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Peru to rival Brazil's next South American 'hotspot' status
G U I D E
BetRegal ponders pushing for a piece of the American pie
The research behind Better Collective's 'American Twist'
SG Digital gears up for New York 'big win' with Oneida THE UNFORESEEN US 'LOVE IN' BETWEEN SPORTS AND GAMING
SPORTSBOOK I TRUSTED BY 300+ PARTNERS
C E RT I F I C AT E S
PAY M E N TS
New Hall of Famers
Chris Christie: Who's the guv'nor? Art Manteris: Nevada’s work of Art
Tribal Influence Riding the New York sports betting wave
Opportunities further South Potential for online penetration in Brazil Peru to rival Brazil’s ‘next hotspot’ status
Supplier side Arkle does the biz-ness for Paddy Power The merits of playing the US long game Preparing for sports betting’s defining dance Exploding into the ‘lottery loving’ market
Regular SBC features
BetRegal diary: A piece of the American Pie 6 of the Best series enters the Redzone
European approach with an ‘American Twist’ Changing theScore in favour of the media Hitting the right Points for a Young US brand
Getting on the right track
Regulation: Finding Investment opportunities Operations: Tackling problem gambling Marketing: Taking the content battle to Brazil Sports: A measured approach to sponsorship US States: Getting on the right side of the law Demystifying: Accepting the US learning curve
The SBC Sports Betting Guide to ICE is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community: EDITORIAL TEAM: Andrew McCarron, Luke Massey, Craig Davies, Michael Lawson, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, Erin Gallagher SALES TEAM: Rasmus Sojmark, Alyona Gromova, Conall McCabe, Neil Judson DESIGNED & DELIVERED BY Better Mags (bettermags.co.uk) All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of Sports Betting Community Ltd. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors it may contain. Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of any material, solicited or unsolicited. The views in the publication are not necessarily the views of Sports Betting Community Ltd or those of the advertisers. Produced and published by Sports Betting Community Ltd REGISTERED ADDRESS: Sports Betting Community, 103-105 Brighton Road, Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 2NG, UK TEL.: +44 (0) 161 367 1250 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.sbcgaming.com
SPORTS BETTING & GAMING
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INTRO Luke Massey
Head of Media at SBC - Sports Betting Community
elcome to the Essential Guide to Betting on Sports America! With eight states fully operational and a whole host of others seeking to join the race, it’s all systems go for sports betting in the US of A. Did we expect to arrive at this point after the first 12 months postPASPA repeal? It's hard to tell. First year projections for sports betting handle, and subsequent revenues for the earliest market adopters, ranged from cautious to wildly optimistic in the immediate aftermath of the SCOTUS decision last May. However, it's clear that things have moved on at breakneck speed. And not just in terms of states that have received the all important green light to accept such wagers, or those with active sports betting bills yet to be passed. Let's not forget the work that's gone into customer protection and preventing the spread of problem gambling, the development of trading tools specific to US sports and, perhaps inevitably, some disagreement over the interpretation, and reinterpretation, of the Wire Act. All of this will be discussed as part
...IT'S CLEAR THAT THINGS HAVE MOVED ON AT BREAKNECK SPEED. AND NOT JUST IN TERMS OF STATES THAT HAVE RECEIVED THE ALL IMPORTANT GREEN LIGHT TO ACCEPT SUCH WAGERS, OR THOSE WITH ACTIVE SPORTS BETTING BILLS YET TO BE PASSED.
of the inaugural Betting on Sports America conference agenda, along with what’s next for DFS, the operational differences between official and unofficial data, and an unforeseen 'lovein' between sports and gaming. Unsurprisingly, this meeting of commercial minds - started by the NBA and MGM back in July of last year - was absent in the early predictive chatter focused on alliances between established names and newcomers to the market, rather than the coming together of two sectors that had, for so long, set up camp at opposite ends of the courtroom. This magazine (or guide, if you’re so inclined) has been put together to deliver expert insight across a whole host of key topics, ranging from tribal gaming through to key cogs in the supply chain, opportunities in South America and the importance of affiliate marketing, as well as the growing influence of 'European settlers’, particularly in New Jersey. It is fitting that we are here in New Jersey, where sportsbook handle topped $385m in January, and of course where Chris Christie - one of the latest SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame inductees - spent so long spearheading the legal challenge to PASPA. The first morning will include a keynote speech from Governor Phil Murphy, Chris Christie’s successor in New Jersey, who will share his sports betting vision and discuss key takeaways for the next wave of legal sports betting adopters, including where you may well find yourself for this week’s parties - New York! We hope everyone enjoys the week!
WHO'S THE GUV'NOR?
Chris Christie to join Sports Betting Hall of Fame DURING HIS TIME AS STATE GOVERNOR FOR NEW JERSEY, Christie
was instrumental in generating the political will to revisit and challenge the federal ban on sports betting via PASPA, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in May 2018
overnor Chris Christie is to be recognised by the sports betting industry for the pioneering role that he played in widening the scope for sports betting in the US. He will officially be inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame - curated by Sports Betting Community (SBC) at a ceremony held on 25 April 2019 at Sky Room in Manhattan (330 West 40th Street) as part of the closing party for the inaugural Betting on Sports America. Christie spent more than seven years fighting for legalized sports betting in New Jersey. It was his efforts in spearheading the challenge through the federal courts that opened the door for states across the nation to take a look at regulating sports betting. Rasmus Sojmark, Founder and CEO of SBC, said: “Governor Christie is the first politician we have inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame, but he is there with good reason. Without the political will from the governor’s office it is questionable that PASPA would ever have been challenged in the courts.
“WITHOUT THE POLITICAL WILL FROM THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE IT IS QUESTIONABLE THAT PASPA WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN CHALLENGED IN THE COURTS.”
is a distant memory.” The Sports Betting Hall of Fame was launched in 2016 to recognise the individuals who have significantly contributed to the industry over the course of their careers with a lasting legacy.
“For that bravery, the industry is indebted to Governor Christie and his inclusion in the Hall of Fame is just a small thank you for his support.” Governor Christie commented: “Sports betting was held back for too long by the unfair federal laws, so I was more than happy to be the first to make a stand against them. I’m very proud and gratified to be recognised by the sports betting industry in this year now that PASPA
The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honour, preserve and perpetuate the names and outstanding accomplishments of personalities who have added true value to the sports betting sector. Current luminaries include Sportradar Founder Carsten Koerl, Intralot co-founder Constantinos Antonopoulos, the world’s biggest independent bookmaker Fred Done and Bwin co-founder Norbert Teufelberger. •
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WORK OF ART
Nevada mainstay Manteris seals Hall of Fame spot ART MANTERIS is the second new inductee into
the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame, as the industry prepares to celebrate his contribution to sportsbook development in Nevada
anteris, the Vice President of Race and Sports Operations at Station Casinos, holds over 35 years of race and sportsbook expertise in Nevada. He was responsible for the development of the state’s first computer networking of race and sportsbooks in the late 1980’s, and has acted as a prominent policy contributor to a number of regulatory boards. Former NJ senator Chris Christie was confirmed as the first new member of the Sports Betting Hall of Fame, with Manteris the second to be announced. Manteris has a very colourful history in the world of sports betting having
played an integral role in developing and overseeing Station Casinos’ 16 new or remodelled sportsbooks. Rasmus Sojmark, Founder and CEO of Sports Betting Community, said: “We are really pleased to be able to welcome Art Manteris to the Sports Betting Hall of Fame. “So many people in the industry had good things to share about Art given his longevity and legacy in the sports betting industry. “He will be recognized as a key driver of sportsbook development in the US, including on mobile, and prominent contributor to gaming regulation across the country.” Manteris added: “Technological development has played a key role in furthering sports betting across the US, and I am glad I was able to play a role in that. “I am delighted to be recognised by the sports betting industry for what we have built in Nevada and look forward to seeing what the future holds for the U.S. industry.” •
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SG Digital to help Oneida ride the New York sports betting wave
SG DIGITAL WILL POWER THE ONEIDA INDIAN NATION'S three new sportsbooks
in New York when sports wagering is officially authorized in the state. We caught up with Todd Saunders, Vice-President for Innovation at Oneida Nation Enterprises, and Steve Schrier, Chief Commercial Officer at SG Digital, to find out more SBC: Great to catch up with you, Todd. First of all, why has the Oneida Indian Nation tribe chosen to launch its proposed sportsbook facilities in the Empire State under the Caesars brand? TS: If the Oneida Indian Nation is going to enter a market, we always set out to be the absolute best – everything from the quality of our facilities and level of guest service are evidence of that. We take the same care in choosing strategic partners, particularly with marketing alliances where the brand image and standards have to be consistent with our standards. Caesars is the gold standard, and we’re
very excited to have formed this strategic alliance with a world-class organization. SBC: What was the key driving factor in choosing SG Digital as the sportsbook supplier? TS: We had recently converted our Casino Management System
CAESARS IS THE GOLD STANDARD, AND WE’RE VERY EXCITED TO HAVE FORMED THIS STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WITH A WORLD-CLASS ORGANIZATION.
(CMS) to Scientific Games’ platform, which was a strategic business decision separate and apart from sportsbook operations. Scientific Games’ outstanding CMS system and functionality has allowed us to continue to improve our operations and provide excellent service and a first class gaming experience for our guests. The partnership we formed with Scientific Games, and the support and service we receive from them, made selecting SG Digital a natural progression for expanding on the industry-leading solution for sportsbook.
SBC: What is the long-term strategy for these partnerships? Might this extend to the tribe's other territories? TS: The partnerships already are expanding to all of our gaming operations as we look to develop sportsbooks at Turning Stone Resort Casino, Point Place Casino and Yellow Brick Road Casino. If the Oneida Indian Nation expands gaming and sportsbook operations even further, it would likely be most efficient to leverage the systems and partnerships already in place.
sports betting. With its expertise in oddsmaking, and the visibility through Caesars’ Total Rewards loyalty program with nearly 60 million members, the brand association with Turning Stone
...THE BRAND ASSOCIATION WITH TURNING STONE ELEVATES “THE LOUNGE WITH CAESARS SPORTS” IN A POWERFUL WAY, HAVING A MULTIPLIER EFFECT FOR THE PARTNERSHIP. SBC: How does 'The Lounge with Caesars Sports' speak to customers in a better way than for example the Turning Stone sportsbook? TS: Turning Stone and the Oneida Indian Nation have established award-winning operations, and a very powerful brand. With that said, Caesars is a true iconic brand in gaming and hospitality, known around the world. It is the pinnacle of the industry, and a pioneer in gaming and
12 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
elevates “The Lounge with Caesars Sports” in a powerful way, having a multiplier effect for the partnership. SBC: What would the tribe's approach be if online and mobile sports betting
was authorized in New York? And, have you prepared for such an eventuality? TS: The Oneida Indian Nation is both prepared and excited by the prospects for mobile sports betting. We will be actively engaged in the process of developing a world-class sports betting platform, and hope to be among the first-to-market when it is authorized in New York. SBC: Thank you for joining us, Steve. Can you explain to us how SG Digital technology will help the tribe to deliver sports betting success? SS: Our sportsbook product suite is a great fit for the Oneida Nation, and we think it will set a high bar for sports betting in the U.S. market. The AGA’s predictions put New York among the top states in terms of sports betting revenue upon legalization, and we have the technology and services to help Oneida ride the wave and even lead the region in stability and volume of bets placed. We also have our rich history of North American betting expertise,
I THINK WE’LL SEE WIDE-SCALE INNOVATION RIPPLE THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY AS OPERATORS AND SUPPLIERS BUILD RELATIONSHIPS FOUNDED ON THE ‘NEWER, BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER’ MANTRA. particularly through our Don Best managed trading services group. One of our most valuable tools is the modular nature of our platform. As a partner, Oneida is transparent and open about what their needs are, and we have listened to their requirements to propose the right sportsbook solutions to help them meet and even exceed their goals. It’s about being ready for channels as opportunities arise. The mobile offering can be one of the biggest market opportunities, and we’ll be working on making the most out of it for Oneida Nation. If online casinos open up, we will seek to provide them with a seamless, single wallet experience to offer their customers this product through cross-sell, too. With a full range of sports betting tools at their disposal, plus the combined expertise of Scientific
Games and the Oneida Nation, we’re gearing up for a big win in New York. SBC: Do you think in-venue sports betting will follow the Vegas model with a big focus on providing the right entertainment experience? SS: That’s definitely a large aspect of the vast sports betting landscape, and I think the idea of immersive entertainment is here to stay as the U.S. market gains more traction. The sports industry is one of the biggest cultural touchstones in the United States, and sports betting products will reflect that. We see sports betting as an extension of an already massive industry that will bring new bettors into the fold, while upping the game for seasoned punters. I think we’ll see wide-scale innovation ripple throughout the industry as operators and suppliers build relationships founded on the “newer, bigger, better, faster” mantra. As we build on the successful model that Vegas and other regulated markets have established, new technologies will continue to emerge and make sports betting an unparalleled experience. Ultimately, success will be reflective of the players’ engagement with the sports betting experience and that remains our primary focus. SBC: How can SG Digital find the right balance between OTC and self-service terminal betting in New York State? SS: We’ll work closely with Oneida to strike the perfect balance of betting methods. Player data and feedback will be crucial during this process; I say ‘process’ because it’ll be an ongoing project where we evaluate the information at hand and make decisions as a team with Oneida on how to tweak the experience to ensure it’s just right for every type of player. The U.S. market may be untrodden ground, but our track record of creating the world’s best betting experiences for players will help us, in partnership with Oneida, bring their sports betting offer to the next level. •
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BETTING IN BRAZIL
Sportradar prepares for Brazil’s online betting boom SPORTRADAR’S LORENZO CACI admitted that
“retail is still king” for sports betting in LatAm, but suggested that the potential for online penetration - particularly in countries such as Brazil - could end up tilting the balance
aci said that while users generally have more trust in the idea of going to a shop to place a bet, there is a huge opportunity to leverage the growth of online betting in LatAm by “supporting its operators and leagues with the right technology and expertise to enhance fan engagement”. The Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Sportradar also drew parallels between South America and the developing situation in post-PASPA North America, where operators are seeing high demand amongst fans and punters alike for “live entertainment and information in the palm of their hands”. LatAm is, like the US, very fragmented, with some countries upholding a blanket ban on betting and others like Colombia implementing legislation with great success, while Brazil is ready to regulate its huge online open market after the preChristmas passing of Bill MP 846. MP 846 is primarily focused on how revenue from Brazil’s national lottery – operated by Ministry of Financecontrolled Caixa Econômica Federal
- will be distributed among sport, culture and public safety, but also includes plans that will give the green light to regulated sports betting. Under this new legislation, gross revenues for online operators will be capped at 8 per cent, with at least 89 per cent of the handle going to bettors and the remaining 3 per cent soaked up by the government. “The potential for online penetration in Brazil is very impressive,” said Caci. “Telcos have good data plans with
the cost of internet close to zero which, when combined with increasing social media reach, makes for really favourable conditions for sports betting operators.” Speaking to SBC, Caci said that “everyone is expecting to see legal sports betting in Brazil this year”, with many international organisations, including law firms and consultancy groups, offering their services to the country’s regulator. He added this is reminiscent of the
“TELCOS HAVE GOOD DATA PLANS WITH THE COST OF INTERNET CLOSE TO ZERO WHICH, WHEN COMBINED WITH INCREASING SOCIAL MEDIA REACH, MAKES FOR REALLY FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS FOR SPORTS BETTING OPERATORS.” sbcmagazine.com 15
BETTING IN BRAZIL
situation in Colombia, before a Spanish company ultimately delivered the rules to underpin the now prosperous sports betting bill, drawing largely from those passed in Spain before adapting them to the local realities of Colombia. Yet, even without this regulation, big name dotcom operators have already been targeting Brazil, a country where the obvious enthusiasm for football is mixed with similar passion for US sports including American football, basketball and baseball. Caci labelled these dotcom operators, supported by the biggest TV and marketing budgets, as the first of four types of operator in Brazil, alongside operators managed by local entrepreneurs, bet-on-lotteries headlined by Jogo do Bicho and fantasy sports platforms, with all of these now also targeting sports betting - regardless of their primary POS. He believes that Sportradar is well placed to service the growing
“REGIONS ACROSS LATAM - IN THIS CASE BRAZIL - VARY SO GREATLY THAT YOU HAVE TO APPLY EFFECTIVE GLOBAL STRATEGIES AND ADAPT THEM TO THE LOCAL REGION.” demand for online betting in the country, particularly for the locally managed operators, through their Managed Trading Services (MTS) - the firm’s leading risk management tool - and ad:s, a full-service data-driven marketing offer for sports betting operators. “Regions across LatAm - in this case Brazil - vary so greatly that you have to apply effective global strategies and adapt them to the local region,” said Caci. “This is why we have developed the fully customisable MTS and ad:s, both of which can be integrated at whatever level of service operators require - no
16 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
matter how big or small - and for any stage of the business lifecycle.” He concluded: “The majority of operators decide to outsource certain parts of their operation, which is where our trading and risk management services can fit perfectly into their plans. “The same thing applies to our marketing services. This is why we have such high hopes for ad:s in Brazil, which provides a full suite of marketing services to the operator, including sponsorship activation, the monitoring of traffic and conversion, and the management of SEO activities.” While presenting the right betting opportunities and providing the right level of customer support have been decisive factors in Brazil thus far, the pricing of competitive odds from Sportradar - and the subsequent guarantee of workable margins - will be crucial for any operator, as the competition for market share inevitably intensifies. •
INTERVIEW WITH BTOBET
Peru: LatAm’s next hotspot? WHILE BRAZIL HAS STOLEN
most of the headlines in recent months, BtoBet CEO Alessandro Fried thinks that one of its South American neighbours is actually further along the road to iGaming regulation
SBC: The Latin America market has been getting a lot of attention in the past few months. Where does this interest come from? AF: It all boils down to the region’s iGaming industry becoming increasingly regulated. The regulatory stride that commenced in Colombia has now gathered momentum, and even though some countries in the region are only partly regulated – in this case one could mention Argentina and Mexico – there are others, like Peru and Brazil, that are aligning themselves to introduce a strong regulatory framework for the first time.
INTERVIEW WITH BTOBET
There was never any doubt regarding the potential that the region keeps in hold, but eventually this has, up until now, been held back by the lack of updates from the legislative front. With many industry experts stating that the potential of the iGaming industry in the region being unlimited, operators still lack the adequate jurisdictive frameworks in the countries across all the region and the stability that comes with such a scenario that would permit them to expand their activities in this truly emerging market. SBC: Brazil has been talked up as the next in line for iGaming regulation, but you think one if its neighbours might beat them past the post? AF: Brazil has been stealing quite some headlines in the last couple of months. Brazil’s President has signed his country’s first sports betting legislation, marking the first step in the
unleashing of the Brazilian market’s potential that is reputed to be worth over $2 billion. But a true regulatory framework is still a couple of years down the road. Peru on the other hand is in a much more advanced position when compared to its neighbouring country. It is a well known fact that the iGaming market in Peru is predominantly land-based. However, the country’s authorities have been working to introduce a legislation to regulate the online gaming and sports betting market. So frankly, it is not a matter of if the regulation is going to be introduced but more a matter of when. One must also keep in mind that from a retail perspective, Peru already enjoys a strong reputation with industry experts holding the current land-based regulatory system in high esteem. So it comes as little surprise that there is quite some expectation
regarding the legislative elements that will regulate the country’s online market. SBC: What do you expect to see from this Peruvian legislation? AF: Stability and opportunities for both the operators and the players themselves through legislative transparency. This is what ultimately all interested parties seek from a regulated environment. One should bear in mind that the regulatory aspect does not concern solely the operators or service providers within the industry. Betting and gambling in a strongly regulated scenario also enables the regular customers to feel more confident, knowing that the operators themselves are being supervised, and their interests are guaranteed. SBC: What makes you think it will be introduced sooner rather than later? AF: There are around 80,000 slot machines on gaming sites distributed in 15 casinos, and 700 gaming sites all over the country. So we are talking about a market segment that has perhaps reached its point of saturation and growth cycle limit. The current operators who bet on greater businesses usually start by buying small sites and, then they expand them in the midterm with the purpose to obtain greater revenue by optimizing their slot machines’ production and infrastructure instead of opening new locations. The chance to approve the new sport betting and online gaming law allows for an additional business front, and helps to attract investments. In summary, this will result in a greater economic dynamism within this sector in the long term, and we could have a totally integrated large and regulated gaming industry that would turn Peru into a market model for Latin America. SBC: Do you think that Peru is ready to turn its attention to the online market? AF: When you sit down and crunch down the numbers, it definitely points out in that direction. With 73 per cent of internet penetration amongst its population, Peru is exactly spot on the median for the LatAm region. However, even if a substantial chunk
18 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
“PERU ON THE OTHER HAND IS IN A MUCH MORE ADVANCED POSITION WHEN COMPARED TO ITS NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY.”
of the population has access to the internet, things are even brighter when it comes to analyzing the mobile penetration. In fact, Peru fairs extremely well with its 119 per cent mobile penetration when compared to the region’s average 109 per cent penetration. (number of mobile subscriptions divided by number of people). And the year-on-year change in statistical indicators show a very bright side to the picture. The number of mobile subscriptions for January 2019 stood at 39.08 million subscriptions, which is equivalent to an increase of 3.8 per cent for the same period last year. The increase was even greater when it comes down to internet users, with an increase of 9.1 per cent registered in January 2019 compared to the same month last year. And further considering that 58 per cent of the adult population makes use of a smartphone, and
laptop or desktop computer, then one eventually comes to the conclusion that the Peruvian market is truly a very compelling scenario indeed. SBC: What should operators keep in mind before expanding their activities? AF: Knowledge at a local level is not only extremely important but a necessity. One should never assume that an approach that has reaped benefits in other markets will eventually replicate itself in other markets. Each country has its own peculiar market, and different players whose idiosyncrasies are not necessarily the same.
Player behavior and player preference differs from one market to the other, and even the technological scenario itself varies from one country or region to the other. Africa and Latin America are the perfect example of this concept. Both are considered to be emerging markets, however both markets are characterized by a totally different player and technological criteria. Whilst being global and thinking of the big picture obviously carries its own benefits, there are certain local elements that should not be ignored if you want to reap the benefits that the region keeps in hold. You have to think globally, but act locally. •
“...CONSIDERING THAT 58 PER CENT OF THE ADULT POPULATION MAKES USE OF A SMARTPHONE, AND LAPTOP OR DESKTOP COMPUTER, THEN ONE EVENTUALLY COMES TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE PERUVIAN MARKET IS TRULY A VERY COMPELLING SCENARIO INDEED.” sbcmagazine.com 19
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Biztech strikes long-term Paddy Power deal
BIZTECH SOFTWARE HAS SECURED a landmark long
term agreement with Paddy Power to continue the delivery of its ‘next generation’ sports betting EPOS acceptance and settling solution for the operator’s 600+ betting shops
iztech, who first secured a multi-year deal with the Irish operator in April of last year, launched Arkle in 2007 to secure and streamline the betting shop, while taking care of all its needs from bet acceptance through to reporting and tax returns. The Managing Director of Belfastbased Biztech is Gary Toal, who bought into the company in 2012 because he believed it was “best in class software that is more robust and more resilient than legacy EPOS software that is no longer fit for purpose”.
He added that Paddy Power now has long-term access to the “fastest bet slip editor on the market”, which also enables staff to remotely edit between shops in real time. “Arkle allows you to view a centralised fieldbook and risk management facility showing liabilities and alerts in real time across entire estates, while real time security alerts allow operators to take action before expensive pay-outs are processed,” Toal explained. “It strives to provide any of the needs or wants of a US customer experience, whether that be traditional
slips, call over or marksense. All of this is possible through Arkle.” The product is integrated with 2DB and MRG screen systems and includes all SIS, TRP and Virtual data feed integrations. It is built on modern .NET 4.7 Framework Technologies and SQL Server so that trading isn’t disrupted even when a shop server is down. “A vital component of Arkle has always been that shop staff can still serve their customers and scan bets even during down time,” Toal continued. “It also includes a full mark sense, providing a faster, more efficient way to take bets with multiple selections. “Meanwhile, recent updates include an All in One Screen that provides a better visual aid of the horses and races on offer. These races will start showing early prices, live shows and results as soon as they are received, while prices are consistent between screens and tills.” •
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Short-term approach risks short term gains in US sports betting BEING FIRST TO MARKET can have its advantages, but
in an emerging, multi-jurisdictional sports betting space such as the US, there is also significant merit in playing the medium to long term game
his is a view that has resonance with sports betting platform solutions provider gbet, and specifically the firm’s Business Development Director Conall McSorley, who believes that a number of suppliers to this nascent industry have done well initially with a product-ready approach, but that their product offering may have been diluted in the process. Some of the core functionality inherent in European platforms, he ventured, is potentially absent in the US right now. McSorley splits the main sportsbook criteria into key fundamentals comprising, stability and scalability, allied to a ‘mobile first’, ‘sportsbook first’ approach to technology. However, of equal importance - he believes - is gbet’s B2B technology and architecture that allows an operator to run a multi-jurisdiction business from a single player account management platform. A gbet B2B instance, for example, can be dedicated to a specific jurisdiction and the regulatory requirements associated with that jurisdiction whilst another B2B instance could support multiple jurisdictions having common regulatory requirements, with all instances incorporated within the same solution. “Operators also need to be able to ‘geo-locate’ their customers and permit or deny them access to events and markets dependent on the betting regulations based on customer location”, said McSorley, “alongside the ability to use biometric testing to prohibit underage, self-excluded or
“VERY FEW SUPPLIERS ARE CAPABLE OF ACHIEVING MULTIJURISDICTIONAL COMPLIANCE VIA ONE PLATFORM.” known problem gamblers. “And ideally all of this should be available as part of a one-stop-shop solution for platform and sportsbook and advance deposit wagering capability.” One of the biggest challenges facing operators, according to McSorley, is remaining compliant across states that will have different regulations around sports betting. “Very few suppliers are capable
of achieving multi-jurisdictional compliance via one platform,” he explained. “gbet has the architecture in place to provide that level of compliance from under one roof. It’s possibly our biggest USP. “As an example, if you sign up to bet in New Jersey there’s a raft of product available. But if you sign up in Mississippi some products may be blocked to you. There are few suppliers beyond gbet that have the technical architecture in place to meet that challenge.” But gbet’s platform isn’t solely about multi-state compliance. The company is also taking bold steps towards addressing potential hurdles that will inevitably arise from sensitivities around responsible betting. “Together with our sister company Daon, gbet has integrated biometric functionality into its platform,” McSorley said. “It will form an integral component – one that will help operators to identify and exclude underage and problem gamblers and to take proactive steps in responsible gaming.” He continued: “We are out in front of this. We have positioned ourselves not just as a platform provider with proprietary product, but we are also taking a proactive approach to providing regulatory solutions and future-proofing our offering against what are likely to be complex social responsibility challenges for operators.” On its current standing in the US market, McSorley believes gbet is well positioned with what he described as an “…incredibly powerful betting transaction engine that’s currently processing 500 bets per second”. He noted: “In terms of scalability we’ve got a great deal to offer to the marketplace with a one-stop solution, right out of the gate. And that’s a very attractive option for companies.” •
Building the best platform for US sports betting THE US SPORTS BETTING MARKET will be
shaped by the rise of automation and the suppliers who can keep up with and harness tech progress in the most compelling way, argues Richard Thorp, Business Development Director at FSB
oll the clock back to 2007, and the USA was in its post-UIGEA prohibition, the financial crash was still a year away, and the ascent of the European sportsbook was still getting its hiking boots on. Operators, in a bid to increase turnover, had begun accepting bets on football (or perhaps you’d prefer soccer?) after the game had started. Only about 2-3% of stakes were being placed in-play as opposed to pre-play, but it was glaringly apparent to anyone in the business that live betting was going to be the wave of the future. Fast forward again to today, and there’s a healthy industry of data feed suppliers providing near comprehensive coverage of events and reliable service. Just five years earlier it was near impossible to run an automated bookmaking platform, but today it is quickly becoming the norm. As an illustration, FSB runs over 35 different sports betting brands across four continents with a minimal full-time trading team focused on risk management.
On a single Saturday, for instance, we will distribute some 20 million price changes out to these various platforms, with each platform used to deliver a different pricing strategy for a different client (and one platform reserved for our multi-tenanted services). Old-fashioned oddscompiling has exited stage left and the era of on-demand data feeds and automation has been ushered in.
OLD-FASHIONED ODDS-COMPILING HAS EXITED STAGE LEFT AND THE ERA OF ON-DEMAND DATA FEEDS AND AUTOMATION HAS BEEN USHERED IN.
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Of course, it was always a question of waiting on those gains in automation and reliable data provision catching up before we arrived at where we wanted to be. Once the tech was there to deliver tangible benefits to margin and pricing for those sportsbook operators and suppliers in position to embrace them, in-play exploded on the back of a raft of automated algorithms which ran off intelligent modelling. After all, if you accept that intelligence (whether it be human or machine-based substrate) is ultimately a question of effective information processing, then the main challenge with in-play betting was getting a firm
grasp on any given sport’s complexity. Or, in other words, an understanding of how to best process the key variable with price-sensitive weighting that tracks a game’s systems of performance and scoring. Soccer is leagues apart for now, not because of its popularity, but because a complete knowledge of its scoring variables is more easily ascertained. Tennis is basically there, despite the infamous-yet-occasional lack of reliability can creep in when conflicted “scouts” or even umpires react slowly or malignly to feed the scoring system is lesser satellite events. In a perfect world, however, if you set the automated dials correctly, there should never be a need for a market suspension around a penalty, a breakpoint, of a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) review. In short, there should be few excuses for not quoting a live price. Accordingly, any sports betting platform that was designed before this important market evolution was not built for the right purpose. Which is why, at FSB, we feel that legacy sports betting platform suppliers might as well be rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic. The iceberg of reality is already in plain sight and the collision could be even uglier because of what lies beneath the surface. Of course, those legacy suppliers have all the best stories of customer success and massive volume coursing through their veins. But, like an Eighties stockbroker telling tales of dearly departed deals done from a Wall Street wine bar on a mobile phone the size of a toaster, the gritty truth is they are
now on the wrong side of history and the automated revolution. Heavy, monolithic platforms, created for a global “.com” era of online gaming, are no longer fit for purpose in today’s “.country” regulatory framework, where flexibility beats legacy technology every time. With legacies, you buy your software licence, it takes 18 months to build and launch – and then, if you’ve got any changes, please form a quarrelling queue. Now, sports betting as a fullymanaged service has arrived as the mainstream messiah. People instantly recognise its merits as a progressive business model for media companies and casinos. However, anyone who’s going to be a tier-one operator needs a handle on their own platform, which you don’t get from a fully-managed service. Consequently, I’d venture that any multi-state operator who wants to capture salient market share in the US must find a way to take better control over their business. Again, purchasing a legacy technology platform that
needs to be installed into each state at huge cost is not an attractive option. So, this is where licensing a highly automated sports betting platform, harnessing the best data feeds around, can offer the benefits of retaining complete control with the cost-efficiency of a managed service. Before PASPA’s repeal stateside, the regulated market was confined to Nevada and ROI targets for any regulated US-facing company meant that the necessary tech investments couldn’t be justified. The US casino behemoths weren’t asking for sports betting, and venture funds went down the DFS plughole instead. Now, the situation’s changed, and landscape is being reshaped. But as anyone who’s studied the movement of tectonic plates can tell you, these things take time. We’ve looked extensively at what it takes to roll out to casinos from Asia to America. However, America’s still going to be incredibly fragmented. State-by-state legislation also means it’s going to be incredibly expensive. New Jersey’s initial phase is showing really positive numbers, though, and obviously it’s a very attractive opportunity. In 2013, when casino games came out, the numbers were pretty lacklustre. Here, with sports betting, the preliminary numbers are fantastically promising. And while that’s got to get the ball rolling, we’re still going to see a three-to-five-year rollout. Self-evidently, we’re not among the frontrunners in America. Indeed, we’ve been otherwise engaged with an absolutely booming Africa business, while we’ve also recently been approved in Manila to take retail bets in physical shops. We’ve taken our time making sure the company is ready to take on US business. If you’re a casino that needs an omnichannel solution, we’ve also got a phenomenal product. We can provide the platform, assist with trading, help negotiate fees with data suppliers but then hand over the reins and let your traders take care of it. It’s a much more functional partnership than the unfriendly one where you pay for every tweak or upgrade. In the land of the free, little comes for it. Choose your supplier partners wisely for this defining dance. •
New SBTech product offers operators ‘Explosive’ opportunities IAN BRADLEY, Chief Strategy Officer at SBTech,
discusses how the ‘Big Bang’ will bring about a new betting experience for SBTech partners, including for those focused on the US market SBC: How will the Big Bang bring about a new betting experience for SBTech partners? IB: The Big Bang centres on real-time progressive jackpots across sports and casino. Progressive jackpots exist across several game vendors’ own games already. But, subject to regulatory approval in any of the 20+ markets we work in, we can now offer this across our entire sportsbook product and across any bet. This means operators can undertake highly targeted marketing promotions around what specific users want to bet on, whether it’s a certain game type, product, events or individual event, game or match. This gives operators something exciting and unique to offer their customers. An example might be ‘It’s the Super Bowl, come and live with us and stand to win X amount’, and a jackpot would be positioned to drop at any point during this event if players deposit a certain amount. SBC: What are the key target markets
for this new product? IB: The target markets for Exploding Jackpots are any of the regulated markets across Europe and the US where we have platform partners. It’s a unique feature for them to talk about and is really targeting that fun, recreational demographic that is
enjoy jackpots and lottery style experiences, and stand the chance of winning huge prizes. Operators can configure large jackpots to focus play on any number of groups of events individual events or products across casino and sports betting. For example, March Madness (US collegiate basketball tournament from 19 March), is a big event for all US operators. However, it is going to be very competitive to get customers to play on any individual site. With SBTech, operators can offer a unique jackpot across the length of any tournament,
“PENDING REGULATORY APPROVAL, WE FIRMLY BELIEVE EXPLOSIVE JACKPOTS WILL WORK FOR MOST JURISDICTIONS AS IT IS A GREAT ADDITIONAL FEATURE FOR RECREATIONAL CUSTOMERS WHO ENJOY JACKPOTS AND LOTTERY STYLE EXPERIENCES, AND STAND THE CHANCE OF WINNING HUGE PRIZES.” looking for new and exciting ways to bet, enjoy their experience and win. SBC: Why is Exploding Jackpots such a good fit for US players? IB: Pending regulatory approval, we firmly believe Explosive Jackpots will work for most jurisdictions as it is a great additional feature for recreational customers who
for each round, or even by event if they want to. For example, ‘Bet with us on X tournament and throughout the tournament a jackpot of $xx,xxx will drop at random’. This offers our partners and their customers a unique, configurable and very powerful product and marketing tool, which excitingly that can only be offered on the SBTech platform. •
Should smaller brands push for a piece of the American pie? FROM HAVING “no desire to be anywhere near the
US” just 18 months ago, Aly Lalani - author of the popular BetRegal diary series on SBC News ponders how worthwhile it would be for a smaller brand to try and get in on the post-PASPA action
t seems like it was decades ago when I wrote my first article in the ‘BetRegal: Diary of a Startup’ series. In fact, it was only September 2017, but my goodness how the igaming world has changed so drastically in such a relatively short timespan.
the US of A? Perhaps a good place to start is to look back at an excerpt from the very first article in the BetRegal.com SBC News series. So, quoting myself (apologies), here goes: “One of the core strengths of our business is our knowledge and risk
Arguably the biggest change we have seen is in the ‘opening’ of the United States as a potential gambling market. That news has turned the gambling world on its ear with operators, software providers and even affiliates scrambling to try and figure out how to penetrate and capitalize on this huge market. So what does that mean for a smaller operator like BetRegal.com? Is it possible for a smaller brand to get a piece of the ‘American’ pie? Is it even worthwhile for a smaller brand to try and compete with the European giants looking to gain a foothold in
IS IT EVEN WORTHWHILE FOR A SMALLER BRAND TO TRY AND COMPETE WITH THE EUROPEAN GIANTS LOOKING TO GAIN A FOOTHOLD IN THE US OF A? management of North American sports, dare I say as well if not better than most European bookmakers. “We have no desire to be anywhere near the US, and Canada is undergoing its own compliance evolution, however South and Central America are regions
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where US sports are immensely popular. We could focus on slow and steady brand development and growth in key European markets and look for more of a big bang marketing push in a much more cost effective South America and LatAm market.” The key phrase in that paragraph is ‘we have no desire to be anywhere near the US’. Is that still a true statement? I wish I had the answer to that. I mean to simply say we want to be able to get a piece of the US wagering volume is an obvious yes. But does it make sense as a strategic priority? Unfortunately, that answer isn’t nearly as obvious. At the time of writing my initial article, BetRegal.com was going through the process of defining strategic priorities. As you can deduce from the above excerpt, our strategy was to start with trying to develop a presence in key European markets.
MARKETS LIKE COLOMBIA ARE NOW WELL INTO THEIR LIFE CYCLE, WHILE OTHER HUGE POPULATION CENTERS LIKE BRAZIL, PERU AND ARGENTINA SEEM POISED TO BE NEXT.
While trying to build that presence as cost efficiently as possible, our goal was to focus on the emerging LatAm market as the one where we could take a few bigger swings at larger scale marketing efforts, with the hope of getting more bang for our marketing dollar in a less competitively saturated market. Anyone looking for acquisition in markets such as the UK or Germany can attest to the high level of cost attached. However, another reality we need to face is that the LatAm market itself has undergone big changes in the last 18 months. Somewhere that was for so long considered ‘untapped’, LatAm has gotten attention, and even investment by some larger brands. Markets like Colombia are now well into their life cycle, while other huge population centers like Brazil, Peru and Argentina seem poised to be next. So, BetRegal.com is faced with
the same strategic dilemma facing a number of operators big and small. Is it time to re-think our initial strategic direction? Is it time to exhaustively search for a way to penetrate this new US market?
IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYDAY THERE IS NEW INFORMATION ABOUT THE STATES THAT HAVE INSTITUTED THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR LEGALIZED SPORTS BETTING, OR UPDATES AS TO WHICH STATES MAY BE NEXT.
or updates as to which states may be next. Also interesting is how the speed of US regulation will impact other hemispheric markets. There is definitely a product connection between the United States and the emerging LatAm market. Specifically, how the US regulation will impact the Canadian market, who not only share a similar product connection, but also a more pronounced demographic connection. ‘More questions than answers’ seems to be the theme of 2019 so far. I know for a fact we are not the only bookmaker having to go through these strategic discussions.
What makes this especially difficult is that not all the cards are on the table yet. It seems like everyday there is new information about the states that have instituted the regulatory framework for legalized sports betting,
One resource that will prove very helpful for us are events like Betting on Sports America, which help us stay up to date with the latest information and engage in significant market data gathering in a very concentrated, targeted space. •
READ ABOUT BAUMOHL'S
four month South American adventure, how a desperate bet resulted in a great weekend and which movie masterpiece’s production was observed from very close quarters
BEST SPORTING EXPERIENCE
I spent four months in South America in 2011 where there were so many highlights, but spending two weeks in Antarctica on a research ship was my favourite part. Everything from crossing the Drake passage to camping on the snow and ice, to being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of penguins was totally surreal. Navigating the crystal clear waters with icebergs, whales and seals on all sides - in total isolation - is a memory that will stay with me forever. Jumping in the icy water was perhaps not the smartest moment!
I tend to enjoy many different styles of music and take individual tracks on their own merit, so it is difficult to name a particular album as a favourite, but having said that, at the risk of appearing cheesy, I would pick Thriller by Michael Jackson. So many great songs, and at a time when he had such an impact on society and people’s lives. My appalling dance moves are a direct evolution of listening to this album!
Another very difficult one to answer but perhaps watching Syracuse University, my old school, win the NCAA basketball championship against Kansas in 2003. The game came down to the last shot, after Syracuse missed two free throws to seal the win, but Kansas’ three pointer to tie the game was blocked and Carmelo Anthony and the Orangemen were champions. Anthony was drafted third overall by the Denver Nuggets a few months later.
30 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
Redzone.bet’s Stephen Baumohl BEST FILM
My father was the MD of Lucasfilm and his office was at Elstree studios, so as a child I spent a lot of time on set during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back. Watching the production, and then seeing the finished masterpiece, gave me a unique insight, and made the film an experience that stands out to me to this day. I was at an age when I was in awe of the groundbreaking special effects and technical achievements.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Having grown up following baseball, I have always had a fascination for the statistics that accompany it, especially trying to find an edge within them for betting purposes. So the story of how Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics used sabermetrics to effectively find those same edges, and turn the team into a contender while handicapped by limited spending power, was one that I could really relate to. Lewis’ ability to turn a relatively mundane story into a gripping adventure only adds to the brilliance of the book.
When I was just 19, I took a bus from LA to Vegas with $200 in my pocket. I checked into a motel for the weekend, but not long in to my first night I had blown all the money, so I went back to the motel and wondered how I was going to get back to LA. When I checked out in the morning I received a $5 key deposit back so I headed to the Stardust, looked at the day’s baseball games, and put the money on a parlay that came in, paying around $1500. If there was a section here for ‘best weekend’ the rest of that one would be on the short list!
COMMON SENSE PREVAILS
Partnerships and sponsorships: How US betting was won BETTING ON SPORTS AMERICA will offer a ‘state
of the union’ view on how partnerships and sponsorships are shaping sports betting stateside. Here’s how it all took shape post-PASPA
he broad consensus of opinion in the wake of the demise of PASPA last year was that partnerships would have a significant impact on the expansion of legal US sports betting. In hindsight, much of that predictive chatter focused heavily on alliances between newcomers to the market and the big, established names. What many did not foresee was a coming together of sport and gaming, two sectors that had hitherto been diametrically opposed to one another, each setting up camp at opposite sides of the courtroom.
Eldorado Resorts. You can add into that mix new relationships between Sportradar and MLB; Harrah’s with New Orleans Saints and Pelicans; NHL and FanDuel, Caesars and Harris Blitzer; and Dallas Cowboys and Winstar Casino among others. So if you’re wondering how the state of the nation lies with specific regard to sports and betting and corporate sponsorship; the evidence seems to point to one of robust health. Out of
The love-in began with that first historic meeting of commercial minds between MGM Resorts and the NBA back in July 2018. The multi-year partnership made MGM the official gaming partner of the NBA and WNBA and, in doing so, set in motion a flurry of deals that continues to the present moment. In what has been a relatively short time frame, we’ve seen the likes of the NBA join forces with The Stars Group and FanDuel. MGM has also forged partnerships with MLB and the Boston Red Sox. William Hill, has got in on the amorous action with the LV Golden Knights, New Jersey Devils and
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what was a fractious debate around a call by the sports leagues for fees to fund sports integrity and exclusive use of official data, there has emerged an appetite for common sense and a collaborative commercial approach. Among those to argue for commercial arrangements with regard to integrity and data was George Rover, former regulator and Chief Integrity Officer of the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA). Speaking at the last edition of SBC’s Betting on Sports conference, he told delegates: “I think the leagues have a lot of gall to ask for an integrity fee. They battled the state of New Jersey for nine years. I was there when that was occurring. “Not once did they want to come to
the table and speak to the regulators or the state about resolving the issue, not once, total radio silence, even after the case, no conversations with regulators of the state of New Jersey to try and resolve the issue. “I think the leagues have hardly distinguished themselves in the area of investigations. I mean, I can point out all kinds of investigations that the leagues have done, whether footballs are inflated or not, with Tom Brady, I mean come on, the way they handled that investigation was laughable. So the point is, when it comes to official data I believe it shouldn't be mandated, but I do believe there's a place for official data.” He continued: “I think every regulator thinks there's a place for it, but I think it should come through commercial negotiations like the NBA did with MGM Casino, and then when it comes to dealing with integrity issues I do believe that the states at some point have to prove that they can handle integrity monitoring.
OUT OF WHAT WAS A FRACTIOUS DEBATE AROUND A CALL BY THE SPORTS LEAGUES FOR FEES TO FUND SPORTS INTEGRITY AND EXCLUSIVE USE OF OFFICIAL DATA, THERE HAS EMERGED AN APPETITE FOR COMMON SENSE AND A COLLABORATIVE COMMERCIAL APPROACH. “I think the states have to step up and show that they're able to do that, but for the leagues now to say they're entitled to a financial windfall, which is what I would call it, by simply saying, you guys really owe us money for this, I just don't think they've made the case and I really do think that they've created their own issue by not trying to work with the state of New Jersey or regulators before the litigation and even after the litigation when they lost.” Rover was not alone in his assertions - the American Gaming Association (AGA) has consistently voiced the merits of commercial partnerships over mandatory fees meted out at a federal level. On the evidence of the aforementioned alliances and the
possibility of more in the pipeline, someone appears to have been listening. Moving forward, the effect that commercial partnerships and sponsorships are having on the US sports betting landscape will be pored over in yet more detail at Betting on Sports America. A dedicated panel comprising Philip Canavan, Director, SEM Global; Adam Davis, Chief Revenue Officer, HB Sports & Entertainment; John Libro, Business Development, Partnership Sales and Endorsements, CAA Sports; and Stephen Murphy, CEO, Boom Fantasy, will offer a ‘state of the union’ view on such weighty matters. Sounds like an unmissable opportunity! •
Why NBA betting is primed for player props growth THE EMERGING US SPORTS BETTING MARKET will
only help to fuel the growth of the fast-moving player props segment, according to Digital Sports Tech’s Ari Lewski
igital Sports Tech (DST) is looking to accelerate the growth of NBA markets with a deeper focus on player props. SBC spoke to the firm’s Executive Director Ari Lewski, who emphasised the importance of individual player markets in the US, before explaining key similarities to the European scene. SBC: How important are player props to the NBA as a betting product? AL: Player prop markets are a key part of the NBA betting experience and help to drive revenues for operators, as well as target a new generation of bettors. The existing trend within this segment of the sports betting sector is that bettors love to wager on the star players, such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry, rather than bet on the teams involved. NBA consistently ranks highly as one of the most popular sports wagered on amongst global sportsbooks, with player prop markets representing up to 85 per cent of all NBA betting activity per game. The launch of our new In-Play NBA Player Props will enhance the betting experience even further, with a greater number of games, players and markets available. The new solution offers unrivalled breadth and depth, with up to 10 players and 100 individual betting markets available per game. SBC: In Europe, we have seen football player props undertake
a wide expansion, with operators now offering markets on things like passes, shots and tackles; what is your prediction for the growth of NBA player props? AL: There’s no doubt that the popularity of NBA player props will continue to grow at a pace, as there’s a strong appetite for these types of markets from bettors across the globe. The emerging US sports betting
...BETTORS LOVE TO WAGER ON THE STAR PLAYERS, SUCH AS LEBRON JAMES AND STEPHEN CURRY, RATHER THAN BET ON THE TEAMS INVOLVED.
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marketplace will only help to fuel the growth of this fast-moving segment, with the NBA a hugely popular sport within the US and the rest of the world. SBC: The European market has also seen the rapid growth of build a bet type offering; is this a trend you expect to be replicated across the US? AL: Absolutely, with more states embracing sports betting and new customer numbers set to soar in the near future, it’s only a matter of time that bet builder products become more prevalent in the US as operator offerings evolve. While it’s true this product has grown in popularity in Europe, it doesn’t however necessarily mean the exact same offer will work across the Atlantic. The US sports betting experience differs to that of what Europeans are accustomed to, and a product that is targeting US bettors must reflect this. For bet builder products to succeed in the US, educating both operators and their end users about the process and the types of markets available is hugely important. SBC: From a trading perspective, can you detail some of the challenges involved in offering more detailed NBA player props? AL: The biggest challenge that operators face if they’re looking to expand their player prop offering on their own and without a specialist third party provider is the sheer volume of daily work and manpower required to not only publish a sufficient offering, but also make sure it is high quality from a pricing point of view. Take NBA for example - on average there are around eight games on per night which extrapolates to well over 200 individual markets that an operator’s traders would need to
manually create and settle in order to have a competitive offering. The next biggest challenge is pricing and trading. Props attract a lot of smart, sharp bettors, so if you don’t have the requisite experience in pricing and trading these specific markets then you’re going to find it a lot more difficult to generate consistent, positive returns. At DST, we help operators overcome these two challenges by significantly
scaling and enhancing their props offerings and with no extra manpower required from the operator. As a specialist provider of props, we also help operators maximise their returns from this betting segment via the provision of accurate prices which is supported by expert trading.
SBC: And finally, can you tell us more about the importance of data when it comes to offering more detailed statistical bets? AL: Of course, data and machine learning are key components when producing odds on player performance. Our advanced player props platform and pricing engine allows us to offer a vast number of markets across all major sports and leagues. But while advanced mathematical and predictive modelling are essential tools, the role of human interaction is equally as important. For example, the latest team news can often be a major determining factor on the pricing and setting of lines for player prop markets and this is something that computer models cannot properly account for in a timely manner. That’s why at DST, our traders are always monitoring key events and news flow relevant to our prop markets to ensure that customers receive the best and most accurate prices. •
...WITH MORE STATES EMBRACING SPORTS BETTING AND NEW CUSTOMER NUMBERS SET TO SOAR IN THE NEAR FUTURE, IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME THAT BET BUILDER PRODUCTS BECOME MORE PREVALENT IN THE US AS OPERATOR OFFERINGS EVOLVE. sbcmagazine.com 35
Golden Race makes North American market move THE MALTA-BASED virtual sports betting provider
is ready to deliver a series of sports betting products geared specifically towards the interests of the North American public
arlier this year, Golden Race rolled out HD 3x3 Basketball, a new game that provides punters with an experience that is as close as possible to traditional online real-basketball betting, including in-play markets and cash out functionality. The company has combined this advanced in-play and cash-out technology with real sports data and real video action featuring professional players and commentators, for a game which features all popular betting markets such as Head to Head, Match Result, Next point, Handicap, Total Score, Total Team Score and Odd/Even. “Our latest concept offers the most revenue-making virtual basketball betting solution on the market,” said Martin Wachter, Golden Race CEO. “Keeping our customers engaged in betting while enjoying the sports experience is the key focus for Golden
Race, as well as to continue to lead in this area by introducing innovations to the market.” This quest for innovation also underpins preparations for its virtual version of HD American Football. This product will feature an exclusive combination of real videos and 3D environments, including new coverage, real athletes, professional voice-over, and the latest odds from professional in-house bookmakers.
“KEEPING OUR CUSTOMERS ENGAGED IN BETTING WHILE ENJOYING THE SPORTS EXPERIENCE IS THE KEY FOCUS FOR GOLDEN RACE, AS WELL AS TO CONTINUE TO LEAD IN THIS AREA BY INTRODUCING INNOVATIONS TO THE MARKET.”
Golden Race laid the foundations for its North American activity by securing associate membership to the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) in September 2018. Meanwhile, it has also maintained its place on the list of preferred vendors for BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation) for over 18 months. A regional organisation spanning both the US and Canada, NASPL facilitates the communication between lottery operators and gaming vendors to exchange information about the development of the industry and other mutual interests, as well as ensuring the integrity, security and efficiency of business practices. George Vonapartis, Golden Race Regional Director for North America, said: “Our application to become NASPL Associate Members demonstrates our ongoing commitment to work together with the local industry to bring the best gaming experience to the end customer. The subsequent acceptance of this application, following stringent eligibility requirements, is a recognition of our efforts to responsibly grow our company within regulatory gambling frameworks.” •
Why sports betting is a “perfect fit” for theScore audience JOHN LEVY, Founder and CEO of theScore,
discusses embracing the sports betting opportunity in North America, and why the media company plans to go “all in” for its users rather than remain as a traditional affiliate or marketing partner SBC: What is your take on sports betting being legalized in the US? JL: Betting is just one of the ways fans interact and engage around sports. The repeal of PASPA was something we had been eagerly anticipating for some time. Everyone stood to benefit by acknowledging betting exists, and embracing it as part of the sports fan experience. We look forward to the state-bystate roll out and the opportunity to enhance the sports betting experience in the US market. SBC: theScore is the first media company in North America to announce plans to launch a sportsbook. Why enter this space? JL: Sports betting is a perfect fit for us and something we’ve covered in our content offering for as long as we’ve been around. In our TV days (theScore sold its television business in 2012 to focus on mobile and digital sports), we were the only network to carry live odds on our on-screen ticker. We understood and accepted that people were betting on sports. We embraced the fact that this was part of the sports fan experience, and we took this approach to our app experience too. This has helped us build an app audience of more than four million
sports fans a month, many of whom we know like to bet on sports. So, instead of just giving them the information for them to place a bet elsewhere, we will soon be able to bring them the bet too.
SBC: What is the overall opportunity for media in sports betting? JL: I think it depends who you are. For us it’s a perfect fit because of the audience we’ve already built as well as our expertise, so we’re diving in head first. Others may simply prefer to act as marketing partners or 'affiliates' of other betting platforms or produce content, news and information relating to sports betting, which is totally fine. But for us I always felt like we’d be leaving something on the table, and doing a disservice to our users, if we didn’t go all in. SBC: What makes you confident you can pivot to something like this? JL: Firstly, we have the in-built audience. Not only do we have more than four million sports fans on our app each month with best-in-class engagement (over 100 sessions/user/ month), we have a monthly reach of some 70 million across our social channels. That’s huge marketing value for us, as well as our partners. Our focus on technological solutions to fulfill fan’s expectations has been what’s driven us to a leadership position with theScore, and is what we’re applying to our upcoming sports betting offering. This is supported by working with partners who share this vision, notably the extremely smart team at Bet.Works, to help deliver a top-notch sports betting platform and loads of domestic industry knowledge. SBC: Where do you see the sports betting space in five years time? JL: I think you’ll see large-scale adoption of sports betting across the United States and a much broader acceptance of this being part of the fan experience. I also expect mobile will be the primary platform where sports bets are placed. The ability to offer highlypersonalized and user-friendly sports betting experiences on mobile will continue to grow. I think it’ll become an accepted norm that most sports betting happens through a mobile app. •
MAKING THINGS APP’EN
Hitting the right Points for a Young US betting brand SBC: How are you gauging the early success of PointsBet in the US? JA: We have exploded out of the gates since our brand launch in late January, with our iOS app trending at no.3 in the market place, ahead of the likes of William Hill, BetStars, MGM and Caesars. A key component of our success was building a high caliber US based team in Jersey City, where we live and breathe this market. We watch all the NFL and the NBA, as well as all the College sports, and understand them second to none. This allows us to be extremely quick to pull the trigger for instance with our ‘Good Karma Payouts’, where our PointsBet ‘Karma Kommittee’ adjudicate on any injustices experienced by bettors and if an act of god, bad referee decision or an exploding Nike shoe impacts the result of a game. Our payouts on the LA Rams vs New Orleans and the Duke vs UNC game were covered on mainstream media channels, from Good Morning America to CBS to The Trevor Noah Show to The
JOHNNY AITKEN, CEO at PointsBet USA, discusses
exploding out of the gates in 2019, recruiting another New York Islander fan to “sail the ship”, and having the “ultimate confidence” to provide the best value odds to its clients
New York Times. These payouts aren’t marketing gimmicks, they are a central part of our brand positioning as the premium sportsbook in the US that has the back of our bettors and delivers consistent value to them. Another competitive advantage we have is we own and control our entire tech platform, which to date is unique in the US market. This means we have the ability to optimize our app continuously and build innovate products with great velocity to our own timelines, not having to fit within a vendor’s roadmap. I have a product ideas list which spans three
40 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
whiteboards so we won’t be resting on our laurels and want to be maintaining PointsBet as the sports betting app with the best user experience and best sports betting products. SBC: Freezing the odds on the Cleveland Browns might be seen as a bold move on the part of PointsBet; is this a brilliant piece of PR or a sound lesson in betting principles? JA: It’s a bit of both, understanding the marketing opportunity but also how to manage your risk properly. I’m a bookmaker first and foremost, taking an opinion and handling big bets is in
and allows us to offer the most markets in the world for the big four US sports. Seth is a best in class operator, adding to that foundation with numerous initiatives we are planning as we enter more states, with a heavy focus on personalization and revolutionary in-play products. It is also nice to have another New York Islander fan in the building.
our DNA. We are also different than most in the NJ market in that we have invested in a New Jersey based Trading and Quantitative Analytics team. This means we have ultimate confidence in the odds we set for US sports and also how to manage all types of clients, including sharp action which helps to shape our pricing. For the Cleveland Browns signing of OBJ (Odell Beckham Jnr), we thought materially that didn’t significantly improve their chances of winning the Superbowl. We had priced Cleveland at 30/1 prior to the trade and whilst other books halved their odds upon announcement halved their odds into 15/1, we thought his addition maybe made them closer to a 26/1 chance but in an outright book market with plenty of vig, we were happy to freeze the odds at 30/1 and give value to our clients. Like our Karma Kommittee, this won’t be a one off PR stunt but part of a consistent strategy. SBC: Seth Young has now come on
board at PointsBet; how has he settled into his innovation role? JA: Our people will define our success so the focus I put on the recruitment of our team in Jersey City (now up to 50 full time employees) was very rigorous. Seth had a lot of options in the market and for him to select
“SETH HAD A LOT OF OPTIONS IN THE MARKET AND FOR HIM TO SELECT POINTSBET AS THE SHIP HE WANTS TO SAIL AS THE US MARKET LEGALIZES SPORTS BETTING SPEAKS VOLUMES.” PointsBet as the ship he wants to sail as the US market legalizes sports betting speaks volumes. We have an incredible foundation around innovation with our distinct point of difference product Pointsbetting, that delivers edge-ofyour-seat excitement for our clients
SBC: What has been the response to the EML card you launched in February? JA: My view is that we aren’t just competing against US based operators, but against an active offshore market which due to their unregulated nature can offer incentives US operators simply can’t such as providing credit. The PointsBet Cash Card powered by EML is one of the primary tools we see aiding us winning back activity from offshore back to a regulated US market. The no.1 consideration point for a client when using a sports book is trust. Is my information secure? Will I get paid? Our cash card allows our clients to access money in their accounts instantly, whether they are paying for dinner or taking money out at an ATM. Clients having that ability to access money instantly instead of a nervous 1-2 weeks wait for a cheque from an offshore account is a strong message. We expected a high appeal from our clients to use this card and that has been matched by take up rates since we launched. SBC: You’ve stated publicly that American bettors have a bigger appetite for risk; has your view changed on that since PointsBet’s launch or has it been reinforced? JA: It’s been reinforced, our average bet size is just under $100 which is much higher than what you would see in Australia or Europe. The highest handle bet type in the US is the Spread line, not the head to head or win/draw/ win market as you’d see in the other major global markets. Also there is a smaller handle share for parlays as overall activity. Bettors are taking shorter odds and therefore having higher stakes. We have seen through our Voice of the Customer unit in the US that there is also a greater attraction to promotions where clients are rewarded extra if they win or do x, as opposed to money back refunds, insurance offers. •
LET’S TWIST AGAIN
The field research behind Better Collective’s ‘American Twist’ LEARNINGS FROM THE US are shaping Better
Collective’s approach to their US-facing brands such as Betoclock.com and us-bookies.com, the “mothership” to its growing bet-state network, as well as helping add an American twist to its flagship bettingexpert.com. We spoke to the firm’s CEO Jesper Søgaard to find out more 42 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
SBC: What is the state of play in the US for Better Collective? JS: We are actively building a presence in the USA. To do this, we have expanded operations in both of our offices in Copenhagen and Paris to build a team focused solely on products facing the US. We are lucky that our core values, which have always been focused on providing transparency and education for the end users of our industry, are well suited for the US audience. The world of iGaming is so fresh in the eyes of these potential users, that tools that provide insights into the
ins-and-outs of betting are crucial in making the experience entertaining and fair. Our game plan is to keep doing what we have been doing empowering users through educational portals and platforms, but with an American twist. SBC: We understand you sent your product experience team to the US to gain a better understanding of the market; what were the key outcomes of this research? JS: The findings from this research is what is guiding the “American twist” that I mentioned before. Even though we have found success in Europe, we suspected that simply cloning our products and processes and expecting a similar success in the US would be an ill conceived strategy - our field research confirmed this notion. America is a unique market, with a unique sports fan base. Their language and vocabulary is different. Their sports are different. Their approach to analysing these sports is different. Their fandom is different. Identifying and unlocking these differences were the key outcomes of this research. Awareness of these differences can make or break a product. For example, let’s look at our flagship product, bettingexpert.com. It is the world’s leading tipster community, and one of the most successful sports betting affiliate platforms in Europe. However, it’s crucial (and so simple!) for us to know that in the US, tipsters are called “handicappers”, and tips
“IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW PROFESSIONAL THE SITE IS, IF OUR FUNDAMENTALS ARE OFF, OUR AUDIENCE WILL LOSE TRUST IN THE PRODUCT.” are called “picks”. It doesn’t matter how professional the site is, if our fundamentals are off, our audience will lose trust in the product. That is why we are working on bettingexpert. com to be more Americanised before pushing it to the US market. SBC: What's in the offing for your USbased portals?
JS: Within the past year, we have launched a number products exclusively facing the US. This includes brands like Betoclock.com, as well as the us-bookies.com hub and its associated bet-state network. Looking at the latter, us-bookies continues to grow with information, constantly keeping our users up to date on US betting news and regulations across the country. On top of that, us-bookies is the mothership to our bet-state network. This network includes in depth knowledge for specific states that are now open to sports betting online and offline. As states begin to open up for regulation, we are able to react quickly and build websites specifically for them, providing much more relevant information for the local audience. Currently, the bet-state network includes bet-nj.com, bet-wv. com, bet-pa.com, with many more in the pipeline preparing for regulations to pass. SBC: Finally, what is the status of your plans to build a presence on US ground during 2019? JS: I can’t share any specific dates and details with you at the moment, but last year we expressed our ambition to build a physical presence in the US during 2019, and we are sticking to this ambition. We are looking to grow our business in the US organically, while simultaneously looking for attractive collaboration partners and M&A targets as a potential point of entry. •
Meet the people behind the
SPORTS BETTING AFFILIATE Find us at BOOTH 621
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Ryan Howard and Brian Westbrook sign up to Betting on Sports America A PAIR OF FORMER US SPORTS STARS
will emphasise the crossover between sports, sports betting and venture capital as part of the #bosamerica debut
ormer MLB National League MVP Ryan Howard and Brian Westbrook, a Hall of Famer for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, have signed up to share their passion for investing in gamechanging sports tech and sports betting startups. Howard, Venture Capital Partner at SeventySix Capital, and Westbrook, a Venture Group member of the same organisation, will be discussing the active investments they’ve made and opportunities that they see in the rapidly growing sports betting business. Missouri-born Howard spent his entire 12-year MLB career (2004-2016) playing as First baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. He won the league’s MVP Award in 2006. Westbrook was a running back who played for nine seasons in the NFL, eight for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2002-2009 before a single season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. He was inducted to the Eagles team Hall of Fame in October 2015. The two former sports stars will be joined on stage by SeventySix Capital
Ryan Howard Ryan
Managing Partner Wayne Kimmel for a Betting on Regulation track session (Wednesday 24 April), titled 'From Athlete to Entrepreneur: Venture Capital & Sports Betting'. “The opening up of sports betting restrictions has also opened up great opportunities for investment,” Howard said. “My partners and I at SeventySix Capital are investing in the elements within the sports betting industry that consumers need, including data
collection, analytics and media, and we’re excited to share our insight at the Betting on Sports America conference in April.”
From Athlete to Entrepreneur: Venture Capital & Sports Betting • WEDNESDAY 24TH APRIL, 11:20 TO 12:05 • B ETTING ON REGULATION, CONFERENCE ROOM 1
Westbrook added: “My professional football career and transition into an investor has opened a lot of exciting opportunities in the sports tech world. When you throw sports betting into the mix, the investment opportunities have the potential to hit new heights.” Rasmus Sojmark, CEO and Founder of SBC, commented: “We are very pleased to get US sports legends Ryan Howard and Brian Westbrook as part of the huge agenda we have at Betting on Sports America. The team at SeventySix Capital are visionaries when it comes to sports tech investment so their expertise fits in perfectly to sports betting.” •
Rolling out RG measures from the get go
THERE IS A BATTLE for position across the US,
with operators turning their heads towards partnerships, creative trading and profit margins. But what has grabbed the attention of many is the need to roll out the right initiatives for those that face, or might ultimately face, addiction
he good thing for US regulators, however, is that they do not need to start from scratch. The foundations are already in place from other markets; it may just be a case of learning from the successes and struggles from more established markets. One organisation that has backed the rapid implementation of new policies was After Gambling. The group’s founder, Jamie Salsburg, addressed the reasons why the newly regulated market must grab the bull by the horns and roll out measures from the get-go. He said: “Coming out of the gates with solid responsible gambling measures not only reduces potential harm and associated healthcare costs, but it’s also pretty clear that it’s key towards long-term industry
sustainability. Investing in responsible gambling early is a win-win for operators, legislators, and customers.” Gambling is not a new phenomenon in the US. In fact, at the time of PASPA repeal by the Supreme Court in May 2018, it was estimated that $190 billion was wagered annually via illegal offshore bookmakers. But with more states beginning to regulate, it is now more important than ever to have the right infrastructure in place. One of the ways that initiatives can
Tackling problem gambling what is effective? • WEDNESDAY 24TH APRIL, 2:00 TO 2:45 • T RADING & OPERATIONS, CONFERENCE ROOM 2
46 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
be promoted to a larger audience across the US is by using large sporting events such as ‘March Madness’ to advertise new campaigns. Paul Buck, CEO of EPIC Risk Management - speaking alongside Salsburg at BOSA - explained how it is crucial to look at the make-up of the target audience. “The power of sport is around message and demographics,” he said. “The most prevalence of gambling related harm happens to 18-34-year-old men and this is also the demographic who watch and engage most in sport. If the message can reach this vulnerable age group in a way that relates to them then this must be a positive. “There are lucrative deals to be made with gambling operators in the new world, but these must be balanced with robust corporate social responsibility and education programmes to ensure that informed decisions can be made by those most vulnerable around this space.” But this then begs the complex issue as to who holds the responsibility in tackling the issues of problem gambling. Keith Whyte, Executive Director at the National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG), added: “It is impossible to maximize the benefits from legalized gambling unless you minimize the harms. Problem gambling, like other addictions, affects many people besides the gambler and is a public health concern. “Every dollar spent to prevent and treat gambling addiction saves at least two dollars in social costs. Responsible gambling is not just good ethics, its good economics. “The gambling industry should leverage their impressive design, data collection, marketing and analytics resources to help develop better measures to understand gambling behavior, predict risk and personalize responsible gambling resources and messaging. A technological approach to responsible gambling plays to their strengths.” •
Why Brazil will be “the market” for affiliates in 2019 THE BRAZIL SPORTS BETTING remains very
much in its infancy, but ought to be a “huge part” of gambling growth across a country whose love for sport is embedded in their culture, as is their propensity to move into the digital space
n 1 January 2019, Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as the 38th President of Brazil, signifying the South American nation’s sharpest lurch to the right since its return to democracy in 1988. A former army captain proposing radical measures to cut crime and corruption, many in the sports betting realm were hopeful that his appointment could lead to the relaxing of Brazil’s stringent gambling laws. The path to legalisation had, in fact, been paved by Bolsonaro’s predecessor Michael Temer. Less than a month before the end of his tenure, Temer signed a sports betting bill known as MP 846, formally legalising both online and land-based sports betting in the country in the process. Four months on, it’s a market that remains very much still in its infancy, but for Marcos Oliveira, Head of Business Development at Clever Advertising, affiliates ought to be a “huge part” of Brazilian gambling growth in the coming months. “The opening of the Brazil market is something that everyone has been anticipating,” he explains. “And as a Portuguese company, we have a special
relationship because of the language, and so the market will be the top emerging market after regulation.” Alongside MoneyLine Sports Group LLC founder Steven Berman, Oliveira will talk on a panel entitled ‘Reaching an audience - where do affiliates sit in the new market?’ on the opening day of Betting on Sports America. Moderated by Gambling.com CEO Charles Gillespie, one of the most recognisable faces from the affiliate sector, the conversation will draw parallels between the US and Brazil, assessing the role played by affiliates in fledgling sports betting markets. “For affiliates, with such a huge country divided by states, Brazil will be the market for 2019,” Oliveira enthuses. “We will see national and state online operators investing a lot in marketing, and affiliates will be a huge part of this growth.” Marc Frank Pedersen, Director of
Reaching an audience - where do affiliates sit in the new market? • WEDNESDAY 24TH APRIL, 11:20 TO 12:05 • MARKETING, CONFERENCE ROOM 3
Business Development at prominent affiliate network Better Collective, is similarly excited about Brazil’s potential. “Brazil is a very interesting market based on a variety of factors, such as its population size, their embedded love for sport in their culture, and their movement into the digital space,” he asserts. “As regulation and compliance is a priority for us, we are keeping a close eye on how Brazilian legislation develops in order to inform our strategy there.” Nevertheless, with online operators’ gross revenue limited to just 8%, with 89% of the handle going to bettors and the remaining 3% taken by the government, it’s likely that only the most savvy of affiliates will be able to maximise on this new opportunity. “Content remains a long battle,” says Oliveira, as he begins mapping out the best ways for affiliates to successfully tap into this nascent market. “When you invest in content your first year is inevitably difficult. “In spite of this, I’m sure that, in the long-term, content works when it comes to bringing in revenue and customers. For young affiliates, patience is crucial if they want to see the benefits of quality content.” •
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Measured approach to ensure PGA TOUR’s sports sponsorship success AMONGST THE PLETHORA of talking points that
have captured the industry’s attention in the near 12 months post-PASPA fall, has been that an increasing number of leagues, as well as numerous franchises, are opening up to the sponsorship discussion
GM Resorts has made significant headway in this regard, aligning with the NBA, MLS and MLB, in addition to a number of relevant sides including the Boston Red Sox and Sacramento Kings, while the Stars Group turned to basketball for its first such US-based link-up after 888casino and the New York Jets drew criticism for a similar deal announced in October. The PGA TOUR has also welcomed the opportunity provided by such agreements, something that Andy Levinson - the PGA TOUR’s senior vice president of tournament administration - is to discuss at Betting on Sports America in the panel titled ‘Sponsorship - the win:win revenue stream from sports betting regulation’. Discussing how important it is that US sports leagues embrace the opportunity opened up by sports sponsorship, Levinson explained: “Corporate partnerships are fundamental to the PGA TOUR business model. Not only does sponsorship generate revenue and financial opportunities for our athletes, but the close partnerships that we develop with these organizations helps the TOUR benefit from their specific business expertise. “In the case of gaming sponsors,
a partnership could bring valuable marketing and technology expertise, in addition to an expanded fan base.” Amending its regulation recently, THE TOUR is to welcome large casino organisations to enter sponsorship agreements with all six tours it oversees, as well as its tournaments and players.
Sponsorship - the win:win revenue stream from sports betting regulation • THURSDAY 25TH APRIL, 10:20 TO 11:00 • SPORTS & BETTING, CONFERENCE ROOM 1
The revision applies to larger casino entities, but excludes those whose primary purpose is sports betting. However, this latter group can be considered for potential sponsorships outside the US market. Levinson addressed why such a decision was taken, and what benefits are envisaged as a result of the relaxation: “The PGA TOUR has had a longstanding prohibition on partnerships with gambling,” he said. “However, changing perceptions amongst consumers and our business partners led us to revise these policies. “From an integrity perspective, these partnerships will enable us to work closely with the operators to monitor the betting activity on our competition. Furthermore, these partnerships will help us innovate new ways to engage with our fans.” As the US begins to open up to the opportunity presented by such sponsorship deals, across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom a lot of negative press has been directed the way of football, for what is perceived as an over saturation of gambling and casino sponsorships. Concluding, Levinson discussed how the PGA TOUR intends to prevent such headlines being directed its way. He explained: “We will take a very measured approach with respect to gaming sponsorship, branding on-site and on our various media platforms and advertising. “We have the benefit of learning from the experiences of other sports that have operated in longstanding legal, regulated sports betting markets, and we intend to ensure that the PGA TOUR is presented in a fan-friendly manner that can be appreciated by all of our consumers.” •
THE STATE OF IT October brought with it something of a curveball with New Mexico launching sports betting, despite not having a legal framework in place. The tribal Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel, in conjunction with USBookmaking, began taking bets via a state compact that permits any or all forms of Class III gaming. Conveniently, that includes sports wagering.
State of the nation: US sports betting as it stands
THE US SPORTS BETTING SPACE is no longer nascent.
With eight states fully operational and a whole host of others seeking to join the race, it’s all systems go
t’s taken less than 12 months for legal sports betting to make a significant footprint on the American landscape with no less than eight states now offering live sports wagering on the right side of the law. The first state to go legal outside Nevada, with its long-established grandfathering rights, was Delaware which went live on 5 June last year. Less than a month after the strike down of PASPA, the First State was offering single bet options on a variety of sports at its three casinos. Hot on the heels of Delaware was New Jersey, with Governor Phil Murphy placing the Garden State’s first historic legal bet at Monmouth Park on 14 June. He’d signed the enabling bill just three days before making his wager. The first day in August last year saw Mississippi added to the embryonic
list, with two MGM venues taking their opening bets. The state’s lawmakers were already well prepared for the event, having enacted legislation in 2017 designed to take full advantage of the removal of PASPA well in advance of it happening. Four became five at the end of the same month when West Virginia joined the party. Penn National’s Hollywood Casino was the first location to take bets based on legislation that state policy makers had already had in place for six months.
USA Betting 2019 - which states are in and which are coming • THURSDAY 25TH APRIL, 10:20 TO 11:00 • STATES OF THE NATION, CONFERENCE ROOM 2
50 ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BOSA • APRIL 2019
Mid-November saw Pennsylvania make it to seventh spot on the list of states to go legal with sports betting, regardless of what many cited as incredibly costly tax and price of entry criteria. A 36 per cent tax rate on gross gaming revenues allied to a $10m license fee didn’t deter the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course from being first to take a legal sporting wager. The eighth and final entry on what will be a growing list was Rhode Island which went live when Lincoln’s Twin River Casino opened its doors to sports bettors at the end of November. But with a tax of 51 per cent on revenue from sports wagering, many observers have been left questioning why anyone would bother. And that leads us into an expansive list of states looking to bring sports betting into the light. New York is among the main contenders, with a workable bill. But at the time of writing there was a distinct lack of agreement on whether or not it ought to include mobile betting, considered essential by some state legislators. Oregon and Arkansas also have bills on the statute book but no live operations. Tribal influence, too, continues to complicate the constantly shifting scenario with the Indian Nations understandably keen to retain exclusivity over gaming. California, potentially the biggest sports wagering market in terms of population, is a case in point. Any form of legalization will be hard fought for. As for those states with active bills yet to be passed, step forward Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Hawaii, Kentucky and South Dakota saw their bills fail. •
Why Euro settlers must accept their US learning curve
AMID THE HYPE of an exploding market, US betting’s
new faces must accept cultural dynamics and intricacies as the key to cracking US opportunities, rather than fixate on technical demands
ince the 2018 repeal of PASPA federal laws, UK and European betting incumbents have found themselves in the peculiar spot of entering a liberalised yet restrictive US betting market, in which many operational questions remain unanswered. The gateway to the world’s largest and most diverse sports market has been opened, with established US casino operators placing their faith in European incumbents to deliver dynamic betting propositions to further boost their wholesale entertainment verticals. This crucial factor was underlined by Kresimir Spajic, International Vice President of Online Gaming for Hard Rock, who outlined the ‘wholly different nature of US gambling enterprises’ at last year’s Betting on Sports conference. “For us at Hard Rock, we are first and foremost an entertainment and
lifestyle company,” he said. “We have a strong reputation for delivering unique customer experiences and engagements through our numerous verticals, hotel, restaurants and entertainment shows, we are not simply a bricks and mortar casino business.” The opening act of a liberalised US betting market has seen industry debate focused on which European (or particularly UK) incumbent can deliver the best technical framework to overcome US market operational complexities. Nevertheless, industry leaders should take note of tacit cultural challenges on sports engagement,
Follow the money - where are investors seeing value? • THURSDAY 25TH APRIL, 14:45 TO 15:30 • DEMYSTIFYING SPORTS BETTING, BREAK OUT
viewership and further intricacies that await incumbents, expanding their US boundaries beyond the ‘technical challenge’ as operator progress on ‘US agendas’ should test all established industry dogmas. Seasoned industry investor David Shapton, Partner at Akur Capital, has observed the strange ‘blurred lines’ that the US market has presented the industry, as European operators are now required to change their operating structures to service primarily landbased US casino operators. He said: “What is intriguing is that major European B2C operators are to some extent fulfilling B2B roles, as US states will not allow outsiders to simply come in and gain operator licences. “This means that to have an outstanding offer, you have to have more of your tech in-house, offering the complete package. We are seeing, that proven operators entering the US market, are running ostensibly the processes of a B2B business, hence the interested parties are coming right across the industry.” US opportunities are clearly visible, however, it will be of no surprise if current working mechanics are misunderstood. US incumbents should be aware of the blurred lines Shapton mentions, as European incumbents have failed to rationalise their operational frameworks and value chains – suffering a 2018 of gruelling set-backs within their home markets. At its heart, the US betting market will present a battleground of cultural complexities, in which winning partnership must export effective values beyond technical arrangements. Leaders must, therefore, ask who is the teacher and who is the pupil? • ‘Follow the money - where are investors seeing value’ is one of the key sessions held as part of the ‘Demystifying sports betting’ track at the inaugural Betting on Sports America conference.
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