This year, Betsson Group celebrates 60 years in business. Ahead of speaking on stage at SBC Summit North America, Marina Bogard, Managing Director, North America, explains how the Betsafe brand in Colorado showcases Betsson’s technology powering a live and successful brand in the States, ultimately drumming up business for its B2B operations.
How has Betsson improved its B2B offering through Betsafe’s B2C experience in Colorado and Ontario, two very different markets?
In the US Colorado is only a sports betting market, so no gaming content is available yet, but the hope is that changes at some point in time. Ontario, however, is both gaming and sports betting. And what we’re seeing based on the reports coming out of Ontario is that the casino content is driving revenue at about a 75-25 split.
As far as our platform goes, we’ve been in Canada for several years. With our Betsafe brand in Ontario since the market’s regulation, we’re very aware of how Canada operates. Ontario has significantly different regulatory requirements with advertising or marketing as far as promotions are concerned. And there’s 40-plus operators today ranging from sport betting-only, casino content-only, both, and just poker.
Everybody is on the same playing field since you can’t advertise broadly any marketing promotions and must rely on your product and user experience. And I think that, not to negate its importance in Colorado, is very important, but more so in Ontario, because there isn’t another way to encourage players to try your product
We’re celebrating 60 years this year, so we’ve been in business in sports betting and casino content for decades across various regions and countries. Bringing that expertise into these markets is what we offer as a B2B entity. You can really trust the experience and talent that we’re bringing to the table.
Is Betsafe a showcase brand, one primarily used to drum up B2B business and improve Betsson’s product proposition?
The Betsafe brand for Betsson is live in Colorado in the US. Betsson is not a recognisable brand in North America. For B2B partners, showcasing our brand under the Betsafe B2C offering creates credibility as we are using all the tools that would be used by the operator. We can show them a live, successful, and functioning operation.
Now Canada is a little bit different because we have been in that market for several years prior to Ontario becoming a regulated market with various brands, and Betsafe being just one of those. So not only is that a showcase but it also is a revenue generating opportunity for us.
From a US perspective, Colorado is meant to be a showcase. The operator can experience the platform and all the professional services we can provide. Building out a sportbook and gaming platform it is an expensive and time-consuming proposition and Betsson has and will do the heavy lifting with an experienced team.
What is the future for Betsafe?
We are always interested in innovation, whether through third parties or through our product development team. Betsafe in Colorado also allows us to experiment a little bit from a user experience perspective to establish what’s working, what’s not working, where is the market heading, what can we provide to our partners and show the results.
We’re unique in that aspect because we’re not like the top five who are driven to get to profitability very quickly based on volume. We can play in this market. And Colorado is a huge state. It’s in that middle ground of population, where it allows us to test future functionality.
What are your predictions for the top five?
The industry will continue to consolidate and we’re seeing some of that already. We’re also seeing that dollar amounts in player acquisition are significantly getting scaled back. They need to get to profitability, which is good for the industry. I don’t see them moving out of the market. I see them continuing to drive the US market and hopefully other states will open because of it. Their success is a benefit to us.
I do look to see what’s unique, what’s trending with them, who is expanding their offerings. There will be new and upcoming companies coming into this category with innovation. As more innovative solutions and features and functionality hit the market, we’ll see possible acquisitions of those companies. It’ll be fascinating over the next five to 10 years According to reports, ESPN Bet has already captured double digits of the market. If that’s the case, how can it not be successful?
ESPN is a sports company, media company, and Penn is a very well-run company with Jay Snowden. He’s terrific from a leadership perspective and a visionary. They’ll be the ones to watch. How can they not creep up into that top five category? I don’t know if they’ll be number one, necessarily, but I can see them being number three over time.
Are B2B clients taking the full solution, or components? Is the long-term aim for customers to wean themselves off Betsson’s toolset?
Conversations of significant interest are ongoing. I can’t speak to who those are, but I can tell you that they’re looking at the full platform, not just components of it. Beyond that, it would be difficult to try to piece that out of the core components of what a sportsbook requires and what a gaming content application requires.
I’m also seeing non-traditional companies looking to get into this space, i.e. non-casino and not an online gaming company. But significant companies that have a vast database of clients. They’re looking at how they can leverage that database into this business, and I can see more of that happening over time, especially if the top five can prove profitability.
These potential clients are North America based. Conversations mostly centre more in terms of the markets that they serve today. Casino partners aren’t looking to expand on a national level but be in their current state with their existing players and offering them a service. For non-traditional casino gaming companies, they’re exploring how to go national and what the licensing requirements are.
When you’re not in gaming, there’s a lot to learn and there’s cost involved with that and what it entails for a company and their executives to get licensed. Some of it is education as they wean through this to determine how best they can get into the marketplace early.
Maybe it’s not their brand initially that goes live, but then transition to their brand over time. The main questions for them are how they can exploit that database of customers they already have and offer something unique?
How is Betsson building out its iGaming and sports betting offering?
We’ve integrated with all the casino content partners that you can think of, and as new ones come on board, they reach out to us to establish global agreements. I’m seeing a little bit more interest in live casino, but traditional slot games tend to drive a lot of the play. On the sportsbook side, parlays are driving a lot of play. We are seeing greater social capabilities through third parties coming in and providing that element to the experience. Micro betting is a hot topic right now.
From an innovation standpoint, we’re going to see more companies providing future functionality, especially on the social side, and how to leverage AI to create a customisable experience for that player. AI has been around a long time, especially in customer service and chat type features most people are familiar with. From a trading desk perspective, the industry should be looking at how to utilise AI to create more efficiency, be a little bit more precise on creating betting odds and enable a faster turnaround time.
What are Betsson’s plans for North America in 2024?
We’ll continue to look at feature functionality to create and enhance user experience. It comes down to the product and ease and capabilities that you can offer an individual, whether it’s just on sportsbook or for gaming as well, creating relationships to provide rich content that’s interesting for players and then enhancing that with the social element.
Alongside this we will be expanding our portfolio with other sporting events that are interesting for bettors, which from a B2B perspective goes hand in hand. The greater the feature functionalities, the more enhanced the platform, the greater the benefit to our B2B proposition.