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Regular SBC features


New Hall of Famers

•V  AR confusion forcing defensive approach to in-play betting

• CEO Watch with LeTou’s Paul Fox: Climbing the ladder • 6 of the Best with Trustly’s Vasilije Lekovic

• Industry pioneers to join Sports Betting Hall of Fame • John Anderson: Why US acceptance could provide European respite • Jukka Honkavaara earns his Spurs through Tottenham ‘test’ bet win • Norbert Teufelberger: A single voice to battle betting corruption

Supplier side

• Why operators should be freed from the franchise • How to de-risk your sports betting software partnership • The virtuous circle driving the next giant leap for sports betting • Horse racing reacts to race-by-race betting data boost • Adapting to the American audience for virtual sports • Sportsbooks search for the Netflix experience

Upcoming Sports & Events

• Rebranded SBC Summit to headline 2020 agenda • The biggest betting sport in the US returns

The SBC Sports Betting Guide to ICE is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community: EDITORIAL TEAM: Andrew McCarron, Luke Massey, Craig Davies, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, Erin Gallagher, Liam Machin, Matthew Ramirez 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: sales@sbcgaming.com WEB: www.sbcgaming.com

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• Twenty20 to build on brilliant Cricket World Cup • USA: What we’ve learned so far and what lies ahead • The “locally global” approach to entering new markets • Why Irish eyes aren't smiling on the independents • Bringing the best of digital into the retail space • Political Argy-Bargy threatens Buenos Aires agenda • Tech talks: Reacting to different regulatory requirements • The end for gambling advertising in Europe?



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Getting on the right track


sbcmagazine.com 3

INTRO Luke Massey Head of SBC Media


elcome to Betting on Sports 2019! It was meant to be a quieter time for the sports betting industry. A football free - at least on the men’s side - period of relative tranquility to follow last summer’s FIFA World Cup. However, as Ben Stokes does his best to single-handedly recreate the same level of sporting euphoria in this country, a series of increasingly severe regulatory interventions to one of the world’s most mature online gambling markets shows no sign of slowing. Unfortunately, as our many UNFORTUNATELY, international guests AS OUR MANY at Olympia London INTERNATIONAL GUESTS will testify, this AT OLYMPIA LONDON regulatory squeeze has bypassed WILL TESTIFY, THIS very few of the REGULATORY SQUEEZE UK’s European HAS BYPASSED VERY FEW counterparts. OF THE UK’S EUROPEAN While the demise of the COUNTERPARTS FOBT is thankfully taking fewer of the headlines, at least until H2’s can provide a clearer comparison of retail revenues with and without the much-maligned machines, debates surrounding gambling advertising have assumed centre stage. As such, it will be a key theme

throughout Betting on Sports, particularly the European Markets track, as we try to get to grips with the political uncertainty that threatens the future of advertising in the UK, Italy and Spain. And that’s not to forget both Sweden - where a lack of clarity is causing confusion over permitted advertising and bonusing - and Norway, where Lotteritilsynet’s bid to block off a Norwegian corner of the internet unsurprisingly includes a ban on TV gambling advertising for offshore gaming operators. Of course, the agenda is far from confined to advertising. We also look at the key issues facing seven of the biggest sports for betting and how the US market is taking shape, while the second PaymentExpert Forum debates, amongst many other things, the early impacts of the UKGC’s age verification laws. And that’s just day one. Your second helping includes a ‘Future in Focus’ look at how racing can address the retail shortfall from FOBTs (I know, you still can’t escape it), a ‘Regulation in Focus’ assessment of the thin line between legal and affordable for operators wrestling with compliance costs, and a nod to some of the attention-grabbing emerging markets across LatAm, Africa and Asia. This magazine has been put together to provide a healthy mix of conference best bits and insight from our industry’s leading operators, suppliers and most interesting people, including interviews with three SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame inductees. Finally, I must recommend that you drop by the SBC stand to ask the team about our considerable expansion plans for 2020. Spoiler alert… in 12 months time you may just have returned from the biggest ever betting conference in Barcelona!

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Sport in Focus

TWENTY20 TO BUILD ON BRILLIANT CRICKET WORLD CUP have gone better for us here, with England losing a couple of early group games, it meant games that looked like potential dead rubbers later in the competition suddenly became must win matches, which made them really popular. We saw a lot of new customers appearing to place bets on these games outside of our normal cricket base.”


year’s Sport in Focus track, Sky Bet’s Dane Higginson addresses the World Cup win for England and what the future holds for the test format given the success of its shorter form counterparts


t was very much a cricketing summer in England, and a number of other countries globally, as the World Cup captured many an imagination with its women’s footballing counterpart the only real competition from the country’s most popular sporting pastime. Amid a concerted effort countrywide to grow popularity, the home nation amid much stuttering - won (or drew depending your viewpoint) the Cricket World Cup (CWC) final on a memorable evening at Lords. After the hustle and bustle of a hectic six and a half weeks, Dane Higginson, Sports Desk Manager at Sky Betting and Gaming, shed some light on how the CWC helped heighten cricket’s popularity, particularly as a betting product.

“The World Cup was brilliant for us in terms of its popularity, with very little high profile football on during this period, except for the excellent Women’s World Cup, cricket took centre stage for us,” he said. “It definitely helped with England having a real live chance of winning it this year, and a lot of the players more well known in the public than in previous years. “As a betting product it couldn’t

Cricket: Reaching beyond boundaries •W  ednesday 18th September, 14:00 to 14:45 •S  port in Focus, Conference Room 1

But could more have been done to capitalise on the opportunity further still? “I think the awareness of the tournament could have been done differently,” Higginson admitted. “It didn’t feel that many areas were speaking about it across the country. “I didn’t see any posters or flags in public places like we do when a football World Cup takes place. I think the next one, which will be the T20 World Cup next year, will already be more popular due to the success of the team in this one.” Out of the World Cup fire rose the Ashes, and with it a debate that has raged in the midst of an increasing number of variants. Where does the future of the game lie? Does test match cricket have a place at the table? Or is it just about 20-over, 50over and 100-ball games now? Higginson concluded: “In this country, I can definitely see test cricket having a place, the grounds are always full for tests. At Sky Bet I see it being popular too, we have just as many RequestABet requests for test matches as we do the franchise leagues. “I also think with only the high profile well known players making the test teams compared to all the different franchise teams, customers and the public will always find it easier to refer to and enjoy it. However, outside of England I don’t think Tests will survive as well; people don’t seem to be as loyal to the history of the game like the fans here.” •

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USA in Focus


mirror, the US sports betting sector is in full flight towards what many anticipate will be almost full blown legalisation. But the journey won’t be without its sticking points along the way


evelopments in the US sports betting space have moved swiftly this year, forcing established and potential stakeholders to adopt an agile approach to a market that is as challenging as it is mercurial. That much will be made abundantly clear at this year’s Betting on Sports event in London with a full day’s track dedicated to addressing all of the key issues around US sports wagering. In advance of the conference, we gained some predictive insight from Digitain, the privately held provider of omni-channel igaming software solutions to online, mobile and landbased verticals. “We predict that around 30 states will follow in the steps of New Jersey and introduce legislation, or at the very least consider the idea of legalising sports betting,” said the firm. “Following on from that, there’s a big chance that a third of the country’s states will actually pass a bill through the legislature and attain the governor’s signature. As a result, we believe this will lead to a total of 16 or more states that have legal sports betting by the end of 2019.”

specific needs, who won’t settle for a poor and inadequate offering. “We predict that states who believe a generic sports betting product will win them market share will be in for a bad surprise. A plain offering that lacks innovation, convenience and competitive pricing will only push players to the offshore operators


Perhaps controversially, Digitain believes that a lottery-based model of sports betting will prove unsuccessful. “Most US states have state-run lotteries, but states will soon find out that a state agency cannot do the activities a sports betting operator needs to be successful on its own and succeed,” it advised. “Sports bettors are sophisticated customers with very


since no two sports betting customers are alike. Moreover, states that try to monopolize sports betting are risking getting seriously hit and earning very low revenues.” The firm also sees little in the way of progress on the Wire act or implementation of federal legislation. It noted: “While PASPA repeal has made sports betting possible, it hasn’t provided an environment to enable companies that want to operate in multiple states. The Wire Act still prohibits interstate sports betting activities, which means that sportsbooks that operate in New Jersey can’t offer their products to people in Texas until Congress directly addresses the issue. “It is the state legislatures, not the federal government that holds the future of sports betting in the US in their hands. Whether this means that the Federal Government will take a step back and try to limit online sports betting and gaming, we can only wait and see. Turning to the major sports leagues, Digitain predicts that they will continue

to heavily invest in sports betting. “Leagues need to find ways to boost popularity and relevance if they want to increase their relevance. A great example is NASCAR. A well-established league that can benefit greatly from sports betting; we can only imagine the traction that they will receive if they offer fans the opportunity to bet again with every lap. “When it comes to the football leagues, XFL and AAR are already familiar with the importance of sports betting as part of their marketing strategy. In fact, they are already using enhanced betting strategies in an attempt to win over new fans. A simpler approach, offering betting options only on major European and US leagues may be the best for newly established operators. One of the ongoing topics of debate, and one that will be discussed at length at this year’s Betting on Sports, is mobile sports betting. According to Digitain, mobile holds the key to success in the US and the need to bring players online will only grow. “The convenience of mobile sports

THE CONVENIENCE OF MOBILE SPORTS BETTING MAKES IT THE PREFERRED METHOD OF WAGERING FOR MOST BETTORS, AND WE EXPECT THE REIGN OF MOBILE TO INCREASE EVEN IF PHYSICAL SPORTSBOOK HANDLES REACHES A PLATEAU betting makes it the preferred method of wagering for most bettors, and we expect the reign of mobile to increase even if physical sportsbook handles reaches a plateau,” it said. “While convenience is important, mobile has more options for in-play betting that make it more attractive. “In more mature European markets, in-play betting includes over half of all total bets. And as New Jersey operators grow and they become more sophisticated, we expect this mobile trend to continue. There’s no limit to

Roll-out: The shape of things to come •W  ednesday 18th September, 10:15 to 11:00 •U  SA in Focus, Conference Room 2

how much mobile betting can grow in New Jersey and we believe this success will encourage other states to authorize mobile sports betting.” Furthermore, the firm believes that mobile-only sports betting will even boost those states with no casinos. “OK, well, sports betting is not a casino game,” it conceded. “And even before Vegas, there were neighborhood bookies in most major cities in the US. The only thing different now is the way people do it. “Technology has advanced and now it allows people to bet while watching. And mobile makes it even easier for bettors to place bets wherever and whenever it feels comfortable. Mobile sportsbooks make it possible for operators to offer their products and services without the need for a physical facility, and states are becoming aware of this.” •

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PaymentExpert Forum

Gaming will never be the same.


PaymentExpert Forum, which features an hour long panel on payments in emerging markets, SBC Magazine looked back on the first edition of the forum from this year’s Betting on Football


n the last decade, sports betting has undoubtedly developed into a fully globalised industry. Legalisation across many states in the US, along with other emerging economies in LatAm, Asian and African regions, has contributed to the worldwide growth in recent times. Antonio Verissimo, VP Payments, Risk and Fraud, Addison Global, referred to the phrase "locally global" when he was asked about how to approach a new market as part of the first PaymentExpert Forum. He said: “Firms are finally realising that you want to move away from single territories and diversify how your revenue is coming in from different countries. “There has to be a lot of research into the country of which you are looking at expansion, and I think one of the main challenges is that initial investment of understanding what need to be successful. “It is now probably high up on every operators board to understand the area, diversify the risk where possible and tailor as much as you can to the people whatever market.” Operator's are constantly searching for the next major market, or markets, with the payment strategies behind new endeavours vital to finding success.

Speaking at the same event, Isabelle Delisle - Head of Group Payments at Pinnacle - highlighted the importance of enabling alternative payment methods (APMs) tailored to a country's demographic. “APMs are what we go for almost every time, along with the global wallets,” she explained. “Finding the solution that people want to use, what they prefer - as well as what bodes well for us and the customer - is so important because at the end of the day people just want speed, convenience and comfort.” A report released by Zion Market Research valued the global sports betting market at approximately $104.31 billion in 2017 and it is expected to reach approximately $155.49 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.83% between 2018 to 2024.

Payments in emerging markets •W  ednesday 18th September, 11:20 to 12:20 •P  aymentExpert Forum, Conference Room 3

Much of this growth stems from the anticipated boom in activity in the Asia-Pacific sports betting market over the next few years. Enhanced economic conditions throughout the region generates more disposable income for the population which is “likely to fuel this regional market in the upcoming years”. Ciaran Carr, Payments Manager, Paddy Power Betfair, echoed the thoughts of those before him and described localisation as a “principal” factor when entering a new market. He said: “With our two leading brands (Paddy Power, Betfair), whatever market we’re in we want to offer our customers the ability to fund their wallets in the way that they want. “We as an operator cannot put our experiences of payments onto the local markets. We can’t expect our customers in Ireland to want the same payment method as ones in Germany or Brazil. “As the business expands into different markets there is a growing recognition in order to acquire punters we have to consider their choice of method, which brings payments into the forefront of any discussion.” •

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European Markets

2020 Vision




the spotlight when the government's Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe doubled the tax on bookmakers from one to two per cent turnover from January 2019

IF RETAIL OPERATORS can capture that demand for a simple, convenient, and frictionless user experience, the fallout from FOBTs will quickly become a thing of the past writes Peter Woodfine, Business Development Director at Vermantia


rom the outset, this tax hike has placed Irish independent bookmakers' ability to survive on the Irish high street to the test, with a number of shops already closing their doors. But despite the fact that the likelihood of an increase has been on the cards for a number of years now, having previously gained cross-party support, the announcement was still considered a shock to the Irish betting market. Since its imposition, and despite rumours of a more favourable twotiered betting tax plan, the doubling of the tax has undoubtedly hit the industry hard. At the time, TDs urged the government not to go ahead with the measure over beliefs that up to 1800 jobs could be lost in the process. So, what’s next for the country? Thomas Byrne, Managing Director of Bruce Betting, discussed the detrimental impact that the tax is having on the independent Irish bookmaking scene: “This tax increase will definitely affect the number of shops left trading as it puts a large number into a nonviable position,” he said. “It is very frustrating for us that the government has taken this decision without due consideration to the consequences, which will cause most

independent shops to close with 5-6 jobs lost in each.” Dáil Éireann had previously outlined that it would be carrying out a review into the tax increase during the year’s first financial quarter, but as of yet, this has not materialised which has led to the independents questioning what the future holds. This isn’t to say that there isn't an appetite to improve the industry. Fine Gael representative David Stanton has been particularly vocal in the recent dialogue, having previously expressed his frustration over delays to the introduction of new gambling legislation. Stanton has been a key advocate for the development of an independent regulator, which is expected to come into force from next year, but even this

Ireland - New Rules •W  ednesday 18th September, 11:20 to 12:05 •E  uropean Markets, Conference Room 4


has not been confirmed. Despite the overall Parliamentary approval for the establishment of a regulator, its formation remains slow and pending final checks on Irish betting duties carried out by the treasury. While it may take a further 18 months for an independent gambling regulator to be created in Ireland, a governing body which oversees the implementation of gambling legislation and addresses issues such as problem gambling may be the solution that the Irish market so desperately needs. With figures of problem gambling reported to be at the highest ever, and with mass-consolidation across the industry, more needs to be done, and every player in the industry appears to recognise this. Reforms are urgently needed in Ireland’s gambling market to protect the smaller, independents which make up the majority - but for now, it’s inherently unfair for these independents to pay two per cent tax into a system which doesn’t appear to be making many improvements. •


n today’s fast-paced digital world, we’re seeing the expectations of tech change in just about every interaction we have. From the cashless convenience of the oyster cards on London’s tube, to paying by smartphone for everyday items, digital is now king – and it’s set to disrupt the retail experience as we know it. This is especially the case for betting in-shop. During turbulent regulatory times, those looking for a way to bring the best of digital into the retail space can find plenty of ways to enrich the retail experience for those looking for an alternative to the solitary world of online. The retail industry needs to adapt to keep its dominant position, and there are many ways it can - both by meeting the evolving demands of the next demographic and by reducing the cost of operation. A new generation of customer wants their user experience to be as simple, convenient, and frictionless as possible, and it’s the industry’s job to deliver. A new breed of self-service solutions, including FLAVOR terminals from Vermantia, are now live with the potential to remodel the retail customer journey. If retail operators

can capture that demand and bring the best of digital into the retail space, the fallout from FOBTs will quickly become a thing of the past. Retail offers plenty that online doesn’t, and providing customers with the right live pictures and data and giving them an incentive to engage with whatever sport is playing out in front of them is an essential proponent of a successful retail offering. Customers thrive on live sports as well as racing and the better the quality of data and content you can provide, the more engaged they will be. Tie that in with self-service betting terminals that make the in-shop user experience as simple, convenient, and frictionless as possible and you’re onto a winner. Of course, it should always be all about offering tailor-made solutions for customers. If operators are to compete for people’s leisure spend

Retail - Leveraging the customer experience •T  hursday 19th September, 12:05 to 12:50 •2  020 Vision - The future in focus, Conference Room 1

during these challenging times for retail, they must offer a wide choice to cater to different demographics while staying lean.

IF WE CAN PROVIDE THE BRIDGE THAT TAKES THE BEST OF ONLINE AND OFFLINE TO CREATE AN ENTIRELY NEW DIGITISED EXPERIENCE – THE FUTURE OF RETAIL WILL LOOK BRIGHT, I GUARANTEE IT For many, cash will always be king, and for them, much of the thrill of their retail experience will remain ‘holding the folding’ after a well-earned win on the horses, dogs, or virtual game. Others, such as the emerging trend of tech-savvy customers want to use a variety of newly available payment methods available to them wherever they make their transactions, and as providers we need to ensure it is there for them – whatever their preference. If we can provide the bridge that takes the best of online and offline to create an entirely new digitised experience – the future of retail will look bright, I guarantee it. •

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Emerging Markets


online gambling regime in Buenos Aires holds high stakes for all actors…


o the industry’s great surprise, Maria Eugenia Vidal’s ‘2019 Budget Plan’ was approved at the end of last year, which moved to introduce the nation’s first online gambling regime. Limiting the regime’s remit to seven online gambling licences, to be operated by local and international business partnerships, Vidal - formerly seated in the ‘anti-gambling’ campaign camp - overlooked personal concerns to stress that BA online gambling taxes would fund the province’s much needed ‘FIDES – Social Development & Integration Fund’.

Online H2 2019

Nevertheless, since securing this December approval Vidal’s BA gambling mandate has morphed into a political instrument for a number of Argentine actors seeking to feed off the nation’s first online gambling menu. At a political level, the stakes are high as Governor Vidal - considered by many to be the likely ‘internal party challenger’ to President Mauricio Macri - has outlined the development of the FIDES fund as her legacy BA policy. President Macri and the governing Argentina PRO Party are desperate to deliver new commercial opportunities for foreign investment following a horror-show 2018, which saw Argentina branded as South America’s worst-performing economy after 12 consecutive months of declining economic activity. Noting a potential political showdown, the Argentine FA (AFA) and leading Superliga Clubs have demanded that football be rewarded

SINCE SECURING THIS DECEMBER APPROVAL VIDAL’S BA GAMBLING MANDATE HAS MORPHED INTO A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT FOR A NUMBER OF ARGENTINE ACTORS SEEKING TO FEED OFF THE NATION’S FIRST ONLINE GAMBLING MENU by BA’s new gambling regime. Applying pressure to Macri, a former President of Boca Juniors, Argentine football leadership says that the BA regime must reward the sport as the Macri government had terminated the ‘Futbol Pronosticos’ (pools) by liquidating Argentina’s national lottery operator. The governance and licensing procedure of BA’s online gambling regime will be handled by the newly reformed ‘IPyLC – the Argentine Provinces Board for Lotteries and Casinos’.

LatAm - looking at regulation •T  hursday 19th September, 10:00 to 11:00 •E  merging Markets, Conference Room 2

The body has taken on a huge mandate to develop and govern an online gambling regime that is attractive to international gambling firms but compliant with local laws and diverse Argentine stakeholders' needs. The IPyLC confirmed in June that 15 companies would compete for the BA-7 licenses. This includes the likes of bet365, Flutter Entertainment, 888 and William Hill. Given the mandate of expanding business across new markets, SBC News’ Content Director Ted Menmuir had one tongue-in-cheek bit of advice for these operators. “The nation is obsessed with therapy,” he quipped. “Argentina famously maintains more psychologists per capita than any other country - a dynamic that operators should factor in when competing for online gambling licenses in Buenos Aires.” •

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Technology in Focus

TECH TALKS: HOW OPTIMA REACTS TO REGULATORY CHALLENGES OPTIMA will be presenting an overview of different

technology challenges and meeting regulatory requirements by using a centralized, multijurisdictional and multiregional platform setup


etting on Sports, said OPTIMA Founder and CEO Jacob Lopez, is a great opportunity for the company to engage with key operators. As well as making a presentation as part of the ‘Technology in Focus’ track, Lopez will also be moderating the ‘Tech Talks: Industry CTO Panel’ later the same day to project the OPTIMA view of current market trends. Delivering a quick teaser to his presentation, he said: “In many cases, regulations demand that operators process bets locally to the jurisdictional area. “In this term, we will go through the different challenges and how OPTIMA resolved them. We help operators to achieve efficiency when expanding in different jurisdictions through our OPTIMAMGS™ Active Multi-Datacenter Distributed system.” As part of its global expansion strategy, and commitment to providing the best solution to its operators, OPTIMA recently achieved Gaming Labs International (GLI) certification GLI-33 for its flagship sports betting and gaming system. Marta Nikolova, OPTIMA Commercial Director, commented: “By running one single instance of OPTIMAMGS which meets different regulatory requirements and user journeys compliant with an operator’s multiregional strategy, our partners and customers can offer services in many jurisdictions. “The centralized technology and outstanding scalability and high

Jacob Lopez

availability of the platform reduces the total cost-ownership of the entire betting and gaming system solution, not only at the technology level but also at the operational level. “The range of third party integrations available, multi-currency, multi-regulation and multi-vertical platform capabilities are second to none in the market. Allowing personalisation to the finest detail, operators offer products that are

Presentation: OPTIMA •T  hursday 19th September, 11:00 to 11:20 • Technology in Focus, Conference Room 3

tailored for each region, managed centrally or decentralised depending on the operator’s requirements for each operation. “It is a true B2B2C platform ready for operators that want to lead the market worldwide, spanning operations in different jurisdictions in an easy and quick expansion process.” Meanwhile, OPTIMA has captured industry attention for its artificial intelligence (AI) powered products, which enable operators to better understand their customers and adapt their services more granularly to their needs. “This AI focus will subsequently provide customer engaging strategies driven by personalization such as the Segment of One,” explained Lopez. “As the industry matures and customer retention becomes increasingly important, this will be a significant differentiator.” For this reason, OPTIMAMGS has the AI features to help with KYC, AML and fraud control. Meanwhile, the product’s real-time business intelligence and analytics system provides operators with the opportunity to develop their own analytics, segmentation, promotion campaigns, dashboards, trend analysis and customer action automation. Furthermore, OPTIMA has rolled out a full cloud SaaS OPTIMAMGS model which offers real-time remote data synchronisation without any additional costs to the customer. The new TradeGate component has been developed with the simultaneous use of multiple Managed Trade Services in mind. From this, operators can cherrypick the most suitable MTS provider for them across each sport or region. The OPTIMA team will be presenting its full suite of sports betting and pools products from Stand R16 at Olympia London. •

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Regulation in Focus


carries with it an ever-present question mark that shows no sign of disappearing, writes gambling licensing expert David Clifton

T Look where you’re going daily international news - United States - operator news - Singapore - supplier news - Macau - legislation news Japan - interactive news - France - video - United Kingdom - market reports - Canada - digital magazines - Germany blogs - South Africa - subscriptions - Argentina - events - Peru - market analysis - Panama - product updates Romania - government studies - Puerto Rico - industry appointments - Switzerland - licence updates - Denmark legal challenges - Holland - sports betting Cambodia - current affairs - Spain - technology Kyrgyzstan - esports - Monaco - conferences Norway - state-by-state trackers - Bulgaria Fintech - India - iGaming - South Korea - mobile gaming - Estonia - lottery - Brazil - bingo - Czech Republic - licensed betting offices - Australia instant lotteries - New Zealand - artificial intelligence - Italy - internet of things - Slovenia virtual reality - Uganda - cash handling - Venezuela RFID - Jamaica - branding - Chile - alternative payments - Greece - components - Mexico - video lottery terminals Austria - politics - slot halls - Sri Lanka - exhibitions - Philippines - gaming associations - Morocco - horse racing Portugal - electronic gaming terminals - Russia - cryptocurrency - Malaysia - UX design - Sweden - poker Kazakhstan - online gaming - Kenya - podcasts - Peru - live casino - Serbia - bitcoin - Germany - mobile-first

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he viewpoint floated in various industry circles is that we are heading for a Europewide ban on gambling-based advertising. While we may be some way off, and before you dismiss this as a possibility, let's just take stock of the current situation. In Sweden, amidst a furore over aggressive market tactics by newly licensed operators, the former gambling monopoly operator Svenska Spel has announced a voluntary advertising ban, while Lotteritilsynet the gambling regulator in neighbouring Norway - has unsurprisingly proposed a ban on TV gambling advertising by offshore gaming operators. Meanwhile, Spain is reportedly close to implementing a ban on all gambling advertising, having seemingly been influenced by Italy’s much publicised ‘blanket ban’, which has so far achieved little more than creating considerable confusion. Of course, the UK has not emerged unscathed. The headlines over here have been dominated by the voluntary ‘whistle to whistle’ ban, introduced with effect from 1 August, which prevents the screening of betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport broadcasts - from five minutes before the event begins to five minutes after it finishes. However, that still leaves the door open to the Labour Party’s demands for a significant amount of clear, responsible gambling messages on pitch side advertising, a ban on shirt sponsorship by gambling companies in the Premier League and the prominent

Betfair took advantage of the media focus on social responsibility with its Huddersfield Town sash shirt spoof and consequential “Save our Shirt” campaign, which other football teams have now joined. This followed an April call from GVC - owners of Ladbrokes Coral amongst others - to end all football shirt sponsorship deals with UK teams and implement a ban on perimeter board advertising at football grounds. More recently, GVC has donated all branding rights from its football sponsorship deals to GambleAware and its Bet Regret awareness campaign, before criticising as “preposterous” the recent marketing tie-up between 32Red, Derby County and Wayne Rooney. Recent newspaper articles have also reported on academic study findings that the “When the fun stops, stop” message attached to gambling adverts does little or nothing to reduce the amount that people bet and that “tens of thousands of children are sharing or liking social media posts from bookmakers that offer odds on competitive gaming” with betting on esports being described as “the worst advertising practice”.

display of responsible gambling messages throughout all gambling adverts. Others have gone further, calling for imposition of the same restrictions that apply to tobacco advertising. Ever the opportunist, Paddy Power

The future of advertising •T  hursday 19th September, 14:45 to 15:30 •R  egulation in Focus, Conference Room 4

What certainly seems inevitable is that after the cuts made to TV advertising, and the subsequent shirt sponsorship fall out, the focus will now shift to gambling advertising online. An interim report published in July by GambleAware recommended that technology should be used more often to try to reduce exposure to gambling advertising online and much more on this can be expected when the final report is published later this year. • With all this and more up for discussion in ‘The Future of Advertising’ session at Betting on Sports, chaired by David Clifton himself, it’s one not to be missed.

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Exclusive Interview





fixed-odds sportsbook to its two per cent exchange and online casino. The new sportsbook is backed by a multi-channel marketing campaign featuring ex-England defender Glen Johnson and Game of Thrones star Ralph Ineson

Shane McLaughlin


he operator said it had fulfilled a “key strategic aim” by launching a fixed-odds sportsbook to complement its two per cent exchange and online casino. The entirely new sportsbook offers a shared Betdaq wallet, best odds guaranteed, full and partial cash out, live streaming and in-play betting with visualisations. It was developed in conjunction with Betdaq’s exchange platform provider gbet, while utilising pricing input and expertise from parent company GVC Holdings. SBC Magazine caught up with Betdaq MD Shane McLaughlin to find out more. SBC: Why did you decide on August as the launch month for the Betdaq sportsbook? SM: We have launched the Betdaq sportsbook on a completely new sportsbook platform, developed in partnership with our exchange platform provider, gbet, so we wanted to take the quieter period - with no summer football tournament - to get

THE LAUNCH OF SPORTSBOOK IS MORE ABOUT CAPTURING A GREATER SHARE OF WALLET FROM OUR CUSTOMERS THAN CROSS SELLING THE SPORTSBOOK TO EXISTING EXCHANGE CUSTOMERS an MVP out and for the technology to bed in before fully launching ahead of the return of the new football season. SBC: How aggressive do you expect to be in terms of pricing and other acquisition strategies across the first few months? SM: As part of GVC we have a wealth of

sportsbook experience to draw upon within the group. We’re under no illusion as to how hard and expensive it will be to try and compete in what is already a hyper competitive market with very large and well established brands. We will be raising awareness of the Betdaq Sportsbook through an ATL TV campaign starring Ralph Ineson, and

sbcmagazine.com 21

Exclusive Interview

Glen Johnson

we’ve signed Glen Johnson as a brand ambassador to establish the brand with a new football audience. Our pricing and promotion strategy will be aimed at building a quality customer base rather than seeking aggressive growth. SBC: Can you outline the scale of the cross-sell opportunity between the sportsbook, casino and legacy exchange betting offering? SM: The launch of sportsbook is more about capturing a greater share of wallet from our customers than cross selling the sportsbook to existing exchange customers. We’ve had the Ladbrokes Exchange live on Ladbrokes.com since late 2013 so we have a good base of data to inform our cross sell activities. We also feel that we can get better returns from redirecting some of our acquisition

Ralph Ineson

WE’RE UNDER NO ILLUSION AS TO HOW HARD AND EXPENSIVE IT WILL BE TO TRY AND COMPETE IN WHAT IS ALREADY A HYPER COMPETITIVE MARKET WITH VERY LARGE AND WELL ESTABLISHED BRANDS marketing spend from exchange to sportsbook and casino and cross selling from there into other products. SBC: Does the exchange retain number 1 priority for the company? SM: Yes, absolutely. We’ve made some changes to the structure of the business internally ahead of the sportsbook launch to ensure that


there is a team of experienced senior executives who are solely focused on further developing and growing the exchange. Our intention is that any success we have with sportsbook will help to drive further investment and growth in the exchange. SBC: How optimistic are you for the future of exchange betting in the UK? And is there scope for the concept to become big in the US? SM: At present we probably see most market opportunity outside of both the UK and the US. The UK is fairly mature from an exchange perspective while it’s unclear where exchange can find an opportunity as the structure of the US market unfolds. Anything we do in the US would most likely be through the GVC & MGM joint venture, should having an exchange become attractive to that business.

SBC: Going back to the sportsbook, how much confidence do you have in gbet as software provider? What are the biggest plus points of the technology? SM: We are very confident in gbet as we’ve had a long relationship with them as our exchange platform provider. Our exchange stability has been fantastic, industry leading, and last year we celebrated going through 500 days without an unplanned outage, which was a great milestone to reach. SBC: Finally, can you summarise the key goals for the second half of 2019, both for the sportsbook and the company as a whole? SM: Our key goal for H2 2019 is to establish three strong product and revenue verticals for the business across exchange, casino and sportsbook.

Earlier this year we completed integration to the GVC Casino and Gaming platform which was a major upgrade for our Casino offering and the launch of sportsbook now completes the major product technology projects that we set out to deliver in 2019. From here we will be focused on incremental enhancements


to all three product verticals. SBC: Your commitment to the ‘Changing for the Bettor’ campaign has seen you replaced as shirt sponsors for Sunderland and Charlton; why is it important to prioritise social responsibility at the expense of further commercial gains? SM: We are part of the GVC Group which has brands with huge history behind them. Ladbrokes has been around for 133 years, for example, and we think it is only right that we lead by example in the area of social responsibility to protect both our customers and our business. It is by recognising that we are in it for the long term that enables us to lead in social responsibility, so our customers can enjoy betting as part of their entertainment and sport for a long time to come. •

sbcmagazine.com 23

VAR Big Debate

The International Betting Integrity Association (formerly known as ESSA) has been representing the betting and integrity interests of the responsible, licenced, betting operators for 15 years by:

• Protecting consumers • Protecting sports


• Protecting betting markets

Join us and be part of the solution


to the Premier League could provide a huge boost to in-play betting, but only if there is clarity around the decision making process, and key changes made to the data feeds that bookmakers receive


peaking at this year’s Betting on Football conference, Joe Petyt, Head of In Play Football at Sky Bet, said that because there is so much confusion about when the VAR process starts and ends, and even how you know whether a decision is pending, the operator has been forced to take a defensive stance to the availability of betting markets. “As soon as we think there will be a VAR incident, we suspend that market,” he admitted. “That might mean that a game is suspended for five or six minutes each, which is pretty bad on an individual game basis. “However, this could be worse for anyone tracking a six-fold weekend accumulator on the Premier League. If the VAR incidents don’t overlap, their bets could potentially be suspended for 30 of the 90 minutes. This is obviously a terrible customer experience. “Therefore, we will be exploring ways that we can keep the markets active as much as possible, and not undo all the good work we've done to eke out the extra seconds.” His call for a “richer data feed” was echoed by Jeevan Jeyaratnam, Head of Compilation at Abelson Odds, who added that a VAR challenge flag must be built into the feed to go with the existing ‘possible VAR’ message coming from the live scout. “You have a scout at the game sending through a result, which might then be turned around,” he explained. “This is passed on to an operator settling the bet in real-time. This can cause some pain if they have to pay

sbcmagazine.com 25

Big Debate

out twice, eroding margin in that way.” However, he admitted that it isn’t quite as simple as that sounds because "no one has a clue if it's a VAR challenge or not", so the scout might not know what's going on either. At a time when the use of official or unofficial data throws up such debate, albeit more so in the US market, Jeyaratnam said that access to richer data - including quicker confirmation of a VAR check and the challenge flag - would create extra value for the official feed. While this would give those spending more money on data an advantage, Warren Llambias, Managing Director at RedZone.bet, believes that the industry ‘big guys’ are already exploiting the opportunity presented by the current VAR confusion. “There is an opportunity for the big guys to further strengthen their position in the market through double payouts or cash back if a decision is overturned,” he said. “This is something that the smaller bookies just can’t compete with.” Jeyaratnam agreed that a big fixed odds sportsbook like Sky Bet could pay out on both sides if they wish, but added that it is a “different task to handle” for an exchange or peer to peer platform who “need to be seen to be fair to both sides”. Petyt stressed that Sky Bet is still “hit hard” by issues around settlement, for example through customers taking immediate withdrawals before a decision can be reversed, as well as the wording of in-play markets and the impact that VAR can have on fastmarkets. He said: “We've had a market for years, penalty to be awarded. All of a sudden the wording of that is problematic because if it is awarded, then removed, do we need to pay out? At the moment we do. So we are going to have to tighten up all those things - it's not just the black and white ruling it's the wording of the markets too. “We also get hit on in terms of the quick hit markets, and the time-based markets. What's going to happen in the next minute, two minutes etc. Quite often that could now almost be null and void because there's no action

taking place in that time.” Petyt did, however, contrast talk of these issues by discussing the opportunity to offer innovative in-play markets at times where



most traditional markets have to be suspended. “You've got that moment of highest excitement in the game,” he said. “Everyone's checking their phones to see what the odds are at that point but currently, with the defensive stance, most markets are suspended. “We want to have markets such as will the penalty be scored or even what part of the goal it will go in. We offered this manually during the World Cup and saw huge numbers of bets. So there's definitely opportunity there." Llambias, whose betting site specialises in American sports, joined the debate as to whether someone in a more neutral setting would be better placed to make the final decision.

He referenced the successful evolution of instant replay in the NFL, in which the technology was first used in 1999, before admitting that you “still see howlers” - for example the gamechanging non-call that helped the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl at the expense of the New Orleans Saints earlier this year. The system now sees senior officiating staff members inside Art McNally GameDay Central in the league’s New York headquarters consult directly with the referee during reviews. He put forward that there might be less mistakes made if the decision maker was not influenced by the crowd so much “away from the pressure of the boos and the noise”.


He explained that while the process is meant to take out external influence, there were still coaches and backroom staff trying to exert pressure before the award of the controversial penalty that took Manchester United through against PSG in the Parc des Princes. “Even in the PSG vs Man United game, people are still trying to lobby and influence,” he said. “While you say there are still stinkers in the NFL, there's fewer than there are in football. It makes more sense, therefore, that the decision goes to someone more neutral. “The referee should still be involved and say what he saw, but ultimately confirmation bias and the struggle of overruling yourself shouldn't play a part in dubious decisions.” •

sbcmagazine.com 27

Climbing the ladder


CEO Paul Fox tells SBC Magazine how he went from junior trader to a CEO in the space of just 10 years


eep reading for more insight from Fox, including why he is big on the phrase ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’.

SBC: You’ve obviously had quite a colourful career; can you tell us how you became involved in the industry? PF: It’s really in my blood. I come from a family of bookies, my Great-Grandad worked with both the fairground and roulette wheels. My Grandad was a bookie before it was legalised in the UK, and then went on to own a number of betting shops when it was eventually legalised in the 1960s. And then my Dad was born and raised in both the betting shops and on the racetracks, and so was I, so it was always in my blood. I was raised

around a family business, and then obviously the industry migrated online, and so I decided that that was a move that I would have to make. My first job online was Sportingbet in Guernsey and the Channel Islands, which now seems like a very long time ago. And then just over 10 years ago, Sportingbet decided that they would


be opening an office in Asia, which ended up being the Philippines and so I moved out there and have been there ever since. So I stayed with Sportingbet out there for a few years, began to build my network, and then started to make my way moving up the ladder. SBC: So in 10 years you climbed the ladder from being a junior trader to a CEO, what would you say were the major challenges that you had to overcome during that time? PF: To make it, you definitely have to have an appetite for risk. You have got to be prepared to take chances that others might not be prepared to take. Even moving to the Philippines a few years ago was considered a considerable risk, but one that I am extremely glad to have taken. So certainly an appetite for risk. I’m a big believer in that activity creates opportunity, and the opportunities that were presented to me were never clear-cut. I had to be active, put myself out meeting people, and try new things and then gradually more opportunities began to arise. Another thing that I’m very big on is the phrase ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. So at LeTou, everything is Chinese, it’s not typically a job that westerners would typically go into. You are placed out of your comfort zone, but that was something that I had to do which arguably turned out to be the best decision that I have made. I would say that it would be a combination of those things. SBC: What, for you, has been the most memorable moment during those 10 years? PF: One thing that I always wanted to do was sponsor a Premier League


Paul Fox (left hand side)

team. I actually wanted to be a footballer initially, but I wasn’t actually very good at football, so I knew that I would never actually go on to play for or manage a team. So, going on to sponsor a Premier League team for me was a massive deal. I had my mum there with me when I was holding the jersey on Sky Sports News, which was something that definitely stood out for me. SBC: What would be the advice that you would give newcomers to the industry? PF: Firstly you need to remember that nothing happens overnight, everything takes time. You might sometimes think that some people have become overnight success stories, but you really have to be ready to put in a lot

of hard work for a long long time. And for me, you can start at the bottom, and work your way up - it might take you 10 years, but it definitely can be done. You do need to take risks, and you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I would always recommend to anyone in any industry that if there is an opportunity for


you to go to work abroad in a new country, in a different country, you should definitely take that chance. It will help significantly broaden your horizons. SBC: What do you think the next few years in your career at LeTou hold? PF: More success, hopefully! I’m actually working on launching a new brand at the minute, called iBet which I’m going to launch next year - I’m incredibly excited about that. We have just opened a tech-development office in California, in Silicon Valley so we’re looking at developing that platform from scratch. The plan is to make this more western facing, so I’m going to be focusing much more on that as well, so hopefully we’ll be moving onwards and upwards. •

sbcmagazine.com 29

6 of the Best


in recent years, a book driving his new approach to leadership, and how the crossbar prevented his home country of Montenegro from claiming a famous win at Wembley in 2010


Trustly’s Vasilije Lekovic







I just returned from one of my best holidays in recent years. We had a family trip to the island of Rhodes in Greece, one of my favourite places to visit where I lived for a year and spent every summer while I was a student. Rhodes is an amazing island with a lot of history and beautiful beaches, as well as a vibrant nightlife and great food. And a decent casino!

My music taste is quite diverse and it varies depending on the mood, time of the year or environment. Therefore, I don't usually stick to one album but I enjoy the diversity of music that Spotify offers. However, one of my all-time favourites is Frank Sinatra and his Greatest Hits album. After all, 'Strangers in the Night' was the first dance song at my wedding.

It's hard to point out just one but I will go with the football Euro qualifier at Wembley in 2010 between England and Montenegro - my home country. Being there with some of my friends to support Montenegro and watching us almost defeat England in front of 73,000 people. Too bad the ball hit the crossbar a couple of minutes before the end of the game and it stayed at 0:0 - a win would have been a perfect ending to a great evening!

I don't remember watching a very good movie in a very long time; it seems that mass production kills quality. Apart from the classics such as The Shawshank Redemption that is on my list of the best movies of all time, in recent years I shifted to watching more interesting TV series, with The Sopranos and The Wire making my top list.

I recently read a very interesting book - ‘Start with why’ - by Simon Sinek, which talks about leadership and how to influence other people by inspiring them. This book helped me self-reflect and learn about some very interesting views and approaches to leadership that I hope will help me in improving my own leadership style.

Definitely one of my best bets happened during last Premier League's season when I got the correct outcome of the whole round, with the overall odds of around 300/1. I also enjoyed participating in a pool betting league where I competed against the great Sven Goran Eriksson and Harry Redknapp and ended up 2nd at the end of the season.


sbcmagazine.com 31

Class of 2019

INDUSTRY PIONEERS TO JOIN SPORTS BETTING HALL OF FAME Chisholm, Bwin founder Norbert Teufelberger, former Intralot CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos, former ABB chairman Warwick Bartlett, Snaitech CEO Fabio Schiavollin, and Betsson Group CEO Pontus Lindwall. John Boyle said: “It is an honour to be asked to join the Sports Betting Hall of Fame. To be associated with the other greats in the industry in this way means a lot and I’m pleased of the roles that Boylesports has been able to play in the industry."


placed the first ever online sports bet will be joining the Hall of Fame roster as part of a lavish closing ceremony for Betting on Sports

ormer Sky Betting & Gaming CEO Richard Flint, bet365 CEO Denise Coates, Boylesports Founder & CEO John Boyle, former 888 CEO John Anderson, Playtech BGT Sports (PBS) CEO Armin Sagedar and Jukka Honkavaara, who placed the first ever online sports bet with Intertops, will all be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a closing ceremony for Betting on Sports at the “iconic” Natural History Museum.


and perpetuate the names and outstanding accomplishments of personalities who have brought lasting fame to the sports betting sector.

The Sports Betting Hall of Fame was curated to recognise the individuals who have contributed a great deal to the industry over the course of their careers with a lasting legacy. The purpose is to honour, preserve

Previous inductees include Pinnacle CEO Paris Smith, Sportingbet Founder Mark Blandford, Sportradar Founder Cartsen Koerl, Betfred Founder Fred Done, BetConstruct Founder Vigen Badalyan, BTC director Howard


Richard Flint commented: “The Sports Betting Hall of Fame is a great way for the industry to acknowledge those that shaped it over the years. This is why I was so happy to accept the offer to join the sports betting pioneers who have already been recognised for their contribution." John Anderson said: "I'm honoured to be recognised by my peers in the industry. There are many innovative people driving the sector forward and providing entertainment to millions of customers every week, so I am humbled that I have been picked out to join the Sports Betting Hall of Fame this year." Honkavaara said: "I feel honoured being part of sports betting history as being the first of many to place a sports bet online. I never thought when I bet on Tottenham to beat Hereford with Intertops back in 1996 that it would lead me to the Sports Betting Hall of Fame, but I'm glad I did." SBC CEO & Founder Rasmus Sojmark added: “We are once again in an iconic venue to recognise some of the industry’s most iconic names. Last year’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame proved to be the perfect way to end the Betting on Sports conference and so it made complete sense to return to one of London’s premium venues for our closing party.” •

sbcmagazine.com 33

Sponsorship kick-start

Online betting birth





played a groundbreaking role in the history of gambling sponsorship, reflects on his time with 888 before contrasting the reputation issues in Europe with the current excitement in the US

who placed the first ever online sports bet with Intertops back in 1996, talks about how Teddy Sheringham’s hat-trick helped him to a short odds test bet win on Tottenham Hotspur

SBC: How does it feel to be inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame? JA: I am honoured. It’s always nice to be recognised by industry peers. There are some great names on the list, so it’s nice to be part of it.

SBC: How does it feel to be inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame? JH: It is of course a great honour to be inducted, especially as a non-industry person. And looking at the work done by the previous inductees, I must say that I am in good company!

SBC: What are you most proud of in your career? And what would you do differently? JA: I have had a long and interesting career spanning three industries property, hotels and gaming. I have been been upfront in my dealings with people throughout. It’s probably this that I am most proud of. I have enjoyed the highs and learnt a lot from the lows. Without wishing to sound clichéd, I would not change a thing. SBC: As someone involved in the first set of gambling sponsorships at 888, has the recent advertising crackdown surprised you? Are we heading for a Europe-wide ban? JA: Nothing surprises me when it comes to regulatory change or advertising crackdowns. This industry has always faced regulatory headwinds, and a European wide ban is possible. It’s far from a certainty though, and the continued acceptance of sports betting in the US could start to positively impact regulatory conditions in Europe. There is still so much to be positive about. SBC: How effective were those early

sponsorships for 888? JA: The thing that really kick started things for 888, or casino-on-net as it was known then, was a decision to buy up all of the distressed online ad inventory we could get our hands on following the .com crash. We felt it was massively underpriced and looking back we were right. At the time, we were one of the top five advertisers on the net across all industries. The key aim of our sponsorship push was to get our brand on UK TV. This was before the 2005 Gambling Act, which saw the introduction of TV ads for gambling firms. We were very disciplined, and every activity had to be responsible for itself. We focused on ROI and were able to grow the budget cost effectively, and quickly. It was a very successful period for the company. SBC: What challenges did you have in bringing 888 to its IPO? Would they be the same challenges as a gambling IPO today? JA: When I look back at the market now, at the time it was down. There


were also doubts about our ability to compete with Party, so what we did was make our roadshow very sharp. Our confidence in our product came through strongly. We were a very professional outfit by the time we floated. The timing was critical, and we made sure the institutional market was focused on our brand.

PERHAPS WE ARE SEEING THE SAME KIND OF EXCITEMENT NOW IN THE US AS WE SAW IN THE EARLY DAYS IN THE UK Things are different now. There does not seem to be the same excitement in the industry, not in Europe anyway. Perhaps we are seeing the same kind of excitement now in the US as we saw in the early days in the UK. There are reputational issues in Europe that need to be addressed. What’s important here is that people within the industry enjoy the work, and enjoy the challenge. You have to be both creative and resilient to succeed in this game. •

SBC: Did you go online looking to make a bet that day or was it something you did on impulse when you came across the Intertops site? JH: I had been sport betting locally in Finland and then I found the Intertops site probably through one of the first search engines available or from an online advert. I saw the service and became interested by the user friendliness of betting online. I also liked the variety of betting options. SBC: Why did you choose the bet on Tottenham to beat Hereford? The odds can't have been long? JH: I have to admit, the first bet was also a test. I wanted to see how the financial transaction would work and reassure myself of the viability of betting online through Intertops. But they turned out to be reliable in all aspects of betting online. So I placed a bet on Tottenham winning. And I guess that Teddy Sheringham's hat trick kind of proved my point, don’t you think? Teddy Sheringham playing, those were the days… SBC: Can you remember how difficult

I HAD BEEN SPORT BETTING LOCALLY IN FINLAND AND THEN I FOUND THE INTERTOPS SITE PROBABLY THROUGH ONE OF THE FIRST SEARCH ENGINES AVAILABLE OR FROM AN ONLINE ADVERT it was to place the bet using the technology at the time? JH: Well, I think the biggest changes after that have been in payment automation, so it wasn’t quite as quick but otherwise everything worked well. I guess back then large volumes of simultaneous bets might have

been hard to handle by the betting company side. SBC: Do you still bet in your spare time? What keeps your interest? JH: Yes I still make sports bets online, as a hobby of course. I usually make bets on Premier league matches and in the winter time I make some bets on NHL games (us Finns are in to ice hockey of course!). And the Premier League matches just got even more interesting for us by the introduction of Norwich into the Premier League with their Finnish striker Teemu Pukki. He scored a hat trick in the match against Newcastle. Did you see the second goal, a halfvolley kick… that was unbelievable!!! •

sbcmagazine.com 35

Safe environment


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a regulatory framework to safeguard betting was picked out as the biggest industry accomplishment for Hall of Famer Norbert Teufelberger, former CEO and co-founder at Bwin

Norbert Teufelberger (right hand side)


eufelberger, who was inducted into the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame in 2018, was involved in the founding process for the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), which promotes the creation of a Europewide safe environment for online gamblers. The group’s members include the likes of bet365, Kindred Group, Betsson, MRG, Betclic, ZEAL, Expekt and GVC Holdings - the parent company of bwin since February 2016. Meanwhile, Teufelberger was also the founder and creator of ESSA, rebranded as the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) earlier this year. Using an anti-corruption tool that detects suspicious activity on its members’ betting markets, the association has - for almost 15 years - played a significant role in the investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of all those involved in match-fixing across six continents. “I’m most proud of the fact we foresaw the upcoming regulatory

framework developing early and founded EGBA and ESSA as bodies to help the industry to speak with one voice and battle betting corruption,” he explained. “Whilst it took - or better takes - much longer than anticipated, it was the right decision we made.” Brussels-based EGBA is still pushing the European Commission to develop a new regulatory framework which will

both clarify and standardise gambling laws across Europe. Speaking in July of this year, EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer said: “While some EU regulations, such as the GDPR and the AntiMoney Laundering Directive, do provide some regulatory basis, the betting sector is regulated entirely by national policies. Each EU state has its

sbcmagazine.com 37

Safe environment

own set of rules and requirements. “They work in isolation from each other and without regard to the internet’s cross-border nature. The consequence of this is 28 very different sets of regulations and 28 different sets of customer experience.” This is quite reminiscent of the developing situation in the US, as we start to see regulated sports betting rolled out on a state-by-state basis, each with their own take on key issues such as integrity, licensing, taxation, mobile betting and the use of data.

Assessing the US market opportunity for European operators, Teufelberger said: “The US opportunity is always a long shot due to its fragmented, state-by-state and diverse regulatory framework. You need financial power, a clean corporate structure and individual backgrounds, as well as strong local partners to succeed. “Most newly licensed operators have European roots, so it is an industry which could be dominated by European large scale operators in the end. The way there, however, is long and tedious. Also, technical integrations with local regulators including geo blockings are not that easy to deliver.” The use of official data from sports

organisations - the source of such debate amongst lawmakers in the US - was highlighted by Teufelberger as “vital” to reduce time lapses for bookmakers taking bets on sporting events in-play. “Technology acts as an enabler of innovation and change,” he said. “As newer, faster processors become available, especially fast trading capabilities, live betting become even more attractive. In addition, new sports (point by point trading) with fast paced, rapidly changing results

IT WAS, AND ALWAYS IS, UP TO THE CREATIVE INNOVATION POWER OF AN EXEC TEAM WITH FLAWLESS TECHNOLOGICAL AND OPERATIONAL EXECUTION become available for live betting. “Most likely, the costly live streaming of sports - consumed on second, larger screens - will be replaced by simulated graphics. Official data provided by sports organisations directly into the bookie tool of operators will become vital in order to reduce time lapses between live events and broadcast results.” Teufelberger has been watching the


US sports betting revolution from afar, as he spends his time completing nonexec work for the likes of Crocobet, Betbull and EveryMatrix. However, more than three years on from the end of his time with bwin, he offered some words of wisdom for those stepping into the ‘hot seat’ at a major gambling operator. “It was, and always is, up to the creative innovation power of an exec team with flawless technological and operational execution,” he advised. “For example, we will soon see if Virgin Bet come with something new and innovative – it is unlikely to be around pricing, but could be communication or sharing capabilities. The team working on its launch is, for sure, one which has the ability to surprise the industry.” Teufelberger is joining the Hall of Fame panel at this year’s Betting on Sports (BOS), which takes place at the end of ‘2020 Vision - The future in focus’ conference track. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame last September alongside Betsson Founder and CEO Pontus Lindwall, Intralot Co-founder and former CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos, Former ABB Chairman Warwick Bartlett and SNAITECH CEO Fabio Schiavolin.


Speaking after accepting his award at the Natural History Museum, he said: “It’s always nice to be recognised for something you’ve done in the past, especially when you look at the people who have already joined the Hall of Fame and what they have done. To be identified for something you’ve done over twenty years is always a beautiful thing. “I found this week’s Betting on Sports Conference great as well, to my surprise as I am not a great fan of conferences. But I had a lot of valuable contacts and took some very good meetings and hopefully next year I’ll be able to come back.” Looking ahead to this year’s panel, he added: “Events such as BOS, help newcomers to familiarize themselves with the industry in one go and collect and exchange information with ease. For established players, it is a welcome event to build out your network and stay up to-date with new developments. Last but not least, it is a welcomed distraction from your dayto-day routine.” •

sbcmagazine.com 39

Individual experience



risk becoming merely a franchise of their platform provider if they take an off-the-shelf product with a prescribed user experience



ried said that it does not make sense from a business point of view for an operator to opt to deliver the exact same user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) to many of its market competitors. “In the betting market, you have on one side tier 1 operators such as bet365 or William Hill that have their own tech and develop their own UX,” he explained.

“On the other side, many of the platform providers deliver not only the platform with their technology, but also the UX as they envision it. This creates a scenario where platform providers are delivering and transferring the same experience to their customers, with nothing that distinguishes one brand from the other in terms of UX. “Each of their customers then get

the same betting experience, so the operator is not delivering its own experience. Ultimately it is the wrong approach to be undertaken because operators are becoming franchises of the same UX that comes part and parcel with the technology that is delivered from the service providers.” By contrast, Fried stated that BtoBet has dealt with this problem by disconnecting the whole UX aspect from the core platform technology, thus “unlocking the potential for each bookmaker to create their own individual player experience”. Individual operators working with BtoBet now have the freedom to differentiate totally the UI and UX for each channel through key elements – especially from a mobile perspective – such as front-end visualizations, side menus, and the way that the

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Individual experience

players access and interact with their betting slips. “Yes, the core technology and the core platform that BtoBet provides its partners to manage their operations is still the same,” said Fried. “A bet is always a bet, the risk is always the same, just as the odds are always odds. However, the way you present this makes all the difference. The way you deliver the UX and the way you engage your target players is totally unique, distinct, and reflects the operator’s own vision. “We have already undertaken this approach with multiple partners operating in the same region and the same market, yet employing different strategies to acquire and retain players, with distinct betting experiences and interfaces. “One has to also keep in mind that not all operators are ready, mature, and have the required infrastructure to undertake such an approach. This is why BtoBet has launched the White Label Partnership Program which caters highly customizable off-theshelf solutions that can represent

the first step to undertake their own brand UX. “Through this two-tiered approach we are able to cater for a wider set of customers with BtoBet positioning itself as the ideal technical partner to deliver the necessary support, providing experts to help our customers develop their brand identity and experience."

IT IS THE PERFECT MOMENT TO ACQUIRE A POSITION AND BE READY FOR REGULATION IN THE LIKES OF BRAZIL AND PERU Despite its experience across gaming jurisdictions worldwide, BtoBet does not impose its own interpretation of the right experience upon its partners. Fried said: “For the bigger operators prepared to exploit the full flexibility of our sportsbook platform, there are two options. Either they have the knowledge and people to build it themselves, or we send a UX analyst

and assign a team of developers to carry out the changes they want. The more a market matures, the more such an approach will reap its benefits.” BtoBet might have made its name in the industry through servicing emerging markets, particularly across Africa and LatAm, but this was more a case of taking the right opportunities as they came, rather than anything from a technical standpoint. “The technology gives us the option to be present in any market,” said Fried. “Africa presented us with the ideal scenario. Mobile was strongly emerging, diverse payment methods as well. It was the perfect moment to acquire a leading position. “Similarly with LatAm, we are present in almost all the countries because it is also in a phase where the region is transitioning from grey to regulated markets. It is the perfect moment to acquire a position and be ready for regulation in the likes of Brazil and Peru.” Fried added: “Many industry players deem us as being the door to the iGaming industry in Africa.


Why? Because we have adapted our technology for this market. “Yet this need for efficiency should never dictate delivery of just a standardized offer. When you take an off-the-shelf product, the process is already defined. You log in, deposit, select a bet, and subsequently place a bet. But if you want to innovate, there are various things one could do. “Let’s take the registration process as an example. In some countries the regulations in place allow you to obtain the data from the players through the payment method itself. One has to keep in mind that the freedom involved in building the UX is not restricted to just the front-end design, but the holistic approach of player acquisition and retention, even for things such as registration, the log-in process, the deposits, and cash-out. “Africa is a market in its infancy and requires a certain approach. Europe is totally different. It is a mature market, requiring its own strategy, with operators approaching us in order to depart from the legacy path to undertake a more flexible and scalable approach from a compliance point of view. “You have these established tier one operators who own their own tech and put resources into building the right UX. But they can get a little stuck when they want to move into other countries because they have a

THE WAY YOU DELIVER THE UX AND THE WAY YOU ENGAGE YOUR TARGET PLAYERS IS TOTALLY UNIQUE, DISTINCT, AND REFLECTS THE OPERATOR’S OWN VISION problem in adapting their technology. Expansion into new markets is therefore quite a challenge. “What they can do is migrate from one technology to something better. It is something we do, but we acknowledge that it is a difficult decision to make. However, we can achieve compliance for any given country very quickly because of the flexibility of our platform.” Finally, Fried revealed that BtoBet is


waiting for the buzz to subside in the US, where the PASPA repeal brought about a frenzied fight for first mover advantage in May of last year. “There is a rush, but there's no product at the moment,” he explained. “We are waiting for the market to mature a little bit so operators fully appreciate what we can give to them. “I think a lot of the earliest adopters will either fail or take just a small part

of the business because they will adopt the European experience in the US. “When this buzz dies down, operators will be more knowledgeable about what tools they need to be successful in this market which is more advanced than its European counterparts in terms of UX, and the way technology transfers this UX. It is completely different from other jurisdictions in terms of entertainment and the betting experience itself.” •

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Operator empowerment

HOW TO DE-RISK YOUR SPORTS BETTING SOFTWARE PARTNERSHIP GBET ENCOURAGES Betting on Sports delegates to have an open mind regarding potential technical partners and to evaluate suppliers on merit alone

risk migration to another supplier’s platform. “However, there are others who have accepted that inertia is no longer an option. Also, more recent entrants to the supplier market have had to be more competitive and have embraced the concept of operator empowerment and provide robust, scalable solutions and flexibility around pricing, operations and risk management.”


ith Betting on Sports now upon us, gbet’s Conall McSorley looked at the platform supplier landscape and told delegates at this year’s show to look beyond the “usual suspects”, in particular those that specialise in standardised “cookie cutter” type offerings. gbet has been delivering cutting edge sports betting technology since 1999, and is seen by many industry commentators as the “go to” technical solution for those looking for enterprise level software solutions, including a platform capable of processing 20,000 bets a second. “Betting on Sports is a genuinely unmissable show that improves in terms of quality of speaker and quantity of attendance year on year,” said McSorley. “The success of the show owes much, I believe, to its calendar slot in mid-September as the dying embers of summer fizzle out and industry attention turns to the future sporting calendar. “Unlike next summer (Euros, Olympics), without a major international sporting event this year operators will have had time to evaluate their current offering

and specifically their tech supplier relationship. “In an ever more competitive environment, made more difficult by the chilled winds of increasing regulatory oversight, operators are almost duty bound to consider their options in terms of platform and sportsbook providers. “Some operators are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the main technical suppliers, and have perhaps decided that it’s better to remain with the ‘devil they know’ rather than

gbet is one such supplier open to discussions with operators it tries to add to an impressive client roster that includes global brands GVC and the New York Racing Association. As a technical supplier that does not subscribe to the “bookie in a box” strategy of software delivery in sports betting, gbet is interested in speaking with operators who are finding themselves increasingly compromised by their historical choice of supplier. Front end ownership, scalability and options around hosting, flexibility with feed providers and risk management choices are just some of the frustrations voiced by today’s operators. gbet, said McSorley, understands the need to address these points and provide certainty around deliverability based on their past and current performance levels.



“Our target audience is multifaceted,” he said. “We are keen to speak with operators who want to partner with a provider that can deliver on their bespoke omni-channel sportsbook vision. Customers who wish to develop multi-jurisdictional solutions from one platform. “Then, of course, there are those who wish to acquire a single instance of the gbet platform and sportsbook, so that they can offer multiple brand solutions in a cost effective manner to multiple operators. This includes new entrants to the B2B space and also data and price suppliers, who also offer risk management solutions and want the ability to offer turnkey solutions to the market. “We also have designs on securing further international customers, having successfully supplied the New York Racing Association for over six years with their proprietary player account management and Advance Deposit Wagering platform.

“gbet has successfully integrated US-centric content, from payment processors to KYC software providers and continue to upgrade their US offering.” So what is it that makes the gbet platform, sportsbook and exchange a uniquely industry leading proposition? Well refreshingly, gbet suggested that we ask their customers. And this is what they had to say...

freedom as a business. They continue to provide a first class service with excellent up-time percentages, great customer service standards and timely delivery of new product like sportsbook and 3rd party integration.” Bob Hughes, SVP & CIO at NYRA, added: “Since the launch of NYRA Bets in 2013, gbet and NYRA have had a very strong partnership that leverages

THEY CONTINUE TO PROVIDE A FIRST CLASS SERVICE WITH EXCELLENT UP-TIME PERCENTAGES, GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE STANDARDS AND TIMELY DELIVERY OF NEW PRODUCT LIKE SPORTSBOOK AND 3RD PARTY INTEGRATION “gbet technology has powered Betdaq since its launch and now they continue to operate as our technology partners since the acquisition of the exchange by Ladbrokes in 2013,” said Shane McLaughlin, Managing Director at Betdaq. “They have delivered a fully scalable, modular platform which allows us great

gbet’s robust technology platform to power our ADW platform. “The gbet technology is highly scalable, and reliable, as it has to handle the very large transaction volumes NYRA sees on our big race days. We have been able to continually enhance the product with the expert guidance we receive from gbet.” •

sbcmagazine.com 45

The data to Perform

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betting is one of the best decisions he’s ever made, and what the recent merger of Perform and STATS means for the future of creating incredible, trusted experiences for sports bettors


ooking back on Perform’s first 15 years, there are a couple of pivotal developments we’re proud to have helped pioneer. Live video streaming is now a core part of most bettors’ experiences, and we’re still only scratching the surface of what it can achieve, but acquiring and distributing high quality sporting action into betting platforms took profound leaps of faith for all involved

in its fascinating early years. In-play betting wouldn’t exist without ultrafast sports data, delivered accurately and upholding the highest standards of integrity. That too relied on forward-thinking operators and rightsholders, who trusted us then as now to help anticipate user needs and create in-play experiences so seamless that users never have any reason to think about the high-octane activity

in the background. More recently, we have driven the industry into a new era in terms of providing deeper fast data to power in running player props experiences. Both these services continue to grow in functionality and performance and we’re very proud to be adding new partners at our fastest-ever rate, as well as working with existing partners who keep taking their services into new directions to engage and entertain their users. If betting on sports is one of your pastimes it truly is an exceptional time to be alive! This for me is one of the incredible things about our industry: the drive from all its participants to keep innovating and keep improving

sbcmagazine.com 47

The data to Perform

Data-sharing deal

HORSE RACING GETS RACE-BY-RACE BETTING DATA BOOST customer experiences, ensuring noone sits still for a second. I sometimes wonder whether this industry-wide ambition is replicated in other sectors. Whether our peers in other walks of life get to spend their days as stimulated and frequently breathlessly as those of us fortunate enough to have landed on this path. Where no two days or weeks are the same, and a relatively small cohort of customers and competitors keep inspiring each other to grow.

marketing teams and ultimately, incredible experiences for our endusers. AI-powered tools have the potential to help redefine betting experiences once again; to reshape both existing experiences like live streaming and player performance betting, and create new experiences that make

In keeping with this theory that we work in one of the most ambitious and stimulating industries, and as exciting as the live streaming and in-play experiences that we power undoubtedly are, behind the

IN-PLAY BETTING WOULDN’T EXIST WITHOUT ULTRAFAST SPORTS DATA, DELIVERED ACCURATELY AND UPHOLDING THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF INTEGRITY unification of STATS and Perform is a drive to help revolutionise sports and betting entertainment once again. The revolution we see coming is one where artificial intelligence technology pulses through a vast and ever-expanding sports data lake, learning what’s important, interesting, informative and insightful, and turning it into nextgeneration tools for trading floors, integrity teams, product owners,


betting even more entertaining, and enable even more confident trading. We often hear about AI ‘shaking up the world”, and it truly has massive potential in sports betting, especially when it has access to the kind of sports data our two businesses are fortunate enough to possess. So now we’re at the start of a new journey in what already feels like three or four fascinating mini-careers in sports betting. I say we’re at the start – even more fortunately from my perspective as Chief Betting Officer of the newly merged business, STATS have been building their AI capabilities for the past few years, have a very healthy collection of patents and data scientists and are already starting to bring products to market. In many ways it’s been an intoxicating first 45 days understanding what they’re already doing and hypothesising about how Stats Perform’s betting partners and end-users could benefit from these powerful resources now at our disposal. The question we’re asking ourselves and our partners is ‘how can AI make sports betting even more entertaining, efficient, safe and drive the industry forward’? Whatever the answers, one thing seems clear: for those lucky enough to call sports betting our industry, our next era could be the most exciting one yet. •

NEWS THAT FIVE OF THE UK'S TOP OPERATORS had committed to a ten-fold increase

in voluntary levy to GambleAware made big news in July, but a major deal for horse racing announced the following week - involving four of the same five - passed with considerably less fanfare. Tom Byrne, Operations Manager at HBLB, tells us more


he horseracing sector undoubtedly faced its fair share of hurdles to start 2019, including a nation-wide shutdown due to equine influenza, a significant cut to prize money, and the impending fall-out of Brexit due to take effect in the coming few months. However, out of a period of doom and gloom the industry came the announcement that five of the UK’s leading bookmakers had entered into

a major data-sharing agreement with the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). Betfred, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair (Flutter Entertainment), Sky Bet and William Hill all confirmed that they would be voluntarily sharing with the board race-by-race betting data from both digital and retail channels for every British racing fixture from January 2017.

The move, according to the consortium of bookmakers, could help develop a more thorough understanding into the type of contests which are most attractive to punters, as well as the types of bets that attract the most attention from punters. Tom Byrne, Operations Manager at HBLB, explained that the racing sector will ultimately benefit greatly from the decision to share data.

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Data-sharing deal

allowing both on-course and online bookmakers to capitalise on peakfootfall figures. Byrne explained: “One immediate example of this that has already been implemented is the recent Lunchtime Racing trial, from which the data provided is being assessed to understand the quantifiable impact of this initiative and any further action we may wish to take. “Although betting will never be the only consideration when decisions are made, this project will challenge and qualify existing knowledge with data and be radical in its approach to maximising betting activity. “Alongside the Board’s investment in Sectional Timing and Tracking, this exciting project shows our innovative

IN PARTICULAR THE DATA WILL BE USED TO ENSURE THAT RACING UNDERSTANDS THE BEST TIMES TO MAXIMISE ITS EXPOSURE TO POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS WHEN THEY ARE LOOKING TO HAVE A BET “HBLB receives an aggregated and anonymised dataset for each race, thus never seeing any individual firms numbers,” he said. “This data is already being used by HBLB through a collaborative approach with the bookmakers to assess and challenge any existing assumptions, structures or processes that may permeate existing working theories within Racing. “The ambition is to use this updated knowledge to move to an evidence based decision making process so that trackable KPIs can be used to measure the successes and failures of racing as a betting product and thus drive new innovations.” The agreement, initiated by HBLB’s Betting Liaison Group (BLG), has shown a significant shift towards industry collaboration in developing a sector-wide betting strategy. However, the agreement also marks the first instance where there has been such deep-seated data sharing among the industry’s biggest operators. Byrne continued: “This data

project is managed directly by the Levy Board’s Executive, which has spent considerable time planning the collection and has invested significant resources in building a project that has the support of Racing and the confidence of bookmakers, in particular around handling their

The horseracing sector is undoubtedly going to face a number of challenges in the upcoming twelve months, and so an industry-wide collaboration is key to engaging with both the core audience as well as reaching a new demographic of punters. “The data analysis will be led by

THE AMBITION IS TO USE THIS UPDATED KNOWLEDGE TO MOVE TO AN EVIDENCE BASED DECISION MAKING PROCESS SO THAT TRACKABLE KPIS CAN BE USED TO MEASURE THE SUCCESSES AND FAILURES OF RACING AS A BETTING PRODUCT AND THUS DRIVE NEW INNOVATIONS confidential, commercial data. “Importantly, the participating bookmakers are fully integrated with the project, as they have taken advantage of this opportunity to work collaboratively with Racing and influence its direction. In turn Racing will benefit directly from having access to bookmaker knowledge to further the sport’s understanding of the drivers behind betting on Racing and their impact on the sport.”


HBLB which, by working closely with racecourses, BHA and Horsemen, will research race performance and recommend actions to drive turnover on competitive racing, through data-driven optimisation of the race programme,” continued Byrne. “This includes looking at individual races and fixtures, as well as taking a broader approach in assessing and predicting overall racing trends. “In particular the data will be used

to ensure that Racing understands the best times to maximise its exposure to potential customers when they are looking to have a bet.” Earlier in the year, the HBLB offered its support to the extension of lunchtime racing with the intention of boosting the revenue that could be

generated over the lunchtime period for both on-course and off-course bookmakers. The extension to lunchtime racing has been seen as a potential opportunity to provide content at a time when customers are looking for suitable betting events, while also

strategy to use new technology and data to grow Racing and ensure the long-term future of the sport.” As confirmed at the same time as the data sharing agreement, further plans have been put in place for all British racecourses to have live sectional timing and tracking data by the end of 2021 following a financial commitment of £900,000 from the HBLB which will go towards the operating costs of the initiative over the next three years. Under the terms of the agreement, the HBLB plans to work alongside media rights holders and their selected tracking partners, the BHA and the RCA to realise the plan. At the time of the announcement, Byrne added: “The vast majority of Levy income is generated by offcourse betting, rather than oncourse, and feedback has suggested that there are some early positive signs but full analysis of the data when available will be carried out before HBLB can draw any firmer conclusions.” •

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Virtual sports


and have seen the numbers from Africa and Europe. If we can repeat this in the US then it will become a huge part of the business," said Golden Race CEO Martin Wachter


olden Race CEO Martin Wachter was on hand to discuss ‘Virtual Sports - the crossroads between betting and gaming’ in front of a packed out crowd at this year’s Betting on Sports America conference in New Jersey. With sports betting having recently been legalised in the US, Wachter spoke about how Golden Race would try to recreate its European and African success in North America. He highlighted how virtual football, or soccer if you’re so inclined, was one of the most popular markets, adding that the regularity of betting events was a big pull for its users. “Regarding games, in Europe and Africa, the most popular is the soccer league,” said Wachter. “90 per cent of my business with Golden Race is done through our soccer games - we’ve been the biggest in the industry for virtual football. “It’s very popular because you can play every five minutes with your favourite team all over the day, whereas in real life they only play maybe once a week, so it makes a lot of possibilities for gambling.”

it broadcasts virtual games in more than 50,000 shops and processes around 25 million individual bets on a daily basis. A significant proportion of these bets comes from its virtual football league betting, particularly in Italy and Africa, where the company leads the way for virtual betting in retail. Golden Race also processes more than five million tickets from mobile devices each day.

Golden Race has built up a huge amount of experience in delivering innovative games and betting solutions. In fact, the supplier has won SBC’s ‘Best Virtual Football Product’ Award for the last two years. Moreover,


Meanwhile, in Italy virtual sports accounts for more gambling engagement than the Serie A - Italy’s first division football league. Wachter presented some statistics that showed Golden Race firmly atop the virtual sports food chain in Italy with €610 million in retail/online turnover for 2018. By contrast, the combined turnover of both second and third accounted for just short of €525 million. “In 2017, there was just one company in Italy licensed for virtual sports, which had 98 per cent of the market,” he said. “Two years later, we took half of this traffic thanks to our great partner in Italy, meanwhile we are the market leader in virtual soccer. “Based on the stats for sports and

virtual, Golden Race virtuals are doing 7 per cent of the whole betting volume in Italy, one of the biggest markets in Europe.” The desire to make its online games as realistic as possible has also seen the company employ bookmakers to track and update its markets. “When I started this business I saw there were companies that had amazing graphics and amazing visualisations, but we say at the end of the day it’s not about the graphics, the players have to get a gaming experience,” said Wachter. “They have to feel like there is a chance they could win if they play it right. “It’s not a game where you see a nice animation and don’t know what makes the result. In one company last year, I went into a betting shop and watched a virtual football match on TV,

BASED ON THE STATS FOR SPORTS AND VIRTUAL, GOLDEN RACE VIRTUALS ARE DOING 7 PER CENT OF THE WHOLE BETTING VOLUME IN ITALY, ONE OF THE BIGGEST MARKETS IN EUROPE Germany at home against South Korea. Germany lost 4-1. Okay, maybe since the last world cup it might be possible, but normally it wouldn’t happen. “If I had played this game I wouldn’t have played it again because it makes no sense. What we do at Golden Races is we work with real odds. We have bookmakers in our company and they try to make the virtual game as realistic as possible.” Despite the popularity of virtual football, Wachter is aware that newer

markets such as the US will require an entirely different approach to both formats and games. “You have to find the right format, especially with virtuals, you can't find a product and go globally thinking everyone would play it,” he said. “We know for example in Ghana, our ‘spin to win’ is much more popular than soccer, but in Nigeria there is nothing more popular than the English Premier League. So you have to find the right format for the different markets. “Companies continue to make more and more sports available. We know that virtual soccer is not the best product for the US so we have to see what we can do. MMA was done for the US, we are also working on Ice Hockey and IndyCar racing and more games for this market too so that North America has different products.” •

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Series summary


on SBC News covered topics ranging from pricing to gamification, customer data and targeting a ‘Netflix’ sportsbook experience. We looked back on the series’ key contributions


Golden Race offers you the first real sportsbook with a virtual outcome, set on the most reliable and cost-effective retail and online solutions in the market.

Meet us at the Golden Race Bar



ambi’s Head of Data Analytics David Warder opened the discussion with some interesting thoughts on the role of pricing and risk in the differentiation of a sportsbook. According to Warder, operators who are prepared to take a view on pricing are becoming a ‘rare breed’. He explained: “As players become more sophisticated, sportsbooks wanting to differentiate through pricing must employ the best technology, analytical resources and proven experts. “At Kambi we aim to leverage the power of our network data and technical capacity to empower our odds teams to produce accurate probability forecasts fed into powerful models to generate odds. “Operators are empowered

to express themselves through differentiation in paybacks for bet offers by region, with a range of odds boosts and price boosts at their disposal, to ensure they have control of their differentiation in price.” Conall McSorley, Business Development Director at gbet, added: “While we fully appreciate that there are a number of fundamentals involved in a successful sportsbook offering, pricing ‘is the ball game’ for customers


and operators. “As a sportsbook supplier it is important that we give the operator all the tools to compete on price but manage risk profitably. “That means the integration of multiple price and data suppliers, so that operators can choose which feed providers for which sports works best. “Further, the ability to bias pricing is fundamental to take a price from a feed provider and manipulate that price based on given criteria from the Trading Desk. Also one of gbet’s USPs is that the operator can offer a specific biased price to a cohort of customers satisfying certain profiling criteria or to an individual customer as a personalised price. “While product, promotions and market depth among other elements, all have a substantial role to play, the ‘commodity’ at sale here is the odds associated with the bet and as such pricing is the main driver in a customer determining whether to choose operator A over operator B.” SBTech COO, Dave Hammond, highlighted the ability to deliver differentiated trading strategies across

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Series summary

both core and multiple territories as a key principle for SBTech: “We work side-by-side with our partners to gauge their needs and measure every area of their offering,” he said. “We can deliver a host of different pricing models and trading strategies. “We can then create specific bonus boosts or the best price in the market using our systems. We may, for instance, offer the best price but overlay that with different customer journeys to suit a partner’s specific strategy. “An example of this is our work with MoPlay, who have a partnership with Manchester United and, through our pricing and trading strategy, have very strong prices on English Premier League (EPL) matches. “We wanted to drive a high margin product, so we allowed them to be the best price in the market and adopted aggressive price boosts on EPL and specifically Manchester United games. This has created a strong customer base and following from those supporters and is a great acquisition and retention tool for the brand.”

Simon Trim

personalisation,” he said. “Currently, it is still quite basic, with industry understanding not going much further than leveraging knowledge of customer preferences. “Whilst it is natural to look at the likes of Netflix, there is added complexity for sportsbooks. The underlying content of in-play betting is much more dynamic than musical preferences and TV shows.

INVESTMENT IN AI AND ANALYTICS IS KEY IN ORDER TO TRANSFORM THE SPORTSBOOK EXPERIENCE TOWARDS A MORE RELATABLE JOURNEY FOR SPORTS FANS Meanwhile, Digitain COO Suren Khachatryan described the tools used to analyse customer data and analytics as integral to driving higher margin player experiences: “With today’s ever-evolving technologies; data is no longer about assessing risk but rather in taking that information and predicting what to do with it. “The ‘Netflix Experience’ that is emerging with today’s online customer journey means that a player expects offerings to be tailored to them. “Data provision and evaluation to ensure this is provided is an essential part of what we do for over 100 platform partners, ensuring they can target the right players, at the right time. Simon Trim, CEO of Sporting Group, acknowledged the reference to the Netflix experience, but added there is an increased level of complexity when applying it to sportsbooks: “Customer analytics is at the heart of delivering the ‘holy grail’ of

“Additionally, the most relevant metrics in sports betting are skillbased. These are often the hardest behaviours to objectively identify and analyse, resulting historically in sportsbooks making decisions via an overly subjective, manual process. “Add in the increased regulatory requirements and it becomes clear that access to a fully automated, integrated, deeply intuitive set of scalable analytics tooling is a necessity.” Betinvest VP of Business Development, Valentyn Kyrylenko, added: “The whole world is moving in that direction. Our industry is no exception. Thanks to AI tools, analysing and reacting to player behaviour has become quicker and easier for operators. “This technology enables us to group players in a comprehensive, detailed way. As a result, every player can be sent messages and bonuses that are fully personalised, and


operators are able to manage risks even more effectively.” BtoBet Chairman, Alessandro Fried, reiterated Kyrklenko’s statements surrounding AI, focussing on its importance by stating there is “no single and predefined character profile that fits an individual player”. “If this would be the case, this would totally preclude the whole concept of bettering the UX through a personalized experience,” he continued. “To truly realize the benefits of AI and analytics for sports betting you have to imagine a scenario where a gambler is attempting to place a betting ticket with no technology filtering the offerings according to his preferences. The end result? A cacophony of information resulting in a chaotic UX. The solution to this is personalization. “A player can be classified as a live casino player whilst at the same time also being a potential daily racer. It all boils down to the platform’s technological impetus to assimilate and process all the data generated by the player on a real time basis, with the platform then able to predict a players betting pattern and recommend content accordingly.” Nikos Konstakis, VP Sportsbook Product at SG Digital, became the third round table participant to make the Netflix connection to increasing sportsbook personalisation, stating: “Investment in AI and analytics is key in order to transform the sportsbook experience towards a more relatable journey for sports fans.

Nikos Konstakis

“As a result, operators are now following the paradigm of digital giants like Netflix, by introducing new features such as recommended and popular bets. “These tools are also enhancing areas such as product efficiency, which helps to optimise and automate business processes including trading. Technology allows us to learn and adapt over time to changing market trends, which leads us to provide a more personal experience for bettors.” As the conversation moved on, Paolo Personeni, Managing Director for Managed Trading Services at Betradar, spoke about the importance of gamification:

Paolo Personeni

“In this age, to ensure you achieve engagement you need to go a step further in adding content that allows customers to get better experiences,” he said. “Live, in-play and online betting all add extra opportunities, while streaming operates in a similar way, giving customers the ability to watch sports live. “Gamification can replicate this effect, providing customers with additional options to stay on a sportsbook and be entertained. “As part of this, operators can add everything from streaming to statistical content. Our Virtual Sports products can also be used by clients as another way to boost offerings and add additional games to enhance their offering further. “Both our Betting Stimulation and Virtual Sports tools can all integrate as part of our Managed Trading Services (MTS) in as flexible way as a client needs, allowing them to gain our 360-degree betting offering all under one umbrella.” BetConstruct Group Director of Sportsbook Product, Stuart Baker, said that gamification has become a buzzword but is often not fully understood: “Just because gamification and gaming have the same origin does not necessarily mean that expanding elements from the gaming verticals is the be all and end all,” he explained.

GAMIFICATION IS A GAME BETWEEN PLAYERS. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE TRUE GAMIFICATION WORK IN YOUR SPORTSBOOK YOU NEED TO INTRODUCE THE SOCIAL ELEMENT “People by nature have a competitive streak and gamification is about taking normal behaviour patterns and turning them into a competition. “In sportsbook it can come down to two key principles. Firstly, try and get players to compete against each other. Secondly, make it easy for players to follow and copy the bets of other players. “BetBull is powered by the BetConstruct sportsbook and they have built their offering on gamification. “A key part of their offering is around the concept of tipsters. Every player can be a tipster. You can follow tipsters and be subscribed to receive notifications when their next tip is live. You can easily follow the tip and place the same bet. “Gamification is a game between players. If you want to make true gamification work in your sportsbook you need to introduce the social element.” •

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SBC shake-up

REBRANDED SBC SUMMIT TO HEADLINE 2020 AGENDA THE STORY OF 2020 will be summed up as bigger and

better, as SBC continues its international expansion by planning the largest ever industry events


he headline news is that our flagship Betting on Sports event is moving to Spain and being rebranded as the SBC Summit. The date for your diary is 8-11 September 2020, with the new venue Fira Barcelona. It is a move prompted both by the rapid rise of Betting on Sports, which has achieved more than 50 per cent year-on-year growth since its launch in 2016, and the increasingly global nature of the sports betting and igaming industries. Rasmus Sojmark, CEO & Founder of SBC, explained: “Betting on Sports is known for its commitment to high quality content and delegate experience, as well as providing great business opportunities, which has resulted in a rapidly growing international appeal. “As the show continues to expand and evolve, it’s important for us to stay true to the core values that define the event. “We have chosen Barcelona because it has world-class hotels, transport links and attractions to ensure delegates enjoy a great time in the city. Fira Barcelona provides a large and centrally located venue to continue to deliver on this promise. “Coupled with the growing betting and gaming market in Spain, Barcelona was an easy choice to make for the SBC Summit.” The decision to stage the event

in Barcelona has received a warm welcome from key stakeholders in the industry. Martin Lycka, Director of Regulatory Affairs at GVC Group said: “Spain is a very exciting gambling market with a big international appeal, which makes Barcelona an ideal host city for next year’s SBC Summit. This event is one of the first ones on my calendar every year.” George Rover, Managing Partner of Princeton Global Strategies, added: “Barcelona is a fantastic international city, which makes it a perfect location for an international show such as SBC Summit 2020. It is one of Europe’s great destinations.”

WE HAVE CHOSEN BARCELONA BECAUSE IT HAS WORLD-CLASS HOTELS, TRANSPORT LINKS AND ATTRACTIONS TO ENSURE DELEGATES ENJOY A GREAT TIME IN THE CITY All of the key elements that have made Betting on Sports a mustattend for thousands of key industry stakeholders each year will still be present at SBC Summit, but on an even larger scale to create what will be SBC’s biggest ever event. Delegates at Fira Barcelona can expect a more extensive content


from each of the Betting on Sports, CasinoBeats Summit, Payment Expert Forum, SBC Digital Marketing Forum and SBC Sponsorship Forum agendas. The number of renowned speakers on offer means that the event will provide one of the biggest gatherings of gambling expertise seen by the industry. Complementing the conference content will be a vastly increased exhibition area where operators can keep up to date with the latest product developments and innovations in the betting, casino and payments sectors. The relocation will also see the Sports Betting Hall of Fame Ceremony, where pioneers of the industry are recognised for their contributions to the business of sports betting, make the move to Barcelona. Staging the SBC Summit in Barcelona is not the only upcoming Spanishthemed development for the company, as our media division is set to augment its network of sports betting and igaming industry websites with the launch of SBC Noticias, our first dedicated Spanish language site. The international expansion theme continues when SBC returns to the USA for Betting on Sports America 2020 at Meadowlands Exposition Center, New Jersey from 28-30 April. The inaugural Betting on Sports America earlier this year was a huge success, with excellent feedback from the American and European operators

who took part, along with delegates from regulators, trade bodies, suppliers and media partners. Since then, SBC has invested in experienced recruits for its US team and, with the help of their local market knowledge and contacts, the second edition of the event will be significantly bigger than the first and cement its position as the leading dedicated sports betting trade show in North America. Betting on Sports America 2020 will feature more than 200 expert speakers sharing in-depth insights on opportunities and problems in the fast growing US sports betting sector, along with an exhibition showcasing the latest innovations from leading suppliers and extensive high-level networking opportunities. The 2,500 delegates can also look forward to world-class hospitality during the day at the Meadowlands Exposition

BARCELONA IS A FANTASTIC INTERNATIONAL CITY, WHICH MAKES IT A PERFECT LOCATION FOR AN INTERNATIONAL SHOW SUCH AS SBC SUMMIT 2020 Center and at the official evening networking parties staged at exclusive venues in New York and New Jersey. Another success story for SBC in 2019 was the first CasinoBeats Malta, which proved hugely popular with professionals from the island’s thriving online casino industry and their colleagues from further afield. CasinoBeats Malta returns in an expanded form for its second edition from 1-2 April 2020, with two full days of conference content, plenty of highlevel networking opportunities and a

much larger exhibition space at the stylish InterContinental Hotel in the beautiful coastal resort of St Julian’s. SBC heads back to Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC, from 2-4 June for Betting on Sports Europe 2020. The leading sports betting industry event in Europe brings together decision makers from major international sports betting operators, along with regulators, suppliers, affiliates, sports clubs and governing bodies. It will feature 200 renowned experts delivering content that addresses the crucial issues facing the industry and sharing their insights into the best opportunities, along with an exhibition showcasing the latest innovations from technology and payments suppliers. SBC’s commitment to organising highly-memorable networking events will again be in evidence at Betting on Sports Europe 2020, with evening parties at top-end London venues. In between our own events, SBC will also continue to stage famous networking parties to coincide with other industry conferences around the world throughout 2020. The first of them is London Baby on 4 February, when our clients, partners and industry friends can look forward to an evening of unique entertainment experiences, complimentary food and drink, and networking with key stakeholders. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2020. •

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product evolves in the US; a lot more automation, a lot more markets, that’s going to drive that in-play number to 70 per cent and beyond.


betting breakdown as in-play wagering in the US plays rapid catch up with the rest of the world


s the new NFL season begins, Keith O’Loughlin - who spoke about NFL as the key to a successful sports betting product at this year’s Betting on Sports America conference - reflects on the numbers from the first football season post PASPA.

of years, and already accounted for 30 per cent of bets for one of our big operators at last year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. For example, they had for a $2.5 million swing on two Swedish players to hit the bar in a single game. So, you will see those things as the

SBC: And what about mobile applications? What is the data telling us about their use for sports betting? KOL: Firstly, we’re mobile first in everything that we do, and have been for a number of years now because 80 per cent of bets placed here (in the US) are through mobile devices, and outside of the US it’s closer to 90 per cent. There are three ways to use your mobile; that it’s urgent now and you’ve got to check something; that you’re bored now - you’re just sitting here at the back of a talk and the panelists are boring and you’re just scrolling on your mobile; or the third one is that it’s repetitive so you’re just checking for

SBC: Let’s look back to last year - the first since PASPA repeal; what was the betting handle breakdown between pre-game and in-game wagering for the NFL? KOL: Looking from the figures that we have through Don Best Sports, 60-70 per cent of bets on the NFL from outside of the US were placed in-play, against 40-50 per cent in the US. And this was moving towards 50 per cent. So, in-play betting is growing, and it’s growing very rapidly. The NFL is by far the biggest betting sport in the US, a bit like soccer outside of the US, which has got 75 per cent in-play across the world. I expect in two years’ time, 70 per cent or 80 per cent of all betting on NFL will be in play, without question. Something that we expect to be a part of this growth are prop markets. It has only been around for a couple


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example a score on a game. And if you think of those three ways, each of them is perfectly aligned with sports betting. I go on and get my bet on because there’s a play about to take place, then I want to be able to see where that’s moved, and maybe I want to be able to cash that out. It’s also during breaks and games or downtime that you’re checking your device to see, “Where are the stats?” You’re looking at the scoreboard. You’re looking at the visualizations. But it is so much more than just the transaction engine; it’s there as something that supports that whole experience and that, quite frankly, is what betting and wagering is about. It’s about giving somebody that greater recreational experience. It started off on the race tracks where people were going to watch horse racing, and having a bet to enhance that experience. That’s what mobile does for people who are watching games. And just two other quick stats to mention. The stake is higher on mobile phones than it is on desktop typically. The stake is higher on in-play than it is on pre-game, but on your desktop you’re typically looking at much sharper business; and on your mobile you’re looking at much more recreational business.

SBC: You mention this sharper business; what has your approach been to the so called ‘sharp customers’ in the US so far? KOL: It’s not about whether there are really sharp customers. I think there are a lot of good customers who have been incorrectly categorized as sharps just because they’re effectively going head-to-head with some manual trading and seeing where there are gaps and lags.

...ON YOUR DESKTOP YOU’RE TYPICALLY LOOKING AT MUCH SHARPER BUSINESS; AND ON YOUR MOBILE YOU’RE LOOKING AT MUCH MORE RECREATIONAL BUSINESS However, it’s fair to say if you don’t automate as much as you can, leverage grade trading expertise - which is in Nevada - and use the right tools, you’ll get exploited by these punters. SBC: Whether it’s gaps and lags or access to inside information, how can the industry be better protected? For example, do you see the NFL moving towards more robust industry


reporting, or is this just the way it is? KOL: For me, I think transparency is the word; that the operator has a fair chance with sharps in the general public, then I think it’s fair and square in terms of where it is. So, all sports and associations will evolve the rules, evolving year-on-year. SBC: Just finally, the European bookmakers and suppliers have taken a bit of a lead on technology since May 2018, disrupting the traditional US offering; what do you expect to see as the European and US styles converge across more states? KOL: So, I don’t think it’s about a European style and a US style. It’s all about the customer. You can’t scale to the level your customers will want here through manual trading. As an example, typically on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon we’re doing 130,000 price changes per minute. The only way you can do that is through really smart automated technology; and that’s not about the European or the US. It’s about what the customer wants, and then how you can deliver that. The technology will add a lot to the product and create the volume that operators want to grow their turnover. Ultimately, this is all driven by consumer demand. •












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