ISSUE 20 • MAY 2022 BRIDGING A GAP
Achieving omnichannel unity NEW MARKETS
Focus on Canada, Holland and Brazil
Tech's role in safer gambling DRIVING GROWTH
NASCAR puts fans first
We're living through a time of gaming evolution
5-9 Lead Interview
• David Flynn: Taking Glitnor Group to new heights
10-28 Sports Betting
• Technamin: Adding a sportsbook platform just ‘makes sense’ for casino operators • FSB: Top picks • Peter-Paul de Goeij: The Dutch market is ‘not for the faint of heart’
• Joanna Lambert: Yahoo Sportsbook living up to the New York hype • Joe Asher, IGT: is sports betting the next opportunity for tribal operators?
• Ontario: what to expect • Shelley White: we cannot take a cookie cutter approach to safer gambling
• BetMGM: Bridging the land-based and online gaming divide • Spinz Casino: our ‘Rootz’ are firmly planted in the streaming space • Simon Hammon: Beyond the Reels of Money Train 2 • Vladimir Malakchi: Star Guardians is taking player engagement to new heights • Nicola Longmuir: Scaling up AvatarUX’s ambitious growth plans
65-71 Latin America
• Thomas Carvalhaes: a spotlight on Brazil • How IBIA and Fecoljuegos will help shape the future of LatAm’s sports betting
• AstroPay: planting our flag in Europe • New affordability checks: why they must be fair for everyone involved
• Getting creative with sponsorships
• How do lotteries meet the increasing demand for responsible gambling?
• Joseph Solosky, NASCAR: Racing ahead with fan engagement
The SBC Leaders Magazine is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community: EDITORIAL TEAM: Erin Gallagher, Andrew McCarron, Craig Davies, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, James Ross, Lucia Mouriño, Conor Porter, Charlie Horner, Jessie Sale, Mollie Chapman, Fernando Noodt Molins SALES TEAM: Rasmus Sojmark, Alyona Gromova, Conall McCabe, Jan Kowalczyk, Richard Deacon, Bob McFarland, Tom Bullen 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
INTRO Erin Gallagher
SBC Leaders Editor
elcome to Issue 20 of SBC Leaders Magazine! Do you remember those career days at school when they’d encourage you to pursue a certain job? Teachers would tell you about being a doctor, lawyer, dentist - I was told that a career in economics was the way forward for me. As you can probably guess, I had other plans where I ended up in media. For David Flynn, CEO of Glitnor Group and lead interviewee for Issue 20, the gambling industry wasn’t where he initially saw his career going. But leaving his career in Physics and Fluid Dynamics behind, he told SBC Leaders that he couldn’t imagine working THERE HAVE BEEN in any other sector. During his time A NUMBER OF in gaming, Flynn CHANGES - BOTH explains that there IN TERMS OF have been a number REGULATION AND of changes - both in TECHNOLOGICAL terms of regulation ADVANCEMENTS and technological advancements. Among those regulatory developments is the increase in countries embracing a framework which paves the way for a legal betting market. Keeping with that theme of new markets, this edition of the SBC Leaders Magazine features a new shiny Canada section which assesses the latest developments taking place across the Great White North. Shelley White kicks off this section of the magazine by sharing her journey into the betting industry and how the Canada-based Responsible Gambling Council is taking the lead in establishing a collaborative approach to safer
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gambling standards. In the US, Yahoo Sports’ Joanna Lambert unpacks the potential of the New York market. As Sinatra once said, if you can make it there then you can make it anywhere! Meanwhile Joe Asher, President of Sports Betting at IGT, asks whether sports betting is the next big opportunity for tribal operators. Heading to Latin America, Hero Gaming’s Thomas Carvalhaes unpacks the potential of the Brazil market as we await the introduction of a regulated gambling framework. With the region as a whole presenting a wealth of new opportunities, we assess how the International Betting Integrity Association and Fecoljuegos will shape the future of sports betting across the continent. Holland is the new kid on the block for our sports betting section, but as the last few years have shown, it has not been an easy ride for the Dutch gambling industry. Peter-Paul de Goeij highlights that while the market presents a fantastic opportunity for operators, this is not for the ‘faint of heart’. So wherever you’re hailing from, please enjoy reading what our industry leaders have to say on some of the challenges, opportunities and questions facing the betting and gaming sector. And I’m sure we’ll see you at an event soon!
Challenges and opportunities
DAVID FLYNN: TAKING GLITNOR GROUP TO NEW HEIGHTS THE GLITNOR GROUP CEO
looks back on his time in the online gaming sector, outlining his predictions on where the industry will be in 10 years time BY ERIN GALLAGHER
SBC: When did you first enter the online gambling industry? DF: I personally entered the igaming industry on 18 August 2003, making my first mark in the poker business. That means it is coming up to 19 years in igaming. During this time I’ve worked for five businesses, with the latter being Glitnor Group which I joined in March 2019. I then moved to the role of Group CEO in January 2020. Glitnor Group was incorporated in April 2018 and over the past four years has enjoyed triple-digit YoY growth. SBC: What was the main driving factor behind entering the sector? DF: I’d like to say it was a well-thoughtthrough strategic move leveraging my experience, but it wasn’t. My background is actually Physics and Fluid Dynamics and prior to entering the sector I even spent a few years as a Forensic Meteorologist with the UK Met Office before moving to the private sector working with IT systems. I then moved to Sweden to take up a position with Ongame AB, owner of Pokerroom.com, which felt like a really good move at the time. This was because I knew I had found
MY BACKGROUND IS ACTUALLY PHYSICS AND FLUID DYNAMICS
Challenges and opportunities
an industry that was young, everchanging, high-paced, entrepreneurial in style and rewarded hard work and smarts. This is still the case today, and I can honestly say I couldn’t imagine working in any other sector. SBC: What would you say is the main difference between the industry then and now? DF: The industry has certainly evolved. Some would say it has become more structured, responsible for its customers and of course regulated. Mergers and acquisitions are certainly more prevalent as executives need to provide increased growth for shareholders. However, I feel that the basics of the industry are still the same. Open, and for the most part entrepreneurial, and still incredibly fast-paced. What’s more, the respectable companies managing responsible gaming are indeed more numerous but it shouldn’t be forgotten that responsible gaming best practice has been in place since 2004. Something I’m very proud of was setting up the first responsible guidelines and practices for PokerRoom.com back in 2004, with self-imposed deposit limits, time-outs and self-exclusions, backed with responsible gambling support channels. Today, the safe gaming
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challenges differ from those we had back in 2003, but our approach to them is fundamentally the same. In terms of the types of offerings within the industry, there was a prevalence of poker in the period from 2003 to 2006. This was when Paradise Poker held the number one spot prior to Party Poker’s big marketing splash in the US. Of course, UIGEA changed many things in that respect, which I’ll come back to in the next question.
SOMETHING I’M VERY PROUD OF WAS SETTING UP THE FIRST RESPONSIBLE GUIDELINES AND PRACTICES FOR POKERROOM.COM BACK IN 2004 SBC: What factors do you believe have driven this change? DF: The change in the type of challenge being faced is more aligned with governments realising that there is a significant industry here. One which they are able to tax appropriately (in most cases) to drive significant benefits for the government and its people. UIGEA had an obvious impact on the US market, particularly on the poker industry. The subsequent removal of poker
tournaments and shows from the public domain hurt the industry hard. This drove operators and providers to accelerate the growth in online casino games and ultimately live dealers. SBC: How has your business evolved over this time? DF: As I mentioned, Glitnor Group is just short of four years old. However, our strategy is different than if we would have been in existence for 10 or 15 years. For example, we recently acquired the KaFe Rocks Group, one of the leading affiliate businesses in the industry. The background to this is that we foresee continued M&A in the space, especially in the US market. This wasn’t the case five or more years ago. We believe that it is important for any group to be in a position to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that further planned regulation brings to the industry. SBC: What has been the trickiest moment in your career? DF: That’s a really tough question because it’s hard to find many or indeed any. There have been challenging moments for sure but that is what also makes the igaming industry so appealing. No two days are the same!
THE CHANGE IN THE TYPE OF CHALLENGE BEING FACED IS MORE ALIGNED WITH GOVERNMENTS REALISING THAT THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT INDUSTRY HERE
Challenges and opportunities
SBC: Looking at the positives, what have been some of your highlights? DF: Again, this is a very tough question. This industry has been very kind to me, offered me the opportunity to grow and develop, and more importantly make friends with people from all over the world. Moments I remember most are the celebrations with the teams, whether it’s great delivery, new client launch, new market launch or even on one occasion a start-up that needed some real effort to become profitable – and then taking a ski trip with the whole team to celebrate that achievement. SBC: How did these moments influence the course your business has taken?
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DF: For Glitnor Group, it’s ensured that we focus on the important things that can often be overlooked, like celebrating our achievements, ensuring that we reflect on where we have come from and what we have achieved as a team. SBC: If you were to look into that metaphorical crystal ball, where will the industry be in another 10 years? DF: It will certainly be bigger than it is right now. Today, it is estimated that just 22% of all gambling is online. Not only will gambling as a whole continue to thrive globally, but online gambling will, in time, become the predominant form just as booking travel online accounts for more than 80% of all
ONLINE GAMBLING WILL, IN TIME, BECOME THE PREDOMINANT FORM OF BETTING travel bookings globally. M&A will continue and so the bigger companies will indeed get bigger. That is not to say that opportunities won’t be available for the fast-paced entrepreneurial start-up, especially at a local level. From a market perspective, several more markets in South America and LatAm will be regulated and indeed we’ll see igaming across approximately 50% of all states in the US. Exciting times. •
ON THE MOVE: BETTING AND GAMING’S MOVERS AND SHAKERS WITH COMINGS AND GOINGS commonplace across the
betting and gaming industry, we take a look at some of the movers and shakers over the last few months. Parimatch Tech Parimatch Tech carried out a restructure of its senior leadership, which has seen Maksym Liashko become the company's CEO. Roman Syrotian will be focusing 100% of his time on the Supervisory Board activities and Anna Motruk, former Chief Finance Officer, will become Deputy CEO. Evgen Belousov, ex-Chief Revenue Officer at Parimatch Tech, has also been appointed as Deputy CEO. Maksym Liashko, CEO at Parimatch Tech, said: “In times of war, the structure and development procedures within the company had to be reviewed and adapted to the new reality. With Roman refocusing
10 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2022
all his attention and skills toward the Supervisory Board activities, I am certain that Parimatch Tech will withstand these difficult times and continue to be a successful global business.” Anna Motruk, Deputy CEO at Parimatch Tech, added: “The war showed us that going beyond our formal responsibilities and being open-minded is key to ensuring the company’s success and stability. That’s why building cross-functional teams within the company will be an important element of our business going forward. Flexibility and resourcefulness are crucial elements of overcoming any challenges, and I am certain that the future holds a lot more victories.”
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Daniel D’Arrigo was named the Chief Financial Officer for The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Having previously served as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas, D’Arrigo oversaw domestic and international financial functions, including corporate finance, treasury, shared services, internal audit, and investor relations Laurens Vosloo, Chief Executive Officer for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, said: “As Chief Financial Officer, Dan will play a critical role in leading the tribe’s fiscal strategy, growth and development. “One of Dan’s greatest strengths is his credibility with the investment community and capital markets. We are very pleased that Dan is joining our team at a time when the tribe
is experiencing tremendous growth and has such great potential for new opportunities.”
Entain Entain hired Brian Lancey to serve as Chief Marketing Officer of its Unikrn esports brand that will be re-launched later this year. An expert in enterprise marketing and brand development for new ventures, Lancey joins Unikrn’s leadership team from Mastercard, where he previously served as Global VP of Sponsorships and Consumer Marketing.
Lancey commented: “I am excited to share that I joined Entain’s esport team, Unikrn, as the Chief Marketing Officer. “Entain, a global leader in betting, gaming and interactive entertainment, is paving the way for the future of the industry. I look forward to building the esports business with the incredible team and inspiring leadership.”
PA Betting Services Eugene Delaney became the Managing Director of PA Betting Services after leaving Spotlight Sports Group in March.
Delaney joined Spotlight Sports Group back in 2014 where he oversaw the Racing post’s B2B division. “After a really enjoyable seven years at Spotlight Sports Group, I have taken over the reins at PA Betting Services,” Delaney wrote on LinkedIn. “We’re in the process of expanding the team as we plan to build and grow the fantastic business that has served bookmakers for over 40 years (hat tip to Jim Donnelley) along with our key partners of Racecourse Media Group Arena Racing Company, PMU, XB Net Global Wagering Solutions and Sportradar.” •
TECHNAMIN: ADDING A SPORTSBOOK PLATFORM JUST ‘MAKES SENSE’ FOR CASINO OPERATORS CASINO OPERATORS can extend the reach of their
content to new audiences by adding a sportsbook platform to their portfolio according to Technamin CEO Suren Khatchatryan
BY ERIN GALLAGHER
peaking to SBC Leaders, Khatchatryan began by discussing some of the standout features available on the Technamin platform, and how its sportsbook can be fully customised “to each partner’s liking”. He said: “Technamin always strives to create products that cater to as many needs as possible, and our sportsbook is no different. We offer a variety of
features, such as flexible limit systems, odds, professional client and risk management, 24/7 customer support and a large number of bonus options. “Our sportsbook covers more than 80 sports, including popular esports. Despite the fact that we cover various local and global events, we also offer a wide range of markets which gives an exceptional opportunity to our customers in making decisions that best suit their needs. Moreover, they are able to follow the development of
their favourite matches through our streaming.” By taking an individual approach to partnerships, rather than deploying a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, the Technamin CEO explained that the range of features on its sportsbook platform means that its clients can create a more interactive experience for players while also ensuring that safer gambling remains a top priority. Khatchatryan continued: “We approach each of our clients as individuals, making sure to understand their specific needs correctly and not only catering to those needs, but also providing information and consultation along the way. Another feature that is a hit with our clients is the fact that Technamin’s sportsbook can be fully customised to each partner’s liking. “This includes skinning, design, payment methods and much more. Our main goal is to create the balance between interactive experience and safe betting. Therefore, we offer a vast number of free bets and other bonuses, meanwhile maintaining all the tools for responsible gaming.” So how can adding a sportsbook platform benefit online casino operators, you might ask. For the CEO, the addition of a sports betting vertical can support operators’ endeavours to expand and diversify their audiences. He warned, however, that companies must carefully consider the differences
ADDING A SPORTSBOOK TO YOUR ONLINE CASINO WEBSITE IS A GREAT WAY TO EXPAND AND DIVERSIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
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between sports betting audiences and online casino bettors before they make the decision to integrate a sportsbook into their offering. “Adding a sportsbook to your online casino website is a great way to expand and diversify your audience. Sports betting has been popular since ancient Greece, so it makes sense to leverage it for your business! “Additionally, let’s not forget about esports that are exclusively built for the online marketplace. They are now as popular as traditional sports, and adding them to your sportsbook means, again, new customers and in turn, more revenue. Igaming is all about offering high levels of variety to customers who would otherwise be limited in terms of their options outside of the online sphere. “It’s worth noting that unlike casino games, sports betting requires the bettor to engage their personal opinions and analytical skills in order
to make predictions on local and global events. This serves to add human intelligence to luck and allows the operator to engage on a different level with a wider demographic of people through its marketing.”
WE MAKE SURE THAT A BETTOR'S JOURNEY THROUGH OUR SPORTSBOOK IS A MEMORABLE ONE To meet the growing demand for sportsbook products from operators, Technamin provides a consulting service to make sure that it remains in constant communication with its partners. This, Khatchatryan believes, helps the company to better understand the wants and needs of its clients. He continued: “At Technamin, we do not simply offer our sportsbook as a
product. It’s important for us that our sportsbook’s operation is smooth and balanced, which is why we provide consulting and open discussions with all of our partners. “Through keeping constant communication, we are able to understand their needs and expand our sportsbook accordingly. After all, the operators we work with are reflective of the industry and the demands that come with it, which provides us with feedback as to what features need to be added to our sportsbook.” “We also try to have a large collection of sports in our sportsbook that bettors can choose from. This also includes esports and fantasy sports, making our sportsbook much more flexible and therefore more attractive to customers. “We make sure that a bettor’s journey through our sportsbook is a memorable one. The abundant number
of sports, matches and markets meet everyone’s expectations.” The overall structure of Technamin, Khatchatryan said, also means that its sportsbook platform can be integrated into a casino operator’s offering relatively easily, with “almost zero downtime”. “Aside from catering to the bettors’ needs, we also cater to operator needs by allowing our sportsbook to be fully customisable to each operator’s specifications,” he explained. “This gives them a unique look and therefore a competitive advantage in the market they operate in.
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE EXCITEMENT THAT IS BREWING FOR THIS YEAR'S WORLD CUP “These, combined with more than 40,000 matches and more than 35,000 pre-match matches we cover in up to 1,500 markets make our sportsbook attractive to both operators and bettors. We’ve also received positive feedback regarding our flexible bonus system, special live trading tools and 24/7 support. “Because of how Technamin is structured, our sportsbook can be integrated super fast and with almost zero downtime, which is a feature that operators highly appreciate and prefer in the fast-paced world of igaming where everyone is trying to catch up.” Talk soon turned towards the upcoming World Cup in Qatar and, unsurprisingly, Technamin predicted that there will be an increase in demand for sports betting products. But when pressed on what new features we might expect from the firm in the run up to the tournament, Khatchatryan was keeping his cards very close to his chest. He shared: “I can only imagine the excitement that is brewing for this year’s World Cup, and I expect that the Technamin team will be quite busy when the season arrives. Of course, we are preparing ahead of time and have come up with features to keep the World Cup season as interactive as possible. “However, in an effort to not spoil
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any of the surprises, we are keeping our cards close to the chest on this one. Needless to say, we’ve got exciting things planned. So follow Technamin on our social media platforms to get snippets of what we are preparing.” Rounding off the discussion, the Technamin CEO believes that it may be slightly too soon to make any solid
AT TECHNAMIN WE DO NOT SIMPLY OFFER OUR SPORTSBOOK AS A PRODUCT
predictions on who we might see lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy. Khatchatryan concluded: “As there is still a long way to go until we reach the actual World Cup, it’s still pretty early to make any solid predictions about the games. We are, however, already working on providing a welldeveloped platform where bettors can easily access a wide range of markets. “I can also say that our further predictions will be performed in the form of odds. Nevertheless, it’s great to see the excitement bubbling for an event as long-awaited as the World Cup and we are buckling up for the ride.” •
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A replacement for human decision making?
CRUCIAL COMPLIANCE: NO SILVER BULLET TO GAMBLING HARM, BUT TECH CAN ONLY BE POSITIVE PAUL FOSTER, CEO OF CRUCIAL COMPLIANCE, assesses
the different use of technology in implementing a safer gambling strategy and whether a ‘human touch’ is still needed to identify high-risk players
BY TED ORME-CLAYE
ddressing gambling related harm has become a key focus of the betting and gaming industry as we’re seeing more markets open up, and more mature markets undergo a regulatory review. This is particularly apparent in the UK which is awaiting the findings of the 2005 Gambling Act Review. Technology has an increasingly important role to play in upholding safer
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gambling standards, and according to Crucial Compliance CEO Paul Foster, this can bring numerous benefits for betting operators - particularly in areas such as affordability modelling. For large-scale operators, technology can be essential in identifying the first signs of gambling harm. This, however, must be followed by a human-led interaction. “I think they both have a place,” he explained. “Within every market, you
have to look at what publicly available information you can get and then what you have to do is model that in relation to player protection - use it at the core of an algorithm or as a model for actually spotting it. In that way, it can be used very successfully. “The issue we've got is that there's an expectation that this is going to be the silver bullet and, unfortunately, there's very few countries in the world where you can get the level of financial data that will give you an accurate affordability figure.” As with any developments in the betting and gaming industry, particularly with regards to player protection, there are challenges and hurdles. Notably, Foster maintained that companies cannot completely
disregard the ‘human touch’ when it comes to creating an effective harm minimisation strategy, adding that technology should complement the human decision making process. He explained: “Technology has to be tuned into your business and once that has happened, it has to flag high risk cases which need human intervention. This is because the only way to effectively look at reducing gambling-related harm is to track it in the form of behavioural change. “Identification is only the first element. Whilst the system and AI will notice behavioural change, it can't interpret what that information might mean. For example, it cannot comprehend why you might deposit three times as much on a Tuesday night - whereas the human eye might notice a casino win the day before which has just been deposited, or that the player has just reached payday and is making a long-term deposit. “Safer gambling is always going to need human intervention to review on a case by case basis, especially in relation to high risk and very high risk cases. You initially need technology to identify behavioural change but you cannot rely on technology all the way through.” Discussions soon moved towards the introduction of more stringent affordability checks. Many across the industry have voiced concerns over whether enhanced checks could “have negative impacts on the customer”. Although Foster also noted that the same could be said of an overreliance on technology should a “sledgehammer approach” be adopted. This, he asserted, was the case when affordability checks were first implemented as the industry was and is still learning. He added that this remains an issue with technological development on player protection. He continued: “The problem with any change in regulation and any new technology is that until we really understand it we will over rely on the initial solution to keep compliant, which impacts operator effectiveness and the customer. “What we are doing often is implementing change to match regulation with the technology available and without understanding.
This means a lot of these changes initially can have negative impacts on the customer rather than positively impacting them until we manage to train the technology.” It is particularly important for betting firms to review the technology they have available as it is a ‘constant battle to keep it up to date’, especially methods such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). With AI being the ‘big word’ in player protection, Foster focused heavily on the importance of understanding how technology needs to be interpreted and trained so that it can be used effectively. “AI models are ultimately only as good as the person writing them,”
WHILST AI WILL NOTICE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE, IT CAN'T INTERPRET WHAT THAT INFORMATION MIGHT MEAN
he advised. “And the major problem facing the gambling industry right now with regards to their adoption is that AI is still in its infancy. “As we look forward and we increase the level of high quality investment in this area then what we will see is better and better AI intervention. But it is very difficult to take an AI model used elsewhere in the gambling industry or outside and convert it into a player protection tool.” He added: “All I would say is don't buy something that is shiny or new when what you need is old fashioned advanced algorithms.” Providing industry stakeholders with a snapshot of what to expect from the review, the UK’s Gambling Minister Chris Philp has repeatedly stated that he would like to see greater use of technology and data as tools for counteracting and minimising gambling-related harm. Foster agreed that this approach
A replacement for human decision making?
could not be more important for both operators and the UK Gambling Commission, as he noted that the UK’s approach to data has lagged behind many of its European counterparts although “nobody has yet got it right”. “Some are a lot better at getting data. If you look at ARM in Italy, it tracks all the data you need, so you can put a player protection system in via a regulator,” he commented. “In Spain and France, their regulatory returns highlight data where you could set the data across the market for player protection - as is the case in the Netherlands and even Sweden. What they have is a framework that they haven't yet extrapolated to player protection, but they can. “In the UK, we have the opposite. We have poor data collection, we have a poor single view of customers across the industry. It is a mess and as a result, the UK is going to struggle to catch up to the rest of Europe when it comes to data, not when it comes to regulation.” With regards to the actions of the gambling companies themselves, the CEO argued that firms should put their primary focus on data before
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making any decisions with regards to technological implementation. “Operators need to look at their data first, and build a technology solution based on that available data,” he stated. “Every operator has different data, every operator stores it in a different way, and therefore the operator has to understand what their data is before they can even consider a technological solution.
THE UK IS GOING TO STRUGGLE TO CATCH UP TO THE REST OF EUROPE WHEN IT COMES TO DATA, NOT WHEN IT COMES TO REGULATION “It is only data that can drive a true customer protection strategy, and it's how you manipulate and use that data which makes the difference. Gambling companies have been brilliant for years at using that data for customer acquisition, retention, bonuses and promotions. But it is that same data that can be used to help player protection.”
In order to effectively leverage this data and develop a strong technological basis for player protection, operators must also deploy a strong recruitment strategy in this area, both internally and externally. “When it comes to hiring, what's really important is that you pick the people either within your business or outside who are interested in player protection, who want to learn about it, who have passion for it, and are willing to adapt their skills and their qualifications to player protection data analysis rather than just general data analysis.” Ultimately, however, there is ‘no silver bullet’ to player protection and problem gambling, and further investment is needed - in time, money and people - for greater development in this area. “Compliance isn’t a profit centre but it is a cost centre,” Foster concluded. “If you look at the financial services industry, the insurance industry, pharmaceutical industry, they invest heavily in compliance for this reason, compared to gaming companies. The industry must invest now if we are to manage effective change.” •
An entirely new game
ESPORTS BETTING SHOULD PROVIDE A TAILORED EXPERIENCE FOR LOCAL MARKETS BAYES ESPORTS AND PINNACLE took time out
with SBC Leaders to reflect on the continuous growth of the esports sector, discussing how it is transforming the betting demographic and what steps operators should take to capitalise on these trends
Susanne Ardisson, Head of Strategic Comms at Bayes Esports
BY VIKTOR KAYED
he 21st century saw video games exploding in popularity. With a global revenue projected to exceed US $200bn by the end of 2023, video gaming has long surpassed the days when it existed cheek by jowl with the movie and music industries. It is the most valued form of entertainment today. Parallel to that, the competitive gaming space is also reaching new levels of maturity since its infancy back in the 1970s. Having experienced a complete transformation from what might be perceived as a pastime for youths, esports has now managed to establish itself on par with professional sports. With investor interest rising and revenue doubling every two years, the sector harbours enormous potential to accommodate its own betting infrastructure. However, Susanne Ardisson, Head of Strategic Comms at Bayes Esports, believes that innovations in the
esports betting sector should come with a hefty dose of awareness due to the predominantly young audience. “To be honest, it is very difficult
to say how the esports betting demographic has changed, since esports betting in general has only recently been established,” she said.
An entirely new game
“We can, however, assume that going forward not just the esports betting demographic, but also the betting demographic in general, will get younger. With betting companies and casinos being so regularly seen on the shirts of football players, we can expect there to be a continuing growth of the betting industry that will invite younger audiences to bet.
Stuart Bridges, Global Esports Partnerships Manage at Pinnacle
WE NEED TO CREATE A HEALTHY AND LEGAL ECOSYSTEM THAT IS NOT BUILT UPON THE EXPLOITATION OF THOSE THAT ARE MOST VULNERABLE, OTHERWISE EVERYONE LOSES “Additionally, esports fans are on average younger than those of traditional sports, so the continuous development of esports betting options will also lead to the betting demographic getting younger. “We need to create a healthy and legal ecosystem that is not built upon the exploitation of those that are most vulnerable, otherwise everyone loses.” On the other hand, Pinnacle noted that esports itself has an omnipresence across several different platforms, each with a different prevalence to the other. That’s also an important aspect to factor in when operators look to move into the esports space, as betting experiences should be tailored differently for each type of device, according to Stuart Bridges, the firm’s Global Esports Partnerships Manager. “Elsewhere, mobile gaming has certainly come to the fore in recent years,” he noted. “Where highperformance PCs are out of reach financially of the average gamer, mobile esports have stepped in, and to huge success, particularly across LatAm and in various Asian markets. “Titles like ‘Call Of Duty Mobile’ and ‘Free Fire’ may just be clones of their console and PC versions, but they’ve been able to attract a younger, mobile-first audience. “As a betting industry, we have to keep up with these rapid, dynamic changes. Mobile esports will continue
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to grow its share of users and tournament prize money, and it’s imperative that we give those users the betting experiences that work with the environments they engage with and the devices they use.”
WE HAVE TO LOOK MORE AND MORE AT SPECIFIC MARKETS TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEY ENGAGE AND THE TITLES THEY PREFER
counterparts, taking a deep dive to understand local preferences, and creating a product that meets those specific expectations seems like an inevitable task when it comes to betting operators succeeding in the esports industry. “Esports operators have traditionally looked to market globally, making the biggest, broadest splash across the most-followed media channels that the esports community engages with worldwide,” he pointed out.
And while the esports industry can be looked at as a single enormous wave sweeping the entire globe, each region has its own specificities and market developments that betting operators should thoroughly investigate before launching their esports sportsbook. With Bridges painting esports fans as “wiser” than their sports betting
“This is a good starting point, but with the esports industry maturing at such a rapid pace, and seeing exponentially regional differences, we have to look more and more at specific markets to understand how they engage and the titles they prefer. “Operators going in and telling a specific community that they’re the best doesn’t build trust or authenticity, which is absolutely vital - as
sportsbooks have been treated with scepticism by esports fans in the past. Esports fans are more engaged and arguably wiser than their traditional sports betting counterparts, and so you have to be able to offer them something that can build that trust over time.” All in all, Bridges summarised that without investing into an “authentic content creation and a tone of voice that resonates with the local audience”, operators might be disappointed in the returns they see. In terms of how the nascent esports betting space stacks next to the more established forms of betting on sports like football, for example, Bayes warned that esports data tends to change more often, directly affecting bet decisioning. According to Ardisson, one of the biggest differences from a data perspective between esports and more
ESPORTS FANS ARE MORE ENGAGED AND ARGUABLY WISER THAN THEIR TRADITIONAL SPORTS BETTING COUNTERPARTS
traditional sports is the existence of patches. She explained: “Game titles in esports stay fresh and interesting because they are constantly balanced and updated. Each new patch can bring minor changes, such as increasing or decreasing the cost of a weapon or item, as well as major changes, such as the introduction of a brand-new character to play as or map to play on. “This also means that your entire research you have done and all the data you have accumulated and used will be invalidated, as you are essentially dealing with an entirely new game when a big patch hits the servers. In these cases, it is often extremely difficult to predict which teams should be considered favourites, as even the players themselves typically need a couple of weeks to fully adjust to the changes.” Unlike the start of a new football season, where the game and teams have stayed mostly the same, rules change almost daily when it comes to esports tournaments, requiring everyone involved to be more “quick and agile” with their choices, Ardisson added. And finally, esports betting represents a fresh way of getting into the industry. According to both
WE NEED TO KEEP RAISING THE BAR FOR WHAT PEOPLE CAN EXPECT FROM ESPORTS Bayes and Pinnacle, such expansion of content is precisely what the sector needs to elevate itself to the next chapter. Said Bridges: “The last few years have seen product standards rise from a betting point of view, to match the demand from the expectant esports community. Fans want more, and we have to meet them at these higher standards. “That’s not to say we’ve nailed it; we’ve got a long way to go, and what comes next has many unknowns. What we do know is that content is key.” Echoing his words, Ardisson concluded: “In order for this to happen, for esports to become more established in the mainstream, we need to keep working hard and we need to keep raising the bar for what people can expect from esports ranging from the overall level of play, over the professionalism of broadcasts, to esports coverage in general.” •
DONE IN 60 SECONDS
60 SECONDS WITH… FSB’S CHRIS GRAHAM IN THE FIRST OF A ‘60 SECONDS WITH…’ series, we sat
down with FSB’s Global Head of Marketing Chris Graham who tells us about a Blur-ry night at university and why Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting tops his list of favourite films SBC: What is your favourite film? And why? CG: Being Scottish it’s probably not a massive surprise to hear me nominate Trainspotting. The perfect blend of black humour and dark despair. It came out at a time (early 1996) when there was a real vibrancy about British popular culture. This film captured this confidence well and shone a light on a city close to my heart, Edinburgh. SBC: What is your favourite album? And why? CG: The 2002 debut album from The Coral. A mad, selection box of sounds travelling through Russian cossack music, sea shanties, Merseybeat doo wop pop and North African reggae. A breathless ride through 11 incredible songs. I played it for 18 months
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non-stop much to the chagrin of my flatmates. SBC: What car do you drive now? And what is your dream car? CG: I’ve never been a car man, to be honest and (whisper it) have yet to pass my test. Don’t you just love a walk and public transport? SBC: Your favourite holiday. CG: I did a tour round Australia in 2015 which included the Melbourne Cup, Byron Bay and watching Tame Impala outside the Sydney Opera House. Magical memories. SBC: What has been your most extravagant purchase? CG: I’m just a modest working-class bloke with shallow pockets. I did spend £500 to watch Blur play in a
smelly student union a few years ago. Worth every penny. SBC: If you could pick anyone to go into business with, who would it be? CG: In the context of people I admire in the business world I’ll stay within our industry and nominate Kenny Alexander. The way he grew GVC into an organisation that was big enough to acquire the traditional institutional giants of Ladbrokes and Coral was quite something. I worked with him at Sportingbet, a man who walked the shop floor, his passion for Kilmarnock FC was as fierce as for the business he worked for. SBC: Knowing what you know now, what career advice would you give to your younger self? CG: Believe in yourself more. Back yourself.
I'M JUST A MODEST WORKING-CLASS BLOKE WITH SHALLOW POCKETS
Trials and tribulations
PETER-PAUL DE GOEIJ: THE DUTCH MARKET IS ‘NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART’ THE MANAGING DIRECTOR of the Netherlands Online
Gambling Association talks SBC Leaders through the trials and tribulations experienced by operators in the recently launched Dutch online gaming market BY JOE STREETER
ince its opening last October, the Dutch online gambling market has been confronted with numerous obstacles and backlash aplenty from the public outcry and Parliamentary demands, while also facing a generally disagreeable media presence. That being said, the newly
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introduced regulations have already led to a significant decrease in the number of players engaging with the black market - an encouraging sign given that legal online gaming in the Netherlands is still in its infancy. But as the framework for marketing regulation takes shape and the number of licensees increases, the next few months for Dutch gaming
could well prove pivotal in the market’s growth and development. Peter-Paul de Goeij reflected on the regulatory process and just how challenging it has been, highlighting that from 1 April 2022, the Kansspelautoriteit will be assessing the last eight years of an applicant’s activities to ascertain their “squeaky clean” credentials. It’s indicative of the regulatory challenges that betting and gaming companies will face, even as the market matures - with de Goeij emphasising that entry into the Netherlands “is not for the faint of heart”. He pointed out that the country will continue to present challenges
even for incumbents that are more accustomed to the strictness of the Dutch regulators. Alluding to the political influence wielded by MPs and the ongoing calls for even stricter regulations, he suggested that the regulatory framework will only become tighter as scrutiny of the sector increases. He said: “In the field of advertising, the regulators are seriously clamping down when it comes to opportunities to allow the marketing of the regulated offer. We came from a situation where before October last year, there was no marketing at all for online gambling, which was very different from other European markets. “For instance, if you compare it to the situation in Sweden, where prior to regulating the online gambling market there was already a significant amount of advertising for online gambling, including on TV.
WE CAME FROM A SITUATION WHERE BEFORE OCTOBER LAST YEAR, THERE WAS NO MARKETING AT ALL FOR ONLINE GAMBLING “This meant that well before legalisation, Swedes were used to online gambling advertising even though online gambling was still illegal at the time. In Sweden, unlicensed online gambling companies got away with advertising on Swedish TV. “That, however, did not happen in the Netherlands, so the KSA essentially shut down all TV marketing related to unlicensed online gambling from 2013 or so, with the expectation that the regulated market would open up imminently. Yet we all know how long this process was; it meant that consumers became used to having no online gambling advertising on their screens. “They were used to lottery advertising and some land based casino advertising on their screens, but not for online casino and sports betting.” The staggered opening of the market and the hesitancy in awarding licences also played a key factor in the problems that the region currently faces, having provided predominantly
the incumbent operators with an opportunity to flood the advertising market. This subsequently led to a public outcry and MPs responding to these complaints and concerns asking the Government to intervene. Consequently, the backlash led to various MPs backing two motions for change - with the most prominent of these submissions calling on the Government to outlaw ‘untargeted advertising’ for online gambling. The law, however, remains silent on what untargeted advertising actually
is, said de Goeij, and it may prove difficult to determine and define what this is. In the past, legal scholars and commentators have argued that an advertising ban may well be difficult to justify because it infringes upon the freedom of speech, while evidence suggesting that this ban is absolutely necessary and justified has not yet been produced. Pinpointing a potential solution, de Goeij revealed that NOGA has cited the importance of ‘advertising volume control’. To make it happen, however, requires collaboration from all parties,
Trials and tribulations
which in itself presents significant challenges. Recounting the efforts that have been made so far, de Goeij said that since 2019 there have been calls for all the gambling parties to sit around the table, including the lotteries and the media. But having voiced interest to participate, a meaningful gathering has failed to come to fruition. The net result was that the advertising code in the region wasn’t agreed until after the regulated market had opened and was formed in the absence of a collaborative approach involving all relevant parties. The move towards a blanket ban on advertising is something that de Goeij warned will hurt channelisation and skew the market, thus creating a significantly unlevel playing field for legal operators compared to the many illegal online operators in the region. He continued by mapping out the role of marketing when it comes to channelisation, advising that it will play a crucial role in combating potential growth in the unregulated market which would bring with it a social
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responsibility nightmare for the region. “Gambling advertising plays an important and intricate role in channelisation,” he said. “Because online we have tens of thousands of illegal operators that have no interest in consumer protection, anti-money laundering, or retaining the integrity of sports, these operators are competing unrestrained, with the legal operators.
TO SMACK THE SWORD AND SHIELD FROM THE LICENSED OPERATORS BY IMPOSING AN ADVERTISING BAN IS THE MOST STUPID THING WE COULD DO “Therefore, to smack the sword and shield from the licensed operators by imposing an advertising ban is the most stupid thing we could do. Fortunately, the ministry will work on the advertising ban, but in a proper way, through a formal act of Parliament - expediting the process as much as they can. “In the meantime, things are also being worked on in lower regulations
in the decree, such as the use of role models in gambling advertisements. “This also brought us together with the trade association to analyse what we could do - which is where we came up with the stricter list of measures that we sent to the ministry and that they subsequently forwarded to parliament. We now have to implement these changes in the online advertising code and implement them.” Prior to signing off, de Goeij outlined his optimism for the market, detailing his belief that it can get to a place where the needs and priorities of the consumer always come first. He added that this also means the regulators must ensure privateers and fortune-seekers are kept out of the market because they exist solely to make as much money as possible in the shortest period of time. “Gambling should not be about short-term profit, you should be in there for the long haul, and if you have no interest in the wellbeing of your customers, then you have no role to play in the gambling industry,” concluded de Goeij. •
JULY 12-14, 2022 MEADOWLANDS EXPOSITION CENTER, NEW JERSEY
THE LEADING SPORTS BETTING AND IGAMING EVENT IN NORTH AMERICA
Standing out from the crowd
JOANNA LAMBERT: YAHOO SPORTSBOOK LIVING UP TO THE NEW YORK HYPE JOANNA LAMBERT, President and GM,
Consumer, Yahoo, offered SBC Leaders an update on where the company is currently at in the US sports betting sector, its ongoing collaboration with BetMGM, and the much vaunted New York market BY CHRIS MURPHY
SBC: Can you give us an update on where Yahoo Sports is currently at in the market in terms of the number of states it operates in and how the relationship with BetMGM is progressing? JL: Yahoo Sportsbook powered by BetMGM is currently live in 14 states: New York, Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Yahoo Sports continues to serve as one of the leading affiliate partners of BetMGM by driving betting registrations and participation. For example, from 9/6/21 - 9/12/21 (NFL Kickoff), Yahoo Sports drove a 444% increase in referrals to BetMGM year-over-year and its largest-ever single day of betting registrations. We expect to continue that momentum in 2022 as Yahoo Sports and BetMGM dive into the third full year of our partnership. SBC: The launch of the New York sports betting market has been one of the most hotly anticipated industry developments. What are Yahoo’s plans for New York, and do you think it will live up to the hype with that 51% tax rate? JL: Yahoo Sportsbook’s
Standing out from the crowd
performance in New York has been strong and we’ve successfully been able to tap into the intense demand and passion of New York sports and sports betting fans to help drive referrals and conversions to BetMGM. To date, Yahoo Sportsbook has certainly lived up to the hype of the New York launch and has seen great momentum alongside BetMGM. We are encouraged by the ongoing enthusiasm in this important market. What really sets Yahoo Sports apart is the fact that we are also able to
JL: The southern region, and Louisiana in particular, has a true passion for sports, both on the college and professional level, so we are very excited about the opportunity to continue tapping into this as part of our recent launch in Louisiana. The marketplace is certainly crowded and there is intense competition to attract customers. However, we believe that Yahoo Sportsbook powered by BetMGM is well-positioned to drive engagement and build meaningful relationships
SBC: Can you tell us more about Yahoo’s DFS offering during the recent Super Bowl, how fans engaged with it and how you will use what you’ve learned from that experience going forward? JL: This year, Yahoo Sports capitalised on a multi-faceted strategy that brought fans closer to the game. This included the launch of the Big Game Prop Quiz, a game where consumers could submit answers to fun quiz questions about the game before kickoff for an opportunity to win up to $10,000. Fans were also able to cash in by playing the $1m Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy contest, and for fans looking to further their winnings, those in eligible states could conveniently place bets with BetMGM. We saw tremendous engagement and will continue our successful 360 approach to engaging all fans - from the most casual fantasy users to the veteran sports bettors.
YAHOO SPORTS WILL CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON GROWTH IN THE SPORTS BETTING, FANTASY AND GAMING SPACES
leverage our overall robust ecosystem to help amplify BetMGM’s New York promotional messaging across all Yahoo platforms and our global audience. SBC: Louisiana residents bet nearly $40.5m through online sportsbooks in the first four days of operation - the best four-day debut for any market, beating the per capita figure for New York’s mobile sports betting launch. But matches and other promotions turned any prospect of a profit into a circa $9m loss. How can operators avoid turning the race for player acquisitions into a race to the bottom?
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with fans. We’re looking at the full picture and engaging users along the entire journey from the initial interaction to providing them with multiple free and paid gaming opportunities, meaningful content, data and analysis to keep them coming back to Yahoo Sports.
WE’VE SUCCESSFULLY BEEN ABLE TO TAP INTO THE INTENSE DEMAND AND PASSION OF NEW YORK SPORTS AND SPORTS BETTING FANS
SBC: What do you think Yahoo Sports brings to the table that other sports betting providers currently don’t? JL: Yahoo Sports serves as a one-stopshop featuring new experiences and offerings that support sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) for fans looking for different ways to get in on the action. This year, Yahoo Sports launched a series of new programming to further amplify our betting and gaming content, including a first-ofits-kind relationship with Los Angeles Chargers running back and fantasy star Austin Ekeler. “Ekeler’s Edge” was a live gaming program designed to help football fans make real-time bets. In addition to this, Yahoo Sports expanded its products and offerings for fans, including the Yahoo Fantasy Plus premium subscription service providing a series of exclusive tools for fantasy players including access to premium research tools, trade insights. Yahoo Sports also introduced “SharkFree” Daily Fantasy contests to help level the playing field for competitors
and promote engagement on our platforms. Our success is validated by the fact that more than 80% of total Yahoo Sportsbook users registered with BetMGM are also active in the Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Fantasy Sports apps. Additionally, throughout 2021, the ratio of daily active users to monthly
active users increased by more than 14% for sports betting-related content. We’re constantly looking at this data to ensure we’re meeting consumer needs, interests and passion points. SBC: How is the rest of 2022 looking like it will shape up for Yahoo Sports and are there any plans that you can
share with us? JL: Looking ahead to the remainder of 2022, Yahoo Sports will continue to focus on growth in the sports betting, fantasy and gaming spaces. Seeing the company growth that unfolded in 2021 was fantastic, and this year our priority is delivering authentic, engaging and relevant experiences to fans. •
Overcoming regulatory hurdles
55 TRIBES EITHER HAVE THEIR OWN SPORTS BETTING OPERATIONS OR HAVE A MARKET ACCESS PARTNERSHIP WITH A COMMERCIAL OPERATOR
JOE ASHER: SPORTS BETTING PRESENTS NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR TRIBAL OPERATORS SINCE 2018, SPORTS BETTING HAS SWEPT across the US.
But as more commercial operators look to get in on the action, does the roll out of sports betting present new opportunities for tribal nations?
BY CONOR PORTER
arlier this year, data from the American Gaming Association revealed that 2021 was the highest-grossing year ever for
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US commercial gaming, as the industry reached $53bn in revenue. At the time of writing, sports betting is live in 30 US states plus the District of Columbia, and thus far has generated a handle of $57.22bn and
$4.29bn in revenue, a 165% and 177% growth year-over-year respectively. Seven new markets - Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming - opened their doors to sports wagering in 2021, while three more Ohio, Florida and Nebraska - could be launching later this year. So as more and more states embrace sports betting, many operators are looking to get in on the action. Tribal gaming operators are
more than likely to get involved too if they are not already. As it stands, 55 tribes either have their own sports betting operations or have a market access partnership with a commercial operator. This accounts for roughly 22% of all US gaming tribes. Of these tribes, 26 operate sports betting under their own brand with technical and data support from B2B suppliers, while 29 offer sports wagering through a commercial operator. One-in-seven tribal casinos - which is approximately 70 locations - have a retail sportsbook and 25 enable players to wager on sports online, either directly or through a commercial partner. It is clear then that many tribes are taking advantage of what sports betting can provide, but most are packaging the vertical within their existing offering, rather than having it be the main driver of their income. IGT powers several sports
IT IS CLEAR THEN THAT MANY TRIBES ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF WHAT SPORTS BETTING CAN PROVIDE betting operations for tribal casinos across the US, including The Mill Casino in Oregon; Saracen Casino in Arkansas; Oneida Casino in Wisconsin; Pearl River Resort in Mississippi; Northern Quest Casino, Snoqualmie Casino, Angel of the Winds Casino, and Kalispel Casino in Washington State; Sky Dancer Casino in North Dakota; and Akwesasne Mohawk Casino in New York. Joe Asher, President of Sports Betting at IGT, believes that when it comes to sports betting in tribal gaming, it's not necessarily how much they could make from the vertical alone. Instead, he suggests that it is much more about how they can integrate sports betting into their current offering to improve both their revenues as well as the overall player experience. “For a tribe, it’s not necessarily all about ‘how much money can I make on sports betting’, it’s ‘how can I use
the opportunity of having sports betting in my business to give my customers a better overall experience and to increase my overall revenues’,” he said. “A tribe in Washington can use this to get people to come into their properties. And while they’re at the property, they might have something to eat or drink, or gamble in the casino and so forth. It’s not really a matter of competing against operator X for that tribe. It’s about how to use this to help me build my overall business.” He continued: “I think the real opportunity for most of the tribes
HOW DO WE USE SPORTS BETTING TO HELP GROW OUR OVERALL BUSINESS AND GET PEOPLE TO COME INTO OUR PROPERTY MORE OFTEN? is ‘how do we use sports betting to help grow our overall business and get people to come into our property more often?’ And I think a few tribes have done a particularly good job at this. The Oneida tribe in Green Bay and the tribes in Washington are doing
Overcoming regulatory hurdles
a really good job on this as well. “In Green Bay, they’ve built out a really nice sports-themed restaurant with the idea that it will be a great food and beverage destination where you can bet, as well as incentivise people to come to the property and watch the games. In Green Bay, they love the Packers, they’ll come and bet on sports - but it’s another visit to the property. “Sports betting provides that opportunity for the tribes to bolster their overall business and really use sports betting, and the existence of a sportsbook, as a hook to improve the overall customer experience at their property and to get people to come more often.” In the next few years, both California and Florida are expected to introduce sports betting legislation. While it’s difficult to determine how sports betting legislation will unfold in each state, Asher noted that there is an interest in sports wagering by tribes in both regions. He commented: “They are very different situations. In California, there
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are a number of different questions on the ballot as well as a number of different groups trying to get questions on the ballot. “You have folks taking very different views on it. Some favour online, some prefer retail only so it’s impossible to predict how it's going to play out in California. Anybody that tries to predict how it’s going to play out is making it up. Nobody knows how it is going to play out!
DESPITE SOME OF THE REGULATORY HURDLES, IT’S CLEAR TO SEE THAT SPORTS BETTING DOES PRESENT A HUGE OPPORTUNITY FOR TRIBAL OPERATORS “You do see a number of operators and a number of tribes in California educating themselves about sports betting right now. They’re meeting with potential partners, be they technology partners like IGT or operators. But really, nobody can know how it's going to play out. Ultimately, it will be up to
the voters to decide. “Florida, on the other hand, is tricky. The Seminoles went live for a few weeks but were shut down by litigation and the adverse court decision and the inability to get a stay in the court of appeals. I don’t think anybody has a real feel about how things will pan out in Florida. “There’s the litigation and then there is what happens during the appeal. Is there something folks there try to do by referendum? Or legislatively and try to conform to the court’s opinion? That’s something that would be very much open to the tribe to negotiate with the state.” Despite some of the regulatory hurdles, it’s clear to see that sports betting does present a huge opportunity for tribal operators not only from a revenue standpoint but also from a player engagement perspective too. However, tribal nations must be able to negotiate a fair and inclusive compact should they wish to tap into this new revenue stream. •
June 7-9, 2022 Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
CANADA - A WORLD OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES There are many reasons for you and your entire team to join us this June in Toronto at the annual Canadian Gaming Summit:
• We are back in or normal face-to-face format • Canada provides a wide range of new opportunities for product and service providers • A robust and relevant education program developed by the gaming industry • Recognized education program presenters
Please join us for the 25th Annual Canadian Gaming Summit
• Numerous engagement opportunities through Summit social and networking events • All delegates receive complimentary access to all meals, breaks and receptions
DEVELOPED AND COORDINATED BY:
OFFICIAL MEDIA PRODUCT:
ONTARIO: A FUTURE NORTH AMERICAN POWERHOUSE AS THE ONTARIO MARKET WELCOMED regulated sports
betting and gaming with open arms, operators and suppliers alike have been looking to solidify their presence in Canada’s most populous province Fitzdares The ‘luxury bookmaker’ was one of the first to be granted an iGaming Operator Registration from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and has since outlined plans to bring its “slick experience and a personal touch to the regulated Canadian market”. William Woodhams, Fitzdares CEO, said: “We are truly excited to be launching the Fitzdares experience in Ontario in the coming months.
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“Receiving our AGCO licence is a landmark achievement for the business. There will be huge competition in this newly-regulated market, but we feel our more premium and customer-focused experience will be an ideal fit. “Work is very much underway to ensure that we deliver on our promise – in style. I would like to thank the teams at both the AGCO and iGaming Ontario for supporting us with our application and preparations for launch.”
Kambi The sports betting technology provider went live in Ontario on day one of the market’s opening, allowing it to provide its sportsbook technology and services to operator partners – including its ice hockey product and Bet Builder capability. Sarah Robertson, SVP of Sales, stated: “Kambi is proud to be up and running, along with our partners, on day one of the regulated market opening in Ontario. Today’s launch into Canada marks another significant milestone in the growth of our company and extends our exceptional track record across North America and worldwide. “As a Canadian native, I am particularly excited Kambi’s worldclass sportsbook, including our market-leading hockey offering and
William Woodhams, CEO at Fitzdares
Sarah Robertson, SVP of Sales at Kambi
Zak Cutler, CEO of North America iGaming at Paysafe
Ludovico Calvi, GLMS President
Game Parlay product, is now available in Ontario, one of the largest markets in North America, and we look forward to supporting the launch of additional partners over the coming months.”
Paysafe Paysafe has been authorised to provide its payments services to operators in Ontario. As a result, the payments platform extended its multi-state US payment partnerships with several operators into the Ontarian market, including PointsBet and theScore Bet. Zak Cutler, CEO of North America iGaming at Paysafe, commented: “Today’s launch of the new, expanded
Ontarian igaming market marks a milestone for the North American industry and our global company, which has its origins in Canada. “Ontario will likely rival the largest US state igaming jurisdictions when it reaches maturity, and we look forward to facilitating payments for operators and their Ontarian customers to help the market grow to its full potential.”
GLMS In April, the Global Lottery Monitoring System was given the green light by the AGCO to act as an integrity association in Ontario. Ludovico Calvi, GLMS President,
noted: “I am delighted that GLMS has become one of the first registered integrity bodies to win approval from the AGCO. GLMS has always supported regulated, responsible, and sustainable betting market environments, as bans have often favoured the proliferation of the black market, criminal organisations, and match-fixing. “We believe that the standards set by AGCO will create a sustainable sports betting market in Ontario and can be considered a best practice for other Canadian provinces. We are very excited to provide integrity services to our current and future members in Ontario and other provinces.” •
A unified strategy
SHELLEY WHITE: WE CANNOT TAKE A COOKIE CUTTER APPROACH TO SAFER GAMBLING SPEAKING AS PART OF THE CASINOBEATS 100 CLUB,
Responsible Gambling CEO Shelley White explains why the industry must avoid a one size fits all approach to safer gambling BY CRAIG DAVIES
he necessity of building and maintaining a strong network is a familiar construct among numerous industries, and is certainly one that is not lost in the
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gaming community. However, among the multitude of strategies and expert tutorials on how best to achieve such a goal, is the question of: how much do you know about your network? With this in mind, CasinoBeats spoke with Responsible Gambling Council CEO Shelley White to find out more. “Actually my experience outside of gambling has been a bit longer than my time within the industry; this month is actually my fifth year with the Responsible Gambling Council. Prior to that, I had leadership roles in the non-profit sector, the global non-profit sector with the YMCA, the United Way and the Kidney Foundation of Canada. “In those organisations, my role
involved taking social issues and creating and bringing people together, multi-sectoral partners from the public, private, nonprofit sectors, to create systems changes and to develop policies and programmes to address root causes of issues like substance abuse, student drop-out rates, the underlying causes of renal disease and the reasons why people are not surviving this. “I was working with a multitude of partners to create complex but
MY EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF GAMBLING HAS BEEN A BIT LONGER THAN MY TIME WITHIN THE INDUSTRY
I WAS INITIALLY VERY INTRIGUED BY THE IMPACT THAT RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING HAD IN THE INDUSTRY sustainable solutions to improve people’s lives but to also improve society as a whole.” During the discussion, White dived into her role as CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council and the work that the Canadian company is doing on a global scale to develop and implement effective safer gambling standards. “It was a friend of mine who told me about the opportunity as CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council. As we talked about it, I was initially very intrigued by the impact that responsible gambling had in the industry. I was also very interested to see that this organisation, which is based in Canada, was doing work globally in terms of working with the industry on the development and implementation of responsible gambling standards and practices. “All of the work that I was doing before joining the Responsible Gambling Council was about evidence and collaboration with other partners. It was about developing solutions that were going to create sustainable change. “The Responsible Gambling Council is this nimble, innovative, purpose-driven organisation that has a foundation based in evidence, research and understanding. It’s looking to find the best approach to self exclusion, for example, and then implementing that. “But we also apply an ethno-cultural lens to our approach too. That's the value of working with partners and the value of understanding the behaviours of people who live in various parts of the world - you realise that you can't take a cookie cutter approach to developing regulations or standards in order for responsible gambling, regulations, programmes and services to be effective. “I love the fact that RGC is such a comprehensive organisation that includes everything from research right through to public education programmes. It's a B2B and B2C organisation.”
YOU CAN'T TAKE A COOKIE CUTTER APPROACH TO DEVELOPING REGULATIONS OR STANDARDS
A unified strategy
Discussions soon turned towards the last two years and the tremendous changes that have faced the betting and gaming industry. During her five years within the space, White pointed out that there has been one constant the pace of change. “There have been so many changes over the last five years. But the only thing that has been constant is the pace of change. When you look at the emergence of the pandemic and how that has affected us all globally, we’ve seen that land-based venues closed and there was a considerable shift towards online gambling. “Through research, we did a COVID longitudinal study and what we found is there was actually a lot of alignment between mental health and addictions and someone's risk for
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL NOW IN TERMS OF TACKLING THESE COMPLEX OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IS A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH
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problem gambling. Understanding that connection is extremely valuable. “Being able to understand a player’s risk profile can inform our work going forward - we will certainly have more alignment with mental health and addiction organisations going forward. “The other thing we found is that there are specific ethno-cultural groups and demographics that have a higher risk of problem gambling, including youth and young adults who we found were at high risk. “We also found that individuals from the East Asian and South Asian communities had a higher risk of problem gambling well. And so wanting to ensure that we could best support those groups, we have placed greater focus on the importance of that ethno-cultural connection. That will be extremely important going forward.” The CEO also touched upon the importance of strong, courageous and collaborative leadership, and the necessity of embracing all of those qualities “I think that right now, at this point, it’s absolutely essential,” White
COLLABORATION, THIS 360 DEGREE APPROACH TO RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING, IS ESSENTIAL explained. “These are complex, we’ve solved all of the easys problems, the opportunities and challenges that we’re facing, given the technology that’s available, the complexity in terms of demographics, the differences that exist in the different kinds of gambling channels, makes this much more complex. “So, what is essential now in terms of tackling these complex opportunities and challenges is a collaborative approach, bringing together collectively our knowledge, our skills, our resources, our perspectives, and having holistic debates and discussion and bringing together our resources to identify the key questions that we want to address and identity the best solutions going forward. So, collaboration, this 360 degree approach, is essential.” •
7-9 JUNE 2022
STAMFORD BRIDGE, LONDON
SHAPING THE FUTURE OF SPORTS BETTING IN EUROPE 2,000
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Slot of the Week Winners
Basic Info: Habanero got players into a dancing groove with its Disco Beats, merging both 80s disco and Japanese-inspired anime artwork. Within the base game, if the player lands three or more lightning scatter symbols in a single spin, the bonus wheel feature is activated. Here, the wheel spins three times, awarding the highlighted prize it lands on. Multipliers within this round include a x8, x18, x28, x38, x58, and x88. Moreover, if the wheel lands on the
Reels: 3x3 Payline: 27 Volatility: Low RTP: 96.62% Key Features: Bonus Wheel with respins, Jackpot and multiplied wins.
lightning symbol – the scatter – it awards an additional three free spins. Other bonus wheel prizes include: grand, awarding x10,000 the bet; major, awarding x1,000 the bet; minor, awarding x500 the bet; and mini, awarding x100 the bet.
Toni Karapetrov, Head of Corporate Communications at Habanero, stated: “We’re delighted to announce the release of Disco Beats, a lively slot which guarantees to deliver a dazzling experience. Thanks to its immersive and eye-catching design, we’re confident this new title will captivate every player. “We can’t wait for our fans to play this new release, with many other thrilling releases set to be announced as the company makes steady progress in 2022.”
Basic Info: Relax Gaming ventures into the cosmos of space with its pickaxe in hand in a quest for intergalactic resources in Space Miners. In the game, every normal spin will feature two power-ups and free spins will always start with four. Destroying blockers that include a power-up will trigger the respective feature: cross destroys all blockers in a horizontal and vertical line; horizontal destroys all blockers in a horizontal line; vertical destroys all blockers in a vertical line; and 3×3 destroys all blockers in a 3×3 area. It is also possible for power-ups to interact with each
Reels: 5x3 Paylines: 1,000,000 Volatility: High RTP: 96.47% Key Features: Free Spins Bonus, Expanding Wilds and Power Ups
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other. To activate the free spins, players must collect three bonus symbols during the main game, awarding six spins. Any additional bonus collected will also award two extra spins. Once the player has entered the free spins round, any blockers that are removed will remain open for the entire feature. Additional bonus symbols collected during the free spins mode will award one extra spin.
Simon Hammon, CPO at Relax Gaming, said: “We are hoping that life on Mars, and beyond, proves to be as fruitful as Elon Musk has suggested it might be. Space travel is always a fun concept to create and we can’t wait for players to enjoy what we think is the best game in the solar system. “Relax Gaming has created an entire galaxy’s worth of games to date, but we think a wide range of audiences are going to really love Space Miners.”
Basic Info: Players join the temperamental ‘calaveras’ in SYNOT Games’ Skull Bonanza which offers an experience of a traditional Día de los Muertos. In the game, the free spins bonus is activated by landing three or more scatter symbols, awarding 10 initial spins. Here, wild symbols change into sticky wild symbols. There are two types of sticky wilds with additional spins and multipliers attached. These stick throughout Reels: 5x3 the feature and can add Paylines: 9 multipliers of x3 and Volatility: Medium with three additional RTP: 85.11-97.99% spins. Key Features: free spins, As a final incentive, two types of sticky wilds and a risk gamble players are given the feature. option to gamble during the free spins
bonus to potentially double their win. Here, players must guess the colour of the next revealed card to win double the win amount, however, there is also the chance to lose the win completely. Symbols in the game include five classic A-10 royals followed by mid-pays appearing in the form of a bottle of tequila, bright orange flowers and a bowl of fruit. Lastly, there is a woman adorned in festive attire followed by a similarly dressed mariachi man, both representing the high-pays. Moving onto special symbols, all the wilds have vibrant sugar skulls on them with different expressions, while scatter symbols are used to trigger the free spins bonus.
Atomic Slot Lab
Egyptian Magic Basic Info: Atomic Slot Lab, the latest subsidiary from Bragg Gaming, marked its slot debut by embracing the industry favourite theme in Egyptian Magic. Within the title, the golden jewel acts as the wild and substitutes for all symbols except for the red and purple rubies, which activate the respin feature if six or more land, with three respins awarded. Meanwhile, if additional rubies land and the gold arrow appears, the respins are reset to three. If the arrow appears again, the value is added to the current value of purple ruby symbols. Respins come to a close either when there are none left or all positions have red or purple rubies covering them, in which case
Reels: 5x3 Paylines: 25 Volatility: High RTP: 95.54% Key Features: Hold & Respin, Free Spins Bonus feature and four jackpots.
the grand prize is awarded. Mini, minor, major and grand jackpots can only be won in the features or in respins. For the features, three, four or five Egyptian magic symbols award eight, 12 or 25 free games respectively. If less than six rubies appear, the respin reactivates. Free spins can be re-triggered by landing three or more Egyptian Magic symbols during play.
Doug Fallon, Bragg Group’s director of content, stated: “Our first title, Egyptian Magic, from our newest game development studio, Atomic Slot Lab, demonstrates our strategic focus on developing high-quality content that is customised to meet the engaging entertainment features players in various igaming markets favour. Through years of experience, we have learned what content players want and have tailored our maths, features and themes to the preferences in specific markets. Atomic Slot Lab will draw on our knowledge of the US market and coupled with Bragg’s experience in Europe, we will focus on delivering the highest quality online games to slot players globally. We are very excited to release Egyptian Magic, which was developed to appeal to a wide demographic of players.
Achieving omni-channel unity
BRIDGING THE LAND-BASED AND ONLINE GAMING DIVIDE IF YOU’RE NOT MOVING FORWARDS you’re either
standing still, falling behind, or moving backwards, depending on which iteration of the famous quote you have a penchant for BY CRAIG DAVIES
owever, whichever your preference may be, all carry a very similar meaning. Maintaining pace with competitors and avoiding stagnation is absolutely crucial, and never has
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that been more evident than with the rise and rise of digital following a seemingly never ending bout of retail closures. The new kid on the US block is threatening to take the country by storm, building on the successes
ALIGNING A SEAMLESS PLAYER EXPERIENCE IS BEST FOR OUR PLAYERS already enjoyed across numerous states and further afield. But where does this leave those land-based establishments, and how do you best bridge a gap between the retail and online counterparts to enable longterm, sustainable growth and gains for each? With this in mind, the appeal and overall pull of such retail venues cannot be underestimated, be that pint-sized establishments in a nearby town or a sprawling mecca boasting countless amenities beyond casino gaming that could keep one occupied for countless hours. When thoughts are cast towards that of land-based casinos many will undoubtedly be instantly transported to hot spots such as Las Vegas or Macau, with images of grandeur, luxury, and glamour, as well as a little dose of eccentricity, around many a corner.
HAVING A TRUE OMNI-CHANNEL PRESENCE IS AN IMPORTANT PILLAR
Matthew Sunderland, Vice President of Gaming at BetMGM
The influence of the big screen can also not be ignored in placing thoughts of red carpets, champagne, and opulence in the forefront of our minds, with a little known British secret agent, and numerous more, think Robert De Niro, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Bradley Cooper et al, all culprits to this end. Despite this, online continues to charge across any jurisdiction that permits its entry, with thoughts that igaming can’t compete with this aforementioned splendour very much being proven to be untrue. Upon the fall of PASPA in the US during 2018, slot machines pinged, reels began their endless revolutions, bright lights shimmered, and a multitude of musical melodies roared into action. But this time it came via the numerous devices possessed by individuals in legalised states, which, as of writing, includes New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut. No longer was a retail establishment your sole destination to almost instantaneously become transported between futuristic landscapes and ancient civilizations, plus everything in between. Overthrowing this legislation enabled players to try to win big on Deal or No Deal, spin the Wheel of Fortune, join Slash and Axel in Guns N’ Roses, or encounter the world of Jumanji, all from the comfort of home. May 2018 saw the race to online begin, and despite the pace of sports betting’s roll-out across the nation far eclipsing that of its igaming counterpart, the numbers produced by online casinos are vast. As competition continued to heat up, traditional land-based enterprises were faced with their own set of unique challenges from this date
DELIVERING A FLAWLESS PLAYER EXPERIENCE ISN’T ALWAYS EASY
almost four years ago. That being not only to get offerings online, but how best to align these with retail offerings in a bid to ensure the sustained success of both. “Having a true omni-channel presence is an important pillar of BetMGM’s growth,” remarked Matthew Sunderland, Vice President of Gaming at BetMGM, upon being quizzed on the difficulties encountered when it comes to trying to bridge the gap between land-based operations and online casinos. “By connecting our world-class online platform and games portfolio to a player’s physical touchpoints at MGM retail properties we’re able to offer a truly optimised player experience.” In 2021, online casinos across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia are reported as producing $3.8bn in gross operator revenue, contrasted to the $1.5bn by sports betting operators. This disparity is also said to have been witnessed across state and local tax contributions, with the former’s $976.8m dwarfing the $222.4m of the latter.
OUR LIVE DEALER STRATEGY IS ONE WAY WE'VE CONNECTED REAL-WORLD AND ONLINE GAMING The 2021 revenue performance across the aforementioned four states is also said to be more than the $3.6bn in revenue that all US online sportsbooks generated in the same year, despite sports betting being legal in five times as many jurisdictions. Despite this, player confidence hasn’t always been placed in the online side of gaming, with Sunderland suggesting that it took players time to acknowledge the potential possessed by going digital. “That said, delivering a flawless player experience isn’t always easy,” he continued. “Our jackpot winners tell us that, though they love our product, they previously weren’t sure it was possible to ‘win big’ through igaming. “Sometimes, familiar games from retail property floors might not have online counterparts. And, traditionally,
Achieving omni-channel unity
land-based players are used to cashing out their winnings after every session, while a BetMGM player’s funds can conveniently remain in their account until their next gameplay.
WE'VE SEEN GREAT GROWTH IN THIS SPACE AND EXPECT MORE INNOVATION TO FOLLOW
“Our live dealer strategy is one way we’ve connected real-world and online gaming. Today, BetMGM has the top live dealer offering in the United States – with private studios in New Jersey
and Pennsylvania and one soon to follow in Michigan. “These studios provide the feel of being at a live casino table while a
player is at home or on their couch. They can see the cards being dealt, the hands being won and lost, and a running chat between players. We’ve seen great growth in this space and expect much more innovation to soon follow.” This ability to deliver a stellar online performance sees BetMGM as the “consistently leading” online casino operator in the US with a 29 per cent market share according to Entain, which operates the 50-50 joint venture with MGM Resorts. Nevertheless, the importance of aligning these two worlds to allow as seamless an experience as possible for players is an ongoing task for many, but, as suggested by the CasinoBeats 100 Club, perfect coexistence is “very much attainable”. To end, Sunderland offered a brief insight into the BetMGM game plan when it comes to effectively strategising land-based and online gaming unity. “Aligning a seamless player experience, through promotions, rewards, and other brand touchpoints, is best for our players and critical for our business,” he closed. “Through these various mechanics, a digital operator can encourage online players to visit retail properties, and vice versa, so that both parties benefit.” •
46 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2022
24-26 MAY 2022 INTERCONTINENTAL MALTA
IGAMING DEVELOPMENT, INNOVATION & STRATEGY
The new brand on the block
SPINZ CASINO: OUR ‘ROOTZ’ ARE FIRMLY PLANTED IN THE STREAMING SPACE CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER MELANIE HAINZER shines
a spotlight on Rootz’ new Spinz Casino brand, outlining the reasons why streaming will play an integral role in the company’s engagement with new audiences BY ERIN GALLAGHER
aunched back in March, the Spinz Casino brand was introduced to the online casino space with the premise that it will “go all-in on entertainment”. And what better way to do that than to create what it believes to be a unique industry offering that places streaming at its heart. Powered by Rootz’s proprietary igaming platform, Spinz is said to bring all the tried and tested features from its other brand sites, as well as introducing a Spinz exclusive – entitled Game of the Day – that will see players earn extra rewards during a one hour period as their progress bar fills up at twice the speed.
WE ARE GOING ALL-IN ON ENTERTAINMENT WITH A 365 DAY STREAMING SCHEDULE Speaking to SBC Leaders, Rootz Chief Marketing Officer Melanie Hainzer tells us a bit more about the new brand on the block before giving us a peek at some of the company’s plans for the remainder of this year. SBC: Firstly, congratulations on the launch of Spinz Casino! What can we expect from your newest brand?
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MH: Thank you very much! We are super proud of our newest addition! Spinz builds on the successes of its sister sites, Wildz, Caxino and Wheelz, while incorporating a unique industry proposition. We are going all-in on entertainment with a 365 day streaming schedule. Viewers will be engaged in a manner of ways, including daily Double Speed activation via “Game of the Day” thrusting players closer to Free Spin or Bonus awards. SBC: What influences has Spinz Casino taken from its three sister sites, Wildz, Caxino and Wheelz? MH: We kept a few favourites like Double Speed, the 99% Progress
THE BIGGEST THING THAT SEPARATES US FROM EVEN “STREAMING-CASINOS” IS THAT WE AIM TO BRING CASINO AND ENTERTAINMENT TOGETHER Bar and Cashback but spiced them up a little. We turned being awarded into a live game show experience, creating such streaming events as Game of the Day and Multiplier Bonuses. SBC: How will Spinz Casino differentiate itself from both its sister sites as well as the wider casino market?
MH: The biggest thing that separates us from even “streaming-casinos” is that we aim to bring casino and entertainment together. Most of those casinos only stream a few hours per day. We aim to be live 24/7, allowing us to cater for all timezones. We also have a streaming platform that allows for mirroring on multiple third party sites, like Twitch. SBC: Streaming has become an increasingly popular form of entertainment for slot players. In your opinion, what makes for a highquality streamer that operators are happy to partner with? MH: It might sound simple, but I do think all you need is to be genuine,
The new brand on the block
viewers choose the perfect online slots to play. SBC: Can we expect more regulation in the streaming sector? If so, how might this change the way operators work with streamers? MH: It already started last year when Twitch introduced anti-gambling measures, restricting the promotion of online casino entertainment. Prior to this, Twitch had prohibited the sharing of links and/or referral codes to sites that offer slots, roulette or dice games.
SPINZ WAS JUST THE BEGINNING OF WHAT WILL BE A YEAR OF BIG SURPRISES Although the intentions were good, I don’t think it had a positive effect. I do hope the future brings a better understanding of streaming, and better regulations to follow. SBC: You mentioned Game of the Day. Can you tell us a bit more about this? How will this help drive player engagement? MH: For a one-hour window each day you can get Double Speed on a chosen slot. Double Speed will move your Progress Bar at - you guessed it double the regular speed, resulting in faster level ups and free spins on your favourite games.
transparent with your viewers and love what you do. Those in it for the money rarely last long. If you can play responsibly, still have fun and do it all on camera, you’ll have what it takes. SBC: What role will streaming play in bringing online casinos to new demographics of bettors? MH: I do think that streaming – especially as a new vertical on our platform – will be highly appreciated. Not just by experienced players but also those new to online casino games. Regular players understand how important it is to have the most up-todate knowledge of the casino game they’re playing. New online slot titles enter the arena on a daily basis. Streamers
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on platforms like Twitch or YouTube are usually among the first to check out these new casino games. Their followers can learn from watching them play before they can start risking their money. Now they don’t need to leave the game, they can watch streamers while they play. Our streamers also provide in-depth slots reviews, especially for new titles, as well as information on features like bonus triggers or promotions currently running. This information can help
WHO KNOWS, WE MAY ALREADY BE WORKING ON ADDING YET ANOTHER MEMBER TO OUR FAMILY…
SBC: As more regulated gaming markets begin to open up, are there any particular jurisdictions which look appealing for further expansion? MH: Definitely! We’ve applied for three licences - Germany, Ontario and the Netherlands - and expect approval this year. We will be applying for more licences this year but we’re keeping those territories close to our chest… for now. SBC: And one last question. What can we expect from the wider Rootz community in 2022? MH: Spinz was just the beginning of what will be a year of big surprises. While we work hard on perfecting our current brands - boosting current features and adding new ones - we also look to expand to many more markets. Who knows, we may already be working on adding yet another member to our family. •
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Thinking outside the box
Lahcene Merzoug, CEO at PressEnter
Phil Lamb, Global Head of Gaming at Betsson
CREATURES OF HABIT, OR AN INSATIABLE THIRST FOR MORE: DOES IGAMING NEED MORE INNOVATION? IN A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION, we question
whether the igaming industry has become accustomed to a certain way of thinking or if there is more room for exciting technology developments 52 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2022
BY JAMES ROSS
e hear this word echoed around the industry, through every podcast, every conference agenda, and every video interview… INNOVATION. It’s a saying which some would call a ‘buzzword’, and one which could be accused of being overused within the igaming sector. However, like the
coining of football players ‘World Class’ who, let's be frank, are nowhere near, these words and standards continue to raise the bar and move the industry forward - whether it is obvious to the naked eye or not. On what can count as innovation, Lahcene Merzoug, CEO at PressEnter, believes that the industry often considers innovation to be a breakthrough mechanic, feature or
THE SECTOR IS STILL A LONG WAY BEHIND THE CURVE WITH PLENTY OF CATCHING UP TO DO perhaps an entirely new gamification model or bonusing system. However, he argued that innovation is “often the result of progressive iteration” and, in that regard, stresses that “there is plenty of room to keep pushing the boundaries”. Pinpointing payments, deposit and withdrawal flows, and KYC as an area of interest, Merzoug noted: “These are not necessarily headlinegrabbing updates, but ultimately, they are what leads to the superior player experience we have built our reputation on.” Looking at where igaming stacks up compared to other entertainment options such as ecommerce and mobile gaming, and the user experiences provided to players, Merzoug stated that the sector is “still a long way behind the curve with plenty of catching up to do”. On the application of innovative gamification features within igaming titles, Phil Lamb, Global Head of Gaming at Betsson, stated it has become “more and more challenging” for operators, adding that innovation “can bring with it some inherent risk” due to regulation. By way of example, he explained: “Operators could invest a lot of development resources and time creating amazing gamification journeys, and then overnight some new regulation comes in and suddenly a lot of the features that have been created are no longer compliant or able to operate under these new regulatory conditions. This can be a massive hindrance and risk from a commercial perspective.” This was also a point echoed by Merzoug who stated innovation has been hampered by the rapid roll-out of regulations in markets around the
THIS CAN BE A MASSIVE HINDRANCE AND RISK FROM A COMMERCIAL PERSPECTIVE
THERE’S COMFORT IN KNOWING WHAT YOU ENJOY COMPARED TO ENGAGING WITH THE UNKNOWN
world and the need for operators to quickly become compliant to either enter or remain active within said jurisdiction. Lamb emphasised that whilst it is good to try and “constantly stay ahead of the curve”, there also needs to be a balance that considers and respects local regulatory compliance requirements that still leads to higher user engagement and, what he importantly expressed, in a responsible way.
‘creatures of comfort’, personally I love nothing more than embracing my beloved routine, and routine is what players also love. There’s comfort in knowing what you enjoy compared to engaging with the unknown.”
Wizard Games’ Managing Director, Joey Hurtado, claimed that innovation “has to serve a purpose and improve the player experience”. He added: “Innovation for innovation’s sake is often counterproductive, and it’s important
When quizzed on whether comfort has resulted in the igaming sector being ‘stuck in a rut’ within innovation, David Mann, Chief Commercial Office at Swintt, pinpointed the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. He commented: “The fundamentals
David Mann, Chief Commercial Office at Swintt
to understand what the players want and what they are doing.” However, Hurtado expressed that gamifying the player experience, in his belief, is something the industry is “behind on”. “There have been attempts from operators, studios and dedicated third parties to improve this but adoption hasn’t been great,” he claimed. “There is still a lot of scope to improve here and we can expect to see some interesting innovations in the near future. “It can be said that humans are
INNOVATION FOR INNOVATION’S SAKE IS OFTEN COUNTERPRODUCTIVE of an online slot game can only be taken so far and even though a small number of studios are trying to re-invent the reel (literally, in some instances) they really don’t know if these concepts will achieve the success they are hoping for. “You just have to look back at over
Thinking outside the box
I BELIEVE THAT PLAYERS ARE SEEKING MORE SOCIAL EXPERIENCES AND THAT IS SOMETHING STUDIOS AND OPERATORS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO OFFER
Fredrik Johansson, Founder of Fantasma Games
the last few years and how 3D slots and VR casinos were lauded as the next big thing but didn’t really gain traction with players. “Right now, there is a lot of talk about the metaverse and how it could revolutionise the gaming and gambling sectors. It could do; but I think for now the most progress will be made by rolling out incremental improvements to slot games as we know them.” One person who is completely opposed to the notion of the sector being stuck in a rut is Fredrik Johansson, Founder of Fantasma Games, who highlighted that it is “quite opposite”. “This industry is still very much in its infancy and studios are only just getting started with the mechanics, features and experiences they can and ultimately will offer to players. That being said, it could be argued that playing online casino - and in particular slots - is a solitary pastime. I believe that players are seeking more social experiences and that is something studios and operators are going to have to offer. “This is why streaming has become so big in such a short space of time. It allows players to enjoy the thrill of online casino and slots but in a highly interactive and social environment. As such, the next generation of technologies and games will be about delivering social interaction within the game itself.” Looking into gamification and the technology currently available to operators and suppliers, the question could be asked if the sector has ‘hit the ceiling’ when it comes to innovation with the equipment at hand. Simon Hammon, CPO at Relax Gaming, stressed that to create true gamification, people “need a key set of data” from the game. “If this doesn’t apply, or is not received from most of the suppliers,
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Simon Hammon, CPO at Relax Gaming
I THINK FOR NOW THE MOST PROGRESS WILL BE MADE BY ROLLING OUT INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS TO SLOT GAMES AS WE KNOW THEM
then ultimately it won’t work as well. Relax Apex was a move to create some degree of uniformity and harmony across a wide range of suppliers and was intended to reduce the levels of fragmentation in the industry - this too can apply to gamification – and there’s plenty of
Rory Kimber, Account Management and Marketing Director at 1X2 Network
scope for this area to develop.” Adding to that point, Rory Kimber, Account Management and Marketing Director at 1X2 Network, commented that “live data is a predominant force in driving innovation”. He added: “Currently technology in this regard is more than enough to bring lots of new products, it's just about how suppliers and operators incorporate this data into their technology stack. “That's no easy task, and not something that pays out until it's fully integrated, understood, and has products built with its aid. This obviously is daunting, it requires someone to take the plunge headfirst, but the opportunity, and the rewards, is there.” Moreover, Shalva Bukia, Product Director at Spribe, emphasised that igaming is not a closed system and that it is part of the global market and community. He explained: “As technology advances, igaming will follow. New technologies and players themselves will dictate new innovations in the sector. AR/ VR, Blockchain, NFTs, these are
Shalva Bukia, Product Director at Spribe
innovations that are now at the beginning of the curve. “Maybe they will not be the same in 10 years, but I believe something big will follow and there will be room for igaming.” Looking into how different sectors within the igaming vertical can innovate within the near future, Merzoug believes the industry will see a lot of improvement within payment and KYC, both in terms of solutions available to operators and the player experience this will allow them to provide.
IT REQUIRES SOMEONE TO TAKE THE PLUNGE HEAD-FIRST, BUT THE OPPORTUNITY AND THE REWARDS ARE THERE He predicted that sports betting will see several breakthrough innovations and products in the run-up to some of the major events taking place this year. Lamb, whilst pointing to the metaverse and crypto for innovation, highlighted Entain’s strategy of
investing £100m in its Ennovate hub. He believes that this will allow the company to “be at the cutting edge of new technologies and experiences”. Hurtado stated that as more markets regulate and requirements come into place, the sector will see a more “concerted push to maximise the player journey and deliver the highest value proposition to end users”. Poker and bingo was a cause for concern from Hammon as he cast his eyes forward, stressing that heavy liquidity issues with regulated market conditions will impact how it can innovate. However, Relax’s CPO stated growth areas, such as sports and casino, can experience active movement in the near future. He concluded: “New game types, new mechanics, new overlay features, new promotional campaigns, fresh jackpot features and upgraded retention initiatives are all innovative areas that can reinvent the business, and with it – plenty of chances for engagement, acquisition and retention for operators.” •
SIMON HAMMON: MONEY TRAIN 2 WAS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST GAME RELEASE IN THE INDUSTRY DURING A RECENT BEYOND THE REELS INTERVIEW with
SlotBeats, the Relax Gaming Chief Product Officer discussed the company's CasinoBeats Game Developer Award-winning title, Money Train 2
BY MOLLIE CHAPMAN
oney Train 2 was probably the biggest game release in the industry,” according to Simon Hammon, Chief Product Officer at Relax Gaming, who featured on SlotBeat’s Beyond the Reels series, which highlights
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the designs, mechanics and thought process behind slot titles. Launched in 2020, the sequel to the developer’s original 2019 Money Train title ‘smashed records’ in its first week of release while also taking CasinoBeat’s Slot of the Year 2021 award at last year’s CasinoBeats Game Developer Awards.
The five-reel, 40-payline video slot sees four main characters leave the Wild West behind and journey to a steam-punk inspired, post-apocalyptic world. Pinpointing the slot’s features as one of the key things that made it so appealing, he explained: “The fact that those features can pop up in all different scenarios and combinations really keeps the player experience quite unique. “It’s all about the free spin feature within Money Train 2 and I think that’s what players have really latched onto. “We have quite a few special
I THINK THAT ATTRACTED NOT ONLY THE CASUAL PLAYER BASE BUT ALSO THE VIP PLAYER BASE features and that’s what the key DNA of Money Train 2 is. The main thing it’s doing is creating a companded win experience, so you can start off a little bit slowly and then all of a sudden a feature comes in and you can really escalate the wins.”
WE CREATED SOMETHING CALLED BONUS REELS WHICH IS TOTALLY UNIQUE AND INNOVATIVE IN THE BUSINESS
Revealing what it meant to the company to be awarded the 2021 CasinoBeats Slot of the Year award, Hammon said: “We’re really proud of that award and it means a lot. I think, especially in 2021, Money Train 2 was probably the biggest game release in the industry.” Revealing his thoughts as to why the title saw such success, Hammon highlighted that “it’s never one factor”, adding: “I think the theme attracted a lot of players, but ultimately I think it was the combination of wins that you could get, and actually the fact that the game does pay out crazy amounts of wins.” He continued to reveal that the company had its first winner of x50,000 the bet in under the first three hours of the title going live, with a total of 651 x50,000 winners, 7,444 x10,000 winners and over 275,000 x1,000 winners since its launch. “That shows that the game pays out frequently and you can get some really big winning opportunities from Money Train 2. I think that attracted not only the casual player base but also the VIP player base looking for big win potential,” he added. Speaking on the several adaptations made to the game since its original launch and why Relax decided to continue to the franchise, Hammon noted that, while the original Money Train was “very well received”, when developing the game, the team had many more features that they wanted to put in.
THERE WERE ACTUALLY SO MANY IDEAS THAT WE THOUGHT WE COULD ITERATE ON THAT MECHANIC
“There were actually so many ideas that we thought we could iterate on that mechanic, and that’s where Money Train 2 came through,” he explained. “Since then, we’ve also looked at the game and gone ‘okay, with the regulator landscape that we have, it’s quite a feature-buy-heavy game and people want to fast track to the free spin feature’ - so we created something called Bonus Reels which is totally unique and innovative in the business. “The game flow allows so much iteration essentially, and that’s why we are looking at expanding the franchise even further to be honest.” Highlighting the impact the addition of the Bonus Reels mechanic has had, Hammon explained that “it’s opened up the money train mechanic to a market where it wants to fast-track to the action but doesn’t have a buy feature available to do that and bypass that.” Moving onto his thoughts on the impact sequel titles might have on player retention and acquisition and whether they affect the popularity of original titles, he noted: “In some cases I would say it can, more often than not, negatively affect the original title, especially if the follow-up isn’t strong. “Money Train 2 is actually one
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that did completely the opposite. It helped the original game and it didn’t cannibalise on the original traffic because the sequel was so good. “Once you have something really great it’s difficult to create an even better variant and I think Money Train 2 was one of those examples where, if you’re going to do a sequel, you’re going to do it well and put the love in and create something different rather than just trying to use the IP for some leverage.”
I WOULD SAY IT’S TOUGH TO MAKE A GOOD SEQUEL THAT IS GOING TO CAPTIVATE A NEW AUDIENCE AND ACTUALLY GROW ABOVE AND BEYOND “I would say it’s tough to make a good sequel that is going to captivate a new audience and actually grow above and beyond.” He continued: “I think what you need to do is ensure that the sequel has some familiarity, but what you need to do is ensure that you really try and differentiate the second or third offering with new features, new functionality, new win potential, new flow, etc. so that it’s different enough
that players find it interesting. You’ve really got to invest time to make that sequel strong.” Looking forward to the CasinoBeats Summit 2022, Hammon noted: “Obviously it’s always nice to be recognised for great game design and great product development and we hope that the players and community appreciate what Relax is doing on that front. We try to produce high-quality stuff ultimately.” Concluding on what players can look forward to seeing from Relax Gaming for the rest of the year, Hammon revealed that the company has got “a lot cooking”, adding: “I think that one of the main undertones from Relax is that we want players to look forward to the productions Relax is coming out with. “That’s why we don’t do skins, we always invest in unique mechanics, volatility and interesting designs so none of our games typically look the same or have the same flow. “This year we’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming. If we’re talking about Money Train 2 - and I’ve alluded to the fact that we have so many great ideas and so many different extensions - then maybe there might be another one coming this year… who knows?” •
Blast into space
VLADIMIR MALAKCHI: STAR GUARDIANS IS TAKING PLAYER ENGAGEMENT TO NEW HEIGHTS EVOPLAY’S CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER
explains why he believes that the decision to create a third-person shooter mode - alongside the addition of new gamification features has helped elevate player satisfaction and create new experiences
BY ERIN GALLAGHER
auded as the biggest budget game in Evoplay's portfolio, Star Guardians takes players to the year 2777 with a thirdperson shooter mode. During the game, they will emerge in the fifth year of an interplanetary war where, in order to intervene and win, they will take full control of a character and their actions. SBC: Star Guardians has been a big hit for Evoplay. How has the title been received by your partners so far? VM: So initially, we didn’t make the game available to all of our partners, only some of our larger partners. For us, the game deviates away from our usual approach and we’ve already closed several deals to roll out the title to more customers. We’re still receiving a lot of great feedback and high interest in different markets right now, especially as we start to expand into more markets. For example, we’re entering Italy, Malta and we’re also continuing to expand across Bulgaria and Romania. Our
Blast into space
I DON’T THINK WE HAVE REACHED THE FULL POTENTIAL OF THE GAME JUST YET partners in these markets are already asking about Star Guardians; this has given us some interesting feedback on how we can best improve the content for our players in these markets. I am really happy with the results and how it has been received by players. As a team, we were quite nervous about how this will be received - you can never quite know just how people will respond to new games. To truly find out what people thought about the product, we had to test the product and to do that, we had to launch Star Guardians with our partners. We can see that the game is working, that players are happy, and so I hope it will continue to be successful in the future. SBC: And as time passes, how do you plan to keep players engaged with Star Guardians? VM: I don’t think we have reached the full potential of the game just yet - we’re just getting started. Our campaign launch was simply showing our partners just what we can do and making different parties aware of what we can do. But as I mentioned, we’re continuing to expand into new markets, many of which haven’t seen this game before. We have mostly been focusing on markets where we are already live so as we expand further we will be placing more emphasis on our new marketing campaigns connected to Star Guardians. We believe that new players will be able to receive much more information about the game, and more partners will want to add Star Guardians to their offering. We’re looking to generate more market exposure around the title. I think that in the next few years, Star Guardians will generate a lot more interest.
I THINK THAT IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, STAR GUARDIANS WILL GENERATE A LOT MORE INTEREST
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SBC: How does the highly personalised nature of the game help drive player retention? VM: Let’s say you work in a job for several years. Every day, you go into the office and you complete the same tasks - and that’s great. But there will come a time when you want to do something different, to see what else you can do. That’s what we’re doing at Evoplay; we’re trying to find something new, something better. We want to create more exciting experiences for our players. The main idea behind the personalisation elements in Star Guardians is that we believe it elevates the overall player experience - it adds a degree of interaction which will keep players coming back. In the future, we plan to expand the customisation features even further and to take that player experience to new heights.
THAT’S WHAT WE’RE DOING AT EVOPLAY; WE’RE TRYING TO FIND SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING BETTER
SBC: In your opinion, what influences can slots take from video games to create a more elevated player experience? VM: Players have always devoted a lot of attention to video games. The idea of playing games is a core
THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY COULD TAKE SOME NOTES FROM THE EVOLUTION OF THE GAME DEVELOPMENT SECTOR
part of our human nature. In my personal opinion, the game development industry is considerably more advanced than the gambling industry. Gambling is quite old school it is still a fun and interesting industry, but technology is moving forward. We’re seeing new innovations such as artificial intelligence, new gameplay mechanics and much more testing on games. The gambling industry could take some notes from the evolution of the game development sector and draw upon that knowledge. This will enable companies to improve, adapt and meet the changing demands of players.
SBC: We’re a few months into 2022 now. What can we expect from Evoplay in 2022? VM: As I mentioned, you can always expect great content from Evoplay. We will continue to grow and expand our business with new partners and enter new markets. I’m not going to spill too many secrets, but those that are working with us already will see lots of new and exciting titles. We also have a few other plans in the pipeline, but they’re under wraps for now! We’re also beginning the development of our next flagship product. This will take us approximately two years to prepare, so we’re currently preparing the initial concepts of the game. To sum up, you can expect lots of expansion, plenty of new partners, licences, certifications, titles and content. We’ll focus on the development of the gamification of our slot games and instant games. In Q3, we’ll begin the second iteration of our gamification features. So there will be plenty of surprises to come for the industry from here on out! •
NICOLA LONGMUIR: SCALING UP AVATARUX’S AMBITIOUS GROWTH PLANS REFLECTING ON THE THREE YEARS since the company
made its debut, the AvatarUX CEO gives us a sneak peak into what we can expect from the gaming software provider as it ramps up its plans for global expansion
or any start-up company, there comes a point when the focus must shift to ‘scalingup’ in an effort to take the business to the next level. In the three years since its launch, AvatarUX has had great success, mainly driven by the PopWins mechanic which has been a hit with players across the globe. Having introduced ten PopWins titles to our portfolio since inception in 2019, we are now significantly increasing the rate at which we release games
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to ensure we maintain our momentum and stay relevant in an ultracompetitive industry. This year alone, we will bring at least 10 new games to market with the
WE WILL ALSO IMPLEMENT FURTHER STRATEGIC GROWTH PLANS TO MAKE SURE WE REACH NEW PLAYERS IN BOTH EXISTING AND NEW MARKETS
aim to further increase the number in 2023. This acceleration will require further organisational flexibility and we have already reviewed and adapted our internal process with the aim to become more efficient. We are able to scale up quickly and speed up our development processes without compromising on the quality of our products that operators and players have come to appreciate. We will also implement further strategic growth plans to make sure we reach new players in both existing and new markets. We have quickly established our brand and cemented our identity as a true innovator and disruptor, something we are extremely proud of in a sector where these terms are often used as buzzwords.
WE ARE NOW AT A STAGE WHERE WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF INNOVATION
We are now at a stage where we need to continue to be at the forefront of innovation and not rest on our laurels. With a winning concept such as PopWins we have already set the bar high, but we are now looking to evolve this product further, so we are focusing on various iterations of the core mechanics by adding on other interesting gameplay options. In its simplest terms, the original PopWins mechanic sees every
winning combination on a reel ‘Pop’ to create two new icons – creating the potential for another win. The PopWins sequence can create multiple wins, since the feature continues to roll, if the Pops keep creating new wins. This ensures that both the spin
WE HAVE ALREADY SET THE BAR HIGH, BUT WE ARE NOW LOOKING TO EVOLVE THIS PRODUCT FURTHER
sequence and reel potential is instantly enhanced. Player satisfaction from PopWins is further boosted by our slots being designed with impressive average hit rates in the base game – meaning the feature is frequently triggered with standard luck during a slot session. By analysing data and listening to player feedback, we can ensure we further evolve our offering. A recent example of this is our latest releases, Monkeypop, which was enriched
THIS SUCCESS HAS MADE US MORE CERTAIN THAN EVER THAT THIS IS THE APPROACH WE WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE GOING FORWARD with fantastic new features; Scatter Collection, High Pay Upgrade and Prebonus Rewards as well as low symbols removal. This success has made us more certain than ever that this is the approach we will continue to take going forward - PopWins being the focal point of our titles but boosted by thrilling elements to keep players at the edge of their seats. Later we will introduce other iterations to our proprietary mechanics to further enhance the player experience. Multipop is the first one we are planning to bring to market this year. Nominally similar to the PopWins mechanic, winning symbols in any combination will be replaced by one symbol, rather than two, but this fresh
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icon will have a multiplier attached. This can happen again and again, as long as wins are possible, so a mammoth multiplier can occur for gigantic wins. But why stop there? Although we have so far been a pure slot provider, we are now broadening our horizons to also provide industry-first player engagement tools. Being able to offer our operator partners additional value is becoming increasingly more important as the next generation of players is demanding more than just a solitude slots experience. Having focused on key distribution partners as we first set off, we are now in a position to extend our direct integration roadmap to further broaden our revenue streams. We have already amassed a great following with content
WE SEE THE US AND NORTH AMERICA AS KEY MARKETS FOR OUR GAMES AS REGULATION CONTINUES TO PROGRESS ACROSS THE POND
now live across hundreds of brands, but we want to reach new audiences and territories and we see the US and North America as key markets for our games as regulation continues to progress across the pond. As a result of our intentions to grow, not just our games portfolio but the wider product offering, as well as our distribution network, we will continue to expand with experienced and dedicated professionals that will help us add value and take the company to new heights. Our goal is to continue to create entertaining products and experiences players want and look for, and I strongly believe that keeping the players’ interests in mind is what makes us stand out. With an exciting roadmap for 2022 and more to come in 2023, we are truly excited to further establish ourselves in the igaming sector and to move from being a start-up company that few have heard about to becoming more of a mainstream name whose content players immediately recognise and love. •
A spotlight on Brazil
THOMAS CARVALHAES: HOW THE BRAZILIAN MARKET IS SHAPING UP AHEAD OF LONG AWAITED GAMING LEGALISATION BRAZIL IS THE MARKET ON EVERYONE’S MIND as
we await its regulation. Tipped to be one of the biggest markets in the world, operators are starting to get in on the action; the Regional Director for Brazil and LatAm at Hero Gaming takes a closer look
BY FERNANDO NOODT MOLINS
nternational sports betting companies started working on their brand exposure in Brazil months ago. While many locals are already well versed on who the big names are, we’re still awaiting the market’s regulation. So, as you can imagine, these operators are still unable to set foot in the country. As it stands, there is a growing opportunity for operators when it comes to sponsorships with football teams. Only two teams out of 20 in the top league have no betting sponsorships (one of them being back-to-back Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras), while the most notorious in the second division - Gremio, Chapecoense and Vasco da Gama - have already partnered with gambling companies. Some have gone the extra mile and are signing former football legends, athletes and even celebrities as brand ambassadors. With a proposal to
legalise casinos on the table at the Senate, Thomas Carvalhaes, Regional Director for Brazil and LatAm at Hero Gaming, took time to look into the country’s characteristics and its potential for the industry.
SBC: What’s the main challenge for a gaming company to get traction in Brazil? How do they prepare for market entry once the segment gets legalised? TC: Market awareness and local
A spotlight on Brazil
focus are definitely key to get traction in the country. Brazil is a fantastic market with great opportunities, but with even greater challenges. Having local intel and knowledge is key for a successful operation. Building the right team and seeing Brazil as a unique market is a very good start. SBC: Where do you place a potential regulated Brazilian market in terms of size and possibilities for international companies when compared to the rest of the world? TC: Because of its massive territory, population and tendency to gamble, I would dare to put Brazil as one of the top five markets in the world, provided fair conditions are established for both operators and customers. SBC: What’s the level of engagement of the gambling industry in Brazil right now and how do you think it will change when the Government finally regulates it? TC: There is hope. I sense the overall industry is full of expectations and looking forward for a final piece of regulation. At the same time, I also feel that the industry is getting slightly
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impatient with the continuous delays of the final regulation in Brazil. It will probably change for the better once a good regulatory framework is in place. SBC: Gaming operators are already in Brazil signing sponsorships and several different deals with football teams, how can this type of exposure help ahead of a legislation that seems to keep stalling? TC: This has been a reality for a couple of months. More and more brands are placing their logos on football shirts in Brazil. There is barely any club available for betting partners, since deals of this nature tend to be exclusive. It is definitely helping by bringing awareness to the industry.
I ALSO FEEL THAT THE INDUSTRY IS GETTING SLIGHTLY IMPATIENT WITH THE CONTINUOUS DELAYS OF THE FINAL REGULATION IN BRAZIL
SBC: Are Brazilian players more prone to bet on land-based facilities once they are ready or will they turn to the online segment? TC: This will highly depend on specific demographics, such as age and geographic location. Young people in big cities such as São Paulo will definitely be more prone to online gambling. On the other hand, older target audiences at smaller towns may prefer the land-based facilities. SBC: Some users can be reluctant to trust their money to online platforms when trying to bet. How does a gaming company gain people’s trust in new markets, especially when regulation is still an issue that keeps the segment ‘in the dark’ like in Brazil? TC: It is always a two-way street. Operators could also be sceptical regarding the source of funds and other risk related matters. One way to gain the customer’s trust is by offering fast payouts, utilising local payment methods, such as PIX and bank transfers.
So what can we expect from gambling regulation in Brazil?
SBC: What can gaming companies expect from the Brazilian market right now in terms of hurdles to get a foot in the market? How would the right regulatory model change this for the igaming industry?
PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO HAD ALREADY CLARIFIED THAT HE WOULD VETO ANY GAMBLING LEGISLATION THAT MAY COME OUT OF CONGRESS
Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil
TC: The Brazilian market is not the easiest to navigate. Getting a foot in the market can look very good and promising in the beginning. In fact it is, provided that companies have the right strategy and the right people behind the wheel. Preferably Brazilian nationals with previous gaming experiences taking the key businessrelated decisions and defining product specifics for Brazil. SBC: How high are your hopes for the legislation finally passing this year? Do you think it might get delayed once again? TC: Unfortunately, I do not believe that this matter will be finalised this year. There is a lot happening in Brazil at this stage, like the presidential election, which is taking place this year. •
he industry has been waiting for a proper gambling legislation to pass and allow companies to flood the country, but anti-gambling lobbyists have been preventing that to happen for years. Gambling is actually pretty popular in Brazil, as millions of people place their bets on international betting websites and, mainly, on the Jogo do bicho, an illegal lottery game that has animal figures and is the most popular option in the country, operating in broad daylight while leaving no revenue for state coffers. Finally, in 2022, the Chamber of Deputies passed bill PL 442/1991, which would legalise the casino industry in Brazil, setting the foundations for a strong regulated market that has the potential to become one of the biggests in the world. Hopes for the Senate to carry on with the Lower Chamber’s efforts and pass the bill as well, but it has delayed its treatment for now. However, even if it didn’t, President Jair Bolsonaro - who has been linked to religious groups since he first started campaigning - had already clarified that he would veto any gambling legislation that may come out of Congress. Nonetheless, Bolsonaro’s mandate ends on January 1, 2023, so there will be an election next October, which may turn the tide and help the gambling bill to finally pass, but that would take at least until next year, ending all hopes for the industry to finally get a proper framework to operate in the country. Should senators decide to rush and approve PL 442/1991 in 2022 anyway and President Bolsonaro kept his word, lawmakers could still override a potential veto, but that seems unlikely to happen at this point.
1-3 NOV 2022
SEMINOLE HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA
CONNECTING LATIN AMERICA’S SPORTS BETTING AND IGAMING MARKETS
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT SBCEVENTS.COM
Colombia at the forefront of integrity
HOW THE IBIA AND FECOLJUEGOS WILL HELP SHAPE THE FUTURE OF LATAM’S SPORTS BETTING COLOMBIA HAS BECOME A REFERENCE POINT for many
Silvia Paleari, Director of Public Affairs at IBIA
of the future and current markets of the Latin American industry. Not only for being the first to come up with a favourable regulation for operators and the local economy, but also for implementing measures that protect gambling from external threats
BY LUCIA MOURIÑO
n mid-March, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) and Fecoljuegos, the Colombian trade association, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together on projects and initiatives in Colombia to battle sports betting-related fraud and to protect the integrity of sports and sports betting companies. In a conversation with SBC Leaders, Silvia Paleari, Director of Public Affairs at IBIA, and Evert Montero Cárdenas, President of Fecoljuegos, discussed how the MoU was born from the need of the two associations to continue talks about what more can be done to fight against match-fixing and, in particular, what the regulated sports betting operators can do to avoid being defrauded. “We noticed that our associations had similar goals in this regard, so the natural next step was to set up a formal collaboration with Fecoljuegos,” said Paleari.
In addition to being the first country in Latin America to regulate the online industry, Colombia was also the first to start conversations about how to protect sports competitions. In 2020, thanks to the work of Fecoljuegos, the Colombian National Committee for the Prevention of the Manipulation of Sports Competitions was set up, aiming to install the issue on
the agenda and create activities with relevant actors to fight match-fixing. Once again, as more Latin American countries focus on regulating the online industry, it is likely that they will look into Colombia's example to adopt some initiatives. “However, despite the debate on integrity in sports betting in Colombia, provisions related to sports
Colombia at the forefront of integrity
betting integrity are missing from the regulation and that’s an area where we, together with Fecoljuegos, would like to focus on,” Paleari said. According to the President of Fecoljuegos, some of the goals of this partnership will be to structure a collaboration plan with other market players such as sports federations, teams and other parties. Thereby with training, exchanging information, identifying warning signs and more, betting companies can provide a healthy and transparent entertainment service to the user. Furthermore, Fecoljuegos sees it as an opportunity to continuously work on the Agreement to Fight against Manipulation of Football Competitions, signed with DI MAYOR, Colombia’s premier football tournament, and
strengthen the Declaration of Integrity in Sport and Betting on Real Sporting Events in Colombia, an agreement signed by the Ministry of Sports, the Colombian Olympic Committee (COC), Coljuegos, Dimayor, the Colombian Football Federation, the Colombian Paralympic Committee and the Colombian Association of Professional Football Players (Acolfutpro). How does IBIA’s enhanced presence in the Colombian market can help the local industry navigate some of the most challenging issues around sports betting? ‘An Optimum Betting Market’, a recent study by H2 Gambling Capital, suggests that sports betting integrity
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DESPITE THE DEBATE ON INTEGRITY IN SPORTS BETTING IN COLOMBIA, PROVISIONS RELATED TO SPORTS BETTING INTEGRITY ARE MISSING FROM THE REGULATION protocols are one of the 10 key aspects of a successful well-regulated betting market. “We see our association providing support and know-how in partnership with the relevant stakeholders in Colombia, like the Colombian regulator, for the implementation of these integrity provisions, as collaboration is at the core of what we do,” Paleari said. IBIA’s Public Affairs Director commented that one of the key points will be to see sports betting integrity provisions included in the sports betting legislation, including
the obligation for licensed operators to be part of a monitoring body. She underlined that this is already the case in markets that have recently passed laws, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Ontario and some US states. “We can see there is a specific trend in these recent pieces of legislation and where sports betting integrity is becoming an increasingly important part of modern gambling laws,” she explained. Paleari clarified: “Our association supports the objectives of the Colombian National Committee’s agenda, and in particular, the criminalisation of match-fixing, the creation of a protocol for the
exchange of information between the relevant actors and to promote the education of sports people on the threats from corrupters seeking to manipulate sports competitions. These are in line with what our association has worked on throughout the years.” In Fecoljuegos’ case, by having support from operators, the federation “has the peace of mind that the actions that are undertaken will be directed to the needs of the sector and the ones that the different actors involved in our activity have, hoping that they allow the industry to continue to be protected from fraudulent actions that threaten not only sports integrity but also bookmakers”. The benefits of achieving a good relationship between sports, event organisers, clubs and bookmakers. According to IBIA’s Director, gambling operators are the main interested parties in adopting and implementing measures to avoid them getting exposed to fraud: “Any initiative that allows them to have more control and improve their reputation is correct and valuable, which is why we continue to undertake actions that lead to that goal,” she noted. Additionally, sports and sports betting have a symbiotic relationship, and the US may be the latest and best example: since PASPA was repealed in 2018, the relationship with bookmakers shifted from being completely illegal to opening the marketing and signing partnerships with sports leagues and teams. As IBIA said, there was a gradual shift especially in elite sports. A study from the American Gaming Association suggests that the four major sports leagues in the US would earn a collective $4.2bn from widely available legal sports betting. On the other hand, IBIA believes that a lesson can be learnt from Europe: sponsorship deals can go beyond just having a logo on a jersey, and many deals now include education training with athletes and integrity education programs. However, given the recent discussions on sponsorship bans, it seems that this is a lesson that
European policymakers have forgotten. Such is the case of Kindred’s Unibet, the main sponsor of the Swedish league Allsvenskan, where it has a Sustainability Project that includes anti-match fixing and player safety education, thus contributing to society and digital development. In regards to Bwin’s sponsorship rights for the German Football Association, the deal includes training and prevention programs against match-fixing. “However, given the recent discussions on sponsorship bans, it seems that this is a lesson that European policymakers have forgotten,” said Paleari. “Sports as an educational, cultural and social transformation tool must be protected from improper practices, which is why the gambling sector always seeks to generate synergies between the interested parties in order to fight against some type of harm that can distort its image,” said Montero Cárdenas.
COLOMBIA IS A LEADER IN THE REGULATION OF ONLINE SPORTS BETTING IN THE REGION When asked how the different organisations and associations can protect integrity and if a leading regulation like Colombia’s helps the industry be more transparent, the IBIA Director stated that all parties, including bookmakers, play a role in ensuring that the principles of the sports are not corrupted. IBIA’s creation answers the need for the games where bookmakers offer bets on to be free from corruption and manipulation. “However, corruption in sports is a global phenomenon and it needs a global approach. Therefore, collaboration is needed at all levels - regional, national and international from all the relevant parties involved with sports, like athletes, sports governing bodies, regulators, sports betting operators, data providers, police and law enforcement,” Paleari said. As an example, IBIA launched the IBIA Data Standards to certify the integrity of data throughout the sports betting supply chain. Sportradar
Evert Montero Cárdenas, President of Fecoljuegos
obtained the Data Standards Kitemark last year, while Stats Perform secured it for a second year in a row last January. Paleari also highlighted initiatives such as the Colombian National Platform, which helps advance the dialogue by bringing together all the key stakeholders, and the IBIA Education Ambassador programme, to share best practices and golden rules with athletes and with regulators, in those jurisdictions where education programmes don’t exist or are at the early stage. “Education, identification of unsportsmanlike conduct and irregular bets, in addition to cooperation in the transfer of information are some
of the actions that we believe should be adopted jointly by the different actors,” said Montero Cárdenas. The President of Fecoljuegos highlighted that the bookmakers that operate legally in Colombia have the technological infrastructure and human talent that allow them to identify and analyse risks in a timely manner in order to prevent irregular practices. “Colombia is a leader in the regulation of online sports betting in the region and we believe that after almost six years of the regulation being issued, some adjustments must be made to punish the fraudulent behaviour of bettors, as today there’s a space that the state needs to close to discourage them,” he concluded. •
ASTROPAY: PLANTING OUR FLAG IN EUROPE COMPANY CEO MIKAEL LIJTENSTEIN underlines
how AstroPay will be drawing upon its experience in emerging markets to fuel further expansion across Portugal, Spain and the UK
BY ERIN GALLAGHER
ver the last 12 years, AstroPay has made its name known across emerging markets as a go-to provider of payment solutions. But at the end of 2021, the company announced that it would be planting
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its flag in the European market by expanding into Portugal, Spain and the UK. Lijtenstein is confident that AstroPay can steal a march on its rivals with the right focus on the UX and innovative payment methods. Speaking to SBC Leaders, the CEO began by outlining some of the main challenges associated with the European market, before explaining how AstroPay is overcoming these hurdles. SBC: It’s been a few months now since AstroPay strengthened its presence within the European market. What have been the key challenges that you have faced during your European expansion? ML: Understanding the complexity of the region and the particularities of each market within Europe was
a challenge at first, but this is not something new to us. We know each market is different, and the payment landscape is different. For more than 12 years we have been working on developing local solutions by listening to our users to make sure we fully understand what our customers want. This is where our experience comes as an advantage.
UNDERSTANDING THE COMPLEXITY OF THE REGION AND THE PARTICULARITIES OF EACH MARKET WITHIN EUROPE WAS A CHALLENGE AT FIRST, BUT THIS IS NOT SOMETHING NEW TO US
THIS IS WHERE OUR EXPERIENCE COMES AS AN ADVANTAGE
It allows us to offer exactly what our clients need by respecting the differences of each individual user. We also have dedicated teams to source feedback from our users, especially the early adopters in each country, to hear about their experience using our product, suggestions for improvements, and which sites they'd like to use AstroPay on, among other things. This is why we are a customer-centric company; we work with our customers and they help us progress day by day.
SBC: How has AstroPay overcome these hurdles? ML: We took the time to fully understand the market, working closely with clients and partners to create a unique solution. We always try to be 100% compliant
WE ALWAYS TRY TO BE 100% COMPLIANT WITH THESE PRINCIPLES: TO BE FAST, EASY, AND SECURE
with these principles: to be fast, easy, and secure. By applying these principles on a daily basis, we have acquired millions of users and, of course, we don't stop there. We want to get to know our users, be connected to them and listen to their needs. By doing it this way, the user who tries AstroPay once, continues to choose us over time. SBC: As a company, you have a wealth of experience in emerging markets. Is this still a main focus for
THE USER WHO TRIES ASTROPAY ONCE, CONTINUES TO CHOOSE US OVER TIME most difficult markets to ensure that as we enter Europe, we can deliver a very secure payment solution to our clients and users there. Furthermore, with so many options around the corner, you need to make sure that the first contact that your customer has with your solution will convert into a successful payment, and that the user will feel comfortable using your product. This is critical to acquiring new users. We have applied it in these markets, and we will continue to apply it in the rest of Europe. SBC: Given your strong foothold in Africa, Asia and Latin America, what would be your advice to those looking to expand into these regions? ML: For those who want to succeed in these markets, we would advise partnering with a company that has the expertise in these regions and network of local payments providers as these markets can be complex and difficult to understand at first. Being close to the users is paramount to engage them and that is why we partner with more than 200 payment methods which are easily recognized by the customers.
you? Or has your attention shifted more towards mature markets? ML: Emerging markets remain a strong focus for us as we are experts in simplifying complexities for our clients and customers. However, we want to bring our solutions and services global,
WE ARE ALREADY LOOKING AT THE NEXT EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO ADD INTO OUR PORTFOLIO AND WE HAVE A VERY AMBITIOUS ROADMAP
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as a one stop solution for the needs of our international clients, and Europe is a key market for us to achieve that. SBC: Have there been any lessons that you have taken from your previous experiences in emerging markets that have guided your approach to the UK, Spain and Portugal? ML: Each market is different and every user is different, but one thing common is that all users demand convenience and security. This is proven in our anti-fraud systems that are trusted by our users and are second to none as we tested it in the
WE WANT TO BRING OUR SOLUTIONS AND SERVICES GLOBAL, AS A ONE STOP SOLUTION FOR THE NEEDS OF OUR INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS SBC: What do you have planned for Europe in 2022? Any further expansion on the horizon? ML: We are already looking at the next European countries to add into our portfolio and we have a very ambitious roadmap. We are constantly working to add more payment methods and more merchants to adopt our solutions, so that our users can pay and withdraw how they want, and where they want. •
A fair and balanced approach
NEW AFFORDABILITY CHECKS: WHY THEY MUST BE FAIR FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED WITH THE IMPENDING REVIEW of the 2005 UK Gambling
Act, there are calls from Parliament to impose more stringent affordability checks. This is only exacerbated by the UK facing a ‘cost of living crisis’, as households face immense economic pressures not seen in over 50 years
BY CALLUM WILLIAMS
ith the boom of the online gambling market, it has been long thought that the 2005 Gambling Act appeared outdated. Mobile phones and digital platforms have now become the de facto home for betting companies, intertwining online payment platforms with betting and casino apps, creating seamless ventures for customers to place money into their accounts. But while there is a regulatory framework in place to protect the customer from potential gambling harm, betting operators and payment providers have often placed a social responsibility upon themselves to help shield people from problem gambling. Andrea McGeachin, Chief Commercial Officer at Neosurf, has significant experience in affordability assessments from her previous role at Wonga. In her role at Neosurf, McGeachin has helped serve customers with a voucher-based payment system. By introducing such a payment system, Neosurf has been able to spot changes in behavioural patterns - a key indicator for when a player may be susceptible to problematic gambling. This data, she said, should be used as a means of supporting those who are at risk.
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“The world of gambling is ancient, we are not here to judge people’s gambling,” she told SBC Leaders. “However, we’re here in the online gambling world responsible to see patterns that are a potential issue and very much to be there to support people who get in touch with us.” One suggestion to monitor
THE WORLD OF GAMBLING IS ANCIENT, WE ARE NOT HERE TO JUDGE PEOPLE'S GAMBLING
such behavioural patterns is the introduction of more stringent affordability checks - an idea supported by many MPs. However, checks which could seem too intrusive can create an unbalanced relationship between operator and customer. A particular concern raised by some in the gambling industry is that strict affordability checks could drive punters in the direction of offshore black market operators, with a high chance of accelerating problem gambling cases. This was a concern which appeared to be reflected in the findings of a 2021 YouGov poll, which showed that 51% of respondents believed fresh affordability checks will lead to more problem gambling. On the contrary, only 4% thought that strict affordability checks will result in a reduction. And whilst UK regulators mull
only so much support that Neosurf can provide. Despite maintaining a strong sense of social responsibility, most of the responsibility is placed on the betting operators themselves. “The challenge is how to deliver the right required information to the operator who needs it, also ensuring the terms and conditions of data sharing are not compromised,” McGeachin stated.
Andrea McGeachin, Chief Commercial Officer at Neosurf
THE BALANCE IS TO ENABLE SMART CONVERSIONS, KEEPING THE PLAYER HAPPY “Working with DoTrust and Prinsix supports us to develop an ability to be ahead of the needs and ensure we are able to support the social responsibility role we all have.” Data sharing is critical for companies such as Neosurf and DoTrust to be able to broaden an affordability check for a player and provide as concise a check as possible. Betting operators have also strengthened their efforts to promote safer gambling significantly in the past several years. There are also problem gambling charities such as GamCare and software companies like Gamban that provide critical support which can block all gambling sites to help problem gamblers. over deposit limitations, Sweden has already laid the groundwork of their own affordability check procedure. The Swedish Gambling Inspectorate, Spelinspektionen, launched temporary limitations on online betting in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bettors in Sweden were limited to a SEK 5,000 deposit, as Spelinspektionen reported that players believed that the limit was too low. Despite this, the regulator stated that the limitations were ‘broadly supported’, with 60% of bettors backing the temporary measures. So while the government and UK’s gambling regulator are yet to confirm what we can expect when it comes to affordability, McGeachin highlighted some of the work that Neosurf is doing. She commented on how the company is handling affordability checks as a way to keep the customer
protected: “We measure everything with volume, value and velocity. The anonymous voucher world is under controls that limit spend to £/€50 and yet we work hard to deliver an amazing user experience that prevents such regulatory rules from decreasing deposit conversions. “The balance is to enable smart conversions, keeping the player happy with their use of Neosurf for safety and privacy and still ensure the use of digital data sharing and execution of appropriate communications where necessary.” But as a payment company, McGeachin underlined that there is
WE MEASURE EVERYTHING WITH VOLUME, VALUE AND VELOCITY
However, all parties must be unified in providing a balanced and coherent plan for affordability within the gambling industry. This hasn’t been evident in recent weeks, as Labour MP Carolyn Harris has described talks with some of the leading gambling operators as descending into “playground name calling”. It appears that on the surface, regulators and operators are far from being on the same page. The Racing Post recently revealed that the government’s intended affordability checks could cost the racing industry more than £100m a year, and in doing so “kill racing stone dead”. Should the government decide to enact more stringent affordability checks, gambling operators and payment service providers may have to completely overhaul their already built-in checking systems. McGeachin hopes that the review
A fair and balanced approach
“looks at the right things for the right results”. She continued: “Placing controls without fully grasping the intricacies of day-to-day player habits is something that can have a very negative result. “I say my hope is that smart thinking and open discussion can help keep online gambling smart, legal and control bad operations but support the people who really need it well… together.” Charles Cohen, Founder and CEO of DoTrust, recently spoke with SBC about the “cost of living crisis” in the UK. Cohen highlighted that the gambling industry may take a hit as a result, with increased pressure on betting operators to adjust to changing bettor behaviours. “Previous recessions have shown that while betting customers are
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unlikely to stop gambling altogether, they are likely to cut down on their spend,” stated Cohen. “That is likely the situation in the coming months; with consumers having less money in their pockets, the potential is there for spending on gambling to take a hit. “Further, when consumers do gamble they will also be looking more clearly for value, whether that is in terms of the product mix, wager type of bonuses and rewards. So, the price rises, the less money there is to go around, operators have to work
CUSTOMERS ARE UNLIKELY TO STOP GAMBLING ALTOGETHER, THEY ARE LIKELY TO CUT DOWN ON THEIR SPEND
harder to attract the money that is available and margins necessarily narrow.” What has become clear is that government officials and betting operators will have to come to some form of resolution to find the best way to handle affordability checks within the gambling industry. Whilst safer gambling is always a priority for operators, alternative measures should be met with open discussion as opposed to complete dismissal. Likewise for regulators. Government officials must be wary of the possibility that stricter affordability checks may drive the customer offshore into the black market. Dialogue between the two should be balanced, offering a new alternative that benefits the customer and operator, all whilst being able to gamble within their means. •
BY JESSIE SALE
hen it comes to sports teams, shirt sponsorships and LED signage are certainly the most obvious paybacks of any deal. But a growing number of companies are now looking elsewhere to expand their brand’s reach. Speaking to SBC Leaders, Panos Konstantopoulos, Vice President of Kaizen Gaming’s Stoiximan brand, explained that there are multiple ‘hidden’ opportunities to associate a brand with that of the sponsored team - many of which are not obvious at first sight. He stated: “One can take advantage of a number of BTL activities, CSR activations, dedicated productions for both TV and digital channels and a lot more.”
CREATIVITY IN ADVERTISING: THE ‘HIDDEN OPPORTUNITIES’ WITHIN SPORTS SPONSORSHIPS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA being such an influential marketing
tool in modern business, opportunities within brand sponsorship deals continue to emerge whilst digitalisation offers more sophisticated means for brands to better reach their target audiences 80 SBC LEADERS • MAY 2022
On the topic, ex-General Manager Parma Calcio Jaap Kalma explained that the visibility that shirt sponsorships and LED boarding provide is measurable and its value can therefore be compared, more or less, with other media investments. He argued, however, that nonvisibility sponsorship rights are less measurable but much more qualitative in nature. They enable companies to leverage the power of brand association, using the club as a testimonial of sorts, enable powerful access to a ‘wide and attentive audience’ and offer select customers unique experiences. Kalma said: “So what is required to move sponsorship beyond only visibility is, first, a sponsor that recognises the potential of other rights, has the competence - in-house or hired - to develop and execute a marketing program around these, and ideally is able to commit to a longer term partnership. “In betting and gaming, this is true for ever more companies. And second, a club that is able to ensure the availability of resources such as players or facilities and excellent service. Many clubs are getting there.” Carlo di Maio, CEO of FEG Romania, agreed that shirt sponsorships and LED signage dominate football, explaining that in certain cases this has led to ‘overcrowded brands exposure’ which could even confuse the customer.
Jaap Kalma, ex-General Manager Parma Calcio
Panos Konstantopoulos, Vice President of Kaizen Gaming’s Stoiximan brand
He added: “Hence the need to differentiate and be more creative in communication in general, focus on BTL activations as well through dedicated events and activities in stadium, social media by creating fun content and interaction activities by providing a feeling of belonging and entertainment to engage the fan base and increase brand awareness further.” A recent report from UEFA stated that 19% of all main football shirt sponsorships across Europe’s top divisions are from gaming companies, even though certain countries across the continent have introduced restrictions on gambling advertisements. Moreover, di Maio regards social media as an extremely influential marketing tool, which still holds great potential. He commented: “Mostly everyone within our industry has targeted customers through social media in various ways and levels. Trends as well as different platforms popularity in regions must be considered, always respecting in full the underage restrictions to safeguard minors. “In terms of trends, I remember in the UK back in 2010, Twitter was the main targeted social media platform, then Facebook but currently with certain restrictions and now many more. So, creating interesting, unique, engaging, and relevant content
on the main social platforms is key with the main objective to improve brand awareness, acquire and retain customers.” Kalma echoed a similar sentiment, stating that social media is a strong way to cut through the overload in marketing messages. But its drawback is that oftentimes, social media platforms don’t lend themselves well to more direct or aggressive promotional messages.
DIGITALISATION HAS OPENED A WIDE NEW SPECTRUM OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR MARKETERS, OFFERING THEM DIRECT ACCESS TO A MUCH BROADER AND MUCH MORE RECEPTIVE AUDIENCE “As a club, you are quite cautious to avoid spamming your channels and ruining your audience,” the CCO explained. “But a sponsor should be concerned as well, so if they partner with the club to develop strong content, with excellent execution and with targeted support, there is great room for leverage.” In agreement, Konstantopoulos summarised that digitalisation has “empowered sports fans across the globe”. On the other hand, it has opened a wide new spectrum of opportunities for marketeers, offering
them direct access to a much broader and much more receptive audience. As the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) continues to reach new audiences in 2022, Konstantopoulos explained how this is a strong area to boost brand exposure. His company recently celebrated Atlético Mineiro’s second Brazilian League title by launching the first NFT collection, where every token gives access to official products and exclusive physical experiences. Similarly, Di Maio also referenced the growing popularity of NFTs, adding: “Sports do create communities with common interests, strong fan bases that can be engaged, introduced to our products, and provide them with a unique and enjoyable entertainment experience. We are also looking with interest at the recent expansion of NFTs and digital cards communities, and how our industry can play an active part in this new trend.” Di Maio explained how his brand has a strong partnership with FRF, the Romanian Football Federation: “We have connected with the football fan base in various ways and to mention a few, we have done many activities with football players during training with interviews including the national team staff, activities in our shops, and created a unique campaign with the women's football national team to empower women in sport and life.”
Looking further into community engagement, Kalma stated that community issues are of growing relevance in our society and audiences are increasingly sensitive to it. He said: “Given the power of sports as a communication platform, sponsor partners can use it as a lever to communicate their engagement message with great impact. “Having said that, if the underlying objective of community engagement is, at least in part, obtaining a branding/marketing return, it is key to find relevant linkages between the community cause, the club, and the sponsor company business, brand, or history. Otherwise the communication doesn’t ‘stick’ and will not change perception of the sponsor company in a positive way. “A special case here concerns addressing betting-related community issues, particularly problem gambling. A sports partnership can be a great and powerful way to expound that message, projecting a positive image. And clubs normally are keen to balance their commercial promotion of betting and gaming with a message of responsible gaming.” When asked if any operators have set a template for creative marketing with sports clubs, Di Maio specifically acknowledged Paddy Power’s ‘strong creativity’ throughout the years as well Betsson’s use of content in its partnerships, e.g. Betsafe with Manchester City. Moreso, he suggested that by such brands adding individual athlete testimonials to a club sponsorship marketing strategy, this can definitely be worthwhile as athletes “add a face and a personality to the mix”. He stated: “This in turn translates into credibility, interest, and recollection. Personally, I am queasy about involving active athletes directly in sports betting, presenting them as punters in one way or another.” However, this option is now limited for betting companies alike following new rules that sporting figures are to be banned from gambling and lottery adverts under new rules from The Committee for Advertising Practice, beginning in October 2022. Additionally, if a brand wants to enter a new market to boost its advertising strategy, there are some
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and understand their culture. This is especially important when entering a new market, where the exceptional power of sports can be exploited to quickly entrench oneself into the target’s mind if there’s a relevant message on top of the logo.” Di Maio added: “Understanding of regional culture, lifestyle, people behaviours and passion for sports, acceptance levels towards our industry, demographic, product, and competition are some of the many factors that are taken into consideration when crafting a clear marketing strategy. “A detailed and well-constructed market analysis is the first step to better understand consumer and market conditions, then we move on building the strategy and implementation.” Carlo di Maio, CEO of FEG Romania
important elements to take into consideration. Konstantopoulos listed these as local/regional marketing trends, sports history and market/ competition analysis to name a few. He also claimed that local regulation and advertising restrictions are always crucial in formulating a strategy. Kalma’s view concurred with this: “What may be more specific to sports marketing, though, especially when one moves beyond mere visibility, is that sports is quite entrenched in local culture. “Therefore, if a betting brand wants to get close to fans in a credible way, it will have to speak their language
Finally, in many countries there are multisport clubs as opposed to clubs specialising in one sport, as in the UK. Konstantopoulos believes that the industry underestimates these clubs, and his company considers them as an ‘excellent opportunity’ to further boost its brand visibility. He concluded: “Multisport clubs usually have a very strong brand and very loyal fans, helping us become part of a larger sports ‘family’ and be considered as a member of this extended family, not merely a sponsor. “Moreover, they give us exposure to additional sports and audiences. And last but not least, they allow us to broaden our CSR activations to sports that are less established and popular.” •
HOW DO LOTTERIES MEET THE INCREASING DEMAND FOR RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING? FROM INCREASING AGE LIMITS to new certifications,
lottery operators are ensuring that they introduce all-encompassing measures to best protect players
BY CHARLIE HORNER
s igaming and online sports betting continue to boom in North America and indeed globally, the focus on tackling rising numbers of problem gambling comes into the fray more and more.
But while the new style of online betting is receiving attention for its role in keeping gamblers safe, it is important to question how lotteries are meeting the increased demands for responsible gaming measures. Amidst the backdrop of the fourth National Lottery licence competition, which at the time of writing is the
subject of a legal challenge, the current incumbent Camelot faced significant criticism from stakeholders, including Members of Parliament, for failing to keep its players safe. After all, lotteries around the world push the message of goodwill, providing funds to worthy causes and helping communities thrive in times of hardship, something particularly thrust into the limelight in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it begs the question of whether charitable funds are tainted if they are raised through profiting from problem gamblers and, even if not,
whether lotteries have a special duty to reduce problem gambling given their role to provide public good? Moreover, it is increasingly common to see lotteries veer towards instant gaming with scratchcards, and even providing online gaming, allowing users to gamble 24/7 on their platforms. This poses a significant risk to those who suffer from problem gambling, only magnifying the need for lottery platforms to implement responsible gambling measures. So what is it that lotteries can do to keep their players around the world safe? More importantly, what are lotteries doing to keep their players safe?
firm’s SVP, Marketing, Communications and Sustainability, Wendy Montgomery, commented: “Responsible gaming is ingrained into the fabric of what we do at IGT, from our products to our people and programs, it remains at the forefront of all decisions. “This recertification from WLA reinforces our leadership and commitment as a responsible vendor, as well as demonstrates the effectiveness of our responsible gaming technologies that we provide to our lottery customers worldwide.” Another example of this can be seen through the current operator of the UK National Lottery, Camelot, which recently achieved recognition with
playing age from 16 to 18, in line with the legal gambling age for other gambling verticals. Despite this, Camelot’s RG credentials have been brought into question recently after it received a fine of £3.15m from the UK Gambling Commission for failures relating to its mobile app. It was found to send out promotional marketing material to both selfexcluded customers and customers highlighted by Camelot as displaying signs of gambling harm. So whilst industry body RG certification can be a worthwhile tool in promoting responsibility amongst lottery companies, it does not necessarily guarantee that operators will follow suit and ‘practise what they preach’.
Industry certification Ensuring that lotteries are keeping their players safe, industry-wide bodies such as the World Lottery Association have provided certification with regard to responsible gambling. By creating a sense of esteem and prestige around WLA Responsible Gaming certification, operators are determined to receive such recognition for the greater reputation that it brings. For example, lottery industry giant IGT was recently recertified by the WLA for its Corporate Social Responsibility Standards and Responsible Gaming Framework for Suppliers for its work which includes employee training on RG issues and communicating with RG stakeholders. Speaking of its certification, the
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the European Lotteries Responsible Gaming Certification and Level 4 of the WLA’s Responsible Gaming Certification, for the fifth time. In the assessment process, the current National Lottery incumbent demonstrated its ‘ambitions to promote healthy play’, including imposing a ‘decentralised approach’ towards its healthy play program. In particular, it changed the National Lottery rules by increasing the legal
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR PROBLEM GAMBLING MOBILISES STATE LOTTERIES TO PARTICIPATE IN PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH
As well as encouraging lottery operators to maintain high standards of RG policy through certification, the industry uses several key periods of the year to raise awareness of the importance of player protection. In the US, the National Council for Problem Gambling mobilises state lotteries to participate in Problem Gambling Awareness Month, which this year took place in March. The purpose of this is to raise awareness of the issues around gambling and how those affected can access RET resources. John F Davis, Florida Lottery Secretary, commented: “The lottery is proud to join the NCPG and others in our gaming industry to stress the importance of responsible play and to increase public awareness about problem gaming. “At the lottery, we make it a priority to educate our players, retailers, and employees year-round on what it means to play responsibly – from playing with discretionary income to recognising when help is needed – we believe this leads to a safer playing environment for everyone.” Furthermore, US state lotteries came together at Christmas to discourage people from buying lottery tickets for those aged under 18 as gifts, citing this as a ‘gateway’ to other forms of gambling. The National Responsible Gambling Campaign initiative aims to minimise the contact between young people
and gambling from an early age to discourage further gambling activity later in life. Eric Hagler, Executive Director of the Arkansas Lottery, stressed: “Lottery scratch-off tickets have been shown to present a possible gateway to other gambling activities and, as crazy as it sounds, a number of young people report their first gambling experience occurs around nine to 11 years of age; we certainly don’t condone that.” Likewise, the NCPG held its ‘Gift Responsibly’ campaign during the Christmas period, encouraging parents to keep their children safe from gambling harms. “The Gift Responsibly Campaign educates communities about lottery tickets, which are the form of gambling with the broadest participation level,” noted Keith Whyte, Executive Director at NCPG. “It explains why lottery tickets are not appropriate as gifts for children. The retailers who sell lottery products and the adults who buy them learn that early exposure to gambling activities through lottery gifts, such as scratchoff tickets, increases the possibility that children will develop a gambling addiction as they grow older.”
BUDGET SETTING AND DEPOSIT LIMITS APPEAR TO BE A KEY WEAPON IN THE ARSENAL OF LOTTERIES IN TERMS OF PLAYER PROTECTION bringing innovation to games, but in the last year innovation has expanded to the RG space. Neccton’s ‘mentor’ tool is a behavioural analysis mechanism that alerts the operator and can contact players who display alarming gambling activity via monitoring deposit
Individual tools Finally, lottery operators and suppliers can develop their own RG policy to ensure player protection. As a techdriven space, firms are increasingly
Jari Vähänen, lottery consultant
frequency, amongst other advanced metrics. Neccton has a strong presence in the German lottery market. The most recent lottery to enlist its tool is Lotto Hessen, which has long aimed for a ‘scalable solution’ to its player protection mechanisms. Bernhard Ebersohl, Head of Online Sales at Lotto Hessen, commented on the Neccton deal: “We were looking for an advanced, scalable solution that ultimately provided real player protection – and that’s why Neccton was chosen. We look forward to many years of successful co-operation with Dr Auer and his team.” Operators are also setting goals, whilst implementing an RG strategy, in order to effectively monitor progress. Sisal is a prime example; it has committed to a ‘zero problem gambling’ policy by 2030. Publishing its Sustainability Report last year, the operator outlined that it reduced spending and deposit limits on its online channels throughout 2020 and developed AI to notice problem gambling patterns among its user base. Budget setting and deposit limits appear to be a key weapon in the arsenal of lotteries in terms of player protection. The operator of the French National Lottery, Groupe FDJ, has produced four television adverts encouraging its players to be more aware of how much they can afford to spend and to budget accordingly. It is clear to see that lotteries are increasingly reacting to the threat of problem gambling by implementing RG measures. However, with the increasing volume of online play available, and the increase in problem gamblers that it will inevitably cause, it must be a priority for operators to adopt a proactive approach to RG. Politicians certainly have a major responsibility in providing a regulatory framework for lotteries to work from when it comes to RG. But as lottery consultant Jari Vähänen explained, state lotteries can focus on RG to improve the livelihoods of those in need of funding, while also trailblazing in terms of reducing gambling harms in their respective jurisdictions. Or, has he succinctly summarised: “‘Lotteries – ‘the most responsible gambling companies in the world’ could be a global brand.” •
GLOBAL LOTTERY GROWTH: THE OPPORTUNITIES AND NEW CHALLENGES INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION
is a pertinent issue for many lotteries around the world as they seek to thrive in their field and drive for longterm success. But how do the challenges measure alongside the opportunities provided? BY NICK WARE
raditionally, lotteries have operated on a one-country basis, exclusively selling their products with influence, direct or indirect, from the state. However, that school of thought is becoming more and more outdated as operators seek to push the boundaries and open up to different areas. The term ‘international expansion’, by its very nature, conjures up a positive emotion and one of anticipation for any business, and lottery operators are no different. Some of the benefits are obvious, but important to note nonetheless. By expanding into new countries and continents, lotteries are increasing the size of their potential audience, and thus opening up a platform to grow its brand. That, in turn, helps to increase its visibility and the chance to welcome as many new players as possible. Economically speaking, that can lead to higher revenue streams to ensure the profitability of the company is maximised. Last year, Lottery.com signed numerous deals to expand its international coverage, offering its lottery products in countries like Nigeria, Turkey and Ukraine, while also expanding its operations in Mexico
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THE TERM ‘INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION’, BY ITS VERY NATURE, CONJURES UP A POSITIVE EMOTION AND ONE OF ANTICIPATION FOR ANY BUSINESS
and throughout Latin America with the acquisition of lottery companies JuegaLotto and Aganar. Speaking on the Bell2Bell Podcast, CEO Tony DiMatteo noted the limitations of being solely US focused: “It’s about an $80bn market domestically, and right now less
AS WE LOOK AT THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET, IT’S AROUND $400BN IN TOTAL LOTTERY SALES GLOBALLY than 1% of all lottery sales in the US are done online. So, there’s a huge expansion opportunity there. As we look at the international market, it’s around $400bn in total lottery sales globally.” In March 2022, Lottery.com published its full-year accounts for FY2021, enjoying revenue growth of 819% year-on-year up to $68.5m.
Maximising digital freedom Digitalisation has enabled businesses to grow exponentially by reaching new audiences at a fraction of the cost, as renowned Finnish gambling consultant Jari Vähänen told Lottery Daily: “Economies of scale work very well in the gambling business. Expanding market areas will do little to increase costs for selling games on digital channels. Adding new gambling verticals to the product range increases costs one-time, but these additional costs are also marginal compared to the volume of the total operations.” Perhaps the biggest benefit of expansion in the digital age can be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic, which initiated the first lockdown measures at the beginning of 2020. With households forced to quarantine, retail-only businesses took a huge hit. Small companies were among the most affected as their sources of income became hugely disrupted, forcing them to either dramatically change their operations or close, in some cases on a permanent basis. Thus, those that could adapt were the ones who survived and had the opportunity to thrive. Now, as restrictions begin to cease or reduce around the world, lotteries are looking far and wide to reach new audiences. International expansion can also be
THOSE THAT COULD ADAPT WERE THE ONES WHO SURVIVED AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO THRIVE
viewed as a conservative measure, despite the risks it can entail in terms of becoming operational in a different part of the world. There is always likely to be a level of uncertainty somewhere - for example, while COVID cases may be on the wane in some countries, or states, others may be harder hit and their respective government’s implement stricter approaches. For companies, expansion of operations helps to protect against the unpredictability of business and the world.
Internationalisation methods So how does one go about implementing internationalisation? One model is to expand B2C operations to other countries, such as Czechbased Allwyn, which was recently named as the preferred applicant for the fourth UK National Lottery licence. The company has bought holdings in several other European countries, such as Greece and Italy. Another method is to sell gamblingrelated technology to other gambling companies, with Vähänen using
EXPANSION OF OPERATIONS HELPS TO PROTECT AGAINST THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF BUSINESS AND THE WORLD Groupe FDJ and IGT as leading examples. “For IGT, this has been the company’s core business, but for the FDJ, it is a significant change in which the traditional lottery has expanded into another industry. “Years ago, the FDJ made acquisitions to acquire technological know-how aimed at developing better tools for its operations. As FDJ developed a larger entity from its technical solutions, the company established a new subsidiary, FDJ Gaming Solutions, to sell these technologies primarily to other lotteries.”
State pushback Vähänen also commented upon the power struggle between lotteries and certain states that have rallied against expansion.
“Traditionally, the lottery world has sought to resolve issues through legislation, which has been primarily a defensive struggle in which states have sought to secure the status of their ‘dairy cows’ through laws and regulations. This kind of thinking is still prevalent in many countries, but luckily, lotteries have also been able to change. “Keeping up with developments requires a critical review of your own operations and the ability to make the necessary changes. Many times an attack is the best defence. So could lotteries take over from other markets?” Already, there have been instances of states pushing back against the idea of international expansion. In March 2021, Idaho announced that its state lottery would no longer participate in the Powerball draw as a result of the decision by the MultiState Lottery Association (MUSL) to expand the game to Australia and the United Kingdom. One reason for taking such an approach appears to lie in cross-border relations, and the
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potential damage of being associated with one another. “My concern is the delegation of authority, and essentially turning over our sovereignty to this Multi-State Lottery Association,” Democratic Representative Chris Mathias said, according to the New York Times. “I think we should be concerned that they could be persuaded, they could
Clearly, even the notion of opening up the possibility of online offers has struck fear into some, with the danger of it leading into a full-scale expansion and shift away from physical stores. Vähänen concluded: “It is already clear that a company operating a lottery in a country on a monopoly basis may also operate internationally. That, of course, requires a group
THE MOST ACTIVE EXPANDERS HAVE BEEN THE FORERUNNER AND MOST ADVANCED LOTTERIES. DOES THIS MEAN THAT OTHERS WILL FOLLOW THEM IN THIS AREA AS WELL? be lobbied heavily by countries that we are not particularly friendly with.” Other states have even rallied against operators taking their games online. In February 2022, Indiana lawmakers added provisions to a bill that would require the Legislature’s approval before the Hoosier Lottery could sell tickets online. One of the significant concerns centres around the damaging impact online games could have on convenience stores and other retailers.
structure in which international operations are handled through another company. “Therefore, expansion of the business is possible, but it involves, for example, significant competition law challenges, at least as long as the lottery operates under a monopoly. It is interesting to note that the most active expanders have been the forerunner and most advanced lotteries. Does this mean that others will follow them in this area as well?” •
Driving NASCAR’s growth
JOSEPH SOLOSKY: RACING AHEAD WITH FAN ENGAGEMENT JULY’S SBC SUMMIT NORTH AMERICA conference and
tradeshow in New Jersey will focus on the converging worlds of sports betting, igaming, professional sports, entertainment, and broadcast media. Ahead of the event, SBC Leaders caught up with Joseph Solosky, Managing Director of Sports Betting at NASCAR, to find out what that convergence means for the sport
BY MARTYN ELLIOTT
n the days before PASPA was struck down, there was a sizeable grey market for NFL and NBA betting in the US, but offshore
operators and barroom bookies saw little action on NASCAR races. So it was perhaps surprising that NASCAR was one of the first professional sports to recognise the full potential of legal sports betting as
a fan engagement tool, particularly as it had been relatively slow to embrace the daily fantasy sports boom. Four years on from that momentous US Supreme Court decision and NASCAR is a sport that looks very comfortable with the idea of betting. It can count BetMGM, WynnBET, Penn National Gaming, The Action Network, Sportradar and Genius Sports among its partners, and is involved in the AGA’s Have A Game Plan responsible betting initiative. It has even helped to facilitate market access for operators via its speedways in Virginia and Arizona. In fact, it is so at home with betting
Driving NASCAR’s growth
that its rules allow not only teams to sign gambling sponsorship deals, but also for individual drivers to become brand ambassadors for sportsbooks providing they do not promote wagers on NASCAR races. But how has all the hard work to get to this point translated into the end goal of improved fan engagement and attracting new viewers to a sport that is attempting to expand its audience beyond its traditional stronghold in the Southern states? Solosky is cautiously optimistic that the efforts of his team have yielded results. He explained: “I know that fan engagement is a buzzword from the leagues, however, it truly is the number one goal of NASCAR in this space. NASCAR hasn’t put strong pressure on me from a P&L standpoint, in terms of ‘we must make this much
I KNOW THAT FAN ENGAGEMENT IS A BUZZWORD FROM THE LEAGUES, HOWEVER, IT TRULY IS THE NUMBER ONE GOAL OF NASCAR IN THIS SPACE money off of sports betting’. It's very much ‘how do we grow the sport using sports betting?’ “Our bottom line in terms of fan engagement is all about ticket sales, TV viewership, and attendance at our tracks. All of those are up, but we don't yet have a correlation method to say these are up because sports betting has been legalised and because we've leaned in so heavily to it.”
Solosky has also observed signs in wagering data that NASCAR is now on the radar of bettors in a way that was never the case in the prelegalisation era. “We started from almost zero in terms of (share of) handle, but we've seen handle grow from 0.1% in 2020 to 0.25% in 2021. This year, we don't have a stated goal as to what that percentage of handle will be. However, in the first two Cup races this year alone, we've outpaced all of February and March last year combined. So that handle number is going to go up,” he said. “We do believe it is a direct corollary to fan engagement. Football fans and baseball fans are getting more involved in NASCAR. They're betting on it more, which means they're watching it more, and hopefully they're going to go to races because they've been watching it and seeing how exciting it is.” Pleasingly for Solosky, the engagement has not just come in the traditional NASCAR heartlands in the south. As the sport continues its push into new states by expanding its race calendar, bookmakers have identified healthy engagement levels further north. “From reports that we've seen from our betting operator partners, we've seen strong interest in betting on NASCAR in states like Pennsylvania, Indiana, and also New York since it legalised in January.” Part of this growth has been generated by product development and the creation of markets that new viewers find more engaging. “Match-up betting is what we have tried to push to bookmakers for how to feature NASCAR betting, as opposed to just who will win the race,” said Solosky. “What we're trying to do now is condition our fans, because we think the match-ups are a better experience than betting on who will win the race outright. “It allows for shorter odds, so you're not sticking your money on longshots where you might tune out from a broadcast if your driver crashes or has a car malfunction. If your first bet was on a 20-1 longshot and they didn't even finish the race, you probably wouldn't bet on the sport again. So the head-to-head match-ups really allow
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fans to watch the race differently from a driver-versus-driver perspective and keep you engaged with the action longer.” Part of that education process is a partnership with the Better Collective-owned sports publisher The Action Network, which has a NASCAR bet centre displaying the odds on forthcoming races from multiple sportsbooks and a host of content designed to inform bettors. “There’s content for each and every race that's coming up. I think they do between four and ten articles a week on the race, so they'll cover everything from how weather will impact the race to what their model is predicting for how to bet on certain drivers. And they talk about match-ups as well,” said Solosky. “They also allow users to track bets for NASCAR. not only for yourself to keep track of how you're doing in terms of your NASCAR betting, but you can also see how the experts are doing. So those who are writing these articles and telling you to make these picks, it's publicly out there how they did last week and how are they performing overall.” The Action Network is not the only partner that has been proactive in driving interest in NASCAR betting and, by extension, the sport as a whole. Solosky has also been impressed by the activations the official sportsbook partners have used to reach the audience. He explained: “I'll give three examples from our three current live partners.
WHILE 20% OF ANY SPORT’S FANS MAY PLACE A BET, IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO RISK ALIENATING THE OTHER 80% BetMGM has an actual betslip integration on Nascar.com. If you visit the site from a legal betting state the Thursday, Friday, Saturday before a race, you would see a betslip with all the available options. If you're interested, it would redirect you to the BetMGM homepage to register and place a bet, so that's a great way for BetMGM to acquire NASCAR fans as customers. “With WynnBet, they activate at four Virginia races per year. So at Richmond and Martinsville, which each have two races, they have an activation hauler or truck right outside the venue where they encourage users to sign up for their app. “Similarly, Barstool Sportsbook has an activation area at the track in Arizona, where they can sign up users. There are also signage opportunities, PA reads, and they have suites where VIP players can go and watch the race from.” While things are going well for NASCAR’s sports betting supremo, he
WE'VE SEEN STRONG INTEREST IN BETTING ON NASCAR IN STATES LIKE PENNSYLVANIA, INDIANA, AND ALSO NEW YORK
acknowledges that there is still plenty to learn. Some of that education will come from seeing how other sports work with the legal betting industry. He has been particularly impressed by the PGA Tour’s solution to the issue of how to keep bettors watching the action when it can take four days to get a result. Or perhaps just two to discover a losing outcome of a bet on outright tournament victor. “The PGA has done a great job in pivoting towards those head-to-head match-ups where you can focus on player-versus-player round-versusround, and have a more immediate result,” he said. “NASCAR, on a smaller scale, had the same issue with betting on a race outcome and having to wait three hours for the race to end.” Solosky also liked the NBA’s trial of a second screen betcast on ESPN and is thinking about how NASCAR might create its own alternate screen experience for those fans interested in autosport betting. This is perhaps something more sports will experiment with because, as Solosky pointed out, while 20% of any sport’s fans may place a bet, it’s important not to risk alienating the other 80%. “I think there's a fine line of how much advertising and focus on betting you want to do as a league and as a broadcaster,” he concluded. • SBC Summit North America 2022 takes place at Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey on 12-14 July. Full details of the agenda and exhibitors are available at SBCEvents.com