COMING TO AMERICA

July 4, 2022
By

Gaming America spoke with Marina Bogard, Managing Director of Betsson North America. The company, which is a stalwart in the European market, has recently launched in Colorado. We ask about ambitions for the North American market further afield.

Could you please tell us about the product that Betsson recently launched in the US?

Absolutely. So, we indicated to our investors and shareholders that we would be launching a BetSafe branded sportsbook in the US in the first quarter, which we did at the end of March, with a fully functioning sports mobile app specific to the Colorado market only. We focused on the whole player journey experience, with a full array of sports that are available to bet on, as wellas feature functionality that is specific tothis market. We will continue to innovate and create new features and functionality for this market as we receive feedback from our players to ensure BetSafe's brandremains a best-in-class experience.

Just to be clear, is this a B2C or a B2B offering that you have brought to the US?

It’s a B2C offering in Colorado to start, but we will also be expanding our B2B presence here.

Looking forward, whichdo you see as more important in the North American market?

Our objective is to move more broadly into the B2B space by utilizing our B2C approach in Colorado as well as in Canada as a showcase. We hope to be able to show our B2B potential partners what the experience would look like, as well as all of the various support resources that we have to offer – from a manage services solution perspective to getting them ready for onboarding as a turnkey – whatever flavor they want that they can manage on their own.

I wanted to ask a bit about the licensing process. Your company is European, and we’ve heard that European companies coming into the US find it a little disorientinghow every different market and every different state has a different set of protocols and rules when going live. Has that been your experience at Betsson?

Actually, licensing in the Colorado markethas gone very smoothly. We had external resources of counsel to ensure that we were properly filling out the paperwork, but Colorado is such a positive gaming state. The process went fine. Betsson has been in the business since the 1960s. In terms of longevity, the kind of reputation Betsson has definitely helped in getting that process to go through as smoothly as it did.

Did you specially choose Colorado because it’s known as a smooth state to open in, or was there another reason behind that?

Well, it was one of the early states – as you probably know – in terms of getting a sportsbook live. It has a very advantageous tax bracket but it also has a sweet spot of demographics in terms of a 50/50 gender spread. It’s a diverse community with a high net worth, high education and high-income levels. So, it really encapsulates a lot of what the sports betting demographic would look like, which is why 20-plus other types of companies are here doing the same.

As far as other markets, are you currently going through the licensing application process?

We’re done in Colorado. We are opening with the regulated market of Ontario, so we’re going though that process, where the BetSafe brand is today. But as you know, Ontario went from an unregulated market to a regulated market. So, we’re going through that licensing process and expect to be live there in that market sometime in the late third quarter.

Is there a market difference in getting a license in the United States versus one in Canada in your opinion?

Every country is different, and every state is different as well, but in terms of the process, they are fairly similar with different regulations and requirements. In fact, in some respect, I think Canada is a little bit easier. It just depends, but so far it has gone relatively smooth for us.

About iGaming or digital casinos: you hear in the US today it’s about sports betting, but iGaming is going to be really big in the next five years. Is this Betsson’s view, and do you have big ambitions for iGaming as you move forward into the US and Canada?

I do think iGaming and sports betting in general – mobile sports betting – will continue to increase. The American Gaming Association just recently came out with some statistics on iGaming and sports betting for the first quarter, and it’s about $2.8bn altogether. That’s split about 50/50 and will continue to grow. I think there’s tremendous opportunity. It’s still in really early stages for the US market. I do think the whole unfortunate Covid experience has opened up an opportunity for states to look at more mobile and digital solutions. For one, there is the ability to increase revenue for the state that wasn’t available before. I think that it has opened up more of an opportunity to take a look at digital solutions for gaming.

Hypothetically, five years down the line, do you think that iGaming will be a much bigger part of Betssonor do you think it will be pretty evenly split between mobile sports betting in terms of the services you provide?

At this point, looking into the crystal ball, I’d say it will be pretty evenly split. I think it will be really interesting to see. At least from the numbers I see across the board from other operators, it seems to be about evenly split. But certainly, it’s going to be determined in time as more states open up.

You have products that are available in Europe and then brought to the US. Do you adapt those significantly for the American market or is it a pretty smooth transition?

We’ve adapted certainly in terms of terminology, in terms of how odds are displayed. We are Americanizing, or North Americanizing, the experience to ensure that it’s more conducive to the culture here. But overall, in terms of sports, we’re going to be providing a plethora of them across the globe on which people will be able to bet. The same sports will be there, but Interms of communication and style presented, it will certainly be more Americanized.

Would you characterize this as European technology coming into the US and Canada?

I don’t know so much about the technology but certainly the opportunities. Europe has been doing mobile gaming for decades without significant issues, so I think they present the opportunity to have digital gaming for real money. It is the ability for the US to learn from and expand on what’s happened in other areas geographically. Those lessons will be brought into the US markets.

I don’t know how much you can say, but after Ontario what are Betsson’s strategic plans for opening in new markets?

I can’t speak to the whole geographical expansion, which is something Betssonhas been doing for decades – to diversify geographically – but from a North American perspective and on the BetSafe brand, we will be looking to expand our B2B presence and grow through our B2B platform. Then we’ll determine whether or not we go B2C anywhere else where it makes sense. First, though, we will really focus on growing our B2B business unit.

In 18 to 24 months from now, where would you like to see Betsson in North America?

Certainly, I’d like to see our expansion with B2B into the current partnerships we are in discussion with, and I am sure there will be plenty more to come. We want to have a stake in the US market specifically with B2B partners that are dispersed across the states. More states will be opening up as well, so we could also look to grow the expansion of those states. I am very confident that we will have the ability to announce some of those partnerships in the near future.

 

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