3 July, 2023

Roundtable: The outlook of sports betting 

Gambling Insider explores sports betting around the world with Altenar, BtoBet, LSports and Softswiss for company.

Antonino Barra: A seasoned and passionate professional in the field of operations, brings his expertise, pastime and passion to the field of sports betting as the Head of Sales at Altenar.  Antonino artfully demonstrates and encapsulates his experience in the phrase, “before you pitch a pen, you should be sure that a pen is what your customer actually needs.” 

Dima Reiderman: Joined BtoBet’s ranks from sister company, Aspire Global, where he served as Chief Operations Officer for over two years. His experience and leadership are focused on developing and delivering technology-driven business services and solutions, providing outstanding client service and driving profitable revenue growth. 

Dotan Lazar: Is the Co-Founder and CEO of LSports. Under his leadership, the Israeli-based company has emerged as a leading provider of real-time sports data, empowering sportsbooks with cutting-edge solutions that give them a competitive edge. Lazar's expertise and unwavering commitment to innovation make him a prominent figure in the sports data industry and a driving force behind LSports' remarkable success. 

Alexander Kamentskyi: Head of Softswiss' Sportsbook, joined the company in May 2020. He has more than 26 years of experience in Sports Betting and Gambling. His expertise lies in betting trends, iGaming sports industry analytics, product development and product team management. 


What emerging markets look the most promising right now? 


 Betting goes hand in hand with sports and people in LatAm love sports with all of their hearts - Alexander Kamentskyi, Softswiss

Antonino Barra: 

I think that the Netherlands, Ontario and Brazil offer a promising opportunity for many operators looking to enter the sports betting space. The Netherlands and Ontario are well regulated and offer the flexibility for greater innovation to take place while still experiencing fresh and healthy competition. Brazil, on the other hand, could be the most significant opportunity for operators to succeed in Latin America, with a potential iGaming income of $4.4 billion by 2026 - assuming the market remains grey - that will only blossom in the event of a regulated betting framework being enacted within its borders. 

Dotan Lazar:

Brazil is definitely one market that the entire industry is closely monitoring. We also follow the regulatory developments daily with our on-site LSports representatives. Our strong belief in this market is exemplified by the 10-year data rights deal signed with the Brazilian Basketball Confederation (CBB), including coverage of the premier men's basketball league (NBB) from next year.  We also don't isolate Brazil from the broader Latin American landscape.

We are already working with tier 1 operators in LatAm, providing them with LSports' fully localised products and services. The extensive experience we acquired enabled us to recently publish a comprehensive report on the sports betting landscape in this region. I highly recommend every player in the industry to access it. 

Dima Reiderman: 

Several emerging markets hold promise and potential for growth. I would put Latin America on the very top spot of the agenda. The region is still characterised by a complex regulatory landscape. Nonetheless efforts to legalise sports betting – with Brazil, Chile and Peru following in Colombia’s footsteps – are turning the region into one of the most promising markets. At the same time, Africa cannot be ignored. Several countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, have seen substantial growth in the betting market in recent years, with the latter accounting for circa half the continent’s total GGR.

A combination of factors like the rise of mobile technology, a young population and a strong interest in sports make these countries attractive for operators. However, it's important to navigate the regulatory landscape and cultural considerations in each specific market. 

Alexander Kamentskyi:

First of all, we focus on local markets. We have several local projects in mind that we are planning to launch in the near future. In general, there are plenty of new markets to target, with the most promising being Latin America, India, Southeast Asia and Africa. At Softswiss, we have chosen LatAm to focus on this year. There are a couple of reasons for that. Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Argentina and Colombia, have shown considerable potential in the online industry. These countries are densely populated, improve their internet penetration and display a growing interest in online gambling.

Another critical factor for us is that they have a culture of betting. Betting goes hand in hand with sports and people in LatAm love sports with all of their hearts. At the same time, we have surveyed the market to learn the strengths and weaknesses of current product offerings. Now we are reinforcing our product to help our partners achieve the best results possible. 


How much of an inevitability is market consolidation?


Market consolidation in the industry is inevitable - Antonino Barra, Altenar


Dotan Lazar:

In the sportsbook operators scene, we continue to witness significant mergers, with Fanatics' recent interest of PointsBet as a notable example. Regarding the sports data providers scene, while we do not foresee consolidation, we may witness interesting strategic moves in the realm of exclusive data rights. LSports also has plans in that domain, so stay tuned. 

Antonino Barra: 

Market consolidation in the industry is inevitable. Competition, economies of scale, regulatory pressures, technological advancements and market saturation are all factors that will physiologically lead big players to strengthen their market position, pursue cost savings, navigate complex regulations and invest in new technologies, while allowing smaller operators an exit strategy. Nevertheless, it is important to note that while market consolidation is likely to continue, there will always be room for new entrants and innovative startups in the industry. 

Alexander Kamentskyi:

To succeed, you have to stand out. Therefore, you need to have a robust product offering, know the market and find your niche. Big companies in all markets strive to create an ecosystem of products and services to give customers a seamless experience. Softswiss is among such companies. We want our partners to have everything they need in one place - not just our sportsbook. Also, such factors as the ongoing legalisation and regulation of online gambling in many countries don’t make the life of small businesses easier. Despite all this, I believe there will still be room for smaller, niche operators who will be able to provide unique offerings for specific client segments. They just need to find their niche. 

Dima Reiderman: 

Whilst not absolute, market consolidation remains a prevalent trend in the betting industry, driven by competition, regulation, technology and financial considerations, and I would say that this trend is expected to continue shaping the industry's landscape in the coming years. 

The intense competition in the market pushes companies to merge or acquire smaller competitors to strengthen their position and expand their market share. Regulatory pressures and compliance requirements also drive consolidation as smaller operators or suppliers may struggle to navigate complex regulations, making them more likely to merge with established players. Technological advancements and the need for substantial investments further contribute to consolidation as companies seek to pool and leverage combined resources expertise and market footprint. 


 Are there any under-the-radar regions that have new potential?


While the US market may not be under the radar, it also offers untapped potential - Dotan Lazar, LSports


Alexander Kamentskyi:

Every market has potential. You just have to research it well. Betting is a dynamic business with an established tradition. But it needs novelties. And such novelties need to be tailored to the market in which you plan to operate. Speaking about particular regions, as I mentioned, there are Latin America, India, southeast Asia and Africa. It looks like the online world is more focused on Latin America. So, these regions may receive less attention than more established markets, but they can offer unique opportunities for growth and expansion. For example, Africa, as a whole, has significant untapped potential for online. While countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have already shown some growth in the sector, other African nations present opportunities for new businesses. Countries such as Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda are experiencing increasing internet penetration and a growing interest in online gambling.  

Dotan Lazar:

While the US market may not be under the radar, it also offers untapped potential. Operating in multiple US states, we have first-hand experience with the increasing demand for sports betting. The analytically driven profile of American bettors combined with the unique characteristics of the most popular American sports provides an optimal landscape for data providers and sportsbook operators to enhance their offerings, particularly in player props and instant betting markets. This dynamic creates a win-win scenario, ensuring a better user experience with increased engagement while pushing data providers to innovate and expand their coverage.” 

Antonino Barra: 

The online market in Africa exhibits significant growth potential, propelled by factors such as increasing internet penetration and a favourable regulatory environment. Promising investment opportunities are anticipated in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda in the foreseeable future. 

Dima Reiderman: 

Eastern European countries, including Poland and Romania have witnessed a rise in online betting activities. With an increasing GDP per capita and growing interest in sports, these markets have attracted the attention of both local and international betting operators and much is expected from this region in the coming years. At the same time one cannot not mention India with its vast population and huge passion for cricket and other sports.

The online betting market in India has already been growing steadily, driven by increasing internet penetration and smartphone usage. However, it's worth noting that the regulatory landscape regarding online betting is somewhat complex and could prove to be a hindrance to operators. Southeast Asia has also been generating a surge in interest. This region has a large population base, a growing middle class mixed with increasing smartphone adoption rates, which make it an attractive market for betting operators. However, the region is still strictly restrictive from a regulatory perspective, thus limiting its growth. 


Is it still worth getting involved in mature markets as a new business?


 Innovation is crucial to stand out from the competition - Dima Reiderman, BtoBet


Dotan Lazar:

It depends. Mature markets in our industry are typically less receptive to change compared to emerging markets that are more willing to take risks and learn from trial and error. However, for a young business with unique technology, I would still recommend exploring opportunities in mature markets as well. Generally speaking, we encourage operators to be more open to innovation. As a technology-driven company, we contribute by offering cutting-edge products, such as BetBooster, an AI-powered betting tip tool, LSports' real-time feed utilising Computer Vision and our upcoming Sports Expert Chat (SEC). SEC is a large language model leveraging technology similar to ChatGPT and we strongly believe it will revolutionise the sports  data industry. 

Alexander Kamentskyi:

Sure, if we speak about B2C. But it is important to find a trustworthy partner. I really mean it. You do not need someone who will sell you a product and be gone looking for other clients. Look for a partner with knowledge of how betting works because there are many solutions on the market that are just wrapped up nicely. Speaking about business success, there are many factors in betting. For example, it’s essential to use a diversification strategy to secure business. You need to ensure that the betting pool is distributed to the maximum extent among all available options. If operators focus on football only, they will increase their dispersion.

Also, it is better when players bet on the nearest events. Operators gain more profit if players bet live during the first quarter of Philippine Basketball rather than on the Champions League happening three days later. Bets for later events simply freeze money. So, you have to incentivise players to bet immediately. Summarising that, you need to take many steps, but mature markets are still available for newcomers, especially with an experienced partner that covers your back. 

Antonino Barra: 

Definitely! While mature markets in the online industry are challenging due to strong competition and established players, opportunities can still arise for new operators as the environment offers a larger customer base and a clearly defined legal framework, which creates a level playing field for new entrants. By offering innovative products or services, targeting niche markets, or leveraging new technologies, new companies can stand out and attract customers. This indeed requires thorough market research, a compelling value proposition, effective marketing strategies and regulatory compliance, but companies that carefully weigh the risks and potential rewards before entering such markets are definitely going  to succeed. 

Dima Reiderman: 

Mature markets are often saturated with established players. Thus operators would need to differentiate themselves through unique features, innovative technologies and better player experiences in order to gain market share. They need to understand the preferences and habits of the target audience to tailor your offerings effectively and at the same time have at their disposal the cutting-edge technology that will enable them to harness and leverage this player data to deliver a more bespoke experience. Mature markets are highly regulated environments where one needs to ensure compliance with legal requirements and responsible gambling practices.

At the same time innovation is crucial to stand out from the competition. So, it comes as no surprise that in face of these very competitive and in some aspects, restrictive circumstances, many are keen on exploring untapped or emerging markets as an alternative strategy. However, thorough analysing market dynamics, customer preferences and regulatory factors – ultimately by offering unique value propositions and embracing innovation – it is still possible to succeed in  mature markets.