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Sports Betting Guide to AN UNOFFICIAL PUBLICATION

SBC 'S 10 T H BIRT HDA Y

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins on choosing a technology partner Responsible operators should 'ignore cynics' Countdown to Betting on Sports America

BY FEBRUARY 2019

INCLUDES EXPERT INSIGHT FROM BETCONSTRUCT, SG DIGITAL & OPTIMA


CONTENTS

FEBRUARY 2019

7-10

SBC takes to the ICE

11-17

ICE VOX sports betting sessions

Where to find us at the ExCeL? London Baby and 10th anniversary

Brazil’s betting balancing act Finding the right FOBT alternatives What’s next for advertising? Shadow of self-exclusion in Sweden

18-23

Sweden and Europe

24-41

Betting on Americas

42-51

Sport in focus

52-61

Social responsibility

62-74

Online gaming

75-80

Regulated market target for LeoVegas Betsson’s approach to player protection Key platform upgrades for OPTIMA

Lessons learned from Europe First mover advantage for DraftKings Perform’s post-PASPA approach SG Digital’s place in the feeding frenzy NCPG’s problem gambling principles What is Betting on Sports America? 6 of the Best - BOSA speaker in focus

The PGA TOUR’s integrity approach Kiron launches instant win golf game Esports takes top five place on 1xBet Sportradar disputes tennis data blackout New tennis data product for LSports Champions League debut for VAR

Responsible operators should 'ignore cynics' Flint’s four-point plan, six and 12 months on ‘Good guy’ intent for broadcast and banking PSP pursuit of conversion-security balance

America’s latest igaming gold rush BetConstruct shows penchant for fashion The strategic planner behind Inbet’s ascent Golden Race makes play for global success

Betting on affiliates

Last year’s top tipsters on bettingexpert.com The Lego link to your affiliate program

The SBC Sports Betting Guide to ICE is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community: EDITORIAL TEAM: Andrew McCarron, Luke Massey, Craig Davies, Michael Lawson, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, Stewart Darkin SALES TEAM: Rasmus Sojmark, Alyona Gromova, Conall McCabe, Neil Judson, Pras Sri 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

sbcmagazine.com 3


THIS MAGAZINE IS DESIGNED TO HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THE ‘GO-TO’ SESSIONS AT ICE VOX FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE EXCITING WORLD OF SPORTS BETTING...

INTRO W Luke Massey

Head of Media at SBC - Sports Betting Community

elcome to our Sports Betting Guide to ICE! The start of a new year is often seen as a period of reflection, or a time for self-evaluation of the last 12 months. For those active in the gambling sector, it is no different. Don't be fooled by the obvious hustle and bustle around the show floor before you; this is an industry recovering from a string of high-profile setbacks in 2018, many of which were played out (quite deliberately) in the public eye. Yet for all the talk of FOBTs, shop closures, social responsibility failures, tax hikes and betting advertising bans, we must remember that last year was by no means all bad. Headlined by PASPA repeal, 2018 also brought with it Swedish gambling market regulation, a new levyled revival for horse racing (complete with a Lazarus-style recovery for the Tote) and tech advancements to potentially reshape the future of sports betting. Among them blockchain (if you're so inclined), machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), same game multiples and instant withdrawals to name just a few. Plus we must not forget an exciting World Cup in Russia.

...FOR ALL THE TALK OF FOBTS, SHOP CLOSURES, SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FAILURES, TAX HIKES AND BETTING ADVERTISING BANS, WE MUST REMEMBER THAT LAST YEAR WAS BY NO MEANS ALL BAD

This magazine is designed to highlight some of the ‘go-to’ sessions at ICE VOX for those interested in learning more about the exciting world of sports betting, including those focused on FOBTs, sponsorship, AI and emerging markets such as Brazil, a country seemingly set on following the US lead to bring sports betting activity out of the shadows. Perhaps more importantly, it will also explore opportunities presented by recent regulatory changes, particularly those thrown up by the positive steps taken in the US and Sweden. For the US, SBC is ready to play its part in the country’s PASPA-less future through bringing the Betting on Sports America conference to New York and New Jersey the state that took the challenge to PASPA and barged the door open for others to follow. We are also celebrating the tenth anniversary of Sports Betting Community at ICE, so I recommend you drop by the new stand (S3-206) to find out more about all of our events for 2019, including Betting on Football (19-22 March), Betting on Sports America (23-25 April), Betting on Sports (17-20 September) and the CasinoBeats Summit (17-20 September). Why not combine this visit by joining one of the Sports Betting Tours? In the meantime, let’s have a great ICE!

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MOVING HOME

New stand position as SBC team takes to the ICE TEAM SBC has skated across the ICE

to find a new home at the heart of this year’s show at ExCeL

S

BC will be in a new location at this year’s ICE London from 5-7 February, having moved into the main hall itself to stand S3-206. The team will be on hand for three days to showcase upcoming events in 2019, including Betting on Football (19-22 March), Betting on Sports America (23-25 April), Betting on Sports (17-20 September) and the CasinoBeats Summit (17-20 September), as well as news platforms SBCNews, SBC Americas, CasinoBeats and Insider Sport. SBC Managing Director Andrew McCarron commented: “Our new position

puts us into the heart of the show which is good as we have so much to tell the industry about what we have planned for 2019. With this year being SBC’s tenth

anniversary, we are pushing the boat out to make it a special year for the betting industry.” Stand visitors can see the updated layout and impressive speaker lineup for this year’s Betting on Football, a must-attend conference and exhibition for members of the sports and betting industries, providing no less than 40 conference sessions over three days from 200 of the best industry speakers as well as 40+ exhibitors and 2,000 high level delegates.

OUR NEW POSITION PUTS US INTO THE HEART OF THE SHOW WHICH IS GOOD AS WE HAVE SO MUCH TO TELL THE INDUSTRY ABOUT WHAT WE HAVE PLANNED FOR 2019.

SBC will also be introducing the inaugural Betting on Sports America in New Jersey and New York from 23-25 April, set to be the largest sports betting and exhibition in the US. The 1,500+ delegates attending will experience 40+ conference sessions, which will include high quality content from 175+ industry speakers, as well as 60+ exhibitors, world class hospitality and unlimited networking and business opportunities. Meanwhile, McCarron himself will once again lead the ever popular Sports Betting Tours, held between 11:00 am and 12:30 pm on both Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 February. ICE London comes with a massive

exhibition floor and tens of thousands of attendees, making finding and connecting with high quality or specific suppliers really challenging. The tours therefore create a great opportunity for ICE delegates to easily and quickly get “the lay of the land” as well as meet and connect with key sports betting suppliers. •

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BIRTHDAY PARTY

SBC to celebrate th 10 birthday at London Baby

SBC WILL MARK its 10-year anniversary

well as the inaugural Betting on Sports America in New York and New Jersey. Supporting sponsors for the event include BetConstruct, Altenar, nSoft, OPTIMA and Golden Race, with BetConstruct hosting the VIP Hall of Fame area. The party will get underway from 20:00, with food and drinks on arrival followed by further snacks, free drinks and unlimited networking opportunities until the early hours.

by hosting next month’s London Baby, the largest networking party held on the first night of ICE London

O

n Tuesday 5 February, around 900 industry guests will be joining in the celebrations at one of the hottest party destinations in central London. SBC will be transforming the renowned Café de Paris in London’s Leicester Square to reflect the different areas in which the gambling industry is expected to thrive in 2019, including the US market, football betting and cross selling into gaming.

SBC Founder and CEO Rasmus Sojmark

This will allow attendees to fully

immerse themselves in this year’s big SBC Events: Betting on Football, Betting on Sports, and the CasinoBeats Summit, as

Rasmus Sojmark

said: “We can’t wait to welcome the industry to our birthday party which has coincided perfectly with the new look London Baby. “SBC is turning 10 by putting on a massive party for everyone that has helped us towards a decade of fun-filled success. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our clients, partners, colleagues and industry friends.” •

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MATT SCARROTT Director of Sportsbook & VIP BetVictor

LUDOVICO CALVI Lottomatica Betting Board Director

SADOK KOHEN CEO BetBull

SERGEY PORTNOV CEO

MARTIN LYCKA Director of Regulatory Affairs GVC Group

MATTIAS ERIKSSON Chief Product Officer Kambi

STEVE SCHRIER Chief Commercial Officer SG Digital

FRANCESCO GAZIANO Chief Marketing Officer SKS365

JOE LEE Head of SAS Paddy Power Betfair

ALEXEY SINYUSHKIN COO Olimp Bookmakers

ORY WEIHS CEO XL Media

RICARDO PINTO CMO Clever Advertising Group

JESPER SOEGAARD CEO Better Collective

BILL SOUTH Group Security Director William Hill

BRETT ABARBANEL Director of Research UNLV International Gaming Institute

NIKLAS LINDAHL Managing Director Italy, Leo Vegas

RICHARD FLINT Executive Chair Sky Betting & Gaming

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TROY COX Chief Commercial Officer SKS365

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EMERGING MARKETS

Still a lot to play for when it comes to Brazilian gaming regulation WHEN IT COMES to the

worlds of politics and gaming, you can often separate them with a cigarette paper, so closely are they aligned. Brazil, with its newly signed gaming bill, offers the perfect case in point

I

n the context of emerging gaming markets, Brazil is up there with the biggest of them. A fully regulated gaming and sports betting sector is, according to Flexa Ribeiro the author of the country’s fledgling gaming bill, worth at least $1bn annually. Hence, outgoing President Michel Temer’s signature on said bill last December was seen as a major step forward in attracting millions of gamblers away from what is essentially a grey market into the light. But, like many nascent gambling efforts in countries that are often regarded as less than economically stable, nothing is as yet set in stone in Brazil. All Ribeiro’s bill achieves at this moment in time is to recommend a framework, or components thereof, upon which legal gaming and sports wagering regulations can be built. That gives Brazil’s Ministry of Finance two

years to add some meat to the bones of those recommendations and create a workable law complete with all the necessary details regarding who can have a licence, and how many of them will be available. Should the Ministry run out of time, a further two years may be added so that policy makers can achieve the desired outcome. Already the debate is in full flow as to who will run all of this regulated gambling

activity, but opinion suggests there’s a reluctance to hand over full control to the established national lottery operator Caixa Economica Federal. The newly elected Bolsonaro Government is said to be typically shy of the concept of state monopolies. A state by state approach seems likely. And herein lies another dilemma. Jair Bolsonaro was elected largely with the backing of an evangelical bunch averse to any form of gambling liberalisation. As such, the President faces a delicate balancing act - aligning the fiscal ambitions of a Ministry of Finance that is widely acknowledged as economically freethinking with the far less liberal approach of those who voted him into power.

Creating a sustainable sports betting market • MONDAY 4TH FEBRUARY, 2:30 TO 3:30 PM • BOARDROOM

This brings us neatly back to the $1bn annual net worth from gambling mentioned above. Brazil has seen welcome economic recovery of late, having regained some lost momentum in the third quarter of 2018. Forecasters now predict a sustained period of gradual growth after business confidence resulted in its largest monthly recorded growth last November. In neoliberal Paulo Guedes, meanwhile, the new administration has a seriously pro-market Economy Minister which can only bode well for business. On paper, all is set fair. But for Bolsonaro,

having a fully functioning gambling sector ready in the bank in two to four years time could turn out to be a useful insurance policy. That $1bn industry serving approximately 200 million gamblers could present a nice fallback position should the economic winds turn inclement. And that’s the thing with Brazil; regardless of all its confidence and potential you never really know. •

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FOBT FALLOUT

Recovering from the FOBT furore

BRITISH BOOKMAKERS must bounceback from

a turbulent 2018 by innovating and finding alternative ways to engage their punters

S

ince the introduction of the Gambling Act in 2005, the debate surrounding the issue of fixed-odds-betting-terminals (FOBTs) has engulfed the UK betting sector. As the political uproar around FOBTs grew, inevitably so did the intensity and irrationality that encompassed the debate over the terminals and responsible gambling. It led to the advice of the UK Gambling Commission being ignored and the government making the judgement to cut the terminals' maximum stakes from £100 to £2. Inflicting further pain on bookmakers,

the government eventually came to the decision to bring forward the date for the implementation of this stake reduction from October to April 2019. The Treasury had originally planned on allowing betting shops a longer time period to adjust to such a drastic alteration, however the resignation of

UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch was ultimately pivotal, as pressure grew on the government to bring forward the reduction. Culture secretary Jeremy Wright confirmed the anticipated U-turn with this written statement: “The government has been clear that protecting vulnerable people is the prime concern, but that as a responsible government it is also right to take the needs of those employed by the gambling industry into account and provide time for an orderly transition. “Parliament has, however, been clear

FOBT stake cuts and the implications for the future of UK gambling • MONDAY 4TH FEBRUARY, 5:00 TO 5:45 PM • THE HIVE

that they want this change to be made sooner. The government has listened and will now implement the reduction in April 2019.” Rubbing salt into the wounds, the

government also announced that it would offset the tax shortfall by increasing remote gaming duty from 15 to 21 per cent - also effective from April 2019. Given their strong position within the UK’s retail betting sector, Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill are likely to be hit the hardest by the impending regulation. However, the FOBT setback will bring about a new opportunity for bookmakers to diversify revenue and engage customers through alternative means. Boosted by a profitable World Cup, William Hill set aside ‘£882 million non-cash impairment’ as it seeks to best prepare for the FOBT void. At the time, Philip Bowcock, the firm’s CEO said that the ruling had provided “greater clarity over the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.” Bowcock will be hosting a presentation

at ICE VOX, providing insight on how bookmakers can survive in the post FOBT landscape, as well as how it will impact the spending habits of punters. The full consequences of the FOBT clampdown remains to be seen, yet it’s of the utmost importance that bookmakers respond to the regulation efficiently by placing a focus on other aspects of their offering and sourcing alternative revenue streams. Whether this could come from racing, virtuals or sportsbook betting, only time will tell. •

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AD APPROACH

Creative marketing to combat advertising crackdown RECENT ATTEMPTS to address public concerns

surrounding betting advertisements have been well-received, but the UK’s gambling operators still face a battle to avoid being handed a complete ban

T

he days of Ray Winstone’s floating head urging you to place a bet might be a thing of the past, after new rules introduced by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) last April prohibited undue pressure to gamble, for example through the popular ‘Bet Now’ call to action. In December 2018, this was backed up by the introduction of a voluntary ‘whistle to whistle’ ban, which was brought in by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG).

Punters can opt into large social communities, such as WhatsApp groups, and affiliates can promote in-play offers during the game - which won’t just be limited to ad breaks. Sports betting affiliates will be able to monetise on the traffic they attract, while betting operators

Not only is gambling advertising in Italy banned, but so are sports sponsorships. The ban posed issues for a handful of companies who had signed sponsorship deals with sports teams, for example Betway, who had only just agreed to a three-year sponsorship deal with AS Roma. Gambling companies have issued formal complaints to the European Commission over the ban, arguing that the prohibition would only be beneficial to unlicensed gambling operators, however the complaint has not yet amounted to any sort of reprieve. The true effects of the law are yet to be seen, but the Italian government is hopeful

Confirmation of this ban, from which

only horse racing and greyhound racing will be exempt because of the commercial importance of gambling to their viability, means that from next summer no betting adverts will be shown during live sport coverage before 21:00 in the UK, from five minutes before the event begins until five minutes after it finishes. Despite these positive policy updates, hailed by the Gambling Commission as a considerable step in the right direction for gambling’s public image, the gambling industry has, and probably always will, rely heavily on advertising. So, what comes next? Put simply, betting operators will need to place much more of an emphasis upon deploying creative marketing and advertising strategies if they want to capture the attention of their consumer bases in the same way. Mobile app and sports betting affiliates that operate within large social mediafocused communities may have a chance to capitalise on the opportunity. Push notifications, in-play WhatsApp and Twitter links are all means of promoting in-play betting offers to a wide audience whilst still adhering to the conditions of the whistle to whistle ban.

can distribute promotional material. Winwin for both parties. But what advertisers must take into consideration is the need to adhere to the voluntary ban put in place. While the ban is optional, it acts as a middle ground between advertising freely and complete ban, something Italy has experienced all too well.

What’s next for advertising around the world? • TUESDAY 5TH FEBRUARY, 10:30 TO 11:30 AM • ADVERTISING & MARKETING, THE HIVE

that it will have a substantial impact on the rates of problem gambling harm across the country. Google and Facebook, two major

contenders in advertisement, have already implemented changes to their search functions to comply with the legislation; it has resulted in unlicensed operators appearing at the forefront of searches. This could, until the ban is fully implemented, be the antithesis to solving problem gambling. However you look at this, UK gambling operators need to grasp the nettle, and embrace new marketing avenues, to avoid following Italy’s unwanted advertising lead. •

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The future is here: AI is transforming the way operators do business better rankings and audience interactions. “You could also use it to get some deep insights and information about your competitors,” explains AffiliateINSIDER CEO Lee-Ann Johnstone.

SLOWLY BUT SURELY, betting firms are waking up

to the wide-ranging benefits of AI, a technology that may ultimately supersede any human involvement in odds trading

L

ittle more than a decade ago, the idea of artificial intelligence (AI) felt like something plucked from the script of an elaborate utopian sci-fi flick. Fast forward to 2018 and this technology has become a permanent fixture in our hyperconnected society. From spam email filters and digital assistants to automated customer support and security surveillance, AI in one form or another has quickly become an intrinsic part of the average business model. Projections for the industry are quite staggering. Investments in virtual reality (VR) - which represents just a small segment of AI - are predicted to grow from £11.4 billion in 2017 to £215 billion in 2021, while US analytics firm Comscore estimates that roughly half of all searches will be done via voice search technology by 2020. No two ways about it, AI is here to stay.

Online casinos and sportsbooks are far from exempt from this trend. SlotsMillion launched as the world’s first VR casino back in 2016, while BetConstruct built on this by launching its VR casino product Vbet in April of last year. Unsurprisingly, it's the digital marketing wing that has been the quickest to adapt to these three key technological advancements. DATA ANALYSIS Marketing teams have begun using AI to analyse data, helping them gauge fresh insights on what kind of content generates

CHATBOTS Along with digital assistants, chatbots are perhaps the most recognisable form of AI. They can present and support information in a way that feels both organic and personal, without the cost and manpower required to maintain a customer service representative. With the technology around chatbots and their implementation on sites continually improving, dismissing this tool as outdated or inadequate is a mistake - especially as it’s not that time-consuming to implement. INCREASED TRANSPARENCY 2018 was littered with calls for greater transparency across the global betting industry. GDPR was the four-letter abbreviation on everyone’s lips, while more and more questions were asked about the secretive data-hoarding practices carried out by tech giants Facebook and Google. With AI adoption and calls for greater transparency continuing to increase, it’s unsurprising that the two have coalesced. Thus, gambling sites have begun opening up the visibility of their databases and technology via AI insights, hoping to increase transparency and in turn brand trustworthiness in the process. With the ubiquity of AI showing no signs of letting up, it’s clear that the first casinos and sportsbooks to embrace these advancements will be the ones that reap the rewards. •

Thanks to its capacity for event prediction, AI will soon overtake human ability and become your number one sports trader • WEDNESDAY 6TH FEBRUARY, 4:00 TO 5:00 PM • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, COUNSEL

16 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019


SELF-EXCLUSION

The looming shadow of self-exclusion in Sweden A FAILURE TO POLICE unlicensed operators in Sweden,

for whom a new self-exclusion scheme won’t have any impact, represents one of the biggest risks to the player protection philosophy that the country has sought to introduce

M

ore than 10,000 Swedes opted for self-exclusion from all licensed gaming providers within the first seven days of the option becoming available via Spelpaus.se. To put this high use of Sweden’s new national self-exclusion scheme into context, Denmark’s corresponding ROFUS program - launched in June 2012 to protect online users in the Scandinavian neighbour’s regulated market - took three years to reach 5,100 registrations. Even at the end of Q3 2018, another three years on, ROFUS had only registered 16,369 individual self-excluders, roughly 68% of which had opted for permanent self-exclusion. Differences in population size and

gambling habits aside, this discrepancy can perhaps be best explained by looking at the situation prior to the introduction of regulation on 1 January 2019, in which more than 500 online casinos and 350 sportsbooks (source: Dagens Nyheter) competed in a ‘free-for-all’ battle for market share. This was supplemented by a media environment which, according to Ismail Vali - Senior Consultant for iGaming Leaders.com - was such that “watching TV, surfing online, or reading a newspaper in Sweden would make one believe they were actually in Las Vegas, not Linköping or any other local city”. Two weeks into the newly regulated Swedish market, following a period predictably littered with a social media fanfare for each of the 60 operators who got the ‘green light’ from the Spelinspektionen (formerly the Lotteriinspektionen), no one had been refused a licence.

Even taking a conservative assessment, 60 licences by early January would suggest that only 12% of the pre-regulation casino operator universe had bothered to get in line to take part in the “level playing field” of this newly licensed market.

Europe: New online markets and liquidity sharing - Sweden • MONDAY 4TH FEBRUARY, 4:00 TO 5:00 PM • WORLD REGULATORY BRIEFING, THE HIVE Vali has therefore predicted that the ‘real battle’ ahead will see the licensed operators go against the unlicensed, for whom this new self-exclusion registry won’t have any impact. “Governments and regulators ‘pushing the buttons’ in any prohibition-era business - as gambling was, is and long will be - creates consequences,” Vali

explained. “In Sweden, I would suggest, we are seeing the early signs of this now. “Those who have gained licensing thus far are largely publicly traded and their share prices dependent upon regulation. The competition they claim to face going forwards in Sweden is for market share against firms that are similarly benchmarked and PLCdisciplined. “Yet, those who are “out of the market” by way of no licence are simply not finding they are blocked, impeded, or stopped from gaining, retaining and entertaining Swedish players.” “An unlicensed firm cannot freely

advertise via local media owners like TV Networks or newspapers, or secure sponsorships with brands like the Swedish Hockey League, but in a fervent dotcom culture like Sweden, who cares about traditional media to the extent of the results one can derive from digital and affiliate marketing?” He concluded: “The lack of a monitoring, policing and enforcement regime against the unlicensed was and is the biggest miss in the regulation, and in light of the incendiary self-exclusion statistics, stands as the clearest risk to the central player protection philosophy that Sweden sought to introduce with this legal change.” •

sbcmagazine.com 17


REVENUE TARGET

LeoVegas sets +50% regulated market target for 2019 THE END OF A LONG, and

ultimately successful, road towards gambling market liberalisation in Sweden has put one of its own on target to break the 50% barrier for revenues derived from regulated markets

L

eoVegas expects to derive more than 50% of its revenues from regulated markets across the world now that the new Swedish marketplace is up and running in 2019. Posting its financial figures for Q3 2018 back in November, the operator said that it had emerged from a challenging quarter for its two largest markets - the UK and Sweden - to post a year-on-year (YOY) revenue increase of 41% to ¤78.6 million. During this period, which of course predated new regulations in Sweden from 1 January 2019, the company also increased the portion of its net gaming revenue (NGR) from regulated markets to 35.5%, up from 25.3% for the corresponding period of 2017. Two months on, the Group’s CEO and Co-

Founder Gustaf Hagman said: “NGR from locally regulated markets accounted for 35.3% of total during the third quarter. “Now that the Swedish market is regulated, we expect that about +50% of our revenue will be derived from regulated markets. The Swedish revenue was 24% of the total in Q3 and we are optimistic that it will grow.” Hagman had described the third quarter of last year as one of “transition” for LeoVegas, who saw a drop in average player value, which it was not able to mitigate in the short term by 318,189 depositing customers – a new record for a quarter. However, the company was in fact setting itself up for sustained success in Sweden

by focusing on compliance measures and launching a new front end platform, often at the expense of other growth initiatives. This included work on more proactive measures to combat anti-money laundering and the implementation of extended SOI (source of income) routines to deliver a more in-depth review of a customer’s financial situation. “The regulatory needs in Sweden have changed since the market became regulated,” Hagman explained. “The work on meeting compliance requirements in the best way possible has been necessary and

THE WORK ON MEETING COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE HAS BEEN NECESSARY AND WILL GIVE US A MAJOR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

18 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

will give us a major competitive advantage. We are now at the forefront in this area, ensuring long-term sustainable and profitable growth for the Group.” In Sweden, LeoVegas will focus on new

features for its casino, including the promotion of tailored products and localised brand ambassadors for the country, combined with the development of more exclusive games to maintain active players and encourage brand loyalty now that financial bonuses are only available to first time players. Hagman concluded: “LeoVegas is the number one casino brand in Sweden, and so we will focus on product features and innovation within this main product. In all of the markets we are active in, localisation is very important for everything from the core product, right through to the marketing campaigns, ambassadors and customer service.” •


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CUSTOMER PROTECTION

Betsson takes proactive approach to sustainable gambling

AS THE FIRST MALTA-BASED COMPANY to create a

full time post dedicated to responsible gambling back in 2007, Betsson is, as you would expect, ready to play a leading role in player protection for the new Swedish market

W

hen the Swedish regulator wheeled out the key conditions for its regulated gambling market - officially declared ‘open for business’ on 1 January - a set of social responsibility rules arrived inevitably in tow. These new responsible gambling regulations, which covered gambling induced harm and gambling by minors, as well as the prevention of fraudulent activity, also saw the introduction of Spelhaus, a comprehensive self-exclusion system for licensed operators. Alongside the likes of Kindred Group, LeoVegas and bet365, Betsson was one of the first to secure its place on this licensed

operators list in late November of last year. Peter Zäll, the Group’s Chief Strategy Officer, said: “Responsible Gambling is, of course, core to Betsson Group’s culture - we’re responsible for ensuring that our customers get a safe, secure and fun experience. “Betsson was the first online company

based in Malta to have a full-time post dedicated to responsible gambling back in 2007. Moreover, we’re constantly improving our processes, tools and player protection safeguards. “Early last year, most of our brands incorporated our in-house built ‘Customer Protection Engine’ which calculates 50

20 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

different attributes every day including player losses, velocity of deposits and cancellation of withdrawals. The tool is able to assist our team of experts in the identification of any early signs of problem gambling. “We have also taken a proactive approach to sustainable gambling and player protection by sponsoring research and conferences so as to further raise awareness on the field.” Zall also acknowledged the part of promotions and bonusing, for which only welcome offers are now permitted, in setting a “safe, fair and fun gaming experience” for Swedish players. “Promotions are important but a safe, fair and fun gaming experience is what we believe will keep customers coming back,” he explained. “In fact, our acquisition strategy hasn’t seen any drastic changes since 1 January. We have a competitive offer across our brands, with strong sportsbook and casino products. “It’s good to point out that all

customers are actually able to enjoy a deposit offer as even those who were playing with us in the past are considered to be new customers under the new Swedish gaming law. “On a short-term basis, there might be some jumping around of customers for value bonus offers. Medium to long-term, we believe the most reliable and trustworthy brands will be better positioned to compete in a regulated market place. “For us, brand awareness and consideration are important KPIs that we are focusing on in order to stay ‘top of mind’ when customers are deciding on which brand to play with, but also for existing customers. I believe the main difference now is that we are able to advertise on new channels, something we have really been looking forward to.” •


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PLATFORM UPGRADES

HOW OPTIMA FACILITATES CONTINUAL GROWTH FOR GAMBLING OPERATORS JACOB LOPEZ describes the key upgrades

planned for OPTIMAMGS™, a solution that “is and always will be” the company’s main focus

W

e caught up with Jacob Lopez, CEO at OPTIMA, to discuss 2018 company highlights, key OPTIMAMGS™ improvements and a new product to catch the eye in 2019. SBC: Last year, OPTIMA collected an array of high-profile industry awards; but can you pinpoint your highlight of the year for the company? JL: One of the highlights for the year at

OPTIMA was signing and launching with Betfred for both online and retail operations. We also launched new operators in Sweden and Romania, all of which have seen full certification of our platforms. This year, we are preparing to launch three more operators in Spain. We are also launching new operators in both South Africa and Kenya, where we have completed the certification of the system and developed our customer requirements. SBC: Can you outline some of the key improvements made to the OPTIMAMGS™ solution? JL: OPTIMAMGS™ is in a continuous

cycle of improvements, but the addition of Artificial Intelligence to the platform has stood out as one of the key improvements to OPTIMAMGS™. It will significantly enhance the automation process. The real-time business intelligence and advanced analytics system gives

operators the opportunity to develop their own analytics, segmentation, promotion campaigns, dashboards, trend analysis and customer action automation. This can be done through the easyto-use assistants but also with the new advanced programming mode. Operators that would like to independently extend their business capabilities may benefit from the new platform. It gives them the chance to utilise the algorithms within the platform to develop a fully working, functionality-rich software that is dedicated to business intelligence and advanced analytics.

IT GIVES THEM THE CHANCE TO UTILISE THE ALGORITHMS WITHIN THE PLATFORM TO DEVELOP A FULLY WORKING, FUNCTIONALITY-RICH SOFTWARE THAT IS DEDICATED TO BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND ADVANCED ANALYTICS Furthermore, we have 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.

22 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019


In addition to our extensive network of clients, we have added a further 50 new integrations to our Certified Service Partner Network. The new integrations include: payment suppliers, data suppliers and fraud suppliers, as well as a full platform certification in Sweden, South Africa, Romania and an on-going GLI-33 certification. We have also developed a new data feed unifier to act as a centralised feed for a single event and market catalogue, which will be powered by multiple suppliers. This gives operators the ability to pick and choose suppliers for each sport and market, in addition to combining different pre-match and in-play feed suppliers for the same event. In addition to this, we have enhanced our betting functions to include cashout, both full and partial, as well as a newly developed edit bet function. The new addition means that customers can alter betting slips, even after the results of some accumulator bets have been announced. An additional version of OPTIMAMGS™

as aiding the assistance to traders and our market leader Automatic Risk Control system. We are releasing a fully redeveloped Self Service Terminal and a new version of the OPTIMAMGS™ iSHOP channel. SBC: What level of ROI can OPTIMAMGS™ realistically provide to new partners? And how much control does it allow in terms of module development, front end design and third party integrations? JL: OPTIMAMGS™ delivers ROI from the

first day our operator decides to use it. The platform’s performance, promotion system and analytics facilitate continual growth. But what needs to be remembered is that flexibility is key. This does not just apply when considering the personalisation of the platform’s design, but also when considering the development of an operator’s own frontend. We are offering assistance to operators who decide to integrate with third parties for their betting and casino content for their sites.

THIS GIVES OPERATORS THE ABILITY TO PICK AND CHOOSE SUPPLIERS FOR EACH SPORT AND MARKET, IN ADDITION TO COMBINING DIFFERENT PRE-MATCH AND IN-PLAY FEED SUPPLIERS FOR THE SAME EVENT Lite™ has also been created. This has been tailored to start-up operators that are wishing to grow their business with low entry costs. It paves the way for operators to then own their own full OPTIMAMGS™ licence without having to change supplier when they require full control of the platform. It features Managed Trading Services, full personalisation capabilities, control on the pricing and promotions, as well as access to OPTIMA analytics, all ready to launch in as little as eight weeks. We are also excited to announce the creation of our new loyalty scheme which has been designed with adults in mind. It is set to include gamification for the promotional system, with games that have been developed by OPTIMA, that aim to retain its customer base. SBC: What new components do you have lined up for 2019 to keep pace with the most powerful and featurerich platforms on the market? JL: We will continue to develop our

Artificial Intelligence algorithms to help with KYC, AML and fraud control, as well

In addition to this, operators will be able to request changes at the backend level that will allow them to develop individual promotions and segmentation criteria to participate in our technology and product roadmap. To best suit our operators’ needs, customers will now be able to make decisions as to the times and dates that they upgrade. The most important factor, however, is that this can also be conducted in-full or in-part on our OPTIMA platform. Led by our company expertise, OPTIMA hopes to bring innovative technology, product knowledge and effective platform management to the industry. SBC: Aside from OPTIMAMGS™, which other OPTIMA services are you most excited about in 2019? JL: OPTIMAMGS™ is and always will

be our focus, however, we have our new Loyalty Games to market alongside OPTIMAMGS™ as an additional option, as well as separately. Our SSBT system software will work alongside multiple systems, not just OPTIMAMGS™. •

sbcmagazine.com 23


LESSONS LEARNED

Assessing Europe’s influence on the emerging

US market SPORTS BETTING is sports betting; right?

Fundamentally, yes. But where the US and Europe are concerned, it comes in slightly different flavours, as three industry experts explain here

T

alk of Europe’s role as a shaping presence in the US sports betting market became something of a leitmotif to proceedings from the moment that PASPA was consigned to the history books. And while chatter of a British/European invasion may have been wishful thinking on the part of some stakeholders, there is no doubting Europe’s growing influence on this emerging sector thanks to the likes of William Hill and Paddy Power BetFair, to name but two operators who are well in on the act. But alongside European expertise

in sports betting – and there is that in abundance – there are also some lessons to be learned, as Nathan Rothschild, partner and co-founder at Genius Tech Group, told SBC Americas in a recent interview. He suggested that US operators can learn from what has happened to gambling markets in Europe and elsewhere and employ measures to ensure that from the off they don’t run foul of the same issues around over-exposure. “The excitement around the regulated US sports-betting opportunity is palpable and the recent spate of sponsorship

deals between betting operators and major US teams and leagues is a further indication of the enthusiasm on display from all sides,” he said. “Such high-profile promotional efforts, alongside the rest of the arsenal of advertising and marketing techniques ready to be deployed, are sure to bear fruit in markets that have been starved of regulated betting to date.”

...THERE WILL BE AN EDUCATION THAT WE HAVE TO DO, AND WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL THAT WE DON’T BOMBARD THEM WITH TOO MANY MARKETS AND MAKE IT TOO SOPHISTICATED FOR THEM That excitement and enthusiasm, said Rothschild, comes with a downside. “As we can see from the experience in some regulated markets in Europe, unfettered access to available marketing avenues brings with it a warning. The UK is the most obvious example of the dangers of taking market access for granted – and of how a regulator can kick back in a very public and costly way. Not only are

24 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

Nathan Rothschild


recently where we just deployed some cashier’s solutions and also some selfservice betting terminals running our software. A punter came up to one of the staff with a card from, I think it was from a William Hill book, and it actually documented a 10-team parlay offering a return of around about 700/1 and he thought it was absolutely fantastic. But we took him over to a terminal, put in the same selections into the terminal and the odds were more like 1000/1 and, actually, exceeded the maximum pay-out for a bet under the regulations in that state. “I think there’s definitely a journey

the restrictions on gambling advertising increasing, where gambling is still allowed there are often more stringent rules on what can be advertised.” Rothschild advised that within the context of the emerging US sports wagering landscape, winning on product will be the new war to win in sports betting. “Regulatory and compliance issues aside, I think one of the lessons from the UK is that operators need to avoid the race to the bottom as they trawl for new customers. It means, we think, focusing on the quality of the products and what you can do to entice the punters to choose your offering and then, even more importantly, stay with you for the long term.” Another voice exercising the need for

a balanced approach was SBTech’s Andy Cochrane, who spoke at SBC Events’ Betting on Sports conference in London. Speaking as part of a panel dedicated to the trading challenges facing US sports wagering, he articulated the need for a gentler approach to winning over American bettors than is currently the experience in Europe. “I think certainly, the early signs that we’re seeing in Mississippi and

New Jersey is punters generally, are soft,” Cochrane explained. “They’re recreational. They’re not price sensitive. They’re mainly betting pre-game, as you’d expect. They’re not really looking at the derivative markets. Typical European books are offering hundreds of derivative markets. “In Europe, across the SBTech network, we’re seeing 80% of the volume of GGR coming through or the volume of bets coming through either close to the start

that US players need to go on. I think, as more European technology gets deployed into the US, you’ll definitely see a really sharp learning curve. I believe punters are going to get stronger and better and sharper and I think European and B2B sportsbook companies probably need to up their game in terms of what they’re doing in US sports trading to make sure that they maintain a good margin as the market matures.” Echoing that view on the same expert panel was RedZone Sports’ Warren Llambias, who also drew a distinction between US and European sports bettors. “We think there’s two types of US sports clients that are going to be in the US,” he noted. “Those that were betting on sport before the legislation changed, either betting offshore somewhere or in Vegas, and there’s a whole virgin group of clients that are going to need to be educated in sports betting. “They’re coming from a fantasy world where they’re very stats driven and, in the US punters are used to quite poor lines and a poor service in general. In the UK and

SUCH HIGH-PROFILE PROMOTIONAL EFFORTS, ALONGSIDE THE REST OF THE ARSENAL OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING TECHNIQUES READY TO BE DEPLOYED, ARE SURE TO BEAR FRUIT IN MARKETS THAT HAVE BEEN STARVED OF REGULATED BETTING TO DATE of an event or during an event. That’s just simply not the case in the US. I think that’s leading to a number of things. I think it’s leading to some volatility on GGR for the land-based operators, for sure. I think it also demonstrates the real lack of understanding of sports betting to the American punter.” He continued: “I’ll just give you a quick example of in a casino in Mississippi

in Europe, we’re used to clients being very price driven and very sophisticated with their betting. I think with the US clients the new US clients coming in - there will be an education that we have to do, and we have to be careful that we don’t bombard them with too many markets and make it too sophisticated for them. That’s not to say they won’t pick it up very quickly, but I think it’s a case of educating them.” •

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DRAFTKINGS CEO

26 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019


Sports betting and daily fantasy sports can co-exist AT LAST YEAR’S

Betting on Sports Conference, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins told delegates about how the firm capitalised on the removal of PASPA to become one of the first to market with its sports betting offer

SBC: As a US business leader, how have you personally approached the initial steps of US sports post-PASPA’s federal repeal in May? JR: So about a year, a little over a year

ago, is when the Supreme Court in the US announced that they were taking up the case. So we started preparing then. It was a little bit of a bet, no pun intended, but I think that we knew the opportunity was big enough and we felt like even if it didn’t happen through this particular route, eventually regulations were going to allow for betting and online betting in the US. So we said now it’s time to invest. That means we’ve been working on this since summer of 2017. We felt really wellprepared and because of that preparation we were able to launch the first mobile sports betting app in New Jersey. I think at this point there’s a handful of others in, but we were the only one for the first few weeks and I think we have a pretty good product too. Getting out ahead of it and making that bet paid off, so far anyway. SBC: Touching on that, both internally and of course externally as well, how has DraftKings kind of adapted to this new reality of a liberalised US sports betting market? JR: I think it’s very exciting. We just have

to figure out how to create great products that our customers love and market them well, and it’s really that simple and this is just an extension of that. This is just taking something that previously we couldn’t do, but really isn’t that different from what we did already. So it feels like a nice, natural extension. It’s not like we’re trying to go into something that’s totally foreign. Obviously, there’s certain types of expertise that either through hiring people or partnering we’ve had to attain, but most of the

basics, how do you build great UI, how do you do online marketing and customer acquisition? How do you manage your CRM channels and how do you build great mobile apps? All those things are the same, so it’s really an extension, I think, for us. SBC: Kambi Group was your initial selection for your betting platform supplier. As an established US sport stakeholder, how hard or how easy was this selection? JR: It was really hard because there’s a lot

of great products out there and we were new to it, so it’s not like we had years of experience and knowledge of the market. We were kind of getting a crash-course in trying to make a pretty important decision very quickly, but I think once we started digging in, we were pretty comfortable and pretty confident that while I can’t say what it’s going to look like five years from now - this was the best fit for us and what we were trying to do at the moment, and that’s not to say that I don’t expect Kambi to continue to grow.

EVENTUALLY REGULATIONS WERE GOING TO ALLOW FOR BETTING AND ONLINE BETTING IN THE US I think they will, but this is still the early days and so much like we think about ourselves, it’s going to be important for Kambi to continue to invest, improve their offering and we’re going to do the same on our end. But if you looked at kind of what we were trying to do out of the gates and what they were offering, it was a great fit. We were able to build an entirely bespoke front-end. A lot of people thought when we were first asking around that you couldn’t do that with Kambi, but that was not true.

sbcmagazine.com 27


DRAFTKINGS CEO

We built an entirely customised, bespoke front-end, integrated it with our fantasy platform. We want to add other products like igaming in Jersey and it felt like a great fit there. They had an excellent track record around risk management and obviously they work with Unibet, who has been very successful. So, we looked at a lot of different options and felt like they checked the most boxes for us. We’ve been really happy so far with how that’s been going.

poker, unlike sportsbooks. So obviously having liquidity and scale helps in sportsbook, but the difference is in fantasy sports, it’s like a massive differentiator in the product, having much bigger tournaments than everyone else, having many more variety of opponents. So where it’s relevant here is it was really important early in the daily fantasy sports market to have the most liquidity, to be the biggest, and that was the race. Whereas I feel like in sports betting, it’s going to be much more of a long game and about who optimises their cap to LTV; who manages their CRM the best? Who’s got the best data science and algorithms behind cross-selling and all those things I think are going to be far more important than they were in fantasy sports.

SBC: Yeah, you must have received numerous platform approaches. What was your executive team looking for exactly in a betting partnership? JR: So I think one of the key

things is that pretty much from day one, and we tried to do this with a lot of things because I think it leads to better results, I took myself and the non-product and tech people out of the decision. We said, you guys go check out what’s out there, you tell us what’s the best fit for our product from tech standpoint, and then yeah, I’d like to meet the people there and get to know them, but every time they’re coming to me and saying hey, do this, do this; I quietly reminded them I’m not making this decision, it’s somebody else. And I actually think that’s a really good thing even though at the end of the day it’s on me and the executive team, having people who are actually going to be responsible for operating and growing that product. To avoid them telling me six months in you made me pick this vendor and that’s why we’re not succeeding, that doesn’t really work. So that’s the way we approached it. SBC: So, DraftKings has launched its first betting-centric marketing campaign for New Jersey; will US sports betting advertising replicate the frantic output that was witnessed during the rise of DFS? JR: I hope not. I think that was probably a

bit much, although at the time it was quite successful so it’s hard to really critique it too much. I think the key difference here though is that this is going to be, at

least until something changes, a state-bystate thing in the US. So, unlike fantasy sports where there was this big national marketing campaign that both us and our competition were doing, that won’t exist. It’s all going to be localised and when the market finally gets to a point where there’s enough states that it actually does economically make sense to do national advertising, I think it’ll be way past the stage of everyone learning the brands. I don’t think it’ll play out the same way. I think it’ll be much more about who can execute the best on product and then digital marketing. The other thing I’d add is that the other aspect with fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports, is it’s a marketplace. It’s a game, but it’s a marketplace. So it’s liquidity driven, like

I TOOK MYSELF AND THE NON-PRODUCT AND TECH PEOPLE OUT OF THE DECISION. WE SAID ‘YOU TELL US WHAT’S THE BEST FIT FOR OUR PRODUCT FROM TECH STANDPOINT

28 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

SBC: So with that in mind, is there actually a future for daily fantasy sports in this new era?

JR: Oh, for sure. I mean daily fantasy

sports isn’t going anywhere anytime soon over the long-term. I mean, who knows, everything gets disrupted. But first of all it’s going to take a while for all the states to roll out, so even if you’re somebody that believes that it’s just a substitute product, it’s not going to be, there’s not going to be available substitutes for quite some time in most places around the country. Secondly, it is really a different value proposition. You can go on daily fantasy sports and enter an NFL contest with us this Sunday and put in $20 and win $1 million that day if you beat the competition. There’s parlays and other ways you could do it with sports betting, but it’s a little bit different. I mean the last point I make is that already about 80 or so percent of our customers are betting on the black markets offshore anyway for sports. So whatever cannibalisation would exist is kind of already happening and I think it’s already in equilibrium, but obviously we want to move that black-market activity over into the regulated markets, but I don’t see why that can’t coexist with fantasy sports in the same way that it does today, just everything in a legal market. •


HIRE ALERT

Anderson praises Perform approach to post-PASPA US BILL ANDERSON, who recently joined new-look Perform as VP Betting - US, spoke to SBC Magazine ahead of ICE 2019 SBC: Why did you join Perform? BA: Before joining, I asked: what would

happen if Perform’s operations went offline for a day? It helped me to realise how much of the global sports ecosystem would unravel, and how many global fans would be impacted. I learned Perform are the creative force behind many of the broadcast, media, fantasy and betting experiences sports fans take for granted, including some great innovation that we haven’t yet seen in the US. That felt like a great opportunity, but I also wanted to find out how they’d got there. Anyone who meets the team can see that Perform’s DNA is sport and their mission is creating the highest quality, trusted content to help clients bring fans closer to sport, teams and players. They don’t supply vanilla betting odds or content scraped from other sites. They invest in sport, for the benefit of all its

THE MEDIA EXPECTS EUROPEAN OPERATORS TO INFLUENCE THE US EXPERIENCE, BUT I THINK IT’LL QUICKLY END UP BEING THE OTHER WAY AROUND participants. I loved that approach, I thought it would resonate in post-PASPA US, and so far that’s exactly the case. SBC: Which of Perform’s services is finding the swiftest traction in the US betting space? BA: The UX bar is already set very high for

US consumers when it comes to any form of transaction or content consumption. Betting will be no different. Perform’s Watch&Bet live video streaming service is generating high interest. Everyone knows streaming has helped operators overseas drive engagement, differentiation and betting activity. Our portfolio contains some great round-the-clock exclusive rights such as La Liga, global tennis, basketball and ice hockey. Our RunningBall ultrafast data has already been chosen to create high Bill Anderson

quality in-play betting experiences for operators using it for pricing. We cover over 100,000 events live per year, which enables operators to offer live betting whenever it suits their customers. We’re also in advanced conversations with new entrants looking to build their own pricing models from RunningBall’s trusted, ultrafast data feed. Meanwhile, Opta’s detailed data is already used by US sports media like ESPN, DraftKings, thescore and FanDuel amongst others, but I’m excited about introducing the Opta Fast Player Statistics service to the US. The traction that Sky Bet and others are getting is mind-blowing – seeing bettors visibly excited about player shots and passes is a great example of how Perform are connecting fans more closely to the game and transforming their entertainment experience. SBC: What is your goal for 2019? BA: It’s exciting to think about what smart

US companies will create from Perform’s content. The media expects European operators to influence the US experience, but I think it’ll quickly end up being the other way around. My goal is to bring reallife examples of US operator innovation using Perform’s products to ICE in 2020. •

sbcmagazine.com 29


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KRESIMIR SPAJIC SVP Online Gaming Hard Rock International

CHRISTIAN STUART Executive Vice President of Gaming & Interactive Entertainment Caesars

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ED COMINS President Webis Holdings

SCOTT KAUFMAN-ROSS VP of Fantasy & Gaming NBA

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FEEDING FRENZY

SG Digital’s Keith O’Loughlin: Market access is just the start

S

G Digital’s place in the ‘feeding frenzy’ brought about by last May’s PASPA repeal was assured after the firm was chosen to act as lead sportsbook provider for Caesars Entertainment. Through its Caesars’ partnership, SG Digital launched a mobile offering powered by OpenBet™, which includes popular betting features such as Cashout and build-your-own bet. “There’s also been a lot of focus on people selecting the right platform,” said O’Loughlin. “It is the equivalent of buying golf clubs. The goal isn’t to buy golf clubs. It’s to win a golf tournament. You’ve still got to get out and win.” The operator has since cemented its place in the newly liberalised market by

KEITH O’LOUGHLIN, SVP of Sportsbook and Platforms at SG Digital, has likened an operator's choice of supplier for the U.S. market to "buying golf clubs" - a selection that puts you in the game, but one which "you've still got to get out and win" completing the acquisition of U.S.-focused sports betting data provider, Don Best, and signing a deal to provide sportsbook technology to the Oneida Nation of New York, which has three properties in the state. On a more global level, SG Digital

strengthened its relationship with New Zealand Racing Board through the launch of that partner’s NZ-based sportsbook.

O’Loughlin notes that a global presence ignites opportunity in other regions. “When you build a strong reputation in established markets with different punters who have different tastes, customers look to you as a leader,” he said. “We aim to leverage our worldwide expertise as we tackle the U.S. market. We’ve done the heavy lifting in the UK, Australia, now New Zealand. We’re readily equipped to carry

sbcmagazine.com 31


FEEDING FRENZY

on that tradition in the States, and we think it’ll be a hugely successful market.” Speaking at last year’s Betting on Sports conference, O’Loughlin preempted the company’s moves for more market access by suggesting that partnerships are key to success. “It is all about ensuring solid partnerships with our customers with a focus on next level sports betting experiences for their players,” he explained. “I think, the important thing in the market is, nobody’s going it alone. It’s about partnerships. It’s about finding where businesses and operators from here can really play to their strengths. Doing deals to find the right partners that are complementary in the U.S., to get that market access. And I think that’s what we’re going to see.” O’Loughlin also stressed that operators

need to be aware of the differences in consumer habits for the U.S. market, which he describes as a “wholly different ball-park” to that of Europe. “There was no doubt that Europeans would make a concerted effort to enter the market using pre-existing expertise on the market,” he continued. “But offering European services to those in the States only works well when you take a sharp look and how to tailor those services for an audience who enjoys different sports and bet types. “The experience of sports betting will require some re-thinking, and the products will change as a result. Those European operators who think they can

just go and copy and paste, it’s not going to work. That’s where the essence of the partnership is not just about market access. It’s about knowing the end customer.” SG Digital subsequently launched its Managed Trading Service (MTS) solution in November 2018 to strengthen the Caesars offering in New Jersey, Mississippi and Delaware. This rollout, made possible by the Don Best deal, has provided Caesars with a

very different than U.S. sports,” he said. “U.S. sports are much more entertainment-based. You go to any game, there’s a lot more breaks. They’ve got entertainment during each break. It’s a full-on entertainment experience. “They’ll bring your beer to your seat rather than take your beer at the top of the stands as you’re walking back down to the second half of a soccer game. So, I think the whole experience of sport is different in the U.S.

KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE CUSTOMER IS ACTUALLY WHERE THE BATTLE IS GOING TO BE. IT’S GOING TO BE ABOUT BRAND. IT’S GOING TO BE ABOUT MARKETING. IT’S GOING TO BE ABOUT GOING TO MARKET WITH A REAL CONFIDENCE THAT, AS YOU SCALE YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR PLATFORM IS GOING TO WORK. fresh range of betting and pricing services, as well as real-time event data solutions, to complement the OpenBet sportsbook that already powers its online, mobile and retail offering. O’Loughlin also used the Betting on Sports session, for which he was joined on stage by Benjie Cherniak - Don Best’s President and CEO - as well as Bede Gaming Co-Founder Michael Brady and Hard Rock’s SVP for Online Gaming Kresimir Spajic, to talk up the importance of customer experience specific to the U.S. market. He acknowledged that product enhancements around the biggest US. sports - namely American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey - are likely to achieve greater impact. “European sports are fundamentally

32 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

“Keeping your eye on the customer is actually where the battle is going to be. It’s going to be about brand. It’s going to be about marketing. It’s going to be about going to market with a real confidence that, as you scale your business, your platform is going to work.” This idea of operating with confidence

leads O’Loughlin to pair his golf clubs analogy by making a concluding analogy with a striker in a football team. He said: “If they (the striker) do not have confidence in the team’s defenders, they may hang back to offer support, but then will never score as many goals. Whereas if the striker is pushing the boundaries of the other team, the possibilities are endless.” •


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TREATING ADDICTION

Maximise US sports betting by minimising problem gambling harm KEITH WHYTE, Executive Director of the NCPG,

discusses the critical role his organisation has to play in the USA, and steps that must be taken by individual states to ensure a safe, responsible and enjoyable betting and gambling scene for all

T

he growing advancement of sports betting in the United States in the weeks and months since the Supreme Court dismissed PASPA, permitting individual states to legalise and regulate, continues

apace. However, amongst the will they won’t they of certain jurisdictions, various partnerships being agreed amongst a variety of stakeholders and even sports leagues beginning to welcome the activity, the necessity to have practices, policies and initiatives in place for individuals that face, or could be facing addiction, is crucial. One organisation stating as such, even before the SCOTUS decision, was and is the the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The organisation’s Executive Director Keith Whyte has been addressing why its role is becoming increasingly crucial. He said: “Our role is critical as we are the only organisation who advocates for programs to help prevent and treat gambling addiction. “The expansion of gambling is often accompanied by increases in gambling problems. With almost 50 years of

34 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

experience in problem gambling and responsible gambling, a stance of neutrality and an extensive network of members and partners across all sectors of the gaming industry as well as state and tribal government, regulators, counselors, researchers and recovering gamblers, we are the best source of objective, high quality information and resources on these issues.” With there said to be approximately two million Americans with gambling problems, Whyte went on to emphasise how crucial it is to have the necessary time, effort and money from all areas of the industry, particularly in the face of changes and evolution in products and technology. “While it may be a lot of money in the UK, the US is much further behind,” he admitted. “We found a total spend of $73 million on all public problem gambling services in 2016.

EVERYONE WHO PROFITS FROM SPORTS BETTING BEARS RESPONSIBILITY FOR GAMBLING PROBLEMS “That is about 23 cents per capita in 2016. So it is a very shaky foundation to build on, particularly in the 20 per cent of states without any public funding whatsoever. “Which makes the active participation of government, regulators, operators and vendors with NCPG even more important. And of course there is no federal funding for problem gambling in the US, so the


NCPG relies on these partnerships and donations to provide even a minimum safety net across the entire country.” Investigating the key measures and policies that need to be in-place for each region before it even commences with the activity of sports wagering, Whyte and the NCPG articulated five principles that it believes are the “absolute minimum for states”. As part of ‘Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America’, delivered

before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, Whyte said: “We believe the expansion of legalised sports gambling in the United States will likely increase gambling participation and problems unless the following steps are taken to minimise harm. 1.Dedicate at least one per cent of revenue to prevent and treat gambling addiction 2.Require sports betting operators to implement responsible gaming programs. 3.Assign a regulatory agency to enforce responsible gambling and other regulations.

4.Conduct surveys of the prevalence of

gambling addiction prior to expansion and at regular periods thereafter to support evidence-based, data-driven responsive measures. 5.Establish a consistent minimum age for sports gambling and related fantasy games. “We are concerned about the collision of three trends - vast increases in gambling advertising, especially exhortations to gamble during the game; advances in technology including mobile phone gambling, and a virtually unlimited menu of betting opportunities far beyond game outcome or even player performance,” Whyte explained. “This Frankenstein’s monster of advertising, access and action is

OUR ROLE IS CRITICAL AS WE ARE THE ONLY ORGANISATION WHO ADVOCATES FOR PROGRAMS TO HELP PREVENT AND TREAT GAMBLING ADDICTION

unprecedented in America, and indeed anywhere else in the world. As a result it is likely that most Americans will soon be bombarded by marketing urging them to bet instantly from their phone, on every action by every player on every play in every game in every sport. “Everyone who profits from sports betting bears responsibility for gambling problems. Dedicating a portion of profits from gambling to mitigate gambling harm is an ethical imperative and an economic necessity. “The only way to maximise benefits

from sports betting is to minimise problem gambling harm. Sports betting should not be allowed in a state without public funding for problem gambling services. Yet 20 per cent of states still do not have such funding. “There will be a small but significant portion of gamblers who experience negative consequences as a result of sports betting. Together with all stakeholders who will profit from sports betting our challenge is to implement measures to reduce that harm as much as possible even as sports gambling expands across the nation.” •

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BOSA LAUNCH

Betting on Sports America hits New York and New Jersey THE NEWEST, and most exciting, addition to the

SBC Events portfolio in 2019 is so big that it will span two US states

T

he inaugural Betting on Sports America conference, which is being held from 23-25 April 2019, will start off in New York City, cross the Hudson River to New Jersey, before returning to Manhattan to round things off. It will open on 23 April with a networking evening party for preregistration near Times Square - held at the 40/40 Club owned by Jay Z - before moving across to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, which will be the conference and exhibition venue for 24-25 April. The event will conclude on the evening of 25 April with a spectacular closing party back in New York City

at the Sky Room rooftop bar, allowing delegates to experience the best of the Big Apple. Meadowlands Exposition Center is a stone’s throw away from the MetLife Stadium, home of NFL teams New York Giants and New York Jets, and close by to Meadowlands Racetrack, which

WE ARE INCREDIBLY EXCITED TO BRING SUCH A CRUCIAL INDUSTRY EVENT TO AN AREA WHICH HAS BEEN SO PIVOTAL TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPORTS BETTING IN THE US

36 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

houses the first Fanduel Sportsbook. SBC CEO & Founder Rasmus Sojmark said: “The Meadowlands Exposition Center provides the perfect venue for the first Betting on Sports America event. “We are incredibly excited to bring such a crucial industry event to an area which has been so pivotal to the development of sports betting in the US. “It was New Jersey that challenged PASPA in the courts, barging the door open for most others, it was the FanDuel Sportsbook that was the first of its kind at the racetrack and it’s the state where DraftKings launched their app. In many ways, it is the pioneer of the new wave of sports betting in the US.” Located just minutes away from New York, the New Jersey venue will host

up to 1,500 delegates, 175 speakers and 60 exhibitors across 61,000 sq.ft of exhibition space, as the industry jostles for position in what could become the biggest global sports betting market.


This exhibition lineup already includes leading industry suppliers including BetConstruct, SG Digital, SBTech, Playtech and Sportradar. Jonathan Aiwazian, BetConstruct Regional Director in the US, said: “We have placed education at the heart of our US strategy, so aligning ourselves with an event that puts such an emphasis on the right learning experience – both through the passing of local knowledge and by facilitating an influx of European operating experience - was a logical move. “We are looking to sustain our US market moves into 2019, and we’re excited about bringing just some of our plans to life at Betting on Sports America.” Keith O’Loughlin, EVP Sportsbook at SG Digital, added: “In addition to our unparalleled stability and reliability, we have recently transformed our product to meet the needs of US operators. Given the success of Betting on Sports in Europe, we are thoroughly looking forward to sharing this transformation journey and how our customer first proposition will enable market-leading operators.” Richard Carter, SBTech CEO, said: “Betting on Sports has developed into one of the most important dates in the calendar for everyone focused on sports betting, and I am sure Betting on Sports America will become equally important as a forum for discussion and debate around the burgeoning US sports betting market. We look forward to showcasing our industry-leading online and retail solutions, meeting current and future partners and taking part in the sessions on how the US landscape will evolve.” Neale Deeley, VP Sales, Gaming at Sportradar, said: “Betting on Sports America will be a great opportunity

for us to share our expertise and 360-degree betting solutions with a variety of stakeholders. As the leader in sports betting, data, technology and entertainment solutions, we’re delighted to be involved.” Amongst those confirmed to speak

at the event are Manuel Stan (Kindred Group), Benjie Cherniak (Don Best Sports) and Sue Schneider (Gaming Law Review).

established itself as the leading organizer of conferences specific to the sports betting space. Given the PASPA repeal and subsequent flurry of activity, the timing is opportune for SBC to replicate that success stateside. Betting on Sports America is shaping up to be a must attend event for all industry stakeholders.” Schneider added: “I’ve seen the impressive progress that SBC has been making with its sports betting events elsewhere in the world and so I’m delighted to be able to get involved with this new chapter now that PASPA has been repealed. SBC’s ‘Betting on Sports America’ event could prove to be a great catalyst for the development of the sports betting sector in the US at this exciting time.” Stan, Cherniak and Schneider form part of an ultimate advisory board for BOSA, comprising experts from a leading US casino, tribal association, racetrack operator and government-run lottery, as well as those from gaming suppliers, consultancies, legal teams and regulators.

GIVEN THE PASPA REPEAL AND SUBSEQUENT FLURRY OF ACTIVITY, THE TIMING IS OPPORTUNE FOR SBC TO REPLICATE THAT SUCCESS STATESIDE. BETTING ON SPORTS AMERICA IS SHAPING UP TO BE A MUST ATTEND EVENT FOR ALL INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS Stan said: “I have a long history with the SBC team. It’s more than just a professional relationship – they are very close friends. It’s a great pleasure to speak in New Jersey next year, and I am sure the SBC team will replicate the success they have achieved in Europe and will bring a top quality event to the US sports betting market.” Cherniak commented: “SBC has

This advisory board is completed by Kresimir Spajic (Hard Rock International), May Scheve (Missouri Lottery), Allen Godfrey (Mississippi Gaming Commission), George Rover (Princeton Global Advisors), Sheila Morago (Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association) and Ed Comins (Webis Holdings) - all of whom will also be speaking at the event. •

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BOSA SPEAKER

H

aving recently returned from a Christmas break in the Canaries, Pine is gearing up for a successful 2019, a year in which he will represent W2 in a ‘Trading & Operations’ track session as part of the inaugural Betting on Sports America conference. Keep reading for more on Pine’s eight-day Asian adventure, his ‘go to’ album, where to find the best atmosphere in world rugby and why weekend lycra is now “the order of the day”.

OF

BEST HOLIDAY

BEST ALBUM

BEST SPORTING EXPERIENCE

Having recently returned to the office from a Christmas break in the Canaries, my first thought would be our annual, familial trip to Fuerteventura. Having been there about 20 times in as many years; the sun, sand, surf and cycling are hard to beat. That being said, a recent trip to Hong Kong and mainland China sits right up there … Victoria Peak, the Symphony of Lights, Canton Fair, Canton Tower, Xi'an Muslim Quarter & Terracotta Army, Beijing’s Great Wall and Forbidden City amongst a long list of stop-offs in just eight days.

Although the whole family are massive Biffy Clyro fans (and no, I haven’t jammed with them like the great Nick Knowles)… I must tip my hat at Fortress by Alter Bridge… my go-to album when in trains, planes and automobiles. Myles Kennedy is something else. Although it’s not quite a Nick Knowlesesque story, I do have the set list from when I saw Biffy play at the Bowery Electric in New York back in 2012… their Opposites album is probably number 2 on the list. The 1979 B-52's by the B-52's gets the third vote if I was asked for more.

Bristol RFC beating Bath RFC ; at the

38 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

Rec …at the Memorial Ground …at Ashton Gate. Don’t mind really. Having seen England lose to Wales three times at the Principality Stadium (yeap, I was there for the Henson/Tait tackle), I’m not sure I want to hark back to those final results. However, I don’t think there is a better atmosphere in world rugby having tried the wares of Twickenham, Murrayfield, the Aviva and Lansdowne Road. That being said, the England versus Ireland game at Croke Park was something to behold.


THE BEST

W2 Global Data’s Gary Pine BEST FILM

BEST BOOK

BEST APP

Grosse Pointe Blank. Martin Blank…

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 . As an Audible ‘Master’ with currently, 1 month …4 days …20 hours …47 minutes listening time, I’ve covered many of the British and US ‘classics’, but this had me chuckling from front to back. First published in 1961, this satire on the madness of war and the excesses of bureaucracy is considered a cult classic even if I came to it late. In the same vein, I must offer a shout out to Scott Sigler - the American science fiction and horror author who introduced me to the notion of a Galactic Football League. Think I’ve now read all that he has to offer.

Strava . I’m at the stage in life when /

Bobby Beamer… Debbie Radio… quirky characters, a twist on the school reunion theme and a great soundtrack including the Specials, the Beat, the Clash, the Jam, David Bowie and Queen. Only found out recently that the score for Grosse Pointe Blank was actually composed by Joe Strummer, formerly of The Clash. I was tempted by John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ or Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’ …there are a few films that you can’t ever pass up when they slip back into the Christmas schedule.

where weekend Lycra is the order of the day given most weekends …as such, an avid user of THE cycling, running, walking and swimming tracking app. As their strapline says …designed by athletes, for athletes …that makes me an athlete. Although I’ve now moved across to a Wahoo Elemnt cycling computer to help me track my every move, Strava persists as the central repository for the raft of my sweatier pursuits. I never thought I’d care so much about the ‘elevation’ (ft gained = hills ridden).

sbcmagazine.com 39


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PGA TOUR

Putting transparent sports betting legislation in place AS SPORTS BETTING LEGISLATION continues to be

rolled out across the United States, the voices of sports leagues and athletes should be listened to and understood to ensure integrity and consumer protection, says the PGA TOUR’s Andy Levinson

I

t has been almost nine months since the United States Supreme Court opened the sports betting floodgates by removing the obstacle of PASPA and permitting states to proceed with their sports betting aspirations, should they see fit. Delaware snuck in first ahead of New Jersey in the race for first legislation following the decision, with the ensuing scramble for market share showing no signs of slowing down, especially as more states begin to enter the fray. Prior to the fall of PASPA, the longestablished opposition of the nation’s sports leagues had begun to soften, as a whole new wave of debate begun to rage ahead of, and during, the roll-out across the US.

advantages felt so far by the organisation, and what further benefits it expects moving forward. “As states consider sports betting legislation, we feel that the voices of the sports leagues and the athletes should be heard,” said Levinson. “Rather than the discussions focusing solely on tax revenue and eliminating the black market - which

“We also want to make sure that, as new

One such entity backing a legalised,

licensed and regulated sports betting scene prior to the SCOTUS ruling was the PGA TOUR, which has been monitoring and actively lobbying legislators in various states. Andy Levinson, Senior Vice President of Tournament Administration at the PGA TOUR, spoke to SBC Magazine about the

42 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

are important elements to be considered we are bringing subjects like integrity and consumer protections to the conversation as well.” Integrity has been, is currently and will remain to be such a critical issue, with much said, and many potential developments expressed, regarding how to ensure the core product of each league can continue to be trusted, as sports betting continues its significant uptick. Levinson elaborated on how the TOUR will ensure that high standards remain in place: “We are speaking directly to the legislators who will shape sports betting legislation at the state level,” he added. “To effectively protect the integrity of sports competition, there must be transparency between the regulators, the operators and the leagues. “Each one of those groups is incentivised to protect integrity. However, individually self-policing is not the most comprehensive and effective solution. That is why we are advocating that new laws include the sharing of information across operators and regulators.

Andy Levinson

betting markets are being developed, they are not creating unnecessary risk. So we would like to see laws that give the sports the ability to petition regulators to limit certain bet types that pose undue risk.” Levinson addressed this unnecessary risk in deeper detail when speaking to SBC Americas prior to the fall of PASPA. He said: “From a PGA TOUR standpoint, we believe it is necessary to have some


measure of control over the types of wagers that can be made to alleviate the potential for corruption. This includes negative bets, like wagering a player will miss a short putt. “Further, we believe the use of official data is critical for ensuring integrity in competition. Betting markets are built on data, and we believe it is in the best interest of everyone involved in the system –consumers, operators, regulators, data distributors and leagues – to have one official source for that data: the leagues. “This helps ensure the data that is used to create markets and settle bets is timely and accurate, which is necessary for a functioning system. Unofficial data could conflict with the official records of the leagues, creating uncertainty for consumers and others in the industry. “We have invested millions of dollars in our ShotLink data collection system, and we believe that it’s unfair for others to be benefiting from the fruits of that labour through ‘scouting’ and ‘web scraping’. In fact, the TOUR won a series of antitrust cases against a data distributor based on this argument.” Conversation in this space has seen federal oversight becomes a distinct possibility, with the introduction of a bill on exactly this topic having been introduced to the Department of Justice. Levinson believes that the introduction of one organisation to deliver comprehensive oversight on a national, and not state by state level, is a logical and natural next step: “We feel that a national integrity body that has visibility to all betting activity across all operators and across state lines is the only way to achieve a

WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE LAWS THAT GIVE THE SPORTS THE ABILITY TO PETITION REGULATORS TO LIMIT CERTAIN BET TYPES THAT POSE UNDUE RISK holistic view,” he explained. “If the operators and regulators are left to self-report irregularities, then the system could be easily exploited. They would inevitably miss patterns of corruption that span across operators or states.” Levinson is set to represent the PGA

TOUR at the inaugural Betting on Sports America conference, held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey from 23-25 April. Bringing together such a wide-ranging mix of the industry, the opportunity to learn from a variety of specialist figures stands out as one of the most integral benefits for the organisation. “Compared to the international, regulated markets, the US sports betting market is in its infancy,” said Levinson. “That is why we embrace opportunities to learn from experts while sharing our concerns. “We have the opportunity in the US to build upon the successes and failures of other sports betting markets to create a gold standard in sports betting regulation and operation. I hope that events such as Betting on Sports America will bring all constituents together to achieve that goal. “The legalisation of sports betting across the United States could have a significant impact on the PGA TOUR. The sport will have the opportunity to engage fans in new and meaningful ways. “Yet, widespread sports betting will also present substantial risks. That is why we have taken a prominent, vocal position on this issue. It is important that the PGA TOUR has a voice in this process in order to protect the interests of our athletes, our sponsors and our fans.” •

INDIVIDUALLY SELF-POLICING IS NOT THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE AND EFFECTIVE SOLUTION. THAT IS WHY WE ARE ADVOCATING THAT NEW LAWS INCLUDE THE SHARING OF INFORMATION ACROSS OPERATORS AND REGULATORS

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VIRTUAL SPORTS

BetMan begins for Kiron’s UpNdown Virtual Golf title KIRON INTERACTIVE co-founder Steven Spartinos

shares his excitement over launching the “first of its kind instant-win golf game” at ICE 2019

K

iron Interactive is celebrating the release of UpNdown Virtual Golf - a brand-new instant win game developed in partnership with SingleShot Entertainment. The “first of its kind instantwin golf game” was made available to operators in January through Kiron’s BetMan Online RGS - the largest suite of virtual sports games on the market. UpNdown Virtual Golf will be just one of

the virtual titles playable for all visitors to the company’s stand (S1-132) for the threeday ICE London conference. The game combines high-quality graphics with simple in-play betting options, marking it out as a product to engage and entertain players ‘on the go’.

Kiron Interactive co-CEO Steven Spartinos told SBC Magazine: “Debuting a new release is always an exciting time for us, especially with the game being the first of its kind. “The game features the latest in highquality graphics and sounds ensuring players are engaged and entertained. “There are more than 18 years of iGaming experience under our belt at Kiron, and our full range of virtual titles

will be playable for all visitors to our stand across the three days.” He added: “On show will be 21 virtual sports, including a variety of football offerings, horse racing, greyhound racing and motor racing as well as our portfolio of number games including Keno, Spin&Win and Racing Roulette. “We pride ourselves on the continual investment, improvement and innovation of product range, thereby creating a diversity in offerings targeted to new jurisdictions, with all titles featuring immersive entertainment and attractive betting options.” Jason Lahser, founder of SingleShot Entertainment, commented: “UpNdown

Virtual Golf is our first venture into virtual sports and we are confident our partnership with Kiron will help make it a successful one. “They (Kiron) have delivered time and time again and have an impressive pedigree in creating unique and engaging virtual content. We look forward to a long and beneficial partnership with them.” Kiron Interactive will be hosting a putting competition on Day 1 of the ICE conference at 2:00 PM (S1-132) with great prizes up for grabs, giving all visitors to Kiron’s stand the chance to demonstrate their skills on the green. •

WE PRIDE OURSELVES ON THE CONTINUAL INVESTMENT, IMPROVEMENT AND INNOVATION OF PRODUCT RANGE, THEREBY CREATING A DIVERSITY IN OFFERINGS TARGETED TO NEW JURISDICTIONS, WITH ALL TITLES FEATURING IMMERSIVE ENTERTAINMENT AND ATTRACTIVE BETTING OPTIONS

44 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019


ESPORTS BETTING

Esports takes its place in the top five for 1xBet 1XBET ASSESSES the

successful execution of its esports development plan in 2018, which included a wider selection of titles, tournaments, matches and markets

T

he number of users who bet on esports with 1xBet increased by almost 350 per cent in 2018 when compared with the corresponding period of 2017, according to a company report. This report finding has led 1xBet to predict that esports will become one of its top five most popular sports within the next 20 months. Last year’s rise was aided by the addition of

a number of new esports, including Quake Champions, Arena of Valor, Rainbow Six and Clash Royale, as well as Age of Empires II, a game that still holds a lot of fans despite a lack of really big tournaments. In fact, Overwatch was the only esport not to gain more active players, notwithstanding a sharp rise in both the number of tournaments and subsequent

availability on 1xBet. By contrast, League of Legends (LOL) a multiplayer battle game developed and published by Riot Games - showed 47 per cent growth when compared with 2017. The number of bettors on LOL, for which the average stake is almost twice that of CS:GO - the most popular component of 1xBet’s online esports offering - is expected to increase by at least another 30 per cent in 2019. The nature of esports players has contributed to an increase in the amount of customers accessing 1xBet via mobile. This number now stands at 77 per cent, an increase of 12 per cent from the previous year. Interestingly, Android players account for more than 80 per cent of this 77 per cent total. Eugene Kiryukhin, 1xBet’s Director for Development of International Partners, explained: “This is not the first time that esports has made it into the top 10 for overall player popularity, but their full potential has not yet been reached. As for the trends within esports betting itself, bets placed from mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular. “Increased player activity and renewed

interest in esports have motivated us to create unique markets for betting. In particular, bets on frags of individual players in a team last year became a permanent market alongside the regular major event bets. Successful tests for this market were conducted in live mode which demonstrated the level of player interest.” He added: “We also saw an initial decrease in new player engagement with unusual types of bets. However, this is due to the wide range of services offered. A few years ago, there was just a set of thee standard markets for matches: win, handicap and total. “Now, there are dozens of options for

major tournaments, which is particularly unusual for new visitors to our site who have come to us from other websites which may be limited to just a couple of markets. “At first, new users such as these prefer to bet on events that they are used to. However, after two to three weeks, their interest in unusual markets increases compared with that of older customers for whom these markets are no longer new. “Interest in additional markets gradually increases until it accounts for up to 40 per cent of bets placed by new customers, as compared with their initial choice of betting markets.” •

NOW, THERE ARE DOZENS OF OPTIONS FOR MAJOR TOURNAMENTS, WHICH IS PARTICULARLY UNUSUAL FOR NEW VISITORS TO OUR SITE WHO HAVE COME TO US FROM OTHER WEBSITES WHICH MAY BE LIMITED TO JUST A COUPLE OF MARKETS

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DATA DISPUTE

TENNIS DATA BLACKOUT DOESN’T STAND UP TO SCRUTINY SPORTRADAR HAS CRITICISED the Independent

Review Panel (IRP) for concluding that a data blackout at the lowest level of professional tennis will improve integrity, saying that such a recommendation doesn’t stand up to scrutiny

A

n independent review of integrity in tennis led by Adam Lewis QC reversed a previous proposal to discontinue the sale of live data at the $25k level, but reaffirmed its recommendation for a ban at the sport’s $15k developmental tier. The report also recommended “empowering the TIU to monitor betting markets and to disrupt betting based on unofficial live scoring data at ITF World Tennis Tour $15k developmental tier matches”, for which no live streaming or live internet coverage should be

permitted, while suggesting that the sale of live scoring data to betting companies has “hugely contributed” to what it deems a serious integrity problem for the sport. Sportradar, a major data supplier that has worked with the ITF since 2012 and now provides over 200 clients with data direct from the umpire’s chair, has refuted such a suggestion. This came as part of an official response issued through David Lampitt, Sportradar Managing Director of Group Operations.

46 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

It read: “We welcome the fact that the Panel has reversed their recommendation to discontinue sale of live data at the $25k level of the sport. However we believe that they could and should have gone further. This is for two reasons: “A targeted approach should be applied across the whole sport; we have been consistent in our view that the Panel invites new risks and problems by recommending a prohibitive approach, when it has not succeeded as an effective regulatory tool in relation to the betting industry anywhere in the world, nor in any other sport. Adjusting their arbitrary line (between targeted approach and blanket discontinuance) down a level doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “This is because the measures don’t match the risks; the Panel’s approach remains disproportionate. They now accept a targeted approach as the most effective response for almost every level of tennis, including quite correctly those


levels above the ITF that evidence the highest level of risk. It then makes no sense that they have doggedly maintained a solution that is more draconian, expensive, complex and unpredictable for the $15k tournament level that has lower risk.” The panel has justified its proposals

by claiming that an absence of betting markets at the $15k level would “reduce by many thousands the number of players whose matches can be bet on, and so who are vulnerable to temptation or corruption, as well as to online abuse”. It suggests that only 250 to 350 professional players earn enough to break even, leading to an imbalance between the prize money and competition fees, which may tempt those at the lower levels to contrive the matches for financial reward.

...WE HAVE BEEN CONSISTENT IN OUR VIEW THAT THE PANEL INVITES NEW RISKS AND PROBLEMS BY RECOMMENDING A PROHIBITIVE APPROACH, WHEN IT HAS NOT SUCCEEDED AS AN EFFECTIVE REGULATORY TOOL IN RELATION TO THE BETTING INDUSTRY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, NOR IN ANY OTHER SPORT

David Lampitt

The report does at least acknowledge that such prohibition - as highlighted by Lampitt at last year’s Betting on Sports conference - does not work “...if the betting markets based on official data are simply replaced by parallel betting markets based on unofficial data derived from live broadcasts, obtained by scouts attending matches, or scraped from the internet”. Lampitt concluded: “Our experience

borne of more than a decade investing in the best programmes to fight integrity corruption in sport, is that a targeted approach, where the key stakeholders cooperate and invest into detection, prevention and education rather than prohibition is the most effective way forward for all levels. “Now that the Panel’s work is finally complete, we look forward to working with our trusted partners and the wider tennis family to deliver the best solutions to protect the integrity of the sport.”

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NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH

COURTING THE BEST USE OF DATA FOR BETTING ON TENNIS LSPORTS HAS APPEALED to the customer’s eyes

and ears within its new product, LVision, which has been designed to glean real-time insights and generate new betting markets from live tennis streams

L

Vision was brought to the market by LSports at the end of 2018 to convert live tennis streams into real-time insights, match statistics and new betting markets. LSports co-founder and VP Sales Dotan Lazar believes his company is “the first to offer such a solution”, whereby tennis matches are presented as an animated visualisation of the real-time data coming in - complete with voice recognition for things such as umpire calls - all of which is delivered with a latency of less than one second. Lazar added: “When players visit sites

utilising the LVision product, they will be inundated with crucial information. For example, they will see exactly where the player is, where the ball is, the ball’s speed, and the type of shot produced in real-time.” “When customers visit online websites, they are always looking out for detailed statistics, as they seek to gain an advantage over the operator, so delivering this wealth of information is

an incredibly exciting prospect.” Driven by a mission to “tear down the current limitation of data provision”, LVision also records key stats such as distance covered per player, a positional heatmap per player, longest rally and point streaks, all data which can be converted into new markets.

LVISION HAS COMBINED BOTH THE DATA GUIDING THE FORMATION OF ODDS AND NEW BETTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUNTERS, WITH THE ANIMATED VISUALISATIONS AND STATISTICS TO KEEP TENNIS FANS AND FOLLOWERS ON-SITE FOR LONGER “The technology allows for a whole variety of markets,” Lazar explained. “The following list of markets are those offered as part of LVision’s initial launch: Next Point Rally Under / Over, Next

48 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

Point Odd / Even Shots, Last Player to Hit the Ball Home / Away, 1st Set Winner Shots Under / Over, Highest Point Streak Under / Over, Baseline Point Conversion Under / Over and Net Point Conversion Under / Over. “Initially, we are covering an average of 1,000 events per month, with some of the leading sportsbooks already taking steps to integrate the feeds into their platforms.” However, it is not just about the provision of data to support both traditional tennis markets and those less familiar to the punter, as LVision also removes the previous need for a customer to leave the operator to visit an alternative streaming site. Lazar said: “LVision has combined both the data guiding the formation of odds and new betting opportunities for punters, with the animated visualisations and statistics to keep tennis fans and followers on-site for longer. “The company is in advanced negotiations with a number of key customers who are expected to add the product in the coming weeks, so we are looking to create a new market standard in the data industry.” He concluded: “Introducing new products

such as LVision to this continually evolving industry allows our partners to increase their online capabilities. There is room for the product to evolve to cover a variety of new sports alongside tennis, including those in the US market.” •


VAR FAST-TRACK

An in-play hindrance or an opportunity to be embraced?

AS VAR PREPARES to make its Champions League

debut, the technology's smooth integration will be crucial to the continued rise of in-play betting

T

he long-awaited introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to the English Premier League won’t happen until 2018/19, but it has been fast-tracked to play its part in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League. Whilst the video technology has largely been lauded for its role in aiding match officials, it’s crucial to in-play betting that the integration process is as smooth as possible. One of the technology’s central

criticisms is that it hampers the pace of the game, something that betting operators will be keen to avoid to maintain the exponential rise of in-play betting. Jeevan Jeyaratnam, Head of

Compilation at betting data and tailored odds specialist Abelson Info, commented: “Unless operators embrace markets for betting on VAR outcomes, I don’t see this precipitating a positive change in the popularity of in-play betting.” He added: “Until operators and thirdparty suppliers have enough data to

UNLESS OPERATORS EMBRACE MARKETS FOR BETTING ON VAR OUTCOMES, I DON’T SEE THIS PRECIPITATING A POSITIVE CHANGE IN THE POPULARITY OF IN-PLAY BETTING

50 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

re-purpose algorithms, it is likely that VAR will have a negative impact on the natural flow and therefore user-experience (UX) of betting in-play.” Jeyaratnam went on to underline how

VAR could hinder the efforts of bookmakers seeking to utilise available data to enhance the speed of their in-play offering. “There has been a push in recent times towards reducing the time taken to resume a market after a goal/red card,” he explained. “This lag reduction has been facilitated by the ever-increasing amount of data we have collected to feed algorithms. “More data means more confidence. The introduction of a variable like VAR will disrupt this process and operators will be forced to wait longer before resuming an in-play market, or settling a wager. While I don’t imagine this will adversely affect interest for in-play betting, it won’t necessarily encourage it either.” VAR is already being used in the German Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A, something Jeyaratnam was keen to draw from as the English game moves to follow suit. “The trials in Germany and Italy have shown that there are different ways of interpreting the VAR ethos,” he continued. “In Germany, it is widely believed that referees have overused the system, forcing decisions to the video judge instead of making their own confident conclusions, which has impacted the flow of games in the Bundesliga.” UEFA Executives cited the technology’s

positive impact on officiating at last summer’s World Cup in Russia to explain its early than expected introduction to the Champions League, starting with the round-of-16 matches from 12 February. Whilst it may be seen as something of an operational negative for many operators, Paddy Power has capitalised on the furore surrounding VAR, typically bringing its brand personality to a contentious topic by offering a money back special if the technology is used. It seems certain that Football’s future involves VAR, so it’s imperative that betting operators learn to embrace the technology and overcome the disruption it brings to the game. •


17-20 SEPTEMBER 2019 Olympia London

The World’s Largest Sports Betting Conference & Exhibition

Source: Betting on Sports 2018

MEET US AT STAND #S3-206

140

3,500 DELEGATES

Jason Robins, CEO

EXHIBITORS

275

SPEAKERS

Paris Smith, CEO

“ Betting on Sports has been fantastic.

It gets better and better every year. There is obviously a lot of excitement based on the new US regulation. So it seems like it’s bigger than ever this year.

“ It’s the focus that Betting on Sports has, it’s the operators they bring to the event. There are a lot of C-level people present that you won’t see walking around at other conferences.

Sean Bratches, Managing Director

David Millar, VP & Assistant, General Counsel

“ This is really ground zero for what is

“ It’s been great for PGA as a US based

going on in the world of sports betting. Our partners like ISG are here, and so it made sense that Formula 1 was here.

organisation to come to Betting on Sports as we are educating ourselves and evaluating the gaming industry. This is a really productive conference for us.

For more information, please visit www.sbcevents.com


SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Responsible operators should 'ignore cynics' EFFORTS BY GAMING COMPANIES to make a positive

impact on society are often met with cynicism. It’s important to ignore the doubters and to push through actions that have real positive impact, writes Laura Da Silva of DigitalRG.net

T

he announcement by GVC Holdings last year that it was to ramp up its responsible gaming and social responsibility efforts was an interesting, if limited, example of how operators must start to act and think if they are to have a positive impact on society. In particular, the £500,000 commitment to fund the UK-wide roll-out of the GamCare Youth Outreach Programme was an especially welcome move. Responsible gaming strategies have, to date, been lacking in early intervention elements. The company’s statement was heavy on commitment but rather light on details. For example, it says that it will “support a move to ban gambling adverts around live football, before the 9pm watershed”. Great. Only it doesn’t make any mention of

how it will support such a ban - will it block broadcasters from promoting its brands around football coverage until this ban is introduced? The announcement of a “multi-million pound research partnership” with a major academic institution is something that we will look at closely. After all, similar projects have been agreed, carried out, and sunk without a trace. In fact, one of GVC’s brands, bwin, agreed a similar deal with Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School around 2008. Equally light on detail is the £4m investment in responsible gaming,

planned for 2019. While this may be double the sum spent in 2018, it remains unclear where this is going, and what it aims to achieve. It would be interesting to read about tangible impact objectives backed by hard KPIs in addition to amount of money spent. Of course, it’s a positive sign to see such a large company make such wideranging commitments to responsible gaming and CSR. And if GVC CEO Kenny Alexander can use even a fraction of his

...WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, IT’D BE NICE TO SEE AN INDUSTRY SO OFTEN ACCUSED OF BEING IN A ‘RACE TO THE BOTTOM’ IN WHAT IS EFFECTIVELY A ‘RACE TO THE TOP’

52 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

skill in closing deals to act as a social responsibility advocate, we have gained a formidable ally. This announcement should however sound a starting gun on other operators not simply copying GVC, but trying to emulate its efforts. It’s easy to be cynical about gaming companies’ efforts to position themselves as more responsible companies, and there are some that will never be convinced. That doesn’t mean efforts should stop. Far from it - they should be stepped up, with companies committing to upholding the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, ramping up responsible gaming programmes and supporting charitable foundations. These start with remarkably simple things to implement - indeed most of the larger operators already look to meet the SDGs; responsible gaming programmes are mandated by law in most markets, and charitable initiatives are generally supported by operators. And it goes beyond with larger scale projects that will have a true positive impact on society in the long-term. For example, Unilever has now started talking about “rebooting capitalism”. I’m not suggesting gambling companies

set a similar goal, but at a time when major conglomerates start talking in such terms, it shows there’s a scope to be big, bold and ambitious. What can occasionally be frustrating is a reticence by gaming operators to take the first step. No company wants to be the first to take a stance for or against a certain subject. It takes one major player to make a move, then others rush to follow. It’s once this tipping point is achieved that things start to move and when it comes to social responsibility, it’d be nice to see an industry so often accused of being in a ‘race to the bottom’ in what is effectively a ‘race to the top’.


Social responsibility in the gambling industry is perhaps slowed by cynicism from both sides. The industry’s critics see it as reputation laundering, and some within the sector see it in much the same way, or a hoop to be jumped through rather than a way to change how a business is run. It’s worth looking at Nike making former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of its advertising campaign for the 30th anniversary of its ‘Just Do It’ slogan. There’s a degree of cynicism in getting an American football player who doesn’t play American football to front a campaign, especially when it’s stoking controversy to boost brand recognition. But the figures don’t lie - Nike saw sales increase by around 31 per cent over the Labor Day weekend, besting a 17 per cent increase in 2017.

IT TAKES ONE MAJOR PLAYER TO MAKE A MOVE, THEN OTHERS RUSH TO FOLLOW All cynicism aside, it’s aligning itself with his protest against racial inequality in American society. Yes, it’s helping a billion-dollar business shift sporting goods, but it has a fundamentally positive and powerful - message. This concept shouldn’t be alien to the gambling industry. Operators have used photoshopped pictures of the rainforest, or a truck with sportspeople “claimed” by England but of foreign extraction to sneak important social messages through to consumers. It doesn’t hurt that it boosts brand recognition along the way. DigitalRG’s sister company Filter06 is a creative agency focused on sustainable branding, so I’m saying from experience that I know this is possible. It’s easy to be cynical about social responsibility, but it’s important not to let this derail the progress towards important goals. • Laura Da Silva is the founder of DigitalRG.net, the gambling industry’s first dedicated social responsibility and responsible gaming platform. The solution provides operators, suppliers and lotteries with all necessary tools to assess, refine, launch and monitor CSR, responsible gaming and sustainability programmes, as well as completing licence and industry certification submissions.

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GAMBLING HARM

Flint’s four-point plan, six and 12 months on THE SB&G EXECUTIVE wants the industry to

get on the front foot in relation to its social purpose, but highlighted key areas of progress over the last 12 months

T

his time last year, Richard Flint - then CEO at Sky Betting & Gaming (SB&G) - set out a fourpoint plan to reduce gambling harm, as part of an ICE 2018 address outlining how we should go about creating a sustainable industry that is trusted by regulators, politicians and customers. To get everyone up to speed, this plan

was as follows: 1.We must use customer data to understand player behaviour, and monitor for signs of harm. 2.We have to promote safer gambling by improving the accessibility, awareness and understanding of self-help tools such as deposit limits and cool offs. 3.We must interact with customers who show signs of harm, discuss their gambling behaviour with them, and present details of their behaviour clearly. 4.Finally, we will have to increase our interventions with customers to stop them harming themselves in the most extreme cases.

four-point plan. Flint also called for the regulator to be much more prescriptive in its regulation of the actual interventions that follow once a customer has been identified as a ‘problem gambler’. Just over six months on, he spoke again on the subject of responsible gambling at SBC’s Betting on Sports conference, where he reiterated his view that the industry has “not done itself any favours” in its attitude towards harmful gambling.

He said at the time that once the most effective ‘signs’ of such behaviour have been identified, the Gambling Commission should “enshrine” these specific markers into its licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP), which would ensure a more consistent interpretation of what constitutes successful execution of this

54 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019


WE NEED TO BE MUCH MORE ON THE FRONT FOOT WITH BOTH THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND WITH REGULATORS, BUT IN PARTICULAR THE GENERAL PUBLIC ARGUING IN RELATION TO THE SOCIAL PURPOSE OF WHAT WE DO When asked about the spread of marketing restrictions and bad press for gambling across UK and Italy, he said: “To some extent, the industry's only got itself to blame over what’s happening in both countries. “We need to be much more on the front foot with both the general public and with regulators, but in particular the general public arguing in relation to the social purpose of what we do. “There is an issue in the industry

with problem gambling. We need to be much more active as a company, as an industry, and how we deal with that, but also be vocal about about the good work we're doing in that capacity, and balance that with positive messages about the excitement and entertainment we give to millions of people. “So I'd like all of us to be challenging ourselves to do the right thing, but once we are convinced that we're doing the

right thing, be much more on the front foot and vocal about that to the wider public.” When asked if the industry is doing enough to support this ‘cleaner image’, he explained: “It's not necessarily a question of more or less. It's a question of the right sort of regulation. “So it needs to be targeted in the right way with industry collaboration. If that's done, then more regulation is good, but if more regulation restricts products and drives people to the unlicensed sector then that's bad.” 12 months on and Flint - now serving as the executive chairman for SB&G, delivered the following update: “One key area of progress by the industry and other stakeholders in the last 12 months has been in increasing opportunities for people to put substantial roadblocks in place to prevent themselves gambling,” he told SBC Magazine. “GamStop has been soft-launched for self-exclusions across virtually all online operators; a number of high street as well as challenger banks enable customer blocking of gambling payments; and gamban enables device level blocking of gambling sites. “Collectively, we must ensure these

tools are as effective as possible and complemented by other measures. GamStop has faced some early challenges, but we mustn’t let this deflect us from improving it – negative headlines ignore the fact that problem gamblers are already finding these tools useful, and more will benefit as they are improved. “As I said 12 months ago, we have to make better use of technology and data to protect vulnerable customers. At Sky Betting & Gaming, we have continued to develop our models to identify customers who may be getting into difficulties, increased our daily interactions with those customers, and made interventions such as account restrictions where necessary. “We have also improved the visibility,

accessibility, and awareness of our self-help tools such as deposit limits and cool offs - and our newly presented profit and loss tool. These have all featured in our second high-profile TV advertising campaign dedicated to responsible gambling messages. It is essential that we are part of the solution not part of the problem and we will only do this if we continue to innovate and collaborate.” •

ONE KEY AREA OF PROGRESS BY THE INDUSTRY AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS HAS BEEN IN INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO PUT SUBSTANTIAL ROADBLOCKS IN PLACE TO PREVENT THEMSELVES GAMBLING sbcmagazine.com 55


ADVERTISING CRACKDOWN

Broadcast and banking leaders show ‘good guy’ intent THE BETTING INDUSTRY faces a battle to regain

the public’s trust, but following a nightmare close to 2018, it has to win back the confidence of its wider stakeholders

S

o let’s begin by remembering the period of November to December 2018 as a disruptive, yet defining moment for all sector incumbents. National health statistics confirm that end of year stress can lead to relapses, breakdowns and social disorders. Hence, we can assume that the stream of negative headlines garnered by the betting industry during the close of 2018 would have sparked communal spasms and seizures for all industry leaders. With some perspective, we should file

November and December 2018 events under the industry’s ‘video nasty’ category (rated X), as it features such gory highlights as record UKGC fines, AML & player ID failures, increased remote duties, corruption charges, and the ‘cherry on top’ for you real sadists – political fallout and media outrage. Nevertheless, amongst this wreckage of industry failures, two events should

standout and gravely concern sector leaders on the future health and mindset of the betting industry. On the first weekend of November, Sky UK & Ireland Chief Executive Stephen van Rooyen disclosed to UK media that the broadcaster would introduce new protocols significantly reducing the output of betting/gambling related adverts running across its digital TV network. Pointing to Sky’s corporate slogan of ‘Believe in Better’, van Rooyen stated that, in 2019, the digital broadcaster would move to ‘tackle head-on public and political concerns’ related to gambling/betting advertising saturation. Issuing no prior warning for its high paying advertisers, van Rooyen outlined that from the start of the Premier League season 2019/2020, Sky would allow ‘only one betting/gambling advert to be broadcast per commercial break’ across its entire network. Furthermore, outlining its intent on

56 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019


being the ‘good guy’, the broadcaster stated that it will utilise its in-house developed Ad-smart capabilities to enable audiences to block gambling-content being viewed across Sky and Virgin Media digital platforms, with changes due to be implemented by 2020. “Our customers are worried about gambling ads on TV, and we understand their concerns,” said van Rooyen. “That’s why we’ve committed to limiting the number of gambling ads on Sky and better protecting those vulnerable to problem gambling.” In further communications, van Rooyen and Sky executives said that the broadcaster would put its ‘customers in control’ of what they choose to view in terms of advertising content, in a statement that should haunt betting leaders.

OUR CUSTOMERS ARE WORRIED ABOUT GAMBLING ADS ON TV, AND WE UNDERSTAND THEIR CONCERNS. THAT’S WHY WE’VE COMMITTED TO LIMITING THE NUMBER OF GAMBLING ADS ON SKY AND BETTER PROTECTING THOSE VULNERABLE TO PROBLEM GAMBLING His cold shoulder towards the betting sector was further emphasised when publically poo-pooing the Remote Gaming Association’s (RGA) long-awaited ‘whistleto-whistle’ advertising ban during sports broadcasts. “If the RGA and gambling companies are serious about protecting vulnerable gamblers, then they should start by looking at where they spend the most money, what has the least level of regulation and where there is most evidence of harm: the online world,” he told The Times.

Sky’s rejection of betting advertising comes at a time when the UK’s biggest digital broadcaster transitions into becoming a new asset of US entertainment, telecoms and tech giant Comcast, following the approval its $39 billion acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s European TV empire. The influence of Comcast on Sky's decision

to limit betting advertising is unknown. And it may be academic. As from from 2019, the self-styled ‘Home of Football’ will turn its back on industry marketing.

sbcmagazine.com 57


ADVERTISING CRACKDOWN

The frantic nature of November’s horror show left no time for the industry to lick its wounds, as a bad news December delivered further reputational damage. December’s opening week saw Barclays announce that it would become the first UK high street bank to launch a ‘gamblingblock’ component across its digital platforms. Developed in partnership with UK financial charity the ‘Money Advice Trust MAT’, Barclays’ gambling-block component allows customers to turn-off transactions with all UK gambling-related properties including retail bookmakers, casinos, racetracks, lottery and digital betting enterprises. History would, once again, repeat itself

as Barclays issued sector incumbents no prior warning of its intended actions. The bank’s UK Managing Director Catherine McGrath said, similarly to Sky, that its gambling block would give ‘control back’ to its customers. “We work with a range of advisers and partners, as well as consulting with our customers, to identify how our customers’ needs are changing and what works for them,” she explained. “This new control feature is the latest new service that we have introduced in the Barclays Mobile Banking app that aims to give all of our customers a better way to

manage their money in a simple, secure and effective way.” By the close of December, this directive would be replicated by competitors Lloyds, Santander and RBS, each launching their own gambling block components across all digital verticals. So, with no time for reflection, it now appears that the betting sector has arrived at the start of a new year, having lost the trust and patience of two of its major stakeholders - broadcast and banking leadership. The negative headlines that plagued the betting sector during the year have to some

the current challenges faced by industry leaders, Sky and Barclays actions simply acknowledge that their enterprises service a customer-first and customer-controlled marketplace. This modern reality manifests itself

with a consumer that not only holds an abundance in choice, but that can further control their engagement, reactions, sensitivities and outrage towards any product, brand, service or technology. This appears to be a reality that betting operators have yet to acknowledge or comprehend.

THIS NEW CONTROL FEATURE IS THE LATEST NEW SERVICE THAT WE HAVE INTRODUCED IN THE BARCLAYS MOBILE BANKING APP THAT AIMS TO GIVE ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS A BETTER WAY TO MANAGE THEIR MONEY IN A SIMPLE, SECURE AND EFFECTIVE WAY extent forced Sky and Barclays leadership to act on the front foot with regards to tackling gambling–related concerns, with both parties choosing not to wait on any consensus. Some may label these actions as uncompromising, with both parties choosing ‘to play the nanny’ on a matter that gambling leadership is adamant on fixing. It would be regressive and short sighted to fall for this pattern of thought. Mirroring

58 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

In 2019, reputation and relationships matter, as betting/gambling recovers from its lowest ebb. Nevertheless, if the industry repeats 2019 events, betting may be branded by wider stakeholders in the same category as the dreaded payday loans sector. Some may define this as hype or an unnecessary furore, but put simply, further failures may well lead to the industry becoming a real snuff movie... •


BALANCING ACT

The pursuit of equilibrium between conversion and security PAUL MARCANTONIO,

Head of UK/Western Europe at ECOMMPAY, explains why balancing two seemingly opposing extremes is a difficult but achievable task

I

t’s no secret that the easiest way to increase conversion can just as easily open the floodgates to never-ending fraudulent transactions, but let’s break this down a bit further. What exactly is conversion, why is it important, what is the relationship between acquirers and operators in achieving equilibrium between conversion and security, and what kind of payment technologies can be utilised in pursuit of this goal? Conversion typically refers to the percentage of an end-user’s attempts at completing a transaction that results in a successful payment. Historically, there have been multiple different methods and principles used for calculating this percentage – mostly dependent on whether the analyst responsible for doing the calculations works for the merchant or for the acquirer. After all, whose primary responsibility

is it to maintain optimal conversion rates? Merchants have a vested interest in shifting blame to acquirers in cases of poor performance, as this is likely to result in lower operational costs, while the acquirer will doubtless argue that there are a number of external factors beyond its

sphere of influence. For example, when a player is unable to place a bet due to a lack of funds on his account, who is at fault? Long gone are the days in which the partnership between operator and acquirer relied on the simple transactional service of the latter facilitating the acceptance of payments and the subsequent processing

AS THE MARKET HAS GROWN SATURATED, PAYMENT SERVICE PROVIDERS HAVE BEEN DRAWN INTO AN ONGOING BATTLE FOR TECHNOLOGICAL DOMINANCE, ENGINEERING INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS AND FEATURES TO MEET CLIENT REQUIREMENTS

of transactions. As the market has grown saturated, payment service providers have been drawn into an ongoing battle for technological dominance, engineering innovative products and features to meet client requirements. This competition relies on various

success metrics: onboarding costs, processing rates, percent of successfully contested chargebacks, amount of fraud avoided or negated, etc. The most important indicator, however, will always be the conversion rate. Ultimately, conversion depends on the end-user: is the operator’s website and payment process optimised for user experience and capable of providing a wholesome customer journey, thereby convincing the consumer to follow through with their intention to make a payment?

sbcmagazine.com 59


BALANCING ACT When it comes to doing business online, combining convenience and functionality is key. Consumers, regardless of whether they’re retail shoppers or sports enthusiasts placing a bet on that day’s football match, demand a streamlined, intuitive user experience. To meet these needs, and to keep those same customers coming back again and again for more purchases, merchants must optimise the payment process. The make-or-break

moment comes at the checkout stage. As the point of sale, the shopping basket and the subsequent payment page is critical in retaining and converting customers. Engaging in big data analytics, or the analysis of the consumer data from hundreds of millions of transactions coming in from multiple clients across multiple verticals, payment service providers or acquirers can identify the factors affecting consumer behaviour and ensure the customer journey meets their expectations. End-users – players, in this instance – tend to prioritise simplicity, so conversion rates can be expected to go up in response to weakened security measures, which themselves are often inconvenient and time-consuming. That being said, the associated costs, such as the fines levied by international payment systems when fraud thresholds are exceeded or the ensuing reputational damage, are likely to outweigh the financial benefits. So with this in mind, what’s the best way for operators to achieve equilibrium between two seemingly opposing extremes, i.e. improve conversion without sacrificing security? In undertaking big data analysis, acquirers can isolate industry-specific trends, proposing solutions and advising their clients on best practice. One of the most common conversionboosting tactics involves removing 3D Secure, which is an additional layer of security offered by international payment systems Visa and Mastercard. As the functionality redirects consumers to another page and requires them to enter additional card details, this is the stage at which a significant portion of traffic may be lost. By removing the 3D Secure feature,

operators hope to reclaim that traffic, but run the risk of attracting much higher levels of fraudulent transactions as removing security layers leaves them considerably more susceptible to targeted cybercrime. Removal of the 3D Secure feature is therefore ill-advised without a strong risk management system in place to pick up the slack. Operators can and should partner with acquirers capable of providing the aforementioned strong risk management, preferably an in-house solution which they can offer clients in conjunction with smart routing capabilities. Smart routing applies artificial intelligence to analyse the variables of incoming transactions,

This dynamic analysis on the part of both risk management system and smart routing works to ensure that customers who have previously demonstrated their trustworthiness and reliability are rewarded with a simplified payment journey, while potentially fraudulent behaviour is thoroughly reviewed and, if deemed necessary, blocked. Ongoing innovation in the payments

sector, motivated by the industry’s increasingly competitive environment, has resulted in the introduction of highly sophisticated risk management solutions, advanced payment products, and an assortment of clever features, all geared

END-USERS – PLAYERS, IN THIS INSTANCE – TEND TO PRIORITISE SIMPLICITY, SO CONVERSION RATES CAN BE EXPECTED TO GO UP IN RESPONSE TO WEAKENED SECURITY MEASURES, WHICH THEMSELVES ARE OFTEN INCONVENIENT AND TIME-CONSUMING dynamically routing them to the merchant identification number (MID) most likely to result in a successful payment. Taking into consideration each of these transaction variables, which include, but are not limited to, currency, country of issue, transaction amount, and payment method, risk management systems are capable of calculating the likelihood of fraudulent activity, which they can then communicate to the smart routing technology in order to send the transaction to either a 3D Secure MID or a non-3D Secure MID.

60 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

– either individually or cumulatively – at improving conversion rates or safeguarding payment security. As operators continue their pursuit of equilibrium between these two crucial aspects of their business, payment service providers and acquirers meet client demand by engineering proprietary technologies and developing tailored payment strategies to address these opposing elements and establish synergy between them, helping business owners achieve their ultimate goal: increased revenues. •


17-20 SEPTEMBER 2019 Olympia London

2nd Edition of the International Casino Summit

40 EXHIBITORS

75

SPEAKERS

Source: CasinoBeats Summit 2018

1,000 DELEGATES

FOUR TRACKS OVER TWO DAYS, COVERING CUSTOMER JOURNEY | FUTURE OF GAMING | GAMING AFFILIATES | MARKET PROFILES

Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO

“ Innovation

and forward thinking always excites me and all of us at Mr Green. The CasinoBeats Summit is an event that looks to the future, examining the threats and opportunities facing the industry and how we collectively can move forward. The Summit has established itself as a popular date in the diary for the online casino sector.

David Flynn, Former CEO

“ Having so many industry leaders and

decision makers at the CasinoBeats Summit, helped making it a great event. The content of the panel sessions was informative and inspirational for the attendees.

MEET US AT STAND #S3-206 For more information, please visit www.casinobeatssummit.com


ONLINE GAMING

Land of opportunity: America’s latest gold rush THE STATE-BY-STATE regulation of real-money

online gaming in has been slow to materialise. As a new legislative year dawns, there are grounds for real optimism

I

f anyone thought that online gaming’s 2013 rush to market, with Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey all legalising the activity in one form or another, would trigger a domino effect of states following suit, they couldn’t have been more wrong. Five years on, the total number of US states actively offering residents regulated online casino or poker remains precisely three. The same three. More than a year ago, the Pennsylvania legislature approved a bill significantly expanding permitted gambling activities in the state but still there’s no confirmed launch date.

A likely reason that a number of states have been slow to follow suit - especially given New Jersey’s excellent regulatory model - is that the Wire Act still restricts the interstate pacts necessary to deliver the kind of cross-border liquidity that sees jackpot sums in Europe routinely top ¤10 million. Coupled with a degree of political resistance, or at least inertia, states have been slow to act. However, if the Wire Act has curbed enthusiasm for online gaming somewhat, there have also been good reasons to press on with regulation. One of these is the fall, last May, of PASPA, which has already

But Pennsylvania will happen.

Ten of the state’s 13 land-based casino operators have been granted igaming licences by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board - it is just a question of when the services can go live. And it’s an important question as, with a population of nearly 13 million, Pennsylvania’s potential igaming market is as big as the three existing regulated state markets combined.

62 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

seen a flurry of green lights for sports betting launches in a number of states. The other is money, and more specifically debt. Many states and cities have deficits and debts that show little sign of easing. The igaming dollar offers a degree of salvation. Certainly it is the reasoning applied by Mike Kowall in Michigan. Kowall, until recently a state senator, moved in January to reassure voters that proposals to regulate online gaming in the state are not dead despite former governor Rick Snyder‘s veto of the bill before leaving office. Referencing the city of Detroit’s

recovery from “the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history,” the Republican said that the regulation of online gambling could have “uplifted the city’s economy by bringing over tens of millions in revenue to the city and state’s economy”. Kowall said the coalition formed by Democrats and Republicans in support of the legalisation of online gambling has become “too large to ignore,” and urged support for the the new governor, Gretchen Whitmer. A glance at the New Jersey model for regulation and the Pennsylvania experience postlegalisation may be enough to help persuade Governor Whitmer that it is time for Michigan since, evidently, her sign-off is probably


lottery commission regulatory control over the licensing of online gaming. If passed, HB 20178 would result in a $50,000 licence fee and and a 14 per cent tax on gross gaming revenue, while the licences would be limited to applications from the operators of the state’s five existing land-based casino venues.

the only hurdle remaining for the state to regulate. The Pennsylvania “experience”, post legalisation but prior to the launch of online gaming, has been that money is already flooding into state coffers thanks to the fees required from licensees. PlayPennsylvania.com estimates that,

since the gambling expansion law was passed in the state, $128m was raised from mini-casino auction profits; $94m in interactive gaming petitions; $78m from casino licensing; and $60m in sports betting petitions. “The most notable aspect of the significant revenue that has been generated is that this is almost completely from fees, rather than tax revenue gained from gamblers,” said Jessica Welman, an analyst for PlayPennsylvania.com. “Clearly there is enough interest in Pennsylvania’s enormous market so far to generate the fees.” Michigan is roughly the same size as New Jersey in terms of population and only

a little smaller than Pennsylvania. The opportunity there is potentially significant. But history has taught us that some states have a disproportionately high strategic value in spite of size. This was certainly true back in 2013 when Delaware - one of the union’s smallest states - legalised some forms of online gaming. And it is why what is happening in West Virginia is significant, despite the fact the state is home to fewer than two million

CLEARLY THERE IS ENOUGH INTEREST IN PENNSYLVANIA’S ENORMOUS MARKET SO FAR TO GENERATE THE FEES Americans. It was recently announced that lawmakers in the state, which legalised sports betting in 2018, are seeking again to regulate online casino and poker with introducing a new bill, HB2178. Proposed by representatives Joe Canestraro and Shawn Fluharty – the latter a strong advocate in the successful drive to see betting regulated in West Virginia – the bill seeks to give the state’s

It is entirely feasible, then, that come 2020, there will be six states offering (or about to offer) regulated online real-money gaming content of one form or another to those resident in the state - namely Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. That represents 36 million Americans, a market equal in population to Canada and three times as big as the Swedish market, the re-regulation of which has been the subject of intense activity from some of the world’s biggest igaming operators and suppliers in recent months. Back in 2013, when governors Brian Sandoval and Chris Christie were signing online gaming bills into law in Nevada and New Jersey respectively, the talk was of America’s “great gaming states” and whether it would those to regulate next. The biggest of these are California and New York, comprising another 60

million Americans. If the fall of PASPA and an increasing level of faith in the nature and size of state revenue from real-money igaming were to bring those two states into play in the next five years, then America would be looking at a combined market of approaching 100 million people. That would be bigger even that the UK market and, given the success of the New Jersey regulatory model - were it to be cloned in Pennsylvania and beyond - one potentially as well managed. While the continued prohibition of interstate liquidity pooling would still represent significant limitation, the true scale of the American igaming opportunity is slowing coming into view. •

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INDUSTRIES COLLIDE

Bridging the gap between fashion and online gaming FASHIONTV GAMING GROUP has partnered

with BetConstruct to develop a new range of “bold and beautiful” branded slots

F

ashionTV Gaming Group (FTVGG) is poised and ready to make a groundbreaking entrance into the international gaming arena after announcing a collaboration with global software and game developer BetConstruct to launch a series of bespoke video slots under the acclaimed FashionTV brand.

64 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

SBC Magazine spoke to Aviva Baner, Head of Media at FTVGG, to gather the ins and outs of this collaboration, and find out more about the creation of these unique slot games. SBC: In your opinion, how closely aligned are the fashion and online gaming industries? AB: It’s all about enjoying the finer things


FASHIONTV GAMING GROUP has partnered with

WE WANTED BetConstruct to develop a new range of “bold TOand CREATE A beautiful” branded slots BRAND-NEW SERIES OF SLOTS THAT WOULD BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO THE WORLD OF ONLINE CASINO. WE WANTED THEM TO BE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL, AND OFFER PLAYERS SOMETHING THAT THEY HAD NEVER QUITE SEEN BEFORE

sbcmagazine.com 65


INDUSTRIES COLLIDE

in life; the numbers speak for themselves. Backed by fashiontv, the world’s foremost fashion and lifestyle TV channel with over 2 billion global viewers, and leveraging the power and multi-channel reach of this giant brand, FTVGG is the first to bridge the gap between these two incredible industries and revolutionise the online gaming industry. Ultimately, it’s all about luxury, glamour, and high-level thrills that keep followers coming back for more. This unique premium partnership has allowed us to create a platform to launch a variety of gaming products that appeal to both audiences, including online casinos, live dealers, sportsbook, fantasy games, social games, and most recently fashiontv branded slots. SBC: Why did you choose to work with BetConstruct to develop new titles? AB: BetConstruct is a world leader and a

first class global technology organisation in the online gaming industry. When starting out on this unique venture, we

BY INJECTING GLAMOUR INTO THE REALM OF ONLINE CASINOS, WE SEEK TO OFFER A SLICE OF SOPHISTICATION AND STYLE THAT TRANSCENDS ACROSS BOTH THE VIRTUAL AND REAL WORLDS already had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted in mind. We wanted to create a brand-new series of slots that would breathe new life into the world of online casino. Our mission and strategy is connecting the online virtual world with the real life style luxury world. We wanted the games to be bold and beautiful, and offer players something that they had never quite seen before. We met BetConstruct at ICE in London last year, and as they say; the rest is history. A creative out of the box technology conglomerate that required very little introduction, BetConstruct has taken our concept and made it real via a series of custom-developed branded fashiontv slots. They’ve exceeded our expectations and we look forward to sharing this exciting new project with the entire gaming community.

A CREATIVE OUT OF THE BOX TECHNOLOGY CONGLOMERATE THAT REQUIRED VERY LITTLE INTRODUCTION, BETCONSTRUCT HAS TAKEN OUR CONCEPT AND MADE IT REAL VIA A SERIES OF CUSTOM-DEVELOPED BRANDED FASHIONTV SLOTS 66 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

SBC: Fashion is known to be a fastmoving industry; what sort of lifespan have you put on these games? And is there an agreement in place to replace or add to this collection after a certain time period? AB: We have currently launched the

first five new branded fashiontv slot titles Billionaire Toys™, Fashion Club™, Diamond Rush™, FashionTV™ and Bikini Angels™. These form part of a substantial larger series of games which will be progressively launched throughout the year. Based on the feedback we receive during this time, we will be able to understand the nature of our players, which could lead to a number of exciting future collaborations. SBC: How excited are you about stretching the reach of these games through BetConstruct's Casino Suite? AB: 2019 sees many new projects

unfolding in collaboration with BetConstruct, including a high-end online casino and sportsbook under the brand of Fashiontvplay, as well as fashiontv live dealers in a freshly launched interactive real-time live casino area and more. By injecting glamour into the realm of online casinos, we seek to offer a slice of sophistication and style that transcends across both the virtual and real worlds. Players are invited to enjoy the luxury and entertainment of a fully-branded, fully-supported gaming suite, coupled with the exclusivity of the fashiontv lifestyle, FTV hottest parties and events – which of course we could have never done without the combination of such a reliable partner and FTV Brand. We look forward to what this platinum partnership will bring. •


RISING STAR

SBC Magazine CEO Watch: Pavel Korolev - Inbet Games THE PRIME STRATEGIC PLANNER behind Inbet

Games’ recent igaming industry ascent is the focus of the SBC Magazine ‘CEO Watch’ for ICE 2019

P

avel Korolev joined Inbet as Business Development Director in the middle of 2016 before assuming his current position of CEO for the company’s Online Worldwide Division. Prior to joining Inbet Games, Korolev developed a distinguished career in online marketing and sales. Working as a Head of Online Sales for Kaspersky Lab in Russia, a firm which specialises in the design and production of computer software, he gained hands-on experience and built the necessary expertise to return record B2C and B2B sales figures and reach top ROI indicators. In his time with Kaspersky Lab, he

created and managed an emerging markets sales strategy that brought about an online sales increase of 214 per cent in just four years, spread over 120 countries across Eastern Europe, Middle East and LatAm. The key to his success has been to drive constant evolution and product development that meets customer expectations. “To get to the top, companies should always keep up the pace with the market trends and actively create customer demand,” according to Korolev. Staying tuned in with customers’ preferences resonates very well with Inbet’s ongoing commitment to product innovation. Over the last year, the company introduced a variety of new gaming solutions, added new features to existing games, and secured partnerships

68 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

with retail and online gaming operators. as well as with other white label platform providers. All of Inbet’s product upgrades are going to be on show at ICE 2019 (Stand N1-410), including a product which garnered such interest at last year’s SBC-organised Betting on Sports Week - Dynamically Animated Real Event Betting System (DAREBS). DAREBS, which allows players to make bets on airplane positioning in real time, is well-placed to replicate the entertainment and revenues provided by fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), while sparing bookmakers with a licensing headache over the muchmaligned B2 machines.

TO GET TO THE TOP, COMPANIES SHOULD ALWAYS KEEP UP THE PACE WITH THE MARKET TRENDS AND ACTIVELY CREATE CUSTOMER DEMAND This is because while FOBTs - which are set to see maximum stakes slashed from £100 to £2 in April 2019 - are categorised as gaming machines and operate off RNG, stakes would not be cut back in the same way on DAREBS because it allows players to make bets on real time events. The company’s FOBT fallback solution

will be joined at ICE by all of Inbet’s other recent product upgrades, including Atomic, a ‘highly-customisable’ omnichannel platform that allows players to bet on more than 600 games from beyond the confines of the betting shop. Adapted to a country’s specific gaming regulatory requirements, Atomic enables players to use one registration card and PIN, which gives complete freedom to place bets from any access point in the system - including betting shop terminals, a self-service terminal, VLT or an an online mobile or desktop facility - using both cash deposits or credit cards. •


CHELTENHAM BUILD UP

Providing the ‘Gold’ standard for sportsbook platform stability NOW APPROACHING two years without an

unscheduled outage, Betdaq holds no concerns over the capacity of the gbet platform in relation to concurrent users or transaction numbers, even on the busiest betting days

N

ext month, gbet will hope to reinforce its reputation for platform stability around the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, one of the highlights of the sports calendar for betting volume. We caught up with Shane McLaughlin, Managing Director of Betdaq and Conall McSorley, Business Development Director of gbet to discuss the need for continuous uptime, particularly around the biggest sporting events, and why operators should never be forced to work around defects in their technical supplier. SBC: How important is it for an operator to have trust in the robustness of the platform before committing to marketing spend around big sporting events? SM: It’s absolutely essential to have

confidence in platform stability when signing off on marketing budgets around big events. Customers have little patience or sympathy for an unstable platform and it’s completely counterproductive to spend your marketing budget bringing customers to a platform that isn’t working properly.

You need to be able to switch off certain acquisition channels such as PPC during platform issues but you can’t switch off channels such as TV or print so you can be badly exposed. Platform stability is so important to us that after recently going through over 500 days without an unscheduled outage we started to introduce platform stability as one of the themes in our marketing message. CM: gbet believe this is an absolute fundamental for operators and there have been a number of high profile sporting events over the last twelve months when operators have faced the frustrations of systems failure at the worst possible times. gbet has completed 500+ days of unscheduled outage performance to Betdaq which we are very proud of. This uptime, is on a platform that is processing over

70 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

25,000 bets and settling over 450 markets a minute. There are few, if any platforms in the marketplace, that can give operators comfort that not only can they spend marketing budget in confidence, but also that customers will have a seamless experience when they arrive on the platform. SBC: Has scalability of service often been overlooked by an operator’s desire to include the most sports, most live matches or most bet types; what’s the point if you’re not able to display all


YOU WANT TO HAVE REALLY BIG EVENTS LIKE A GRAND NATIONAL OR GOLD CUP ONE CLICK AWAY ON ALL LANDING AND HOME PAGES BUT MANY OF THE CUSTOMERS WHO COME IN AT THOSE TIMES AREN’T VERY STICKY AND HAVE POOR LIFETIME VALUE SO YOU DON’T WANT TO UPSET THE USER JOURNEY OF YOUR REGULAR USERS FOR A SHORT TERM HIT

of this on a busy Saturday? SM: The natural reaction of an operator is

to offer every possible event and market despite stakes remaining condensed in a much smaller number of markets. It can act as a hygiene factor for customers so the key is to let them know that they can bet on 150 markets in a football match while placing the 5 they are likely to bet on in front of them. gbet continue to give us absolute faith that our platform can easily sustain the number of events and markets we need to publish to be competitive, while we have no concerns about concurrent users or transaction numbers even on the busiest betting days. CM: Operators should not be forced to make business decisions around product offering based on the limitations of their technical supplier. This runs counter to the definition of a trusted technical partner. At gbet, our commitment to the operator is that we deliver technically to allow the business to operate with confidence. While no supplier is immune from technical failure, and it would be wrong

to suggest so given all of the necessary dependencies, gbet architects maintain and operates its platform with scalability and stability as primary objectives. When problems do occur, we pride ourselves on rapid response times and a commitment to fully diagnose and repair the underlying issue to ensure it never happens again. SBC: How do you find the right UX balance between the ‘bread and butter’ display on a normal Saturday and catering for the ‘once a year’ Grand National or Gold Cup customer? SM: Optimising content management in

the sports betting world is like being on a never ending treadmill. You want to have really big events like a Grand National or Gold Cup one click away on all landing and home pages but many of the customers

who come in at those times aren’t very sticky and have poor lifetime value so you don’t want to upset the user journey of your regular users for a short term hit. The more you can do to personalise content for the user the better. CM: Personalisation is a key pillar of the gbet sportsbook offering. We use data analytics technology to optimize the data analysis and reporting. This allows the operator to not only offer a customised display, but a configured display based on the customers’ previous gameplay. As a punter, if I only bet on racing, rugby and golf, the rest of the content is to me, just clutter, making it more difficult to navigate to where I want to bet. Operators want to offer a more personalised experience to their customers; at gbet we want to facilitate that as much as possible. •

HERE ARE FEW, IF ANY PLATFORMS IN THE MARKETPLACE, THAT CAN GIVE OPERATORS COMFORT THAT NOT ONLY CAN THEY SPEND MARKETING BUDGET IN CONFIDENCE, BUT ALSO THAT CUSTOMERS WILL HAVE A SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE WHEN THEY ARRIVE ON THE PLATFORM sbcmagazine.com 71


GLOBAL GROWTH

Golden Race makes its play for global virtual sports success ONE OF THE BIG virtual

sports winners at last year’s SBC Awards believes its football products would be successful in all countries where real soccer is popular

Martin Wachter

V

irtual betting platform provider Golden Race backed up its bid for global growth in 2018 by launching a new website to provide clearer information for prospective customers, partners and media organisations across target territories. Having made its name through a popular range of products in Italy, where numbers for virtual betting are comparable with those for sports betting, and across emerging markets in Africa, this growing set of target territories now includes the UK and the US. In September of last year, Golden Race secured a supplier licence to service the UK market, while just two months later it was granted associate membership to the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries (NASPL). We caught up with Martin Wachter, CEO at Golden Race, to discuss the global demand for football virtuals, focusing products around a betting experience that feels “more real” for punters, and finding the right balance between graphics, odds and outcomes. SBC: In which countries do you see the biggest demand for football focused virtual betting products? MW: After the huge success in regulated

European countries such as UK and Italy, and the amazing amount of tickets played in Africa (more than 15 million per day), I strongly believe that this product should work everywhere that real soccer is

IN MY OPINION, THE MAIN TARGET AS A VIRTUAL SOFTWARE PROVIDER IS TO FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN A NICE GRAPHIC, REALISTIC ODDS AND OUTCOMES popular. At the moment, we see a big level of growth in LatAm markets. SBC: Do you think that younger punters associate more with the advanced technology and graphics supporting modern football games? MW: I don’t think so. In my opinion, the

main target as a virtual software provider is to find a balance between a nice graphic,

realistic odds and outcomes. Actually, this is why we have become the industry’s biggest operator for virtual soccer by far. The big competition on graphics and animations you will find more when it comes to the games console sector. SBC: What would you say to encourage those who are undecided about trying virtual betting instead of real-life sports betting? MW: Our biggest focus in the last few

years has been to position the product as closely as possible to a real sportsbook, based on the way we do odds and how our RNG generates the results. The benefit of a game like our soccer league is that you can play your team every five or six minutes instead of once or twice a week. •

sbcmagazine.com 73


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TOP TIPSTERS

France’s semi-final win tops tipster roundup on bettingexpert.com THE WORLD CUP in

Russia unsurprisingly accounted for the top match, longest odds win and shortest odds flop on Better Collective’s leading affiliate site

T

he World Cup semi-final between France and Belgium came out as the top match in 2018 across the bettingexpert.com tipster community. Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal at the Krestovsky Stadium, as the match finished 1-0 to takes Les Bleus into the final. France’s subsequent victory over Croatia produced the longest odds win of the year, as one bettingexpert.com player correctly tipped the final 4-2 scoreline at odds of 150.00. Meanwhile, Germany’s nightmare World

Cup campaign in Russia was reflected in the tipster activity, as the pre-tournament holders became the subject of the shortest odds flop on bettingexpert.com after a shock defeat against South Korea. One tipster took odds of 1.04 on Germany in the Draw No Bet market, only for Joachim Löw’s side to lose 2-0, and exit at the first round stage for the first time since 1938. The data, provided by Better Collective’s Philip Trampe (pictured), also showed that Real Madrid were the team that caused the most lost tips in 2018, despite profiting from a pair of Loris Karius errors to lift the Champions League trophy for a third year in a row.

Philip Trampe

The team’s talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo – who scored 450 goals in all competitions for Los Blancos over just nine seasons – subsequently made a bigmoney move to Juventus, who came out as the most popular team for tips placed across the network. The same data report also revealed the

most popular team to bet against across the top three sports leagues in the US, as well as the Premier League. This unwanted accolade went to Baltimore Orioles for MLB, Oakland Raiders in the NFL and Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA, while Brighton were seen as the ‘whipping’ boys in the Premier League – a surprising finding given that the Seagulls finished in 15th place. • Meet the people behind bettingexpert.com at the Better Collective booth at LAC (B19).

sbcmagazine.com 75


BUILDING BLOCKS

THE LINK BETWEEN LEGO AND YOUR AFFILIATE PROGRAM LEE-ANN JOHNSTONE, CEO of AffiliateINSIDER,

says building a successful affiliate program is very similar to building with Lego

T

here is a technique to planning, running and executing an affiliate strategy to drive growth to your business. To master this, you have to think like you’re building with Lego. A box of Lego is full of small plastic bricks that on their own are functional, but when given to a skilled Lego builder can be turned into something totally unique. It’s this combination of building bricks and human skill that will help you develop a strategy that unlocks the full potential of what a beautifully crafted affiliate program can bring to your business. So, what are the key bricks for building a phenomenal affiliate program?

1

TECHNOLOGY

The foundation of any affiliate program is the technology that powers it. The tracking platform will dictate the tools and services that you can offer your affiliate partners to grow and scale your business. Affiliates look for programs that offer detailed reporting, fast and frequent payments and are able to provide great and varied affiliate commission models and incentives.

Affiliate managers look for easy portfolio management, complex and refined ad management platforms and effective CRM and commercial management features. When you decide what technology to use, you should be keeping these in the forefront of your consideration along with price, service, and ease of integration.

2

A PLAN

With a solid base in place, before adding the next brick you need a plan. A road map for where you are headed and what you need to get there. Affiliate strategy, like it or not, is a specialist skill and not a traditional marketing function. It is not account management or sales. An affiliate strategy takes into account the overall marketing strategy, and then works out how affiliate marketing can enhance

LIKE LEGO, YOU CAN SPEND HOURS BUILDING SOMETHING OR YOU CAN GET A SET OF INSTRUCTIONS AND BUILD SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL SIMPLY AND QUICK

76 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

the acquisition funnel and build brand reach. If you get the strategy wrong, it can be inefficient. It can harm your overall acquisition strategy not to mention dent your budget with zero return on investment. Get it right and you will expand your brand much faster than you ever could operating on your own. Like Lego, you can spend hours building something or you can get a set of instructions and build something beautiful simply and quick.

3

RESOURCES

Being an affiliate manager requires a


IT’S LIKE SEEING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EXPERIENCED LEGO MASTER BUILDING AN OBJECT OF ART THAT’S LIFE LIKE AND A NEWBIE BUILDER WHO’S BUILT A RUDIMENTARY LIKENESS OF IT

very broad job spec. Finding people with the right skills to fill this role is often very hard. It’s why specialist agencies now exist to help clients map big global affiliate strategies, find the right tools to scale and implement tactics for growth. Having a thorough understanding of how the process of online acquisition works, end to end from the point of entry to when the customer reactivation cycle begins. It’s an elite job title, and it takes time to really learn it, with a lot of patience too. To be a great affiliate manager you need to be proficient in these skills:

Customer service – this is a key part

of affiliate management. Responsive, knowledgeable and personable people make good affiliate managers.

Outstanding relationship management

– taking customer service to the next level, you must build and manage affiliate relationships 1:1 and 1:many to better understand, and drive, ROI from multivariate traffic sources. Be an eternal student of digital evolution – the affiliate ecosystem is

constantly evolving so affiliate managers need to keep up to date with the latest digital trends in and outside their own channel of expertise - it’s a vocation that

requires continued learning, on the job. Be a digital evangelist – this sector moves quickly so it’s vital to be able to adapt to grow and capitalise on innovation, new ideas and administrative ways of doing things. Be target driven and a little quick witted - you have to be able to negotiate,

listen and sell to succeed.

Understand how to bootstrap – make

sure you have the necessary tools to improve the efficiency and ROI of your commercial deals, striking the right balance between rewarding affiliate partners for their effort whilst driving program growth.

sbcmagazine.com 77


BUILDING BLOCKS

4

PREPARATION

With the technology, plan, skills and resources in place, preparation is the next step. The part where you start sorting all of the bricks into colours and shapes to get ready to build the end product. Often, this step is missed. When it is - it shows in the build. It’s like seeing the difference between an experienced Lego master building an object of art that’s life like and a newbie builder who’s built a rudimentary likeness of it. So, how do you get prepared? Before putting pen to paper, or finger to key, you need to know exactly who you are as a brand, as a business and as the program. You have to be clear on what you offer, to ensure affiliates understand this in the fray of programs that approach them day in day out. You need to know how you benchmark your program to your direct competition. The days of build it and they will come are long over. For your affiliate program to survive and thrive in a highly competitive market you must be heard above the noise of your competitors. There are literally hundreds of operator brands now vying for your affiliate’s attention so you need to think about how

you will compete and where you can provide added value. Consider what your program offers that others don’t. You can bring together various factors to create a highly desirable package that will convince affiliates to represent your bands, but also to give you their prime real estate. It is also important to set goals and objectives for your program and measure performance against these. This should be done monthly.

5

LET’S NOT FORGET THE MARKETING

You’ve built your Lego model; it took a bit of time to get there, now don’t you want to go tell everyone about it? That’s where you start focusing on your program marketing. This is the most important part of an affiliate program strategy and often the

FOR YOUR AFFILIATE PROGRAM TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE IN A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE MARKET YOU MUST BE HEARD ABOVE THE NOISE OF YOUR COMPETITORS

78 SPORTS BETTING GUIDE TO ICE • FEBRUARY 2019

area that is shuffled to the bottom of the pile or sometimes ignored entirely. The principles of how you market your brand apply similarly to how you market your affiliate program. Here’s a checklist of things you should be constantly be doing: • Create and distribute content that shows affiliates you are a serious and professional program, that you understand how to help your affiliates succeed. • Ensure consistent exposure across print, online media and social channels. • Engage in forums and keep your affiliate program front of mind and always in the line of site. • Direct and push communications to promote your news and keep affiliates up to speed with what you are doing and offering. • Attend events - lots of them. They are vital for building relationships and recruiting new affiliate partners. If you want to run a successful affiliate program, you must combine the right building blocks like Lego together to make it all stick and drive meteoric affiliate growth. •


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Sports Betting Guide to ICE London  

Published by SBC, this is the sports betting guide to ICE London 2019. Get all the latest industry news and key leader interviews prior to t...

Sports Betting Guide to ICE London  

Published by SBC, this is the sports betting guide to ICE London 2019. Get all the latest industry news and key leader interviews prior to t...