18 October, 2022

From Optima to Orako

Sportradar director Jacob Lopez speaks to Gambling Insider about the future of the sports data company – as well as Orako, Sportradar’s new project, after the business acquired his prior company Optima in 2019.

You founded Optima – which Sportradar acquired – and you’ve overseen the Orako project. What was your personal role in its development?

I think my role as Managing Director of the sportsbook services is really to ensure that the technology, which we developed in terms of platform, is done in a way that permits the best integration of service from Sportradar. And also to provide the quality, performance and stability a sports betting operator requires today. But, more importantly, the strategic overview to take the sportsbook forward; bringing together all the different views inside Sportradar. 

How did the project come about from start to finish; when the merger happened was it very much set out as a roadmap?

There was always a plan from the start to get there; obviously we have had a very unfortunate situation with Covid-19 and that’s had an effect on how quickly we were finalising this initiative. But it’s always been the view that when Sportradar decided to have their own sportsbook service end-to-end, it required the project to put together all services as soon as possible; and that was a priority. However, as always, we didn’t only consider our internal initiatives, we also considered what our operators require to keep them competitive, and if we needed to delay given whatever situation. But ultimately the plan from the start was to use all the managed services from Sportradar to put sportsbook solutions in place between Managed Trading Services (MTS), widgets, virtual games, etc. together under the same integration, so that we can provide maximum services to our operators but with less integration effort.

You mentioned the pandemic; if it wasn’t for the delays caused by Covid, would this launch have taken place a year or two sooner – how did it impact you?

The pandemic has heavily impacted this launch – but also because the market was very unstable, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Remembering we also work in retail,  that environment was very badly affected by the pandemic, which meant we had to rearrange a few things.

Does this new launch put you more in competition with companies you may have either partnered with, or had agreements with before?

I don’t think we’re competing with new competitors; I think our competition is always there. But what we are doing right now is putting new concepts in the market. You get everything from Sportradar, you decide what you want to take from us, if you want integration, you get all services – is that adding more competition or less competition? I definitely don’t think so. It’s better for the operators or partners who have been working with us to continue working with us – both with the sportsbook and their own platforms; obtaining the B2B services with Sportradar isn’t going to change. We believe there will be a range of services we provide together now that before were consumed individually. Where before we were providing just data to our clients, now it’s going to be data, digitalisation, transaction processing; some of those clients may not be B2C operators, they may be B2B service suppliers. They will go to our integrated service to provide more to their own customers – as well as maybe B2B2C customers. We are facilitating a better service quality and better time to market, and a whole range of opportunities for B2B, B2C and B2B2C clients for Sportradar.

Geographically, in terms of markets and regions, are there any that you’re targeting growth in specifically, for the product or in the industry?

There isn’t a particular region we are targeting, but there isn’t a region we’re not targeting either. As soon as there are regulated markets, our services are available. In terms of regionalisation of the product itself, which we find is a very important point, we at Sportradar provide services in five continents and worldwide. The sportsbook is built with those blocks; so, in terms of personalising for a particular region, we are also there. As soon as there is legal betting happening in the market we are there, and we have all the certifications and licences required.

In terms of the industry as a whole, where’s an area of particular excitement  for the organisation?

I think the rate of growth in the market isn’t influenced by what you expect it to be influenced by; where we are operating right now is Europe, Africa, LatAm and the US. So, how those markets are going to grow, we don’t have a particular expectation from the sportsbook perspective in how they’re going to evolve. But where we are present right now, we will continue to bring innovation, we will continue growing and we expect our competitors to grow; that’s what we’re focused on.