They say the US is the land of opportunity, and with good reason. With the largest economy in the world by gross domestic product (GDP), and arguably the most powerful, any success pales in comparison to breaking the American market. Cracking the US is the ultimate for most businesses worldwide, and that’s becoming more the case in the gaming industry.
Since PASPA was repealed in May 2018 allowing states to legalise sports betting, the vertical is now live in 18 states, and not yet operational in an additional four. Nearly half the country has already legalised sports betting in just over two years, and it’s been a fiercely competitive market to enter ever since.
“Everyone is looking at the US, which is everything in the gaming industry at the moment,” Amelco’s head of business development Brandon Walker tells Gaming America, to reinforce the US’ standing in the industry.
“You can’t knock other markets but every supplier and operator is looking at the US in one way or another and it’s definitely the place that is going to grow and has a lot of potential. Sports betting being legal in the US absolutely presents us with an opportunity.”
And it’s an opportunity the supplier is looking to grab with both hands. The London-based supplier that specialises in sportsbook and trading solutions was founded in 2006, building up its reputation predominately in the European market. It works with a number of tier-one operators such as Flutter and its The Stars Group (TSG) and Betfair brands, along with GVC. However, after focusing on a global expansion, Amelco USA was born in 2018, with an aim to capitalise on the opportunity the US market brings.
“Our strategy at the moment is to expand our footprint as quickly as possible, without biting off more than we can chew,” Walker explains. “But we’re trying to really get in there and establish ourselves as a top supplier in the US. Everyone knew the US was going to be a slower growth and slower getting to the end game, but all eyes are on the market.”
In terms of Amelco’s progress, it’s been quite a rapid rise since that expansion into the US two years ago. The supplier’s initial partnership upon entry was with TSG brand Betstars, who together were one of the first to be licensed in New Jersey. The TSG partnership has grown with entry into Pennsylvania and Colorado, obtaining regulatory approval in the state this past July. That expanded with Amelco supporting the launch of BetWildWood in the state, with several other partnerships inked with the likes of BetVigtory, Action247 and BetIndiana, as the supplier continues its rise in the US.
But it’s not just the online side of things Amelco is taking advantage of. It has also gone live with three casinos in the Cripple Creek area of Colorado, with a deal imminent in Michigan to expand its retail offering. “Retail wise, kiosks are quite an important piece to the puzzle. In the US, it’s not just an online operation, it’s obviously having the kiosks or terminals in the actual casinos,” Walker reiterates.
Amelco’s recognition in the US is no mean feat in such a relatively short space of time. It’s as if the supplier has been waiting to pounce on the opportunity that presented itself for a number of years, with Walker accrediting its software to the progress made in the country.
Walker said: “The good thing is we do have a good reputation in the industry and work in regulated markets. We work with all the top tier-one operators one way or another. Our reputation has put us in a good position to go into the US and go in front of these operators and actually get the deals done. We’re still a relatively small, privately-owned company but do punch above our weight. We do have great software and have been building this platform for the last 13 or 14 years, so in terms of scalability and being able to roll it out in multi-states is something TSG has been very impressed with us in doing. That’s in terms of the architecture and the way we built the system, so for example if TSG decide to move into a new state, we have designed the system that gives them the ability to drop a new instance and have a new brand and manage all of these states from one singular back office. Talking about scalability, by the time the whole of the US is legal to offer sports betting, they’ll be running it from one back office, and every state will be its own brand and channel. A lot of the core functionality is what we initially built for the tier-one operators because they have multiple brands and operate in multiple countries.”
The potential of the market, especially with sports betting, is another draw that inspired Amelco to make the leap to the US. It’s no secret just how popular sports are in the country, with the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL among the biggest sporting brands in the world.
As Walker explains: “US sports are massive in terms of people wanting to punt on it, and as we all know the Americans are sports mad. In the UK and Europe, Saturday afternoon is usually the pinnacle of sports, whereas in the US, every day is the equivalent to a Saturday, which is unbelievable. There’s a lot of potential over there and we’re looking forward to it.”
But breaking into the US certainly wasn’t an easy process. With legislation passed on a state-by-state basis and the process complicated by tribal gaming compacts, the ever-changing regulation presents an ongoing challenge to any operator or supplier looking to expand its US footprint. Walker became familiar with the complications during going live in New Jersey, having to deal with the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), who will have its own procedures and regulations in place, that differ from other state regulators.
“Breaking into the US was very much a complex process,” Walker admits. “We had to get our platform certified by the DGE and their gaming laboratory. There is a lot of red tape and a lot of things you have to do. A lot of these smaller software suppliers very much underestimate what it takes to get a platform live in the US. You’ve got to comply with the Wire Act, everything has got to be within the state and comply with the state. There’s all the KYC stuff and third-party software you have to integrate too in order to comply. There’s a hell of a lot of work that goes into getting licences in different states, but we’ve managed to turn it around pretty quickly.”
However as much progress Amelco has made in short space of time in the US, Walker knows it’s just a start, and efforts have to be stepped up in order to stand out from a crowded market.
“From our side, we want to get as many sites live across as many states as we can,” Walker adds. “We also want to prove to everyone that our system, apps, technology and sports betting solution is up there and can compete, if not beat a lot of the current tier-one operators that are out there. We’re looking to capitalise as much as possible; the more sites we have out there, the more people will know we’re live across multi-states, and we can prove to the industry as well as the public that we’re here, and here to stay and looking to make our mark. We’re pushing hard to win as much new business as possible.”
And despite the current COVID-19 pandemic postponing certain launches, Amelco has still been able to sign two deals during the period, and Walker states its still on the right track. Given how far Amelco has come since entering the US, expect that track not to waver heading into 2021 and beyond.