ISSUE 17 • SEPTEMBER 2021
How Nuvei is removing the ‘middleman’ THE DUTCH OPPORTUNITY
Europe’s next major player? LIVE CASINO
SuperBet’s global expansion plans
Lenin Castillo LOGRAND ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
Disrupting the Latin American market
5-24 Sports Betting
• Lenin Castillo: The key to success in Latin America • Sacha Dragic: Broadening SuperBet’s horizons
CONTENTS SEPTEMBER 2021
• BetMakers: The opportunities for Global Tote in the US • Bill South: A multi-faceted approach to integrity • Dennis ter Harmsel: How do you serve a nation of 17 million experts? • Sportingtech: Focusing on regulated markets
25-39 US Market
• Paddy Power: Cracking the US market with ASX • IGT: It’s game time for IGT PlaySports • Jesse Cary: Addressing the challenges of US iGaming • Brandon Walker and Jeff Millar on the inevitable rise of US iGaming
• Roundtable: Examining the potential of the Dutch market • The rise of live casino: Embracing a new kind of disruption • CasinoBeats 100 Club: Are streamers just a new type of affiliate?
50-53 SBC Affiliate Leaders & Marketing • Kelly Kehn: A letter to affiliate leaders
• bWise Media: Focusing on emerging markets
• Neil Erlick: How Nuvei is alleviating payment pain points for the US market • Roundtable: Affordability checks in the post-lockdown era
• Fourth UK National Lottery Licence Competition: What to expect • Can lotteries remain relevant?
• Anton Kuchukhidze: Welcome to Ukraine!
The SBC Leaders Magazine is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community: EDITORIAL TEAM: Luke Massey, Erin Gallagher, Andrew McCarron, Craig Davies, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, James Ross, Lucia Mouriño, Conor Porter, Holly Hunt, Ted Orme-Claye, Martyn Elliott, Kelly Kehn, Charlie Horner SALES TEAM: Rasmus Sojmark, Alyona Gromova, Conall McCabe, Jan Willem Volbeda, Richard Deacon, Bob McFarland, Tom Bullen, Jan Kowalczyk DESIGNED & DELIVERED BY Better Mags (bettermags.co.uk) All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of Sports Betting Community Ltd. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors it may contain. Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of any material, solicited or unsolicited. The views in the publication are not necessarily the views of Sports Betting Community Ltd or those of the advertisers. Produced and published by Sports Betting Community Ltd REGISTERED ADDRESS: Sports Betting Community, 103-105 Brighton Road, Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 2NG, UK TEL.: +44 (0) 161 367 1250 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.sbcgaming.com
2 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
INTRO Luke Massey Head of SBC Media
elcome to the fifth edition of SBC Leaders for 2021! The last 18 months have been a long old slog haven’t they? And I’m sure everyone is as bored of talking about the pandemic as we are. So don’t worry, we won’t dwell on it … too much. But as the world starts to edge closer to what was previously considered normal, we’re now starting to see things open up; for the betting and gaming industry, we’re seeing new markets and regions welcome new regulations with open arms. One such region which has been on everyone’s minds in the last few months is Latin America. With a population wellversed in the art of football, a strong interest in betting and WITH A POPULATION a growing use of mobile devices, it comes as no WELL-VERSED IN THE surprise that many are ART OF FOOTBALL looking to enter South AND A STRONG America. But when looking INTEREST IN BETTING, IT'S NOT SURPRISING at this region, betting THAT MANY ARE operators must be wary of homogenising the region LOOKING TO ENTER according to Logrand LATIN AMERICA Entertainment COO Lenin Castillo. Outlining his three pillars for success in Latin America, Castillo explains why a competitive market will lead to evolution of the online casino industry before expressing his positivity towards Strendus’ success in the region. As has been the case since May 2018, the US market also remains high on the agenda for many - with more states opening up on what seems like a near-monthly basis. Many operators are now starting to weigh up the opportunities within the online gaming space. But according to Jesse Cary
Erin Gallagher SBC Leaders Editor
from Strive Gaming, the US iGaming space comes without its own set of challenges including local nuances and maintaining control over your technology stacks. Paddy Power, however, outlines his plans to crack the post-PASPA market with his new virtual sports trading exchange, ASX - something which he believes is a major step forward from the current daily fantasy sports offerings. The swathes of opportunities in the US was also highlighted by Neil Erlick, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Nuvei, as he outlines the ways in which the company is alleviating payment pain points for the US iGaming market. Jumping over to Europe, Bragg Gaming’s Chris Looney is joined by Julie Allison, Director of Markets at Microgaming, in a roundtable discussion about the Dutch market. The Ukrainian market also holds huge potential for growth and, as stressed by Ukrainian Gambling Council Chairman Anton Kuchukhidze, will soon become a regional leader. Lucky for you, we have a host of events planned for the latter months of this year which’ll provide expert insight and a wealth of networking opportunities tailored to each of these markets. So, we hope to see you at one of these events, but in the meantime, enjoy this edition of SBC Leaders!
Disrupting the Latin American market
LENIN CASTILLO: THREE KEY PILLARS OF ONLINE CASINO SUCCESS IN LATIN AMERICA AS MORE COMPANIES eye
up the new opportunities emerging across the Latin American gaming market, Lenin Castillo - Online Chief Operating Officer at Logrand Entertainment Group - explains why he believes Strendus will have a strong influence across the region BY ERIN GALLAGHER
SBC: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Logrand’s Strendus Casino has very quickly become a leading platform in the Mexican market. What would you say has been the key to its success? LC: Thank you, I greatly appreciate the time and interest in your prestigious space to be able to talk about Strendus. There is no doubt that to always achieve your goals, you must be programmed and motivated with great passion to do different, disruptive things and always think in the long term in which you always have a positive impact on your consumers. We consider that the key to being one of the top leaders in the online casino scene with the greatest acceptance in the industry. It is derived from three main pillars: The first is the clients. The fact that we have been able to listen carefully to our clients, generating a very solid and comprehensive relationship towards them since we appeared on the scene in 2018. Second is teamwork. By assembling a high performance team whose members
TO ALWAYS ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS, YOU MUST BE PROGRAMMED AND MOTIVATED WITH GREAT PASSION TO DO DIFFERENT, DISRUPTIVE THINGS
Disrupting the Latin American market
work to achieve a common and specific goal, acting on the basis of individual and mutual responsibility with an easy adaptation to change, synergy and trust. And the third is with the conviction, support and consistent involvement of the Council and Board of Directors. Mexicans love sports, social life, and games. We have been able to adapt this knowledge very well in our industry and today we have been well accepted since we keep on listening to our customers and surprise them with more of what they expect in terms of service and immersive experience. We will continue to work very hard to maintain our standards.
SBC: As we all know, Logrand also operates a sportsbook. Are there any particular markets or demographics that this cross-selling between casino and sports betting has been most evident? LC: We actually find a direct relationship between sports betting and casino table and card games for both the digital ecosystem and the land-based model based on live dealers. Sports betting as an entertainment activity has shown a steady growth in the past few years but it also impacts the growth in the casino table and card games in frequency and penetration, with a strong preference in blackjack. For Logrand Entertainment Group it
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LATIN AMERICA IS A DEVELOPING REGION FOR THE INDUSTRY SINCE IT IS STILL VERY YOUNG has been of great relevance to offer to our card game players and tables from its land-based casinos sports betting alternatives “on site” and also digital with a same account, as well as being able to offer them the whole experience with sports broadcasts while they play at the casinos. Following this same trend, digital sports betting players and digital table players receive special promotions to enjoy at the casinos.
It is a fact that sports betting and casino games are widely played, but a big percentage of these players are males and they belong to the 30+ age group. The direct relationship between both verticals is very evident in males of older demographic groups and with middle to high income, they are more experienced in sports betting and card games. Taking into account that more and more, older generations use digital
WE DEFINITELY INTEND TO GROW OUR BRAND OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TERRITORY
technology and the challenges of technological conversion are smaller for these groups than what was thought; the benefits of delivering a complete offer in both worlds, the digital and the real; they allow us to serve an increasingly educated market that uses both methodologies constantly. We call this “extended experience”. SBC: Latin America is a region which is very high on the agenda for a number of betting and gaming companies. Why do you think this is? And are there any new countries which are on the radar for Logrand? LC: Latin America is a developing region for the industry since it is still very young and with undiscovered and unexploded markets compared with other countries in more mature markets where gaming companies are very strong and seen as a common entertainment alternative. It is well known thanks to various studies that the Latin American gaming industry has consistently increased its share of the market year after year and that it could compete in the near future with markets such as Europe. This growth is driven by a general expansion of the region, where around 12 countries, in addition to promoting the regulation of the sector, are taking advantage of the technological development that has been taking place, where the use of broadband internet and smartphones already count, with an increase in users close to 50%. For several years now, plenty of players in the sector have seen the regulation of our industry as fundamental and, above all, the impulse between government and private initiative to offer quality products and a very attractive offer for all the segments we cover. Of course, we are becoming more and more involved in Latin American countries to achieve this. As for reaching new countries, we definitely intend to grow our brand outside the national territory where the consumer profile matches or is very similar to the domestic one in the short term. SBC: For those looking to enter the Latin American market, what would be the key challenges that they should consider? LC: I consider that competition always makes you better, so we are happy to
have a competitive market since this means an evolution of the region. It is definitely a market in constant movement and with a wide variety of legislations, market segments and technology penetration, in some countries we are still struggling to get rid of lax regulations, others with some taboos regarding this kind of entertainment offer and the need for customers to feel they are in a safe environment. A mistake that is usually made is to consider Latin America as a unique market, that is as if the entire region behaved and sought exactly the same. This is equivalent to thinking that online gambling in Europe is the same for all countries for the simple fact of belonging to the same continent. It is important to enter and understand the particularities, habits, uses, interests, etc., of each of the countries and their people, and from there then define an ad-hoc plan for the region or for each country. Another point to consider is making sure you consider the local payment methods for Latin American customers. There are two key points that influence
the way a customer will pay for an online purchase: the penetration of credit cards is still low in Latin America, and the fear of online fraud, which makes so many users avoid generating transactions through these means.
A MISTAKE THAT IS USUALLY MADE IS TO CONSIDER LATIN AMERICA AS A UNIQUE MARKET, THAT IS AS IF THE ENTIRE REGION BEHAVES EXACTLY THE SAME SBC: Logrand navigated the challenges of the pandemic very well, however - as was the case in many countries - landbased casinos were forced to close during this period. How did you ease the transition towards online gambling for your retail customers? LC: Yes, unfortunately that situation of closing physical businesses due to the pandemic has not only been in our industry but in many others around the world. But for a business to keep relevant and successful it must be in constant evolution and we realised
that the digital scene fortunately accelerated and benefited us during the most complicated period of the Covid-19 health crisis, to date. Unlike other operators in the region that are only land-based, we were capable of keeping many of our players with a safer option at Strendus, since they could have all the fun of the casinos at home. As industry leaders from the beginning, we committed ourselves and took on the task of implementing security protocols aligned with the best international practices, complying with and working hand in hand with local and federal authorities and guidelines for both online and landbased operations. Always with a firm commitment to support the community, governments and industry. A point that might seem basic but that is highly relevant is the strategic and/or business definition of viewing the client as “unique”, that for Logrand Entertainment Group is that the physical and digital offerings complement each other, always seeking that the customer has an “extended” experience. If the client is a regular at one
Disrupting the Latin American market
of our physical casinos, the digital offer becomes an extension of his entertainment for when he cannot attend the casino and vice versa. This allowed us to get closer to our clients both, since the launching of Strendus and during the pandemic and by consolidating our relationship as a group through personalised attention and service. SBC: And what role do you think digitalisation will play in the future of casinos? LC: I’m sure that digitalisation plays an important role in this and any other industry, now and in the future, as we realise that a hybrid operation is beneficial for our operations, communication and even the safety of our customers - and we are building the path towards it. The main reason to digitise a business is to understand that digitisation is not a trend, but the way the world is now headed. One of the purposes of digitisation is to enable automation, improve data quality, and collect and structure all that data so that we can apply advanced technology and make business decisions from it. The impact of digital transformation varies but often results in the following benefits: increased revenue, decreased operating costs, and increased customer satisfaction.
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When Covid-19 hit, it forced social changes around the world. Almost overnight, governments issued orders limiting large gatherings of people, restricting in-person business operations, and encouraging working from home as much as possible. This forced us to seek and consolidate creative digital solutions in order to continue operating remotely and continue serving our customers the best way possible. This shift towards digital operations led us to take on a role both in front of the client and behind the scenes.
WE REMAIN VERY POSITIVE REGARDING THE GROWTH AND PENETRATION THAT STRENDUS MAY HAVE IN THE REGION During the health emergency at Logrand Entertainment Group, by having leading suppliers in their areas, we were able to adapt to the growing market demand immediately and we are currently looking to unify the data of the group’s clients in order to further personalise their experience in our different formats. At the same time, clients have expressed an interest in receiving
services with little or absolutely no contact with people, requesting or encouraging remote operations or at least with limited contacts from an almost automated client-oriented direction. SBC: Looking to the future, what does the next 12 months look like for Logrand? LC: These last couple of years have been very changeable and challenging, for the next few months we do not see that this situation will change due to all the external factors to which we all are still exposed. However, today I can tell you that the first quarter of 2021 has left us all with great and pleasant surprises in terms of results and we remain very positive regarding the growth and penetration that Strendus may have in the region for the next months. Among our plans, we contemplate continuing to strengthen our operations, expand our range of existing games and services and introduce our presence in other markets, solidify our strategic alliances with leading suppliers of the industry, prop up and enhance our relationship as the official betting site of LaLiga in Mexico, as well as endorse the National Customer Service Award through the consolidation of our strategic differentiator for our clients: “personal service”. •
Broadening SuperBet’s horizons
SACHA DRAGIC: TRANSFORMING SUPERBET INTO A GLOBAL PLAYER THE FORMER FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF SUPERBET shines a
light on the company’s evolution from a retail leader to an online powerhouse BY ERIN GALLAGHER
ince its inception back in 2008, SuperBet has grown considerably - rising through the ranks of the Romanian betting industry to become a leader in both the land-based and online space. Speaking as part of the SBC Leaders podcast, Dragic began discussions by reflecting on the company’s initial goals of simply ‘surviving’, which then quickly changed to becoming an important player in the Romanian market. He said: “I founded SuperBet in 2008, and we began operating in 2009. Our initial goal was to survive and become an important player in the Romanian market. We went through a process which took us four or five years where we established a retail network. We are both confident and comfortable with our position as a retail leader. “When the law changed in Romania, and online betting and gaming was legalised, we started learning about how to operate in the digital world. In 2017, we succeeded in becoming an online leader – that was the moment that we then started to work on the
OUR INITIAL GOAL WAS TO SURVIVE AND BECOME AN IMPORTANT PLAYER IN THE ROMANIAN MARKET
Broadening SuperBet’s horizons
international part of our development strategy.” When it came to growing the company, it’s no surprise that a strong C-level team has played a key role in expanding SuperBet’s horizons beyond that of the Romanian market. But in order to create a management team which is able to stand out and lead the operator in a competitive betting and gaming environment, Dragic emphasised that it was imperative that the operator’s team consisted of people who were knowledgeable and a good ‘cultural fit’. “There was a lot of trial and error in
IF WE REALLY WANTED TO GO FURTHER, WE WOULD HAVE TO BECOME A GLOBAL COMPANY
10 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
our early days. But as we started to grow, I understood that we needed to be very careful about what we wanted in a leadership team. For us, it was very important to have a person who is very knowledgeable, but also someone who - from a cultural point of view - we felt would be a good fit for the company. “I spent most of 2017 and 2018 looking for someone who could take us to that next level, because we already had a very good team that could operate in the region. I have to say it was one of the best, if not the best leadership team operating in Romania and its neighbouring countries. But I knew that if we really wanted to go further, we would have to become a global company. “Something which has been really important for us is that talent base, which we are working hard at building. We also want to keep SuperBet as an
I THINK THESE TWO ACQUISITIONS PROVED THAT YOU NEED TO EVALUATE ALL OF THE TIME environment where different cultures, mindsets and people can coexist and work happily together.” Discussions soon turned towards the recent acquisitions of Napoleon Casino and Lucky 7 - two agreements which, despite boosting the operator’s international profile, have helped maintain an ‘entrepreneurial DNA’ at SuperBet. Dragic noted that the possibility of an operator acquisition seemed “impossible” for SuperBet even as recently as 2018. “I think these two acquisitions proved that you need to evaluate all
I WAS NEVER THINKING ABOUT ACQUIRING AN OPERATOR of the time,” the SuperBet Executive Chairman continued. “If you’d have asked me in 2018 whether SuperBet will ever complete an acquisition, I’d have told you that it would be impossible. I have big respect for bet365, I like the company and their overall strategy – and I was a very very big believer in a single brand and organic growth. “All of the acquisitions which were done when I was the CEO of SuperBet were tech companies that would bring us the technical capabilities in order to grow. But I was never thinking about acquiring an operator. “Then Johnny came in, who had much more experience in M&A due to his time at Flutter. He said that we should be much more open minded to the idea of acquisition. We then started to have those conversations with the founder of Lucky 7, in which we agreed a venture capital investment to start the business. That then led to us gaining a majority stake in the company. “This was one of those good examples where we wanted to keep that entrepreneurial DNA within SuperBet. That’s also why Lucky 7 operates almost independently of us; we are looking to see what makes sese for us to do together. But most of the important business decisions are made by Lucky 7 founders, minority stakeholders and Lucky 7 management. “That’s something which I think is very important – we should not put our main objective in the kind of synergies and integration, but more on keeping value. And value means putting talent first.” Looking to the future, Dragic set his sights on global expansion, highlighting the growing opportunities in Western Europe, Central and South
I ENVISION US EXPANDING FURTHER INTO WESTERN EUROPE, AS WELL AS OTHER GEOGRAPHIES IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH-EAST EUROPE
America, the US and Africa. “If you ask me within the next 10 - 15 years, SuperBet shouldn’t be in any markets where it is illegal to bet. I envision us expanding further into Western Europe, as well as other geographies in central and south-east Europe. I see us entering the Central and South American markets, and possibly the US and African markets too. “The thing is that as long as I am a significant shareholder in SuperBet, we will open and enter new markets - this is something I hope to keep a constant in SuperBet’s future. “I cannot say what will happen in the
WE ARE IN THE GAME AND IN ORDER TO BE THERE, WE HAVE TO BE GLOBAL; IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES US next 12 months or so, and of course our management team will always select the best opportunities and present those to us as a board. But one thing is for sure, we are in the game and in order to be there, we have to be global; it doesn’t matter how long it takes us, I’m confident that we will achieve this.” •
RAJ SANJANWALA: GLOBAL TOTE WILL HELP OPERATORS CAPITALISE ON THE RISE OF US SPORTS BETTING BETMAKERS' NEW GLOBAL TOTE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER spoke to SBC
Leaders Magazine about breathing new life into the 100-year-old company BY ERIN GALLAGHER
SBC: What is your first order of business as the newly installed Chief Operating Officer of Global Tote? The market for tote betting is evolving rapidly, so with the resources of BetMakers as tailwind, we plan to elevate our game in virtually every respect with our new Global Tote division. The division’s roots are deep and well established, and our international footprint is unmatched. We’re in 30 countries with over 225 racing partners and 55 online wagering operator clients, and our Quantum System tote leads the pack in functionality and reach. That’s all important but we still see unmined opportunities in tote. To tap them, we are investing in infrastructure and user experience, and diversifying our core Quantum System software, so we can take tote to the next level with a multi-pronged approach. First, the importance of the end user experience is central to keeping tote competitive so we’re revamping the user experience across both our retail and digital channels. Working with Neo Self-Service Solutions, Australia’s largest industrial design company specialising in self-
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service terminal technologies, we are creating an entirely new proprietary line of betting terminals for tellerassisted and self-service tote and fixed odds betting. Not only will these terminals set a new standard for betting terminal aesthetics, but they also offer the latest components and functions to ensure speed, accuracy, and security. The new line will be available beginning in early 2022 and we’re very excited to get it out to the marketplace.
platform to power the NTRA’s National Handicapping Contest, presented in cooperation with William Hill and Caesars Entertainment. Finally, in infrastructure, we are moving from a proprietary data centre model to a cloud computing
model to strengthen our operational availability and extensibility. We began that process in late 2020 and are continuing to roll this out to our operating estate worldwide. It’s a big agenda but we’re on top of it.
IT’S A BIG AGENDA BUT WE’RE ON TOP OF IT Next, our digital platforms – web and mobile – are also getting an overhaul, incorporating more stats and handicapping data, and a striking new responsive user interface. We are also engaging with the racing industry in new ways. For example, we were proud to recently deliver a completely new technology
unified set of systems, people, and infrastructure. We are gearing up for this because we want our clients to operate from the strongest possible position, first to market, and with strong competitive advantages. SBC: Currently, fixed odds betting on racing is legal only in New Jersey but far more predominant in the US is sports betting. Do you see any opportunities for tote in the sports betting market? We believe that sportsbook operators will come to view betting on racing – both tote and fixed odds – as viable options to fill out their schedules and offer desirable alternatives, like pari-mutuel exotics, to players.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED ABOUT WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON
SBC: How are you helping clients manage their businesses in the face of the growing US sports betting market? We see this as a huge growth opportunity. We at BetMakers have shared our view that fixed odds betting and tote betting on racing are complementary products and that, where both are offered on racing, the combination will provide product diversity, new revenue streams, and greater participation in the sport from new fans. I’m pleased to report that since the tote division was acquired by BetMakers, we have not even tapped the brakes on development of our tote products. In fact, as evinced by the projects I described above, we’ve turned on a firehose of investment in our tote products and services distribution. We are a global leader in tote, and we plan on staying there by continually delivering solutions that
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help our customers thrive. The really good news for Global Tote’s clients is that if fixed odds betting on racing becomes legal in their jurisdictions, we will be able to offer this straight out of the box through close integration of our platforms with BetMakers’ data, technology, and trading solutions. This means getting to market rapidly, offering bettors a seamless user experience through the same terminals and digital platforms they use for tote betting, and gaining economies of scale by offering new complementary products using a
WE WANT OUR CLIENTS TO OPERATE FROM THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE POSITION, FIRST TO MARKET, AND WITH STRONG COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES
This doesn’t benefit sports betting operators alone. From the racing operator’s perspective, the entry of sports books as new betting partners helps further expand the market for their racing. Global Tote will be ready to supplement sports betting offerings across both retail and digital channels with a modernised approach to betting on racing that will be seamless to the end user. Retail and online sports book operators can simply plug-in racing powered by BetMakers’ trading solutions and by Global Tote’s worldclass Quantum platform, terminals, digital platforms, and comprehensive services. In addition to seamless technology plug-ins, we also offer full turn-key betting operations for clients who wish to rely on our depth of experience, including full back-office services, platform and technology management, and customer service. I believe that those of us in the tote industry, and the clients, employees and partners of Global Tote and BetMakers, have a lot to look forward to in this transformational moment. I personally have devoted my career to the tote betting industry, and I have never been more excited about what’s on the horizon. •
The Global Leader in Tote Global Tote is the global leader in tote, creating solutions that propel the racing industry forward.
With a presence in over 35 countries, our footprint is unmatched, and our expansive and growing network helps take our partners’ racing Global Tote’s Quantum™ technologies set the further and bring them more global content than standard in pari-mutuel betting solutions. ever before. Proud to be part of the BetMakers Technology Visit GlobalTote.com to learn more. Group, our focus on innovation and commitment to integrity are helping shape the future of global racing.
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© 2021 Global Tote. All Rights Reserved.
A multi-faceted approach to integrity
BILL SOUTH: TACKLING SPORTS CORRUPTION REQUIRES AN ORGANISED OPERATOR APPROACH BY TED ORME-CLAYE
s the complexity of the sports betting industry has increased with a shift towards online and mobile gaming, a huge range of markets available and more jurisdictions opening up to the sector, it would be easy to assume that maintaining integrity and countering match fixing is harder than ever. This is not the case, however, for Bill South, Group Director of Security at William Hill and a member of the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) Board of Directors, who believes that the integrity model utilised by the modern betting industry can be easily applied to any market and any jurisdiction by using a top-down approach. Speaking to SBC, South detailed his view of a ‘tripartite’ relationship between betting and gaming operators, regulatory authorities and sports governing bodies, as well as the efforts of the IBIA, means the industry can address integrity issues throughout various markets and jurisdictions. “If we take the domestic market, the regulated market in the UK - this equally applies to most markets and requirements - we have an obligation to report suspicious betting activity as a specific licence condition,” South explained.
WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS BETTING ACTIVITY AS A SPECIFIC LICENCE CONDITION
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WITH MORE MARKETS OPENING up to sports betting
across the world, Bill South explains why a ‘tripartite’ relationship between betting and gaming operators, regulatory authorities and sports governing bodies is fundamental to maintaining integrity
“A major development along with that obligation is this tripartite relationship – which involves the betting operator, regulator and sports governing body working together, sharing data and good practice. We all have a vested interest in it, but approach the issues from a different perspective, and that is a strength. “This is ultimately about customer confidence and our responsibility to those customers as well a responsibility to the sport, which is what generates the interest in the first place, and sitting alongside this is a regulatory and licensing obligation.” For South and William Hill, this has involved cooperating with, amongst others, the FA and the Scottish FA, as well as horse racing, tennis and cricket governing bodies, with the company’s security director stating that integrity ‘is an area we feel extremely passionate about.’ He added: “I think that Hills have hopefully played a significant part in making sports and sports betting integrity something that we can all be proud about.” However, the complex nature of organised crime, he argued, requires an
organised and effective approach from operators, an approach which extends from the staff working in retail outlets, to the traders conducting market analysis to the officials of the IBIA. “The enthusiasm and knowledge for sports integrity permeates throughout our entire organisation, and it shows that people have this real enthusiasm
I THINK THAT HILLS HAVE PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT PART IN MAKING SPORTS AND SPORTS BETTING INTEGRITY SOMETHING WE CAN ALL BE PROUD ABOUT and attachment to sport in general. “People in the shops care about integrity, and if you lose the faith the customer has in the operator, the sport or the medium, that faith could be lost very quickly and once it is gone you won’t get it back any time soon.” Meanwhile, the trading teams in companies such as William Hill continue to play a prominent role in countering match fixing and other forms of sports corruption. These
teams are, as South put it, ‘the people who understand it all, and have a critical responsibility in this area’. “The traders are on the lookout for something that does not fit with market behaviour or they are not able to see a sensible logical reason for why a bettor is behaving the way they are, if they can’t, it starts to raise concerns and suspicion. “An important qualification for this role is a love of sport. Joining a betting operator can be an opportunity to take your hobby into the world of your work and do that as part of your day job. “Betting operators take a real interest in the integrity and result of a fixture, because fairness is central to that. A corrupt event means that both the operator and the customer are being defrauded.” This top-down approach to safeguarding betting and sporting integrity, coupled with regulatory requirements, means that the current model can be adapted to most markets and situations, he remarked, including the expanding US sector and emerging betting spaces such as esports. “The IBIA, particularly through
A multi-faceted approach to integrity
their CEO Khalid Ali, has been employing people from within the industry and that has brought expertise and understanding, along with technical expertise, to run the platform effectively and make it a transferable model,” he detailed. “The analytical reports that are produced and the work we have done with for example, the IOC, and the educational programmes that have come out of that are also adaptable. “The IBIA are in discussions with a view to understanding the operational requirements of individual states. Sports and betting markets are international, there are no frontiers involved, and we are very well placed to become part of the integrity discussion in the US.”
CHANGE AND EVOLUTION ARE INEVITABLE AND WE AS OPERATORS, GOVERNING BODIES AND REGULATORY AUTHORITIES HAVE TO BE MATCH FIT TO KEEP UP highlighted the choice involved as an opportunity, remarking: “The process is very tightly controlled, and although there is choice out there and you may see an increase in the supply chain, this enables us to compare third parties products and there are always effective contractual and regulatory obligations in place. “The conventions and expectations are non-negotiable, creating that degree of confidence in the product. It's a complex world we live in and we need to embrace that.” However, as several jurisdictions
for that was that the restrictive practices employed over many years had not worked and there had been a likely benefit to organised crime.” Lastly, South observed that due to the vast number of betting markets available in the contemporary gaming industry ‘there is always the possibility that something will slip through the net. It would be very foolish to suggest that that would not happen’.
pursue increasing oversight over the betting and gaming industry, most notably in Germany and Sweden, South did offer a warning of the impacts of potential regulatory overreach. “Visibility is critical in any regulatory model, in my view, because if you channel an opportunity away in a way that it can’t be seen, you can’t assume that the activity will stop. As a general observation, restrictive practices do not tend to work. “If you look at the US and the repeal of PASPA, although this is a complicated issue, one of the reasons
corruption, adding that although the number of illicit bets out of the thousands that are placed in a given year are minimal, the industry must always remain vigilant. “Given the thousands and thousands of sports events that take place and given the number of genuine alerts raised by the IBIA, it is proportionally tiny. This is indicative of the measures in place, but we cannot be complacent because the sheer volume and money involved presents an opportunity. “I don’t feel there is a significant issue, but we have to be aware of this all the time, because change and evolution are inevitable and we as operators, governing bodies and regulatory authorities have to be match fit to keep pace with changes and adaptations that occur.” •
However, he reiterated that the IBIA is ‘very effective yardstick’ against the prevention of sports and betting
Referring to his experience at William Hill, South noted that the operator had been well placed in Nevada to gain an understanding of the integrity needs of the US market, whilst also commenting on the IBIA’s developing relationship with esports organisations.
THE IBIA IS GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH AND INCREASING ITS MEMBERSHIP “One strength of the IBIA model is that it has this core, capable and strong membership who can effectively provide an aggregated view of a market. We are working closely with esports and it is a developing area, but the protocol, rationale and assessment model remains the same. “That is why the IBIA is going from strength to strength and increasing its membership, because people see the advantages of being in that family of operators. Some regulators are looking at IBIA membership as a strength as part of an individual operator's risk model.” In addition to the international expansion of the betting industry and the rise of mobile and online wagering, the sector has also experienced increased diversity of its supply chains, with more third parties becoming integrated into it. Again, although this may be perceived as a challenge, South
18 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
IT'S A COMPLEX WORLD WE LIVE IN AND WE NEED TO EMBRACE THAT
HOW DO YOU SERVE A NATION OF 17 MILLION EXPERTS? DENNIS TER HARMSEL, Netherlands Country Manager for
performance marketing agency TBD.Media, provides a native’s take on Dutch online customs and consumer peculiarities to help new operators find their edge when entering the new igaming regime BY TED MENMUIR
rowsing, bargain hunting, looking around’, it’s every shop owner’s nightmare - especially when the notorious Dutch are involved. ‘Kijken, kijken, niet kopen’ has been on the
‘must learn Dutch quotes’ list for years. Historically speaking, the Dutch love to drive a hard bargain and try something before they invest in it. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. It depends on the way you look at it. You can either go for the ‘special
price my friend’ tactic or try to be more creative and go for a more appealing way of selling your product or service. For example, if you look at shop displays across the Netherlands, you will notice the many Dutch variations of ‘free’, ‘trial’, ‘sample’ and ‘discount’. However, Dutch loyalty doesn’t come
cheap... Investing in a free-to-play game, no-deposit offer, cashback campaigns or reward programme will be something to look into.
Going Dutch Another cliché, but again based on a long history of the Dutch tradesmanship: Going Dutch. Unsurprisingly, Tikkie, an app created for splitting the bills and sending payment requests to your friends and other beloved ones, has been ranked as a popular app store pick for years. Does this mean that the Dutch are ‘cheap’? Well, not always. It does mean that the Dutch take their finances seriously and love to remain in control of their purse strings especially if it’s to their benefit. When creating a marketing campaign or bonus, it’s worth the extra effort to triple check your T&Cs, because if there are any flaws, there is a good chance of being exploited (read: losing $$$). Never underestimate a Dutch bonus hunter.
17 million experts True story: the Dutch flew an airplane over the national team’s training
20 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
ground to express their ‘wish’ to play 4-3-3 during the EURO 2020. What does this tell us about the Dutch? They tend to be direct and speak freely, without asking permission to do so first. If it comes down to tactics, strategy or even an opinion about your everyday topic, be prepared to be advised or told what ‘best’ to do.
On the bright side, the advice tends to be given for free. Adding an element of skill and status - and something to brag about - could be a winning combination for your product and branding.
Bleeding Orange The Dutch are obsessed with the
colour orange. It only takes a royal birthday or any type of sport event and the inner orange lion reveals itself. You can imagine what a typical Dutch wardrobe looks like, right? Focussing on national and local (sports) events will be a must if you want to get on board with that true Dutch fever. It takes a lot more than adding a few orange buttons to a landing page.
The Dutch are polite The Dutch are not gifted communicators, nor do they try to be or even care about it. Borders don’t exist in Dutch communication. Any form of prudence or even political correctness is missing. Does this mean the Dutch are arrogant or unfriendly? Not necessarily, but it does give you a handy overview of the Dutch sense of humour, which is self-mockery, provocative and satire at its finest. You will be made a fool, your legs will be pulled and you will be bullied - with clever insults and full frontal, brutal rudeness. Even the Dutch King is fair game and laughed at on national television. Lessons to be learned? Have a laugh and enjoy life.
Advice: use some of that tasteful and elegant Dutch humour in your branding and marketing as part of your localisation strategy. It’s not that hard to blend in, you just need to approach it with a certain nonchalant attitude. Good luck!
We are high all the time With all the good stuff just lying around, you’d expect this to be true but I assure you, it is not (or at least not as much as you’d think). Same applies for a certain district in Amsterdam. You will rarely see the Dutch doing any ‘window shopping’. With that in mind, you understand that bringing up these subjects isn’t really appreciated. The rule of ‘not getting high on your own supply’ definitely applies. The Dutch are keen on living a good life, enjoying it to the fullest
THE DUTCH PRIDE THEMSELVES AS BEING OPEN-MINDED, SOCIAL AND PART OF THE BEST MULTICULTURAL COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
and spending a lot of money on it. In other words: they are happy to spend their money to entertain themselves - something to keep in mind when creating offers, bonuses and setting up your CRM/reward system.
We value progress The Dutch pride themselves as being open-minded, social and part of the best multicultural country of the world. Whilst that does sound appealing, it’s not entirely true. The Dutch may have a positive attitude towards life, but at its core the Dutch are self-centered. They are goal-getters, quality-focused and picky when it comes to jobs, friends - and pretty much everything else. That applies to cultural habits as well. What’s theirs is theirs - and they will make sure to keep it that way. Instead of complaining about this ‘egocentric’ (individualistic) behaviour, why not implement it within your marketing strategy? If you allow the Dutch to ‘invest’ in your product and make it their own, there is a good chance that they will have difficulty letting go - and thus they will stick around for another day. •
SPORTINGTECH: FOCUSING ON REGULATED MARKETS SPEAKING WITH SBC LEADERS, Sportingtech CEO Ivo
Doroteia tells us more about the company’s renewed approach to regulated markets and how Quantum is delivering a superior sportsbook experience for operators across Europe, Latin America and Africa
BY ERIN GALLAGHER
arlier this year, Sportingtech revealed its re-purposed Quantum platform featuring improved technology and greater features. The newly reengineered platform aims to become the industry’s most agile and comprehensive turnkey solution for those looking to launch both igaming and betting services within newly regulated marketplaces.
22 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
SBC: Sportingtech recently unveiled the latest iteration of the Quantum platform. What was the main driver behind evolving your offering? ID: Our ambition is to grow our presence in regulated markets across the globe. To achieve this, we knew the importance of a platform offering that was robust and scale enough to compete against other providers, while also being customisable to meet the specific requirements of any operator. Quantum is fit for purpose to meet a variety of demands, whatever the size of a sportsbook’s operation. With the evolution of Quantum, we
are now well positioned to extend our international presence. Over the past year, we have secured over 20 commercial deals as operators of all sizes recognise the value in our omnichannel platform offering. Simply put, Quantum provides them with the best possible opportunity
WITH THE EVOLUTION OF QUANTUM, WE ARE NOW WELL POSITIONED TO EXTEND OUR INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE
to grow their revenue, differentiate themselves and guarantee punter satisfaction. SBC: What are the key benefits of Quantum? What types of new features have you added to the platform? ID: After spending 18 months developing technology that can be reliable and scalable to any business, Quantum is now one of the world’s fastest digital sportsbook and casino platforms in the market. It is twice as fast and scalable as its predecessor, harnessing modular sports betting and casino software that allows operators
to add all of the specific services they require. Quantum offers more than 35,000 live events per month, boasting more than 65 sports with over 1,000 betting markets, as well as a casino experience offering 9,000 games from hundreds of the industry’s leading studios. We are constantly adding new features to our sportsbook offering. For instance, ahead of the Euros we produced a brand new UI/UX with bespoke tournament widgets, which allowed bettors to play on events, group betting, specials and outrights. The success of these widgets exceeded our expectations and is now being offered to more of our partners. We will never stop looking at ways to innovate and enhance our offering to provide the best possible experience for bettors. SBC: How important is the ability to customise the platform in making Quantum appealing to a wide audience? ID: This is a really important aspect of our product offering and a factor that operators truly appreciate. Such an approach allows them to take full control of their operations and configure the sportsbook to create a
24 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
player-centric betting experience. In today’s marketplace, this is fundamental in helping an operator to differentiate themselves. Whether an operator is launching a new project or expanding into the online space, the platform itself is extremely customisable and flexible to fit any operator’s needs.
WE ARE BUSY MAKING THE NECESSARY MOVES TO CERTIFY THE PLATFORM ACROSS MULTIPLE JURISDICTIONS This level of customisation is extended into how operators can engage with the end user too through Quantum. The combination of our powerful bonus engine and CRM tools allows operators to tailor bonuses for any kind of event. This significantly maximises the reach of the bonus throughout the entire player base. SBC: Are there any specific markets that you are looking to target with Quantum? ID: While Quantum can be tailored for markets worldwide, we have recently
enjoyed strong growth across LatAm and EMEA. The platform is proving highly suitable for operators within these emerging territories, driven largely by the ability to customise the platform. In the LatAm region, we are in the process of delivering our platform to a string of new operators that are set to launch their online offerings over the coming months. Over in Africa, Quantum is live across multiple countries with international and reputable brands, such as Beton, Ourbet, Sikapabet and Betsalone. Quantum is set to move into a whole host of regulated markets over the next year. Behind the scenes, we are busy making the necessary moves to certify the platform across multiple jurisdictions. SBC: Finally, what can we expect from Sportingtech in the next few months? ID: We have a limited time offer Quick Quantum promotion that we are offering until the end of November. Designed to improve the time to market, it is the perfect solution for companies looking to launch an online operation with low risk and investment. Delivered in just six weeks, it offers the best of Quantum in a quick and cost effective way. •
Cracking the US market
PADDY POWER: ASX IS A STEP FORWARD FROM DAILY FANTASY SPORTS PADDY POWER DISCUSSES the ways in which ASX, his
new virtual sports trading exchange, is a step forward for the traditional Daily Fantasy Sports offering in the US
BY ERIN GALLAGHER
SBC: Firstly, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! For those of our readers who don’t know, can you tell us a little bit about ASX? What does it involve? PP: So effectively, what we’ve built is a digital-asset exchange, like a virtual
stock exchange. I guess our working slogan at the moment is we’re a place where sports meets stocks. In essence, what we’re doing is gamifying the trading of sports NFTs by using a next-generation fantasy platform. It’s a step forward from the traditional Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) offerings that exist in the United States,
which is the market that we’re targeting. We’ve been doing all of our initial testing with the Premier League, but our big launch is going to be a strong push around college football, which is just kicking off now. So, currently, we’re testing with a few NCAA games - and then in the next few weeks, we’ll be launching, which is a real nail-biter! Hopefully we’re finding all of the bugs and ironing out the usual development snags at the minute. It’s part of the process but, as you can imagine, it’s all hands on deck. NFTs are definitely the sexy thing at the minute, and they’re being traded
Cracking the US market
those virtual athletes. Your portfolio then increases or decreases, based on the underlying fantasy scoring system, depending on how those athletes perform (well or poorly) in comparison to the other players on the pitch. The key difference here is that you can also trade in-play. You may think an individual’s performance has peaked during a live game - if they just scored, for example, when their price would’ve naturally spiked. But if you reckon that price change is excessive, you can then sell that player, and trade out of any other positions you might have. This real-time trading flexibility sets the ASX platform apart in the DFS domain.
IT’S QUITE UNUSUAL THAT WE’RE BRINGING FINTECH TO THE SPORTS WORLD, RATHER THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND
WE'RE GAMIFYING THE TRADING OF NFTS AND PROVIDING A PLATFORM FOR THAT
- so we’re gamifying the trading of NFTs and providing a platform for that. There’s definitely an opportunity to do this. That said, there is also a huge demand for our kind of product - we certainly think it’s engaging, and hopefully everyone else comes to agree. SBC: How will this help bring new forms of sports betting to the US market? PP: ASX is a step forward from daily fantasy sports. A really clear differentiator between ourselves and what’s already out there for traditional DFS betting is that the latter is almost like a ‘set and forget’ model,
26 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
so to speak, which diminishes fan engagement. What I mean by that is you pick your fantasy sports team, watch the game and hope that your team plays well, and then you’re allotted your points. However, with our model, it’s more of an ‘always on’ fantasy platform. So, effectively, we IPO the athletes that are playing, then you buy shares in
ASX IS A STEP FORWARD FROM DAILY FANTASY SPORTS
It’s really a FinTech-inspired game. I’m not sure if we’re the first company to do this, but it’s quite unusual that we’re bringing FinTech to the sports world, rather than the other way around; it’s stocks first into sports. It is a different product for sure. In the US, we hope that there’ll be less of an educational piece required, because a strong culture and understanding of DFS has already been established across the pond. ASX is built on the same principle, the scale is the same; it doesn’t necessarily have precisely the same scoring system but our algorithm works off a recognisable and intuitive fantasy scoring system. So if your player plays well, approximately 85% of the fluctuation in price will be based on their performance on the pitch and the remainder is governed by market forces. There’s integrity in the market fluctuations from that perspective. It’s the next generation of fantasy sports, and all the sleeker and more engaging for the upgrade. SBC: In what ways did your participation in the HYPE Accelerator programme help streamline your overall growth strategy? PP: The HYPE Accelerator programme was good. It hasn’t finished just yet, so we’ll see what the end outcome is soon enough.
We’ve been kicking around with this idea of ASX for quite some time. It’s almost been one of those start-ups beginning from someone’s garage: we put it together, and have been playing around with different ideas and components. But when we entered the HYPE Accelerator programme and we won, that was a great endorsement - it meant that we had to become much more serious about developing ASX, raising money and putting a team together. That validation gave us a kick up the backside to be honest; it pushed us to actually get things moving rather than just tinkering around and wondering whether it would work. That has definitely been one of the real benefits of this programme. With that encouragement, the endorsement also gave us some excellent awareness across the industry. You get access to loads of new partners and networks through HYPE. Importantly, it also gave us a welcome shot of confidence in what we’re doing - which you only get when a respected external party both validates and backs
your idea. After all, we’re asking people to leave their ‘grown up’ jobs to come and take a risk on a start-up. Now, though, we can say to people: “don’t just take our word for it, HYPE supports ASX too!” We’ve currently got 16 members of staff, and that number is growing. We’ve got a very strong team already, so now we’ve got to make sure everything pans out the way we have planned.
WE’RE SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR THE US MARKET - OUR MARKETING HAS TO BE REFLECTIVE OF THAT SBC: Can we expect similar marketing campaigns to those we have seen Paddy Power use in the UK and Irish markets to promote ASX? Or are you going to take a bit more of a demure approach? PP: Not a chance! It’s funny that you ask that because we’re actually heavily engaged with an agency called The
Tenth Man, which was founded by, and is run by, Ken Robertson. I have to say he was the genius behind a lot of the Paddy Power marketing campaigns over the years. He was at Paddy Power for 15 years. If he was Tweedledum, I was Tweedledee. We worked side-by-side for 15 years, and he’s a close friend of mine. We’ve been having a lot of fun already with developing some of the brand positioning for ASX. So while we can’t reveal anything just yet, the Tenth Man is really putting manners on us. It won’t be copying Paddy Power at all, but it will try to be something different. After all, we’re something different for the US market. Our marketing and creatives therefore have to be reflective of that. What I do know is that we plan to develop a very strong brand, and we also plan to be a very brand-led company too. I think you can expect some good things! SBC: In your opinion, what lessons have you taken from ‘stock market-type’ platforms seen in the European market? PP: I think the best way to answer that
Cracking the US market
question is to say that we’re a FinTechtype company. So all of our tech people are coming from the financial sector. They’re bringing skills related to compliance and regulation from a FinTech perspective, rather than the other way around of trying to apply sports compliance to quants. That gives us a lot of confidence that some of the mistakes made by others won’t be repeated by us. We won’t be falling into those traps. SBC: How important will AI be in managing and interpreting live sports data from matches? PP: A few years ago, we were saying that artificial intelligence is the future. But it’s not anymore, it’s now - we use it for everything. We almost don’t use the phrase anymore because it’s just so integrated into every single part of ASX with regard to interactions and
AI IS THE RISING TIDE THAT LIFTS ALL BOATS, BY MAKING EVERYTHING INTUITIVE
28 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
platforms. AI drives our algorithms, affiliate marketing model, comms, trading, even push notifications... In short, it’s the rising tide that lifts all boats, by making everything intuitive. SBC: Looking to the future, what are your key aims for ASX? Are there any particular goals you would like to reach / states you would like to target, or strategies you would like to implement? PP: So our new headquarters in the US is in Miami, which is a tech hub - that’ll obviously be a target area of ours. But funnily enough, we are starting with Notre Dame in Indiana, because one of our main goals is going to be owning the college football space. Ultimately, our offering is a complementary product for the existing players in the market, rather than a competitor product. Our short-term goal is another funding round which will help us ‘crack the States’, so to speak. To do that, we’ll be building towards a Series A raise which will hopefully happen within the next few months. After that, we can kick on from there and further
WE ARE STARTING WITH NOTRE DAME IN INDIANA, BECAUSE ONE OF OUR MAIN GOALS IS GOING TO BE OWNING THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPACE develop the platforms. We can do that on a relatively small scale given the size of the US market and then build it out. After that, the world will be our oyster. SBC: And finally, are there any challenges with regulation for an exchange such as ASX? Will it follow the state-by-state sportsbook regulatory model or circumvent that in some fashion? PP:With regard to regulation, and all that stuff which probably puts most of us to sleep, we’re engaged with lawyers to make sure that we’re compliant with all of the regulations. We don’t want to be skirting around any legislation we’re going into the US from a FinTechinspired product perspective and applying that to the sports model. •
The heart of IGT sports betting
IT’S GAME TIME! FOR IGT PLAYSPORTS AS G2E MAKES ITS RETURN TO LAS VEGAS,
global gaming leader IGT is prepared with a spectacular innovation showcase as it plans to place IGT PlaySports in the spotlight
BY ERIN GALLAGHER
he company’s exhibit extends more than 20,000 square-feet and covers every regulated gaming channel and segment. Of the many focal points within IGT’s spacious booth will be the PlaySports team and technology, a subset of the company’s IGT PlayDigital organisation. Under the theme, “It’s Game Time!”, IGT PlaySports will demonstrate what has propelled its climb to leadership as the top B2B sports betting supplier in the US, and provide a first look at some of the company’s next generation sports betting technologies.
IGT Flexes its Content Versatility IGT CrystalBetting Terminal
G2E attendees will be eager to experience IGT PlaySports’ new multi game bundle with Game King X® video content for the company’s widely deployed PeakBarTop cabinet and the award winning CrystalBetting Terminal. With the new content, casino patrons can watch sports, play IGT slots, video poker and keno games, and wager on their favorite sporting events on the same gaming machine and via the same on-machine funds.
IGT PLAYSPORTS WILL DEMONSTRATE WHAT HAS PROPELLED IGT’S CLIMB TO BECOME A LEADER
The heart of IGT sports betting
THE PANDEMIC ACCELERATED THE DEMAND FOR, AND ACCEPTANCE OF, CASHLESS TECHNOLOGIES ACROSS NEARLY EVERY SECTOR
50+ Sportsbooks powered by IGT PlaySports
As the far-and-wide leader in video poker content and hardware, IGT is uniquely positioned to maximise this growth opportunity and engage the broadest spectrum of bar and tavern guests. Matteo Carli, IGT PlaySports Senior Vice President, commented: “There is significant crossover in avid video poker players and passionate sports bettors, and many betting venues in the US already feature IGT’s bartop gaming devices with leading IGT games such as Game King X. “Adding sports betting functionality to IGT’s PeakBarTop and casino content to the CrystalBetting Terminal via the CrystalFlex™ multigame software helps our customer maximise their IGT hardware investments and deliver added choice and convenience to sports fans.”
17 States with IGT PlaySports deployments
450+ PlaySports Kiosks deployed in the US
IGT PlaySports kiosks join cashless gaming revolution
24/7 /365 Availability of IGT PlaySports Trading Advisory Team
3659 IGT’s G2E Booth - It’s Game Time!
IGT PlaySports Kiosk
30 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
Another focal point within IGT PlaySports’ G2E showcase will be advancements in its self-service betting technologies. The IGT PlaySports Kiosks has been a cornerstone of the PlaySports retail portfolio for several years. With more than 450 units deployed in sportsbooks across the US, including Nevada, the kiosks are famously found at every retail FanDuel Sportsbook across the nation and at dozens of other sports betting venues. For the first time at a trade show, IGT PlaySports will exhibit the new cashless capabilities of the PlaySports Kiosks. In addition to betting with cash, players have the option to place wagers at these kiosks via bank cards. “The pandemic accelerated the demand for and acceptance of cashless technologies across nearly every sector,” commented Carli. “IGT’s PlaySports Kiosks can now accommodate a range of cashless payments options, providing players with elevated safety and a modern user experience.”
Matteo Carli, IGT PlaySports Senior Vice President
Approved! IGT’s PlaySports Pad At G2E, IGT PlaySports will spotlight yet another GLI-approved selfservice betting solution. The company will exhibit the recently approved PlaySports Pad. The tablet-based solution can be tethered to nearly any location within a resort-casino, expanding retail sports wagering beyond the walls of a defined sportsbook. The innovative, self-service technology requires very little capital investment and allows operators to manage high-traffic betting times without additional labor costs. “Given IGT’s pedigree in land-based gaming, our teams are very skilled at bringing new products to market that meet local regulatory requirements and drive value and growth for our customer,” said Carli. “The PlaySports Pad is an easy-to-deploy, self-service betting solution that enables our customers to offer additional points of sale with very minimal labor or investment considerations.”
The team behind the technology IGT’s G2E booth will be staffed with many PlaySports team members who
“IGT PlaySports retail betting technology has been instrumental in FanDuel Sportsbook achieving its position as America’s #1 Sportsbook,” said Niall Connell, Senior Vice President, General Manager FanDuel Sportsbook. “IGT leverages its pedigree in lottery and casino gaming to navigate complex regulatory environments and help FanDuel Group gain market access. Additionally, IGT’s PlaySports Kiosks continue to help us deliver unrivaled retail experiences, reduce lines at betting windows and service more guests during high-traffic betting events.” Jamie Azure, Chairman of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, added: “Sky Dancer Casino was able to pioneer sports betting in North Dakota thanks to the talented PlaySports team. The IGT PlaySports platform and in-house services have enabled us to add a new dimension to our entertainment offering, reward our patrons in compelling ways and truly differentiate our casino in the State.”
are committed to their customers’ success. Many of IGT’s PlaySports customers leverage the company’s turnkey solution which is supported by IGT’s in-house trading advisory services team. The Las Vegas-based
IGT PlaySports Pad
experts are skilled at setting odds, managing data feeds and maximising player retention and acquisition. The PlaySports team also supports the IGT Sports Betting Academy, a customized, self-guided training program that helps sportsbook staff familiarise themselves with PlaySports technology and hone their hardware troubleshooting skills. Additionally, IGT employs a robust PlaySports operations team to ensure service
PLAYSPORTS’ COLLECTIVE DEDICATION, EXPERTISE AND TALENT IS TRULY THE HEART OF IGT’S SPORTS BETTING BUSINESS standards are met and a highly handson support team to educate and elevate the customer journey. Carli continued: “The PlaySports team’s collective dedication, expertise and talent is truly the heart of IGT’s sports betting business. We sincerely look forward to seeing our valued customers at G2E and collecting their feedback on our latest solutions portfolio and technical support services.” •
NOW YOUR CUSTOMERS DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE Play, Bet, and Watch – All at the Same Time
• All inclusive, personalized multigame experience
Introducing CrystalFlexTM with IGT's Game King X®
• Full sports betting menu with in-play wagering
video content that allows players to place sports bets,
• Flexible, intuitive interface
watch live events, and play slots - all on a single cabinet!* • Configurable layouts for optimal viewing
Experience the CrystalFlex at G2E, October 5-7, 2021. Booth #3659 www.IGT.com/PlaySports
*Where supported. © 2021 IGT Global Solutions Corporation. The trademarks used herein are owned by IGT or its affiliates, may not be used without permission, and where indicated with a ®, are registered in the U.S. IGT is committed to socially responsible gaming. Our business solutions empower customers to choose parameters and practices that become the foundation of their Responsible Gaming programs.
Serving the US market
JESSE CARY: FOCUS AND SCALABILITY ARE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ADDRESSING US IGAMING CHALLENGES STRIVE GAMING’S NEW CTO spoke at length
with SBC Leaders about some of the technological opportunities, challenges and pain points for incumbents in the US igaming sector
BY CHRIS MURPHY
SBC: What platform challenges are operators facing in the early stages of the US market? JC: The speed of regulation is creating huge challenges for operators trying to compete in this market. There are 26 states and counting that have either enacted or drafted legislation for sports wagering, five states for icasino plus Canada (including Ontario) in the mix. All this activity and opportunity in just a few short years means trying to maintain a first mover advantage in all these states with a profitable, let alone competitive CPA, is a tall order. Keeping up with North America requires a complete focus and not being distracted by other markets. Some operators who have full control of their own technology in-house still can’t manage to keep up with existing operations elsewhere globally and adapt for the US at the same time. Scalability is a challenge from various points of view, both in terms of handling the load that US sports betting brings and scaling out infrastructure without, in most cases, the ability to leverage public cloud computing. In regulated states, many operators have gone for the “IBM” safe choice platforms that no one gets fired for
choosing, aka vendors or platforms that were just live already regardless of how good they were. They are now facing operational challenges because these platforms were not designed and purpose-built for this market so they lack some of the more modern, real-time operational capability and
flexibility needed to maximise customer experience and value that other platforms can provide. Compounding this is the fact that because many of these platforms have legacy issues or technical debt, it prevents them from servicing their operators’ requests for changes and
Serving the US market
upgrades even if they could prioritise them. This itself is an issue because most operators don’t have the sway to be at the top of a very long client list given the limited number of solutions in play today. SBC: What impact is state by state regulation having on these challenges? JC: The varying types of regulation per state which don’t conform with other states is making it hard to compete profitably on a national scale. Speed of regulation would be more manageable if regulations were identical and conformed to some sort of national standard, but they aren’t, they don’t and why should they. New deployment topologies are creating headaches in terms of geographical compliance and
operational excellence. Local reporting and regulatory requirements are different enough that vendors are having to effectively draw straws on division of responsibilities, basing solution decisions on resources more than sound design choices. This can have an impact commercially and in terms of delivery. Local nuances in the KYC process including vendor availability, as well as customer and product management, mean that no two states are quite the same. The Wire Act prevents taking crossborder wagers so depending on the geography, in practice this can mean some customers in dense areas might place a bet right after finishing work but have no option to cash it out early
34 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
THE VARYING TYPES OF REGULATION PER STATE WHICH DON’T CONFORM WITH OTHER STATES IS MAKING IT HARD TO COMPETE PROFITABLY ON A NATIONAL SCALE after commuting home over a bridge! It’s a logistical nightmare and there is not a healthy number of vendors to choose from who solve this well. It also results in server sprawl, with server deployments necessary in each state. Data sovereignty stipulations create their own issues also. Serving multiple jurisdictions and requirements for launching within tight timelines with little lead time afforded by rapidly moving regulation is putting a strain on operators who can’t rapidly and cost-effectively deploy infrastructure, let alone configure it to meet the demands
TO SERVE THE US OPERATOR, A PLAYER PLATFORM REALLY MUST HAVE MODERN, MULTI-TENANT, MODULAR TECH STACKS without lots of development. Because of the delivery challenges to comply with the variations in state legislation, many platform vendors are struggling to keep up, which is forcing operators to use multiple platforms across different states because the platform they have in one state can’t cope with another state’s regulations in time for launch. This is not what operators want. In some cases, they are
sticking with products they recognise as inferior just to avoid adding more vendors to the mix, where a single solution would be much better. SBC: What are the current platform/ tech options available to operators? Operators have not had the most comprehensive choice to date due to the technical and regulatory barriers built. Some of the options out there are sitting on 15+ year old code bases, requiring expensive licensing or very specific hardware setups which isn’t cost-effective in the US. To serve the US operator a player platform really must have modern, multi-tenant, modular tech stacks to solve these problems. We are also now starting to see some entrants to the US market who have worked in grey/black markets previously, as well as white label providers, and there are a lot of unknowns regarding how they will perform, what the confidence is in them being permitted to regulate widely across the US and how they will be received by US players. SBC: Can we broadly categorise these? JC: It will be hard to categorise the providers here as there are so many ways to look at it from an operator’s perspective, but I would say some are derived from retail, lottery or social platforms and so weren’t built at their core to meet the requirements at hand. There is clear evidence in the market that specialist providers yield the better results from a delivery and creation of value perspective. This comes down to how a specialist platform will unify the gaming experience across all channels. Specialist providers who aim to be the best solution in their respective verticals will offer so much more to operators who try to be everything to everyone. SBC: How does this impact the approach taken in each state (legacy rebuilds/modern can be configured)? JC: I think many operators feel like they are hostage to the situation as only a limited number of platforms are available to meet the regulations for any
new state roll out. This is now forcing companies to face up to whether they should do M&A to acquire the technology they really need or look at more advanced B2B solutions that weren’t available when PASPA was repealed. For anyone with one or more existing PAM deployments, this choice feels limited to what’s already in place, so they are often considering these options begrudgingly to avoid perceived data integration problems down the road by adding more software into their landscape. This comes at a high cost because the products out there require a lot of re-development to meet the regulations. A more configurable platform alleviates a lot of this, despite
the requirements to deploy on-prem as the overall time to deliver is reduced. SBC: How can operators easily launch into multiple states? JC: Configurability is crucial. This takes care of so many things in terms of business process flows. Requirements for a lot of custom code to be written to comply from one state to another should be seen as highly negative for a platform. Modularity; if responsibilities need to be divided across different lines, being able to compose the platform into a hybrid on-prem and cloud solution based on the right mix of building blocks eliminates incompatibilities and provides an open ecosystem for
creating API-driven solutions based on operator needs, not driven by technology limitations. This also includes good modular design within the application architecture that allows any mix of integrated vendors to be activated for a given deployment, whether KYC, payments or content. A platform designed with unification of the back office in mind, with a real single customer view that can accommodate the satellite accounts per state necessary to maintain compliance, is the way forward. This means launching a new state just attaches to a system which has value that exceeds the sum of its parts. The appropriate buzzword to use here is “synergy”. •
iGaming on the rise
BRANDON WALKER AND JEFF MILLAR ON THE INEVITABLE RISE OF US IGAMING WHERE SPORTS BETTING GOES, iGaming inevitably
follows. SBC Leaders gathered the thoughts and opinions of two key industry figures on how that concept fits into a US market that continues to be transformed by legalised sports wagering
BY CHRIS MURPHY
s more and more US states come alive to the prospect of a thriving iGaming sector, the surge in demand for key verticals and full-service delivery is gaining increasing momentum. To explore the subject in better detail, SBC Leaders joined Brandon Walker, Head of Amelco USA, and Jeff Millar, Commercial Director North America at Evolution, for a round-table discussion. Kicking off with the fast-paced regulation of US online sports betting, we asked why has the progress of online gaming been markedly slower? “While online iGaming has been legal in a handful of states since as far back as 2013, the main issue has always been traffic,” responded Walker. “The US has a rich gaming heritage, but it has traditionally always been a brickand-mortar casino-based activity.” He added: “It’s only the emergence of sports betting as central to America’s online revolution that has really opened the market to other verticals, such as iGaming and esports – and players are willing to give it a try. As more states come online, as they soon will, gaming will form a central part of the online entertainment mix. “The opportunity to bet on sports as well as getting into the live casino experience, presents Americans with
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a wealth of exciting possibilities for their entertainment. Looking at FOX BET and FuboTV – we can already see adoption fast-underway.” According to Millar, every state in the US has its own political climate and distinct stakeholders, making it difficult to predict when legislation will pass. “However, we are optimistic online casino gaming will follow in the footsteps of online sports betting,” he said. “In states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where players may place bets on sports at casino property or online, the majority of the revenue
comes from online, and smartphones specifically. “Moreover, those two states also have online casinos, and the majority of the online revenue is coming from online casino games. That is not to say that one is better than the other, but online sports and online casino wagering certainly complement each other.” Expanding on the speed of regulation and the major opportunities for tier one suppliers, Walker believes it’s all about technology. “We’ll see the speed of regulation improve as the tech improves,” he noted. “This is happening in real time, and as operators develop the ability to rollout across multiple states simultaneously with minimal compliance fuss – we’ll be sure to see supply creating demand. “Looking at it from the state’s perspective, revenue’s too hard to ignore not to speed up regulation.
Brandon Walker, Head of Amelco USA
They can see the money that is being made for the state’s budget, and if your citizens are driving to another state to bet, why not keep them here? New York’s a clear example of this, with boatloads of punters decamping across the Hudson into New Jersey – which means that three years of revenue has quite literally gone down the river.” When quizzed about which states should feature prominently on any US roadmap strategy, Millar answered: “We keep an eye on new legislation being introduced in each state. We try not to get too ahead of ourselves though, until the state governor actually signs the bill into law. We are watching states like Connecticut, Illinois and Indiana. Of course, we also keep an eye on all the US states
AS MORE STATES COME ONLINE, AS THEY SOON WILL, GAMING WILL FORM A CENTRAL PART OF THE ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT MIX
Jeff Millar, Commercial Director North America at Evolution
considering online sports betting, such as New York.” Walker added: “Let’s start with Washington – the State Gambling Commission has approved sports wagering licensing, which will become effective at the end of August. This will pave the way for online tribal sportsbooks to be ready soon enough – and it’s going to be a key place to watch. “Moving further south, Arizona’s another dark horse that’s going to emerge soon enough – as well as Florida. Given the extensive tribal networks, we’ll be doing what we do best, and have done to great effect in Colorado, which is helping our landbased partners get online and scale fast to capture market share. “Of course, no US prediction would be complete without a mention of New York, and with DraftKings and FanDuel fighting to the top of the queue, it’s going to be an interesting market to watch. You’ve got a fantastic range of demographics across the state, which means there’s going to be a seriously diverse range of sports and markets in demand – which is certainly something our team is looking forward to.”
WE ARE OPTIMISTIC ONLINE CASINO GAMING WILL FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ONLINE SPORTS BETTING Turning to the topic of online operators and suppliers and how they can familiarise customers with the digital environment, Millar believes that land-based casinos who also operate online casinos have a tremendous opportunity to cross promote their offering. “There are many strategies and tactics, but probably at the top of the list is ensuring the loyalty program rewards players regardless of where they choose to play – online or at the property,” he advised. “At Evolution, we have several products that help land-based operators with crosschannel marketing. “For our live casino games, we can provide them with a dedicated studio environment that matches the branding of the land-based property, including the uniforms of the dealers and the background images. To take
iGaming on the rise
it one step further, our Dual Play product allows brands to actually place a live casino table on the floor of their casino property, allowing them to stream to online players from their casino floor.” For Walker, ease and convenience are key. “Looking at it from the platform perspective, it’s really all about the wallet. So the implementation of KYC protocols needs to feel ‘instant’ to the player and thus make the onboarding experience (almost) as simple as walking into a brick-and-mortar casino. “Aside from that, there’s a number of lessons that can be learned from the wider US online entertainment industry. Essentially what you need is data and segmentation, and the ability to tailor a spread of games to each player’s preference. “Another important element is the UX. The design, feel and presentation of such an app is essential in giving the US customer the user journey they expect. Efficiency, comfort and security are the basic foundations, but bonus campaigns are another key asset for onboarding, and a point of difference between online and
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offline. Bonusing can provide plenty of incentive to explore the casino lobby. “While we’re on the casino lobby, let’s not forget live dealer studios – they’re as close to real as possible, and this is in many ways the closest on offer to the Vegas experience for many. I see this as the perfect way to onboard customers as it’s a virtual extension of the world they already know and love.”
THERE’S A NUMBER OF LESSONS THAT CAN BE LEARNED FROM THE WIDER US ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY According to Millar, the current adoption rate of American players to live dealer games is high. “In our experience, most Americans are first and foremost amazed that they can play against a real person from a video feed over the internet,” he explained. “Regulated online casino gaming is brand new to many of them, so introducing live casino gaming takes that experience to another level. Live dealer is also known to be an excellent
product by which to introduce sports bettors to casino, which will set us in good stead as new states regulate.” Walker added that Amelco is seeing growth across the board as multistate rollouts continue and, in many ways, a number of states are only just becoming familiar with live dealer and casino. “From this point, the only way is up,” he said. “After all, live dealer – especially from the likes of Evolution and Playgon – presents the first opportunity for US players to experience the most authentically ‘Vegas’ digital experience. “Paramount to fostering that growth is having the foundations in place to support scaling up, rapidly when necessary. This means a robust platform that can offer live dealer (or indeed any other vertical) as one – a 360-degree offering that can deliver the full customer journey. “If that is available, and indeed it is, the ability to deliver the same casino experience stateside that we already see in Europe will become commonplace – and online gaming will continue to see exponential growth.” •
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Examining the potential of the Dutch digital marketplace
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR ONE OF EUROPE’S NEXT BIG OPPORTUNITIES? THE LONG-MOOTED TRANSFORMATION of
the Netherlands’ digital marketplace is finally upon us, and with it comes a multitude of opportunities in what is viewed as one of Europe’s next big opportunities 40 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
BY CRAIG DAVIES
fter commencing a longawaited licensing window on April 1 2021, Dutch gambling’s new regulated online ecosystem is due to officially begin from October 1 2021, with the intention of channelling players from illegal providers to legally reliable entities. As the biggest operators line up for
entry, and with the country being on the wish list of many for a considerable time, Peter-Paul de Goeij, Managing Director of the Netherlands Online Gambling Association, issued a note of caution at this year’s CasinoBeats Summit that the country represents a “great opportunity” but at the same time “will not be easy and will not be for the faint hearted”. A further point of concern highlighted at the hybrid in-person and digital
event for online operators looking to enter the market is a tax burden of 29% on GGR, with de Goeij adding that, when compared with other European markets, the Netherlands is “lagging behind”. However, this also doesn’t factor in a market that is well versed in land-based slot play, and a potential challenge concerning where players will choose to play once the market opens up. “A new regulated market will mean changes to the choice of brands and products available to slots players,” explained Chris Looney, Chief Commercial Officer of Bragg Gaming. “There are very well known and established land-based casino brands who are now able to apply for a licence and enter the online space for the first time.
land-based closures, more players than ever have been exploring online options when it comes to casino gaming.” Agreeing with Looney, Julie Allison, Director of Markets at Microgaming, discusses the rapid growth of digital play among a “very mobile savvy” population.
diverse portfolio and attracting new players. “Also, with progressive slots allowed under the new regulation, we’ve ensured that our initial offering includes access to our progressive jackpot network with popular Mega Moolah and WowPot jackpot titles.
THE NETHERLANDS HAS BEEN A MAJOR ONLINE CASINO MARKET FOR YEARS ALREADY “They bring huge brand recognition and their own databases of customers to whom they will soon be able to introduce their online casino experience for the first time. “The same is true for established sports betting brands in the market. For the first time they can launch online casino as a cross-sell product to complement their core business, a model which has seen huge success in the UK. “It’s also working the other way, for example Holland Casino has just struck a four-year sponsorship deal with the top tier Dutch football league, the Eredivisie marking the start of a new era in the above the line visibility and expected popularity of online casino in the Netherlands. “While for some players, casino games will always be associated with landbased venues, let’s not forget that the newly regulated online market is not going to be the first ever taste of online casino for the digital generation. “The Netherlands has been a major online casino market for years already, so players for the most part don’t need introducing to the concept of playing slots online. Furthermore, during the past 18 months or so of COVID-induced
THE DUTCH ARE VERY MOBILE SAVVY ALREADY, SO WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE A LARGE PROPORTION OF THEM PLAYING SLOTS ON THEIR PHONES AND TABLETS “Online gaming is one of the Netherlands’ fastest-growing industries, and we know that players enjoy classic style slots like their land-based counterparts, so there’s an opportunity to showcase a classic style of slot to players and create similar games for the market while also showcasing our
“On top of the 100+ certified games that will be available when the market opens in October, we’ll be releasing new games to our customers weekly in line with their global release. “The Dutch are very mobile savvy already, so we can expect to see a large proportion of them playing slots
Examining the potential of the Dutch digital marketplace
on their phones and tablets. Each new release via Microgaming’s platform is optimised for mobile so those that will play on their smart device won’t be missing content from us.” Among the optimism that numerous individuals have expressed in the build up to the Netherlands’ big day, the prediction that further regulation is an inevitability has also been conveyed. With this in mind, Allison moves on to assess how the Dutch model compares with markets such as Sweden and Germany, which have undertaken their own regulatory manoeuvres in recent times to much criticism. “All regulatory changes are opportunities to learn and improve for the next market,” she says. “There’s no perfect regulatory system, but they are all underpinned by the same common intent to create a safe and enjoyable experience for players while ensuring a viable framework for business to thrive. Microgaming fully supports regulation – it’s the future of our industry. “The regulations that the Kansspelautoriteit will be introducing when the Netherlands market opens on
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THERE’S NO PERFECT REGULATORY SYSTEM, BUT THEY ARE ALL UNDERPINNED BY THE SAME COMMON INTENT TO CREATE A SAFE AND ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE October 1 appear to be well-rounded and forward thinking, taking the current online gaming trends into consideration. “With player protection and commercial growth at the heart of the new regulatory framework, we believe online gaming has a bright future in the Netherlands for both consumers and suppliers.” Examining the important lessons to be learned from fellow European jurisdictions, Looney concluded: “The casino industry is used to adapting to different regulatory models, and we have already ensured that we are
IN MANY WAYS THE REGULATION IS NOT UNLIKE THE UK, WITH HIGH LEVELS OF PLAYER PROTECTION AS YOU’D EXPECT IN 2021
technically compliant in preparation for the Dutch market opening. “In many ways the regulation is not unlike the UK, with high levels of player protection as you’d expect in 2021, such as reality checks and clear displays of information like the certified returnto-player values of each game. “At 29% of gross gaming revenue, the new gaming tax is higher than in the UK or Sweden but nowhere near as high as the new and controversial 5.3% wagering tax in Germany. In the Netherlands the regulations are closer to what we already work with in other regulated markets. “I would just add that as a supplier to the online casino industry, in any market we welcome regulation that protects the player, is fair and workable for the industry and is properly and uniformly enforced. Hence, we are present in multiple regulated markets with plenty more to come.” •
The rise of live casino
LIVE CASINO: PROVIDERS NEED TO EMBRACE A NEW KIND OF DISRUPTION IN AN SBC LEADERS ROUNDTABLE, experts from the
casino industry share their thoughts on the seismic shift from land-based to online, the big powerhouses in the European market and why innovation is the ‘life blood’ of live casino BY JAMES ROSS
or well documented reasons, and ones which we’re all quite frankly tired of hearing about, the last 18 months has witnessed a major shift within the igaming sector from land-based to online. One of those verticals which has been enhanced due to the global shift has been live casino, as companies
throughout the industry trialled various alternatives to try and replicate the land-based experience from the comfort of players’ homes. SBC: As we begin to approach a new sense of normality following the pandemic, what teachings have been learnt in relation to live casino? Ulf Norder, CCO at QTech Games: Since the outbreak, and throughout the peaks
and valleys of various global lockdowns, the rise of live casino has been there for all to see. While the transition from land-based towards digitised entertainment was already clear, COVID-19 had a catalytic effect in our sector, strengthening this tide towards digital. And, of course, as the virus closed casinos, or made people far more reluctant to venture out because of the risks, it was incumbent on QTech Games to deliver a high-class live casino product for our partners and their players. That meant offering relatable gaming experiences to players from the comfort of their homes or on the move via mobile. We anticipated the demand with two cornerstone integrations in the past year from Evolution and Ezugi’s state-ofthe-art live studios.
The rise of live casino
Ulf Norder, CCO at QTech Games
Amy Riches, Head of Marketing at Evolution
Market-leading customisation options, dedicated tables and native speaking dealers also make it far easier to customise the experience to any specific market needs. Strong growth in the live casino vertical has continued in the face of the pandemic’s fluctuating lockdowns and challenges, and we’re thrilled to see how our games are performing across a range of emerging markets from Europe to Asia. Ultimately, habit formation around this gaming vertical proves players are still eager to channel the visceral thrill of participating in a real world casino, not to mention the chance for some long delayed social interaction with the dealers themselves.
THROUGHOUT THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF VARIOUS GLOBAL LOCKDOWNS, THE RISE OF LIVE CASINO HAS BEEN THERE FOR ALL TO SEE
Amy Riches, Head of Marketing at Evolution: The pandemic has undoubtedly affected the industry in many ways, and in order to continue developing and releasing new products we quickly adapted our operations and created contingency plans, so that we could first and foremost ensure the safety of our people. We also had to ensure continuous delivery of our products, excellent levels of customer care to our partners and continue to provide an excellent gaming experience to players. Although it was a complicated process, everyone came together as a team and it was through this teamwork that made our
The industry needs to continue to be innovative, to adopt new types of technologies that will attract more than the experienced player but will entice those that may have never stepped foot into the live casino arena before. Innovation has always been and will remain crucial, and providers need to embrace a new kind of disruption. We’ve already seen an increase in popularity for more immersive titles, titles that are entertaining to every type of player. Through the inclusion of advanced technology, such as RNG, virtual reality and bonus games, providers will be
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success possible. We continued to see high demand for our products throughout the pandemic – it really indicates just how strong our customer base is, and that we are in a resilient industry that can adapt quickly and continue to provide the very best of player experiences. What it has highlighted however, is the need for providers to appeal to entirely new player bases and provide operators with cross-selling tools.
Utku Sarper, Business Development, TVBET
able to attract a wider range of players that will ensure that it can continue to remain a robust and resilient industry. Utku Sarper, Business Development, TVBET: During the world pandemic players started shifting to online, which boosted the growth of online live casino sector, as a substitute to a land-based experience. Players started discovering the approach of online casino brands with regards to deposit bonuses and free play promotions which are not available at land-based casinos. Our main focus has been on how to reward players through the deposit/welcome/free play bonuses to retain profitable players. SBC: In regards to live casino, which European market will be the next powerhouse? Who will be on the ‘oneto-watch’ list and who do you think will suffer in a post-pandemic world? Explain your answers. Ewelina Antonakos, Head of Sales and Business Development at TVBET: It’s difficult to point out one specific European market. Surely retail and land-based casinos are suffering mostly and quickly shifting to online. In Europe, we do not have such issues as bad internet service or no access to modern devices that punters can use to place bets (as more common in LatAm or Africa), therefore the shift
double for 5G technology. In the new world, as we are becoming more isolated, having a bridge between land-based properties and live casinos will give players the ability to interact with other players. Furthermore, it will provide a sought-after space where players can build their avatars and, for the land-based properties, it will enable them to engage far greater numbers of customers and keep the doors open during uncertain times, as we’ve obviously just observed with the global pandemic.
Ewelina Antonakos, Head of Sales and Business Development at TVBET
I AM BETTING ON THE NETHERLANDS AS A MARKET THAT WILL BE MORE PERCEPTIVE TO LIVE CASINO CONTENT is faster and more apparent. This year we have two new markets in the spotlight and being regulated the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Germany. We need to take three things into consideration: 1. Size of the market; 2. Regulation. 3. Players preferences. Germany is obviously a much bigger market so potential revenues will be higher. However, the new regulation might be too over-engineered, this might impose different restrictions on types of games allowed for online. I am betting on the Netherlands as a market that will be more perceptive to live casino content as well as the fact that the regulator is putting the consumer first, which might allow more diverse content. At the same time I’d say that the biggest suffering was also brought on to these two countries. The pandemic stopped land-based operations, and due to the yet unregulated market, people had no alternative. Ulf Norder: As this global pandemic has proved by its very occurrence, predictions are for the birds!
Joe Pisano, CEO at Jade Entertainment
Still, there are some key differences between Europe and Asia from QTech Games’ own aggregator and distribution perspective. For the most part, I’d say in Europe that many smaller studios enter large operators via an aggregator due to integration complexity and licencing expenditure. Operators in Asia, though, typically utilise aggregators because they then obtain a lot of varied content from one supplier. On top of that, European studios can be somewhat more reluctant to devote two or three years before their Asian sales generate appreciable revenues. SBC: How innovative is live casino currently and what improvements will technology bring in the not so distant future? Joe Pisano, CEO at Jade Entertainment: We saw the first live casino back in 1994. Naturally, though, as technology evolves, so do live casinos and games. The expected global roll-out of 5G networks, as well as AR and VR technology, will breathe new life into live casinos. That goes
AS THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC HAS PROVED BY ITS VERY OCCURRENCE, PREDICTIONS ARE FOR THE BIRDS!
Amy Riches: Innovation is the life-blood of live casino. It’s one of these industries that just doesn’t slow down – because it physically can’t. While most of the technology we use tends to be obscured from players, there are some advanced technologies that are coming to light that could be really exciting when applied to the iGaming industry. We’ve been watching virtual reality technology for a while, and we already employ artificial reality in our games. This is something that players love, and we’re looking forward to continuing to experiment with this kind of technology in the future. But we’re always on the lookout for new ideas that push the boundaries of the iGaming industry – everything from augmented reality, slots-style features embedded into live games, to the intricacy of studio builds. When it comes to the technology that players don’t readily see, enhancing detection and monitoring tools should always be a big focus for any provider. It’s a cyclical process, and it never really stops. The Game Integrity and Risk function plays a vital role in developing marketleading live casino games, ensuring that Evolution maintains its ‘As Real As It Gets’ user experience edge, while keeping the game protection shield on. The innovative game titles launched by Evolution have disrupted the game protection vertical as new products bring new challenges. We use the same innovative approach in Game Integrity and Risk that we use when we are designing a game – as we are creating world firsts, we also create world firsts in this area too and that’s an avenue where we see new technologies bringing an impact as well. •
CasinoBeats 100 Club
ARE STREAMERS JUST A NEW TYPE OF AFFILIATE? IN THE LATEST EDITION OF THE 100 CLUB, CasinoBeats
looked into the latest rising star of affiliates in the form of slot streamers and why this can be a great way to reach new demographics of players BY JAMES ROSS
he use of slot streamers has been on the rise in the last few years, and this trend is showing no signs of slowing. Streamers can play an important role as ambassadors for brands, promoting new titles and giving them visibility among the crowd of releases each week. So CasinoBeats quizzed its CB100 club members on what they think of this new form of affiliation. They asked: Delving 5-10 years into the future, what kind of influence will the streamer community have on the industry?
46 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
One of the CB100 members, Fiona Hickey, Head of Sales at Push Gaming, emphasised that when it comes to streamers the industry needs to remember that “they are just the newest type of affiliates”. “Affiliates have been in the space as long as there has been an igaming industry,” she explained. “Whilst many tier one organisations such as Sky Bet and bet365 have stopped acquiring
AFFILIATES/STREAMERS ARE HERE TO STAY AND THEY HAVE A SERIOUS INFLUENCE ACROSS THE INDUSTRY
customers largely through this form of acquisition, many of the up-andcoming operators work very closely with affiliates of all types, including streamers. “Affiliates/streamers are here to stay and they absolutely influence players and have a serious influence across the industry. “Over the next five to 10 years, I do expect to see more stringent measures/restrictions imposed on streamers to tie in with a brand’s values and responsible gambling approach. “I can also see more operators and indeed suppliers having their own inhouse streamer team/partnership.” Another member, who posted anonymously, referenced that streaming is “extremely popular” in esports with different betting opportunities for the events around it. They stated: “Fans can bet on entire tournaments, players, battle royale
outcomes, speedruns and much more. However, current sports betting operators aren’t as prevalent in esports and don’t focus on it as much as they do on football or other popular sports. “The gaming audience tends to differ from the traditional sports fans, so the approach to attracting them needs to be relevant too. Yet, there’s still a crossover between the two in the way that high profile streamers monetise their content and form brand partnerships within their respective industries. “Esports streamers have been partnering with companies selling energy drinks, clothing, tech equipment and other merchandise relevant to gamers. It’s very common and accepted among the esports community, and they’ve been doing it on platforms like Twitch to monetise what they do. This way, there’s been a greater involvement for these brands in the esports industry, enabling them to reach wider demographics beyond sponsoring a game. “There are also streamers within sports and gambling. For example, football fans have been creating content, reviewing matches and football news. Many content creators are sponsored by betting apps that are mentioned in their predictions,
so there’s already some similarities amongst streamers. “On the other hand, there’s also a growing number of online gambling
THE GAMING AUDIENCE TENDS TO DIFFER FROM TRADITIONAL SPORTS FANS, SO THE APPROACH TO ATTRACTING THEM NEEDS TO BE RELEVANT TOO
streamers, playing slots with high stakes. If esports is a game of skill and can offer lots of valuable information for the viewer, then the slots streamers come across like they’re showing off how much they can spend, as there’s no skill whatsoever. This type of content doesn’t support responsible gambling, so it might not have longevity or great sponsorship opportunities for operators. “It’s likely we’ll be seeing more streamers forming partnerships with
CasinoBeats 100 Club
I SEE THAT THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR THE STREAMERS, AND THERE ARE MANY MARKETS WHERE THEY ARE STILL NOT DISCOVERED YET online gambling operators in the future, especially as brands create more relevant products and content for them. “Streamers will likely be more interested in these partnerships and it will be a great way of including online gambling in their content. What’s important is creating something that is inclusive of the esports market and makes sense for them to participate in.” One member of the CB100 club was Dmitry Belianin, CMO at PMI. He stated that any interactive content, and content that engages viewers, will “thrive”, pinpointing Netflix’s interactive movie – Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. He explained: “As for streamers, it is a bit of a mix of influencers and brand ambassadors. And a role model as well. The power is in the community. They can drive masses to any brand at any time. They can promote new games, show new mechanics, engage users in the upcoming promotions, discover new products. “The way people are enjoying streams is bound in the core of why people are gambling – emotions. And the way you see current streamers are broadcasting – they do bring a lot of fun, joy, and exciting emotions. “I see that the future is bright for the streamers, and there are many markets where they are still not discovered yet, and it is a big new niche.” Rory Kimber, Account Management and Marketing Director at 1X2 Network, expressed his belief that streamers are a “great way to build brand awareness” of a new title to an engaged community of potential new players. He noted: “It’s brilliant to see a game
COMPLIANCE WILL ALSO PLAY A LARGER ROLE WITHIN THE STREAMER COMMUNITY
48 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
that you’ve worked so hard to build come to life in such a fun environment. That level of excitement is undeniable but when talking about influence, I’m not so sure. “Affiliates have long played an integral role in the success of an operator and consequently a game studio. We work with a large number of affiliates including streamers and they all have a different approach to marketing games and also a different audience. “If we were to look at streamers today and only be concerned with the numbers, then arguably, they don’t really hold too much influence because quite often, the numbers don’t stack up, but if this was to change or be
STREAMERS ARE AN EXCITING AREA OF THE INDUSTRY TO KEEP AN EYE ON refined in some way – then yes, streamers would definitely be an essential marketing/acquisition tool. “I also think that compliance will also play a larger role within the streamer community which might make marketing of games more restrictive as regulation continues to tighten. I don’t think they will have any larger influence than many other marketing channels but it’s an exciting area of the industry to keep an eye on.” •
27-28 OCT 2021
JW MARRIOTT MARQUIS MIAMI
SENIOR EXECUTIVE BETTING AND GAMING SUMMIT 750
JD DUARTE CEO Betcris
ALBERTO D’ANGELO Gerente General, La Tinka
CEO Sherlock Communications
Directora de Estrategia Omnicanal Apuesta Total
Group Director Corporate Development and Strategy William Hill
Associate Vice President Rush Street Interactive
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT SBCEVENTS.COM
CEO Vibra Gaming
Head of Banking & Payments 4H.agency
CCO Atlético Mineiro
Sales Director Continent 8
Country Manager Kaizen Gaming
Vice President LATAM Pragmatic Play
SBC AFFILIATE LEADERS Kelly Kehn
Global Relationship Director at SBC
ear Leaders, I love the idea of a penned letter, a way to share thoughts and insights, a personal view into what goes on every day within our lives or community. Letters seem a bit simpler and more thoughtful than other forms of communication and include a lot more anticipation for when they will arrive. So here goes.
I can’t believe it’s been two months since I wrote last. Where has the time gone? How have you been? I’m feeling the excitement and anticipation rising as the industry goes back to live events all over the world. It’s time SBC HAVE to reconnect!
WE AT BEEN WORKING TO ENSURE OUR AFFILIATE LEADERS MEMBERS ARE ENGAGED AND STAY ENGAGED
By the time you read this, SBC will have already hosted SBC Summit Barcelona, and you’ll be at G2E (or, like me, wishing you were!). Lately I’ve been constantly finding myself asking, how do we get back to live events? And what I mean by that is, how do we successfully transition our Affiliate Leaders community from a totally digital group to one that can meet and network in any environment, digital or live? Should we be aware that there may be a new way of interacting in our ‘new normal?’ I go back to the values that I wrote about in the last issue: ● Engaged Membership ● Quality over quantity ● Easy to scale
50 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
Since I wrote to you last, we at SBC have been working to ensure our Affiliate Leaders members are engaged and stay engaged. We are growing the membership at a rapid rate with over 170 member companies now! Most of our members are CEOs and founders with a desire to be part of the wider gaming community (Quality!) And the best news is that because we are building a community that people want to be part of, we aren’t short of referrals that are helping us to scale easily. Things are off to a great start, values in check, but we have big plans. So, my question to you, our members and community today is: How can we help you do business better? Is it information and content? Is it learning and development? Can we help you make better connections? How about advisory services? Whatever it is, we are listening and building this community with you in mind. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll be in touch and send an update when I write to you next. In the meantime, I’ll hope to see you at our next live event! Take care, stay safe and keep in touch!
Focusing on emerging markets
BWISE MEDIA: BRAZIL THE PRIORITY BUT NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITIES EMERGE BUILDING ON ITS STRONG FOOTPRINT IN BRAZIL
remains a key priority for global marketing agency bwise Media, but it also has its eyes firmly set on emerging and ‘freshly’ regulated gambling markets across the world BY LUKE MASSEY
wise Media delivers igaming advertisers with highly targeted inventory on the most relevant sports platforms and social channels, but also owns a collection of its own SEOfocused sports betting and casino review sites. “Our role is helping the most renowned global operators - for sports betting, gaming, esports as well as crypto - getting their promotions in front of the right premium organic audience,” said Sebastian Paris, COO at bwise Media. “It's very important that we offer various services across different verticals which all complement each other. We help operators buy the right advertising inventory for their brand promotion on premium platforms, execute high performance marketing campaigns and retarget the audience through programmatic channels.” The second key pillar, Paris explained, is the bwise Media affiliate business served through websites specifically aimed at emerging markets such as Brazil, Latin America or India.
Focusing on emerging markets
“Affiliation is very complementary to our sales and media business, because we have the opportunity to offer exposure on our SEO websites, deliver significant volumes of high-quality conversions and provide extensive reviews of our client’s products, customer service, payments, bonuses and odds. It helps us get a deeper understanding of the brands that we are working with and see the effects of increased organic traffic from our media activities.” As we’ve already alluded to, Brazil is the key market for bwise Media, both on the affiliate side and for what Paris defines as ‘premium marketing’ activities for gambling operators. He confirmed: “Brazil is our biggest and most active market, it's where we have a very significant exclusive portfolio. This includes 365Scores, which is one of the biggest live score applications in Brazil, BOLAVIP.COM Brazil or popular fantasy app Parciais.” This ‘exclusive’ reference is important to elaborate on, as it means more than an operator simply choosing an ordinary agency to manage their marketing campaigns. bwise Media can leverage a unique premium network of sports publishers. bwise boosts a variety of services to their portfolio to further enhance their marketing capabilities for operators, such as creative service, ASO and user acquisition for mobile apps as well as
Sebastian Paris, COO at bwise Media
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BRAZIL IS OUR BIGGEST AND MOST ACTIVE MARKET, IT'S WHERE WE HAVE A VERY SIGNIFICANT EXCLUSIVE PORTFOLIO programmatic media buying. The agency, run by industry veterans, has an exceptional reputation among sports websites and live score apps. David Watkins, Chief Business Development Officer at LiveScore Group, says about bwise Media: “We have worked with bwise since their inception. They are a pleasure to work with thanks to their combination of experience, pragmatism and work ethic. They have a thorough understanding of both
publisher and operator spaces which uniquely places them to meet the demands of performance marketing.” Paris explained: “What makes us unique as a 360 digital marketing agency, is that we not only provide our services to gambling operators, we also manage an exclusive global portfolio of the most relevant digital platforms for gambling, especially in emerging markets. “This gives us a huge competitive advantage and makes the work for both the publisher and operator much easier, more efficient and highly profitable. We tie all the strings together on our end and make sure our clients and partners benefit the most.” Many of the most renowned operators enlist bwise Media as their independent marketing partner, providing marketing budgets and briefs for bwise to create, and then execute comprehensive media plans to their target audience. Paris added: “We aim for as little work as possible for our clients. The operator provides us with the campaign direction, KPIs and budget. Then bwise adds significant value and creates efficiencies by finding and
closing the right partners, leading negotiations, campaign management, optimisations as well as data-led reporting to provide insights for the business to improve on.” “It's important to recognise that the better and more transparent the relationship between the operator and bwise, the more bwise can do in terms of campaign optimisations and deliver the best results on brand reach, engagement and activations of new users.” Brazil might be a long way from Europe, but marketing restrictions in Spain and Italy - two gambling powerhouses in their own right highlight the clear advantages for a company such as bwise Media in diversifying its business across multiple territories. Paris said: “One of the biggest challenges, but also one of the most exciting things about this business, is that the regulatory landscape changes constantly. If you fail to diversify your business, if you fail to think ahead or take certain precautions, if you only focus on one market and the rules change in that market - it may kill your business.”
OUR AMBITION IS TO CEMENT OUR VERY STRONG FOOTHOLD IN BRAZIL, LATIN AMERICA AND OTHER EMERGING MARKETS
“This is why we focus on a lot of freshly regulated markets and emerging markets where we believe you will see regulation in the near future. In Europe there are markets with heavy advertising restrictions such as Italy and Spain, two countries with sports publishers that have huge audiences. The lack of revenue from advertising from gaming operators can be felt on the digital platforms just as much as it is by the leagues and clubs. “Working with the likes of BeSoccer or OneFootball, the most popular football platforms in Spain and Italy respectively, we had to pivot and change our whole advertising strategy to comply with new restrictions like the Royal Decree in Spain. “This includes developing dedicated gambling sections with age verification on the BeSoccer platforms or providing a match prediction tool on OneFootball that engages the target audience like no other.” To conclude this exclusive interview with SBC Media, Paris reiterated the key company goal for bwise in the 12 months ahead. “Our ambition is to cement our very strong foothold in Brazil, Latin America and other emerging markets, and to strengthen our position as the number one choice for advertisers and publishers in this industry.” •
Removing the middleman
NUVEI: ALLEVIATING PAYMENT PAIN POINTS FOR THE US IGAMING MARKET NEIL ERLICK, CHIEF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT OFFICER,
speaks to SBC Leaders about his experiences within iGaming, the Mazooma acquisition and how Nuvei is ‘removing the middleman’ for its partners BY ERIN GALLAGHER
SBC: First of all, can you tell us about your experience within the iGaming industry - how did you first become involved in this space? NE: I actually got my start in the space 21 years ago. As a young kid, hearing about a dot.com company in the sports & entertainment industries is really what piqued my interest. This was really when the online gaming market was just in its infancy stage. I worked at Paysafe for just over 19 years where I ran their online gaming business, which going back to 2000, was something which was obviously quite innovative as online gaming was brand new. You could say that I’ve been involved in the industry pretty much since day one! As the North American market gained
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momentum, I knew there would be some complexities that we would need to navigate through from a payments perspective, so I wanted to stay close to the operators and build relationships directly with the key stakeholders in the industry. Building these relationships is something I’m really very proud about. Back in 2015, I think I was the first payment professional to be voted on to the board of directors for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and then in 2017, I was named among the Global Gaming Business 40 under 40. I currently sit on the board of the American Gaming Association. I’ve had the chance to use my expertise and look at the industry from a different lens, not from an operator perspective, but from the payments perspective. That then brings us up to now, where I fell in love with the story that
is Nuvei. The growth, the strategy and the vision of the company is incredible. I’m running the corporate development side of things for Nuvei, but obviously lending my expertise in iGaming as we continue to expand our presence in North America. SBC: On a general level, what would you say are the biggest challenges for operators when it comes to payments? NE: The first challenge is that gaming has always been viewed as a high-risk industry. We definitely have a different approach; we look at gaming as a highly regulated industry. So when you combine a highly regulated industry like gaming with a highly regulated industry like payments, we actually look at it a little bit differently in that we wouldn’t really see it as a high risk business anymore. But certainly over the years, the biggest issues were: how does the regulation change from country to country? And what does that mean for the operators? What do they need to do? What do we need to do to provide our services across the many countries around the world? Today, Nuvei operates in more than 200 countries across the world. You have to consider that every country either has different deposit types or different rules on regulations to be able to provide your service. You can then imagine the amount of compliance and complexities that go along with that. That’s certainly one issue. The second issue, which has been ongoing for years, is the acceptance rates for the operators. How do they have the highest approvals for their customers who are wanting to come to their website and deposit? The challenge for us then lies in making sure that we can give them that ability. From an acceptance standpoint, these operators are spending millions of dollars in marketing and attracting
YOU COULD SAY THAT I’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRY PRETTY MUCH SINCE DAY ONE
new customers. We want to make sure that when a customer does come to their website, we can provide them with a way that that customer can pay and also get paid in a very timely fashion and in a very safe and secure environment. SBC: Now there seems to be a lot of buzz around Nuvei in the US iGaming space. What would you say have been the key drivers of success for you in this market? NE: Nuvei itself has been in the space for almost 17 years. We have tons of experience in processing payments for regulated gaming companies across the world. As one of the larger payment companies in the gaming industry, what we wanted to do is take
I'VE HAD THE CHANCE TO USE MY EXPERTISE AND LOOK AT THE INDUSTRY FROM A DIFFERENT LENS
middleman in a lot of ways when it comes to credit card processing, which not only improves performance for the operators, but also saves them money since they are not paying additional gateway fees.
a very slow and calculated approach in the US. We spent a year and a half providing connectivity to every single relevant deposit method in the US; keep in mind, that’s all through our proprietary technology. That’s a single integration, single back office, single source of reconciliation. Nuvei has multiple bank sponsors where we can provide the acquiring ourselves, so that operators are coming direct to the source. We cut out the
SBC: From your experience, what have been the key differences between the US and Europe when it comes to regulation? NE: I think the key difference in Europe is that regulated gaming has been around for decades. But the US is really still very new. It’s only in the last few years that there has been an uptick in gaming activity. In Europe, every country has its own set of regulations, but sometimes a licence in one country can be
Removing the middleman
passported to others. But for the US, it’s really a state-by-state approach. If you want to operate in any of the states that have introduced a regulatory framework, you have to apply for a licence with the individual legislature. Each state may then have different rules and regulations for their customers, especially when it comes to deposit types. Some states will allow you to use a credit card, other states will not. What we’ve done is taken our experience of working in regulated markets and brought that to the largest operators in the world who are now choosing Nuvei as their payments partner for the US. We always go back to being low risk, but it is also super complex. You can’t just wake up one day and say you want to process payments for the gaming industry. There’s regulations, there’s vendor registrations understanding the nuances, and understanding the issue with credit card declines. The issuing banks in the US still have about a 40% decline rate for credit cards. Debit cards, meanwhile, have a higher acceptance rate. We’re certainly trending in the right direction, and I do believe that this will only get better. But to speed things up, we have tools built into our platform where we are able to ensure the highest level of acceptance rate. If we know that you’re going to a website, and we know that you’re using a Bank of America credit card, we’re not going to encourage the customer to keep trying that credit card which we know is going to fail. We therefore give the operators the tools to say “hey, if that’s going to fail, why don’t you try using your bank account, something like Mazooma, where we know you’re going to get approved?” It’s also not just the money in but it’s the money out. We’re making sure that we can get the customers their money very quickly by partnering with Visa for things like OCTs. We were also the first group to launch Real Time Payments (RTP) in the US so now we’re able to send money directly back to your bank account instantly. When you think about that, giving the consumer the ability to fund their account and then getting paid back in that same fashion instantly is game changing. We certainly like where we are positioned and we certainly believe that the experience that we’ve had is
56 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
THERE'S A NUMBER OF FACTORS FROM MAZOOMA THAT WE LIKED - WE'RE BIG BELIEVERS IN THE PRODUCT what’s going to help us be successful in the US. SBC: Now you mentioned that Nuvei recently acquired Mazooma - can you tell us a little bit more about that? What was the thought process behind this acquisition? What will this acquisition mean for both operators and players? NE: There’s a number of factors from Mazooma that we liked. The first is we’re big believers in the product. What they have is the leading account to account payment product in the US market today, with an exclusive relationship with Plaid, which has connectivity to over 11,000 banks today. With one in four Americans who are used to using the Plaid Interface, because they do it in a number of different applications, they’re very familiar with the product. How the product works is that you actually log in with your username and password from your bank account. So traditionally, from an ACH perspective, you have to find your routing number and your checking number. I personally couldn’t tell you what my routing number and checking number are, but I can certainly tell you how I log into my bank account, right? And so that’s as easy as it would be to enter your credit card number. You enter in your username and password for your bank, you see the bank logo in which you work with, you click on it, and the funds are then sent instantly to the merchant. So we love the actual functionality of the product. The second thing is that Mazooma has relationships with all of the largest operators already in the US. So instantly, we have access to all the largest clients. They also have money transmitting licenses across the US. If you were to try to get these licenses on your own, that takes years. They are also the first provider in US iGaming to provide
WE USE OUR PROPRIETARY AI POWERED RISK ENGINE TO INDEMNIFY OUR PARTNERS FROM ANY CHARGEBACKS
RTP, which is real time payments, we absolutely love the potential of the product. SBC: Player experience is very important to operators, but also for players when considering which operator to bet with. What does Nuvei provide to make payments frictionless and fast? NE: I go back to that single integration. Everything that we have is available à la carte, and customisable. So while we can use our experience to help guide the operators in what we think works, we also don’t want to dictate to them. So from customisation, flexibility and our experience in ensuring the highest possible approval rates, and then being able to transfer money in and money out through that same platform, we believe this is helping make payments frictionless and fast. SBC: What’s Nuvei’s vision when it comes to crypto adoption in the iGaming space? We believe in the crypto space, and what we’re trying to do is two things. It always comes down to the regulatory aspects from a crypto perspective. We believe we’re a very innovative company so we always want to make sure that Nuvei is ready to support all of our clients globally, if and when they are ready to accept cryptocurrencies. The ability for our merchants to accept payments in 40 different cryptocurrencies exists today. We also recently bought another business called Simplex, which provides the on-ramp, off-ramp capability for different crypto companies and for people that want to pay, buy and sell crypto with their credit and debit cards. We actually go one step further as we use our proprietary AI powered risk engine to indemnify our partners from any chargebacks, making all transactions guaranteed. In fact, we see tremendous opportunity with these capabilities across other verticals SBC: And finally, can you give us a sneak peak into your plans for G2E? NE: We have a large booth this year, it’ll be the first time since closing the Mazooma acquisition where we can showcase the Mazooma product as part of the Nuvei family. I think it’s a great opportunity to network and to see our partners for the first time in a long time. We’re very excited to be there! •
EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE IS AVAILABLE À LA CARTE, AND CUSTOMISABLE
9-11 NOV 2021
STAMFORD BRIDGE, LONDON
SHAPING THE FUTURE OF SPORTS BETTING IN EUROPE 2,000
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT SBCEVENTS.COM
Layered and long-term approach
LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD - AFFORDABILITY CHECKS IN THE POST-LOCKDOWN ERA THE PROSPECT OF ENHANCED affordability checks has
become a key talking point in the UK government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with some advocates of reform citing a perceived upsurge in betting activity during the pandemic BY TED ORME-CLAYE
he implementation of stringent affordability checks has subsequently become a key point of debate in the gambling industry itself, with some criticising the measures for infringing on customer privacy, whilst there is also a view that the need for the continuation of this policy will decrease with the large-scale reopening of retail venues after COVID-19 lockdowns.
Speaking to SBC Leaders, four industry leading experts shared their views on the future of affordability checks, changing consumer behaviour during the pandemic and the importance of effectively leveraging technology. Observing that ‘gambling behaviour has changed throughout the pandemic’, with regards to both players and operators, Dan Spencer, Head of Safer Gambling at EPIC Risk Management, argued that the former
are increasing their stakes and moving towards ‘volatile methods such as online slot machines and instant win games’. Meanwhile, he added that operators have experienced ‘extremely high turnover’ throughout national lockdowns and so may be staffed by employees “who are yet to build up a working relationship with regular customers and it won’t be so easy to spot behaviour which is abnormal for these customers”. For Dan Trolaro, EPIC’s Vice President of Prevention US, the best way to address any post-COVID difficulties will be to maintain beneficial relationships between operators and their customers, whilst keeping the perspective that gambling is a “form of entertainment that can be enjoyed without harms for over 90% of the population in general”.
Layered and long-term approach
He remarked: “Operators want ‘sticky’ customer relationships… ones where the customer returns and refers so nobody wins when the view is short sighted and transactional in nature. Long-term, healthy and safe relationships help to reduce (not eliminate) gambling related harms.” Sharing his own opinions on the maintenance of strict affordability measures post-lockdowns, Sonny Cott, Operations Manager at beBettor, outlined his belief that a ‘layered approach’ to affordability is needed, with strict affordability measures less important than some may believe. Noting that it is ‘difficult to predict’ customer behaviour patterns as bettors return to retail venues and acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic ‘may have been a catalyst’ in accelerating the ‘digital shift’, Cott concluded that as lockdowns ease ‘there will be a rebalancing of where customers choose to gamble’. “As a result, affordability frameworks for remote operators will continue to be very important,” he explained. “In order to achieve a fit for purpose affordability framework that accommodates a diverse customer base, it is important for operators to build automated frameworks.” Regarding his support for a ‘layered approach’ to affordability, he remarked: “Those operators who adopt a layered approach to affordability, e.g. a frictionless check that requires no sensitive financial information from the customer early in the journey should ensure suitable protections are in place for the vast majority of customers.
Dan Spencer, Head of Safer Gambling at EPIC Risk Management
Dan Trolaro, EPIC’s Vice President of Prevention US
in both slot play and esports betting, whilst sports wagering declined by 11%. “We need to be mindful that we continue on the journey to improve safer gambling practices so that the player base is protected and this sort of increased risk does not continue to rise now that we transition out of pandemic restrictions,” he asserted.
for operators to better safeguard their customers, in addition to enhanced customer feedback. An example of this could be Entain’s ARC system, developed in cooperation with EPIC Risk Management and academics, with the aim of establishing the ‘right behavioural markers’ to identify customers at risk of harm. People gamble for many reasons and people develop a gambling problem for the same many reasons,” Trolaro remarked. “A person can start out socially and over time, what initiated the gambling may not be what maintains the gambling so a combination of technology, customer feedback, research, and player behaviour should help to shape a safer, more affordable experience.”
Agreeing with his colleague, Trolaro commented: “Betting companies need to work together and with industry stakeholders to take data and metrics from the past 15 months to study and analyse player behaviour, compare to pre-Covid, and work toward developing tools that are more predictive in nature.
TO ACHIEVE A FIT FOR PURPOSE AFFORDABILITY FRAMEWORK THAT ACCOMMODATES A DIVERSE CUSTOMER BASE, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR OPERATORS TO BUILD AUTOMATED FRAMEWORKS “Operators can then conduct more invasive checks for the small percentage of customers that require them, later in the customer journey.” Spencer also maintained that ‘a rise in online gambling was inevitable’ during the pandemic due to the lack of availability of retail venues, with EPIC having experienced a 5% increase
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“Whether through speed and velocity of play, cancelled withdrawals, failed deposits, or number of cards on file to name a handful, the operator has the data, now they need to use it for the betterment and in furtherance of player protection and to reduce gambling related harms.” Technological solutions, it has been argued, could present an opportunity
Mark Potter, EPIC’s Head of Delivery US, placed a heavy emphasis on the role technology can play in an operator’s safer gambling arsenal, particularly with regards to riggers, algorithms and ‘fit for purpose responsible gambling tools’ to enable customers to better protect themselves. “If they are educated and made aware of potential harms, then interacted with at regular intervals across a customer journey, then the chances of a customer suffering from gambling harm is greatly reduced,” he explained. “Understanding what the customer
customers towards illicit, regulated operators that do not employ any affordability checks. “I believe that customising limits and affordability based on several factors helps to best individualise and tailor the experience,” said Trolaro. “It should be noted that gambling, for some, can be progressive in nature, so what is affordable and manageable is a moving and sliding scale over the lifecycle of the gambler. “Based on a series of checks and data points, limit setting and availability should be a moving scale, both up and down. Similar to how creditworthiness is determined, several factors should be in play and periodic review checks should be done in an attempt to minimise the potential for harm.” Sonny Cott, Operations Manager at beBettor
Mark Potter, EPIC’s Head of Delivery US
wants, needs or requires as an individual would always help inform operators as to how best to protect. Interactions with customers must be effective however and not a tick box exercise.”
affordability is, for many operators already, a large part of their safer gambling frameworks and core business. “Many operators are already proving that they are able to create a strong business whilst complying with evolving regulatory requirements and we at beBettor aim to continue to enable our operator clients to achieve this.”
Sharing similar views to EPIC, Cott further emphasised the importance of successful technological leveraging by operators to ensure robust protection for their customers as the betting industry eases into post-lockdown operations. “Leaning into technology has enormous benefits for creating a great customer experience, ensuring protected play and streamlining compliance processes.” “In the case of affordability, beBettor checks are conducted at less than 0.5 seconds, meaning operators can check thousands of customers per day and tailor customer interactions to the individual. Automating these checks saves operators huge amounts of time and money compared to conducting these manually.” In addition to technology, Cott highlighted the virtues of customer engagement, which he argued ‘should always be a priority’, with effective operator-user communication leading to ‘continued improvement’ with regards to affordability and responsibility. He added: “However I do not feel it should be one or the other,
OPERATORS MUST EFFECTIVELY CONDUCT AFFORDABILITY CHECKS WITHOUT MARGINALISING THE VAST MAJORITY OF BETTORS WHO GAMBLE WITHIN THEIR MEANS A concern that has been repeatedly raised by betting industry incumbents regarding the continuation and enhancement of affordability checks in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns, however, is that these measures could actually negatively impact the operator-customer relationship. Fears have been expressed that customers who do not struggle with problem gambling or gambling related harm could be subject to affordability checks, with trade associations such as the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) claiming that this could drive
Spencer, meanwhile, maintained that affordability checks ‘level the playing field,’ adding that bettors who do not face gambling related harm are still at risk, meaning operators must have a strong understanding of their customer base. “Many operators are ahead of the game with thresholds in place and conducting checks on new customers as a matter of course. The key to success here is in the education of players, if they understand why we have to do these checks and how to go about it then they are more willing to cooperate, but this must happen across the entire industry, not just the big names.” Cott too agreed that operators must know their customer base and its needs in order to effectively conduct affordability checks without marginalising ‘the vast majority of bettors’ who gamble within their means, with the scope of a check ‘determined upon the level of friction experienced by the customer’. “For the small percentage that may be seen to be vulnerable to experiencing gambling related harm, operators can then tailor customer interactions to only those that require them. “If operators were to use invasive checks that require sensitive financial information early on in the customer journey, it could be seen as an invasion of privacy for the majority of bettors who are not faced with issues with financial management.” •
National Lottery Update
TWIST AND TURNS OF THE FOURTH NATIONAL LOTTERY LICENCE COMPETITION AS IT LOOKED LIKE WE WERE APPROACHING the end
of the Invitation to Apply period for the fourth UK National Lottery licence competition, a few curveballs have caused a delay in any preferred applicant from being announced
BY CONOR PORTER
ear the end of July, the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee announced it was launching an inquiry into the competition process to award the next licence for the operation of the UK National Lottery. Following this decision, at the beginning of August, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) decided to extend the deadline of the licence competition. It will now be announcing the preferred operator for the fourth lottery licence in February 2022, with the fourth licence term starting in February 2024. “These changes will provide an opportunity for applicants to further refine their proposals and for the Commission to evaluate,” the regulator said. The past few months have also seen significant movement by some of the operators involved in the licence competition, including one operator reportedly pulling out of the process entirely.
Julian Knight MP, Committee Chair
DCMS The DCMS Committee launched an inquiry into the competition process to award the next licence for the operation of the UK National Lottery at the end of July following criticism
62 SBC LEADERS • SEPTEMBER 2021
WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THE NATIONAL LOTTERY’S FUTURE IS IN GOOD HANDS
from stakeholders towards the current National Lottery operator Camelot. This was after Camelot had been accused of retaining profits, instead of awarding more to worthy causes. As a result of these accusations, the DCMS is seeking to enforce changes ‘to the operation of the licence to require that contributions to these causes will rise in a similar proportion to profits.’ The Committee will also scrutinise the preferred applicant that the UKGC selects next year, as well as the selection process involved. Submitting evidence for this inquiry closed on September 10th, 2021. Committee Chair, Julian Knight MP, commented: “The National Lottery has raised £43 billion for good causes since its launch in 1994. We want to make sure its future is in good hands. Our concern is not only with the operation of the competition to find the next operator but also with the Gambling Commission that is overseeing the process. “Crucially we’ll be asking what measures will be in place to ensure that when profits rise, it’s not just the operator that benefits, but good causes too.” Upon announcement of the review, the UKGC affirmed that this was not a contributing factor in the decision to extend the competition’s timetable. However, Knight noted that the delay “makes our inquiry more timely and impactful”.
UKGC Not long after the inquiry decision by the DCMS, the UKGC announced that it would be extending the timetable for the fourth National Lottery licence competition. Following consultation with
THE PAST FEW MONTHS HAVE SEEN SIGNIFICANT MOVEMENT BY SOME OF THE OPERATORS INVOLVED IN THE LICENCE COMPETITION
NATIONAL LOTTERIES ARE NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER applicants involved in Phase One, four weeks have been added to the Phase Two application stage and a further six weeks for evaluation. A further six months has been added to the third National Lottery licence period.
The UKGC said in a statement: “Our job is to run the best competition we possibly can – one that is open and fair and results in the best outcome for players and good causes. We want to appoint a licensee that can build on the National Lottery’s legacy and find new opportunities for a sustainable and successful future. “We remain encouraged by the number of applications received and we look forward to evaluating Phase
Two proposals as part of a robust process.” However, the competition itself is affecting the commission’s financials, as the UKGC declared in its annual report for 2020-2021 that it has made an operating loss of £19.3 million due to rising costs associated with the fourth National Lottery licence competition. The competition has cost the UKGC £14.83 million as total expenditure reached £38.06 million, a 1.39% increase on the previous year. A statement from the Board of Directors read: “We have continued to strongly regulate the National Lottery which has had another successful year despite the challenges of the pandemic – whilst ensuring the operator protects players and maximises returns to good causes, especially after such a tough 12 months. “A further £1.83 billion going to good causes through the National Lottery over the past year is another excellent milestone and the financial support given to the arts, sports, heritage and charities was vital.” The Commission statement added: “The competition for the fourth National Lottery licence is now successfully underway and we plan to announce the winner within the current financial year following the fair and open contest we are currently overseeing. “This follows a delay to the launch of the competition by three months which was due to the unique circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sugal & Damani While it is yet to be confirmed, it has been reported by The Telegraph in
OUR JOB IS TO RUN THE BEST COMPETITION WE POSSIBLY CAN
National Lottery Update
July that Sugal & Damani will withdraw from the fourth National Lottery licence competition altogether, leaving four participants in the tender process, The Indian lottery firm announced its entry into the competition last October, but it hasn’t made any announcements on its application process since. If Sugal & Damani have withdrawn from the competition, four companies will remain in the running. These include current operators Camelot; Italy’s Sisal, which bids alongside children’s charity Barnardo’s; Czech Republic’s Sazka Group under the UK corporate identity of Allwyn; and former adult magazine publisher Richard Desmond.
Allwyn Throughout July and August, Allwyn has continued to develop its bid for the fourth National Lottery licence by appointing a new Chief Executive, David Craven, as well as announcing its commitment to two good causes.
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As Allwyn’s new CEO, Craven brings a wealth of experience to the role having previously been a part of several major gaming software and gambling businesses, including The Tote and World Gaming. Commenting on his appointment, Craven said: “National Lotteries are needed now more than ever. In Sazka Group’s other markets, they have driven footfall on the high street whilst making a real difference in local communities. That’s why the opportunity to become the CEO of Allwyn, and hopefully The National Lottery, was impossible to turn down. “Throughout my career in the global gaming sector, I’ve always focused on how technology can be used to improve the customer experience, whether that be in-store or online. Not only does this mean
I PASSIONATELY BELIEVE THAT TECHNOLOGY IS THE BEST WAY TO SAFEGUARD CUSTOMERS
SPORT CAN PRESENT US WITH A SOLUTION TO HELP STEER US ALL THROUGH, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A SOCIETY making games fun and exciting, but I passionately believe that technology is the best way to safeguard customers. “I am very much looking forward to working closely with Allwyn’s chairman, Sir Keith Mills, and with innovative technology partners like Vodafone, we can deliver a bright new future for The National Lottery.” Sazka’s UK corporate identity has also announced its desire to reach net carbon zero by 2030, signing the Planet Mark ‘Zero Carbon Commitment’ to pledge to achieve net zero and is identifying with the UN’s campaign ‘Race to Zero’, designed to encourage organisations to reduce their carbon emissions. It has also partnered with the charity Made By Sport to launch a
new campaign to improve funding and awareness for grassroots sports. The campaign, #PoweringGoodTogether, aims to recognise sports’ benefit to society from ‘helping address mental health issues, to developing life skills or bridging divides’, and encourage more young people to participate in sport to combat mental and physical issues that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic. Allwyn’s Bid Chair, Sir Keith Mills, commented: “Sport can help us to achieve so many things in life and at a time when we are all trying to work out our ‘new normal,’ sport can present us with a solution to help steer us all through, individually and as a society. “We need to look at sport in a different way – it’s not just about
activity and keeping fit – and that’s why we are supporting Made by Sport.”
Looking ahead With the UKGC now announcing its preferred operator for the fourth National Lottery licence in February
next year, there’s plenty of time for bidding companies to ramp up their applications in hope that they can win that licence. However, with the DCMS monitoring the process closely, extra pressure is on the commission to make the right decision when the time comes. •
EXTRA PRESSURE IS ON THE COMMISSION TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION WHEN THE TIME COMES
A growing battle
EXAMINING LOTTERIES’ BATTLE TO REMAIN RELEVANT IN AN ADVANCING INDUSTRY AS MORE OPERATORS BEGIN TO EYE UP new
opportunities in the sports betting and igaming spaces, are lotteries facing an uphill battle to remain relevant?
BY CHARLIE HORNER
cross the globe, the purpose of lotteries is, ostensibly, to fund good causes in local and national communities against a wider gaming industry backdrop that is more often focused on shareholder dividends and profit margins.
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Yet, as the goodwill of lotteries continues to influence positivity, as shown in the UK National Lottery’s support of the TeamGB athletes in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, the industry is fighting a growing battle to remain relevant amid a rise in the number of operators investing in sports betting and igaming. In the US, especially, the legalisation
of sports betting and igaming poses a new threat to the future of lotteries, given that players’ discretionary spend is not limitless. Moreover, the legalisation of these new technologies and apps in the US often sees state lotteries playing a more regulatory role. Are state lotteries at risk of shifting too far towards sports betting and igaming regulation, and in doing so compromising their capacity to raise funds for worthy community causes? The challenge for lottery operators and commissions is to retain existing customers and acquire new users but, crucially, comply with regulatory requirements and encourage safe
betting practices. It’s a difficult balancing act.
Technological Advancements Lotteries clearly need to adapt in line with the modernisation of the industry, with mobile apps and websites providing users with ease of access to placing bets and playing games. In response to the technological advancements, lottery tickets in the US are beginning to see increases in sales in online and digital formats after decades of reliance on physical retail sales. Stakeholders including IGT and Scientific Games are already playing their part in the process, expanding on their established partnerships with lotteries to modernise the industry, while the likes of mkodo are creating the ilottery apps that facilitate mobile play. After signing an agreement with Washington Lottery to provide cashless solutions to its operations, IGT’s COO Jay Gendon said: “IGT has a deep understanding for the growth-driving products and solutions Washington’s Lottery needs to help reach its business goals.”
By way of example, Colorado Lottery recently launched a new online, interactive game and contest called “Trail Trekker”, which takes players to different locations across the State. The 10-week contest features 10 weekly winners and one grand prize winner while taking players on a journey to destinations along the Colorado Trail that are also funded by lottery proceeds. Meanwhile, Scientific Games created an immersive experience for its lottery game winners with its James Bond
us to engage players in a way that is unparalleled in the lottery industry. Digital can be a key component that brings it all together – great game, iconic brand, digital extension to the retail game, and an experiential prize.”
themed game in Las Vegas, labelling it a ‘thrilling success’. John Schulz, SG’s SVP for Instant Products, explained why he thought the experience game was a success with its players: “Combining licensed brands to these once-in-a-lifetime events allows
a world in which gambling adverts are ubiquitous is essential to creating a loyal user base and upholding a good reputation to acquire more users. Unfortunately, recent weeks and months have seen regulatory sanctions imposed upon multiple lotteries around the world for malpractice and failure to adopt adequate player-protection measures.. Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) issued a $10,000 fine to the Dutch lottery operator, Lotto, a subsidiary brand of Nederlandse Loterij (NLO), after
Safer betting Technological advancement is not the only area in which lotteries must improve and engage with to remain relevant and competitive. Keeping players safe and acting responsibly in
THE INDUSTRY IS FIGHTING A GROWING BATTLE TO REMAIN RELEVANT He added: “Our top-tier instant ticket games are based on extensive research, game planning, and strategic marketing, and we look forward to delivering fresh game concepts and content over the next two years.” Research conducted by the Global Industry Analysts, in tandem with industry thinking, concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the sale of lottery tickets online, whilst digital lottery ticket sales increased by 25.7% in 2020. Although undoubtedly the closure of retail outlets due to the COVID-19 pandemic played a pivotal role in this rise, it is nevertheless a trend that will continue as the world adjusts postpandemic. Its report estimated that the US online lottery market will hit $2.3bn by the end of 2021. Progress has been aided in no small way by lottery operators and commissions as they continue to expand their offering to customers by creating interactive and technologically advanced games.
LOTTERIES CLEARLY NEED TO ADAPT IN LINE WITH THE MODERNISATION OF THE INDUSTRY
A growing battle
it placed advertisements for its EuroJackpot game on girlscene.nl, a website primarily aimed towards minors. Further, LottoBayern has had a claim upheld against it by the regional courts in Bavaria after using inaccurate advertising on multiple occasions online, while Lotto Direct received a fine from Spelinspektionen worth SEK15,000 after offering games on its website that were not covered by its licence. After issuing a fine to NLO, the KSA said in a statement: “The KSA continues to monitor whether games of chance providers target vulnerable groups, such as minors, with their advertisements. “If this is the case, the KSA can take enforcement action. Providers are always responsible for all their advertisements, even if they have their advertisements taken care of via third parties such as advertising agencies.” This is an issue that the industry must tackle head on if it is to remain relevant and thrive in the future. It’s a view that’s consistently articulated by the Global Lottery Monitoring System, an organisation which fights crime across the industry, including lotteries and
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sports betting. Speaking at SBC Digital Italia, GLMS President Ludovico Calvi said that ‘international communication is definitely key’, adding that the ‘success of the Italian model’ in tackling matchfixing and other sports-related crimes is something that regulators around the world should follow.
A positive note Although there are many challenges facing lottery operators and commissions in the coming years, it must not be forgotten that the lottery is still one of the most popular forms of gambling in the world. The YouGov International Gambling Report 2021 has clearly helped to reinforce that notion.
COMBINING LICENSED BRANDS TO THESE ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EVENTS ALLOWS US TO ENGAGE PLAYERS IN A WAY THAT IS UNPARALLELED IN THE LOTTERY INDUSTRY
In the study, conducted alongside Prolific North, 42% of all respondents claimed they had played any form of lottery online within the last 12 months, outperforming sports betting (36%), online casinos (13%) and bingo (11%). In terms of motivation, those who play the lottery do so because they fantasise about winning a large prize (42%). 38% of respondents claim they play the lottery because it is a fun thing to do, whilst 35% of respondents claim that they play to win big. Whilst these statistics are promising for lotteries and substantiate the view that users still enjoy playing the lottery, the report does highlight the need for evolution in the industry. The inescapable fact is that lotteries risk becoming the preserve of older players, with younger people less inclined to play a style of game that’s heavy on the anticipation of a big win, but light on quick-turn gratification. As the YouGov report states so succinctly: “A pertinent issue for regulators and their governing legislators is the relative lack of popularity for online lottery products among younger generations.” •
A new regulatory regime
BY MARTYN ELLIOTT
hen President Volodymyr Zelensky gave final approval to the Ukraine Gambling Law in August 2020, it ended the nation’s 12-year prohibition and signalled the creation of a new regulated market in one of Eastern Europe’s most populous countries. With high interest in the market from international operators, Ukraine will be one of the central themes of the agenda for SBC Summit CIS, Presented by Parimatch, the new betting and gaming industry conference and expo taking place at Parkovy Kyiv International Convention Center in Ukraine on 13 - 14 October 2021. The event is being supported by the Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC) and its chairman Anton Kuchukhidze will be among the 80-strong speaker lineup. Looking ahead to his appearance, Kuchukhidze gave SBC Leaders an update on the latest developments in Ukraine.
WELCOME TO UKRAINE - THE MARKET OPPORTUNITY IS HUGE
AHEAD OF SBC SUMMIT CIS, Ukrainian Gambling Council
Chairman Anton Kuchukhidze assesses the pros and cons of the new regulatory regime in Ukraine, and details why the market would welcome major international operators
SBC: How would you assess the opportunity for both online and land-based operators in Ukraine following the introduction of the new regulations? AK: If we are talking about regulatory acts that are to be adopted at the Commission on the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries level, then we can say that all these documents must comply with the law, i.e. not to expand it in any way, but directly carry out provisions of the law on gambling legalisation. Thus, not the derivatives, but the law itself must be evaluated.
I BELIEVE THAT THE REGULATOR WILL SIMPLY HELP TO STRENGTHEN ALL POSITIVE ASPECTS PROVISIONED BY THE LAW First and foremost, the law itself is socially oriented, with guarantees providing for the social protection of citizens, and gamblers. Therefore, I believe that the regulator will simply help to strengthen all positive aspects provisioned by the law. At the same time, if we are talking about the financial monitoring
A new regulatory regime
regulations from the Ministry of Finance, it requires special attention, since many provisions of their project decision on financial monitoring in the gambling industry do not correspond to the interests of gambling businesses. UGC has submitted more than 140 amendments to this document and continues to maintain an active dialogue with representatives of the Ministry of Finance in this regard. The main principle of the law is that the regulations don’t expand the law in any way, but for some reason, there are such expansions in this regulatory act. If we are talking about the negative scenario for the adoption of this document, then, of course, it will prevent the development of the gambling market. Even though the law’s framework is good for both online and offline aspects, you still need to make sure that other State executive bodies engage in dialogue with specialised gambling professional associations and maintain open communication with businesses to adopt decisions for the development, and not the destruction, of the market. SBC: Taxation is a key issue for the UGC. What kind of changes to the taxation and licensing regime would you like to see to help operators? AK: It’s obvious that the issue of taxation is crucial not only for UGC, but for the entire market. I think that the basis laid down in the first reading of the draft law 2713-д will remain the same. If we are talking about GGR and about the abolition of the triple licence fees, this is welcomed by the market. The state understands that it is necessary to create adequate conditions. There will be a lot of technical amendments, such as how to define winnings, what winnings are, what a positive difference is, etc. Many such definitions will require technical and legal clarifications. I think that the issue of liberalisation of tax on winnings is definitely worth fighting for. At the moment, there are amendments from MPs suggesting the increase of the taxation threshold on winnings from 8% to 10%, 15%, and even 20%. This is an absolutely outrageous story. Therefore, in our dialogue with Ukrainian MPs, the UGC will find a common ground that will suit both the State and businesses. We will also support tax exemption
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THE LEGALISATION OF GAMBLING IS PART OF THE POLICY OF PRESIDENT ZELENSKY TO DE-SHADOW THE ECONOMY for non-residents on winnings. This is a beneficial step for Ukraine to become a profitable and comfortable jurisdiction for foreign players who choose our country as a tourist destination. And, of course, the exemption of foreigners from the tax on winnings or the adoption of the most loyal rates for them will make the Ukrainian market very competitive in comparison with neighbouring Georgia or Belarus, and in the whole region of Eastern Europe. SBC: What benefits will the legal gambling industry have for Ukraine and its economy? AK: There are many benefits. First of all, you need to understand that the legalisation of gambling is part of the policy of President Zelensky to deshadow the economy. Thus, the first benefit is the de-
STEP-BY-STEP, UKRAINE WILL TURN INTO A REGIONAL LEADER. THIS IS AN OBVIOUS FACT
shadowing of a separate sector of the economy. The second is the introduction of social protection for citizens, and for minors. The third is the social protection of gambling addicts. For the first time in 12 years, concrete opportunities have appeared for self-restraint, as well as for relatives to prevent their loved ones from gambling through a court decision. Fourth, the State has precise control over the market. There is a clear list of organisers, a list of legal gambling operators. Anything that is not included in the registers of the Commission on the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries is illegal. The state fights against illegal operators. The fifth advantage is a decrease in the number of illegal operators by almost 80% compared with the situation at the end of 2019. There used to be over 5,000 illegal gambling halls. Now, 80% have already been closed. Currently, the work on illegal gambling halls closure continues. This means an improvement in the social security of wider society. More than 1 billion UAH were already received by the State budget from gambling. Local budgets of the regions will receive 50% of the licence fees from the casinos located on their territory. And there are a lot of other aspects that allow any Ukrainian to feel the positive impact of this reform.
SBC: What’s your message for international operators considering entering the Ukrainian market? AK: My main message is very simple Welcome to Ukraine. We have a wonderful country, a country that has shown with the example of the legalisation of gambling that our State can fight corruption and illegal gambling operators, and protect Western investments. Our State is carrying out tax reform. All these things are aimed both at the internal development of the economy and at attracting Western investment. Also, do not be afraid that the legal
market has just started operating in Ukraine. It has been operating since May 14, after the opening of the first gambling hall. In the long run, you need to understand that this is the largest market in Central and Eastern Europe, and the largest legal market in the entire post-Soviet territory. Therefore, the opportunities are huge.
UKRAINE IS AN EXCELLENT BASE FOR PROMOTING AND EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS IN THE WHOLE REGION
The professional level of gambling companies’ employees is very high in Ukraine. The tourist flow is also gradually starting to concentrate in Ukraine since, as I already mentioned, this is the largest country in the region and many tourists are interested in visiting it. There is an excellent quality of services provision in Ukraine - hotels, restaurants, and all other areas related to gambling. Therefore, step-by-step, Ukraine will turn into a regional leader. This is an obvious fact. Despite the recent launch of the market, this summer already demonstrated a huge flow of tourists from the Middle East to Ukraine. And one of the most important reasons was the opportunity to engage in legal gambling. The market is off to a good start, but it can be even better if foreign investors come. Also, you need to understand that the State itself is extremely interested in this because the entry of the largest Western gambling giants to Ukraine will mean increased competition within the market. Both the gambling operators and the State itself will benefit from this. Quality will be improved; new principles will appear, etc. Therefore, you are welcome. The market is large and interesting, and it can be a bridge to Central Asia. The market will strengthen its position in the CIS region. Ukraine is an excellent base for promoting and expanding your business in the whole region. •