin Games has something that many online casinos don’t: brand exposure. Although it was acquired by Gamesy in 2013, the company retained the Virgin name, which made it recognizable around the world.
It is impossible to travel to a country in the world where the Virgin company is unknown. This not only brings visibility, but also a level of consumer confidence. Virgin isn’t just a company people have heard of, it’s a company people know to be trusted.
Will Virgin Games succeed in Europe?
If you were to take bets on this question, smart money would be on “yes”. Virgin Games has been successful in the UK and Asia and is doing well in North America. It’s just legislative and technical difficulties that are slowing the company’s assault on continental Europe.
Once these are overcome, as they surely will be, Virgin Games will gain a foothold in Europe as it has in other international markets.