Exclusive Interview: Jesper Svensson - CEO of Betsson Group
Malta has been at the centre of an iGaming development boom in recent years. What do you believe is the cause of this?
Betsson has been on the island since 2004 and has grown into a company employing more than 1,000 people in Malta alone, spread across two offices in St Julian’s and Ta’ Xbiex. From offering a favourable tax regime to a great climate, good health care and schools, Malta remains a top gaming jurisdiction. Malta was the first country in the EU to introduce gaming regulations that serious i-gaming operators could use to compete with monopolies around Europe. When Betsson decided to start offering games online, Malta was the natural choice. We currently have licenses in 11 jurisdictions and have 12 locations globally but Malta is and will remain the headquarters.
What do you think is most attractive about Malta to people coming to work here?
The island sits within a unique position in Europe whereby size, climate and easy air transport links make it an ideal place to live. Rather than one good thing, Malta is a package offering a great lifestyle. I hear from so many of our people who have relocated to the island that Malta offers a fantastic work/life balance, especially at Betsson where you get to work within a multicultural company (with more than 43 nationalities) as well as plenty of sunshine, a relaxed atmosphere and that wonderful Mediterranean life. Malta has deep cultural roots linking many ancient and modern civilisations -which is evident anywhere you go - and a thriving nightlife coupled with some beautiful beaches and crystal clear seas.
How would you compare Malta as a business destination to those places you have worked beforeincluding London, Oslo and the Philippines?
In Malta you can definitely feel that you are in the centre of online gaming! I have worked in several gaming companies in different parts of the world, but Malta is special as it is buzzing with the gaming fraternity. Each destination has held its own allure, but Malta is very special to me from a personal point of view as it is where my wife and I had our first child.
What are your hopes for Betsson in Malta? How would you like to see it grow and develop?
Malta is Betsson’s headquarters and we plan to stay. What is good for Malta is usually good for Betsson and vice versa. Betsson is always on the lookout for new business opportunities to grow further. The gaming industry is an exciting place to be with a tremendous potential for growth. If you consider that online gaming is less than 15 per cent of the total gaming industry, even if that doubles in the next few years, there is still much growth to be had.
When discovering the Maltese Islands for the first time, what were the first things that created a strong impression upon you? What did you immediately love about the islands?
The closeness to the sea wherever you are in Malta is fantastic and what made a very strong first impression was the spectacular architecture. It’s unique - and I can’t think of a place anywhere else in the world that compares.
Is there a particular international destination that you feel Malta could learn from? How could this aid in the development of the island?
It’s hard for me to single out a specific destination, but I hope Malta can both enjoy and learn something from all nationalities that are on the island today. Malta is becoming more and more international and this represents a great opportunity to learn and develop.
If you could travel anywhere in the world today, where would it be?
My next likely destination will be Colombia. My wife is Colombian and we try to go regularly. It’s a fantastic country.
What or who has been the greatest influence on you in the course of your career and how has it affected where you are today?
It’s a long list… What made me enter the industry was my passion for sports and marketing. It’s definitely a privilege to work within an industry so closely connected to sports. During my career, I’ve had the pleasure to work with many exceptionally talented people that I’ve learnt a lot from. For me, it wouldn’t be right to mention only one person as an influencer. Generally, I think that businesses have a lot to learn from the sports’ world. Great leaders in sport have influenced my thinking as much as leaders in business.
What advice would you give to anyone beginning their career looking to follow a similar path as yours?
Work hard and have fun! When you truly enjoy what you do, and are able to give it 100%, the career path will come by itself.
When you do have the opportunity for a little down time, what do you enjoy doing?
I spend time with my family and enjoy some of the great restaurants on the island.
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Published TEMPLE Magazine 2017/18
Copyright: Temple Concierge Ltd.
Images Copyright: Betsson