Synot sets its sights on Latin America

Synot sets its sights on Latin America

Friday, March 3, 2017

Once a relatively niche supplier of slot machines to eastern Europe, Synot Group has expanded its activities to encompass lottery, casinos, sports betting and online gaming. Over recent years, the group’s diversification strategy has resulted in success across Europe, Asia and Africa – and Synot is now looking for new opportunities across the Pacific.

Over the past 25 years, Synot Group has grown from being a small company focused principally on providing lottery services and gaming machines in the Czech Republic to become a diversified gaming and technology company with interests around the world.

Synot’s operations now span the global casino, lottery, sports betting and online gaming sectors, with revenues for the group topping the €600 million mark in 2015. Now, after expanding its footprint across gaming markets in Europe, Asia and Africa, the group is looking to tap growth in Latin America.

Humble beginnings

Synot was established by entrepreneur Ivo Valenta and his father and brother in 1991. In just a few years, they managed to turn the family business into a strong and internationally respected group.

“Synot has more than 25 years of experience in the gaming business,” said sales director, Miroslav Valenta. “My father, grandfather and uncle established the company not long after the Velvet Revolution. We soon expanded our gaming activities from the Czech Republic to include Ukraine, Latvia and Slovakia.”

According to Valenta, gaming markets in central and eastern European remain key territories for Synot. “In Slovakia, for example, we have the biggest market share in terms of machines installed, and we are the second biggest operator in Latvia.”

Tailor-made content

To trace the development of Synot is to plot the evolution of the global gaming business itself. The company was quick to explore opportunities in the then nascent video lottery terminal (VLT) market, and the group now has now distributed more than 20,000 VLT terminals across Europe, Africa and Asia.

In light of Synot’s growing global presence, Valenta underlined the importance of business partnerships. In addition to developing its own gaming hardware, such as terminals and cabinets, the company also produces its own software and game content. Some software, however, is supplied by third-party developers, including IGT.

“In 2004, we signed a VLT project with Boss Media of Sweden,” the director stated. “This company was acquired by Gtech in 2008, and Gtech merged with IGT in 2014. Right now, our business is supported very strongly by IGT. Most of the VLT terminals we have in operation are supported by IGT’s software platform.”

Valenta was quick to point out that, when it comes to game development, Synot maintains a close relationship with content developers, in order to produce the best tailor-made titles for the markets it serves.

“We don’t just order some software for them to deliver,” he explained. “From the very beginning we discuss how the games destined for our markets should look and play. You won’t find these games anywhere else. They are developed exclusively for our machines. They are tailored to the market.”

Expansive operations

Aside from its activities in the supply and distribution of gaming machines, Synot also operates casinos, gaming centres and betting shops through its Synot Tip brand.

“Synot Tip is our operational division,” said Valenta. “It started as a sports betting company, but we later merged these activities with our casino, gaming hall and arcade operations.

“We have found that our venues are the ideal testbed for new products. We debut the new games and solutions in our venues to iron out any potential problems. We can then also present the performance results of these machines to our distribution partners in other markets.”

Synot’s operations are not solely confined to the land-based sector, either. Over recent years the group has been ramping up its presence in the online world. “We have been in the sports betting business since 2005,” said Valenta. “Today, we not only operate land-based and online sports betting, we also develop our own online casino and betting software.”

Future focus

Synot’s diversification across many sectors of the gaming industry has been matched with worldwide growth. “Distribution is going well,” Valenta stated. “We are currently expanding across eastern Europe and Africa. We believe that Africa, in particular, is a very interesting market, and one which will continue to grow.”

He added: “We are also growing in Asia. At the end of 2015 we were involved with the opening of the first casino in Vietnam. This was followed with our involvement in the opening of the country’s second casino facility in 2016. At the beginning of March I will be travelling again to Vietnam to assist with the opening of a third casino, which is supplied exclusively with our machines.”

While Synot continues to expand into new territories, Valenta said the company never loses focus on the existing markets it serves. Given the company’s dual-pronged strategy, the director said the annual ICE show in London is the ideal place to meet both new and existing customers.

“The ICE show is our biggest show. This year we had our biggest ever booth across two floors and with almost 60 Synot representatives. It’s the most important exhibition for us because we are always able to find new partners for our expansion in both existing and new markets. It’s absolutely a global event and one of the best platforms to make new contacts in the world.

“In the medium term, we are planning a trip to Latin America. This is a new market for us, but we already have interested parties in the region. It is our aim to visit some Latin American companies and attend one of the shows there. Our goal is to be able to deliver our products to Latin America in 2018.”

TotallyGaming says: From its humble beginnings in eastern Europe some 25 years ago, it’s now hard to think of a gaming sector in which Synot Group is not currently active. The company’s success results from a tailor-made approach to the markets it serves, and over the coming years it will be interesting to see what new innovations transpire, as Synot expands across more global territories.

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