Q&A: Lahcene Merzoug on the future of a streamlined PressEnter Group as affiliate business closes

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The senior management team of PressEnter Group is set to buy out the operator’s investors, it was announced this week.

Once the deal is complete, CEO Lahcene Merzoug is primed to be appointed executive chairman of the company.

The process involved some tough decisions admits Merzoug, who is confident that 2023 will be a hugely significant year for the Malta-based online casino operator.

iGaming NEXT: How did the management buyout of PressEnter Group come about? What did it take to get the deal done? 

Lahcene Merzoug: The management team has built the company into what it has become today. We know the business inside out and where existing and new opportunities for growth are to be found. For us, it was an easy decision to take over the company and we seized it with both hands. We now look forward to taking PressEnter Group into the next chapter of its success story.

iGN: What potential do you see within the business that made you want to lead the MBO and take control of the company? 

LM: We have an incredibly strong roster of popular online casino and sportsbook brands that are performing well in core markets. Each site has been designed to deliver a seamless user experience across all devices, delivering high levels of engagement and entertainment to players. This is achieved through a vast portfolio of games, markets and odds, big bonuses, localised payment options and attentive customer support. This network of brands provides a great foundation from which to drive the business forwards.

This will see us launch additional brands and products over the coming months, as well as enhance our existing casino and sportsbook sites and forms part of a revised strategy the management team has put in place since the deal was agreed.

iGN: As we know with any change in ownership, there is a knock on effect when it comes to staffing. We understand a number of employees were let go recently. Can you tell us a little more about this?

LM: Prior to the MBO, we were already looking at the business as a whole, identifying areas to ensure they were efficient as possible. This led to a number of hard decisions being made.  One of the outcomes was to unfortunately close down our affiliate business PressEnter Media and although initially this was an exciting and promising project, we felt that we needed to focus our attention on our core business.

PressEnter Group also had to let quite a few, very talented colleagues go, which has been really tough for everyone involved, but we have managed to retain more than 70% of our workforce.

iGN: How are you supporting staff that have been affected?

LM: This is a very sensitive time for everyone at PressEnter Group, but especially those that have been let go, therefore we are doing everything in our power to help. This includes leveraging our huge network of contacts within the industry and ensuring they have access to the best recruiters in iGaming. We have also leant on our partnership with the Richmond Foundation in Malta, to ensure anyone affected, who is struggling with their mental health, can find a safe space to discuss their well-being.

iGN: How will the running of the business change following the MBO?

LM: Moving forward, we will now be solely focused on the existing business and leveraging the tremendous opportunities for growth that exist within it. Continuity is important at a time like this and I’m really pleased that I’ll be supported in my role as CEO by the same management team that was in place prior to the MBO and that share our vision and passion for the business..

iGN: What are your biggest markets and most successful brands? What has been the key to success?

LM: PressEnter Group holds licences in a range of markets including Malta, Ontario and Romania, and is becoming increasingly popular in emerging markets like Peru, Chile and many more. Our brands perform incredibly well in these markets due to the branding and UX we have developed in-house, and the interactive and entertaining experience provided to players. Localisation and personalisation have both been key to our success in these markets, too. Of course, we will continue to enter new and emerging markets so that more players can enjoy what our brands have to offer.

iGN: What do the next 12 months have in store for PressEnter Group?

LM: We want to ensure our workforce is happy and healthy and that they are receiving the support they need to achieve their full potential, professionally as well as personally. It takes time for a new business to find its feet, and post MBO it will be the same for PressEnter Group. That said, it will still be a big year for the business, and we have some really exciting developments that we will be announcing over the next few months.

About the author

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Jake Evans

Jake Evans is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and sports betting industry since 2017. He is the managing editor of iGaming NEXT and has previously worked in both content and data for EGR, Stats Perform and Football Radar.

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