19 May, 2021

A Festival of Sport

Max Meltzer, Kambi's CCO, discusses how putting the right pieces in place will determine an even greater sports betting market share, especially in the US

What was the driving force behind holding your Festival of Sportsbook back in March?

It was a hugely valuable opportunity to come together with our partners and stakeholders to discuss key trends in the global sports betting market via a week-long content series. We held an extensive variety of public and invite-only sessions, which benefitted from insight from across the full breadth of the Kambi business, as well as the expertise of several external speakers. The Festival saw attendees from all over the globe tune in, and we’ve had great feedback from our partners, prospects, investors and others.


With a packed events calendar, and markets like the US opening up even more, sports betting is set for a huge year. How do you assess prospects and what are you looking out for specifically?

The US market continues to grow rapidly and shows no sign of slowing down. Kambi has demonstrated an ability to drive growth for our partners who benefit from being part of our growing network, as well as our high-performance technology and expertise in compliance. We recently demonstrated this in Michigan, launching four partners online within seconds of the regulation being active. Developments in Texas and New York are something we’re watching closely and we have many ambitious partners including Penn National, Rush Street and Churchill Downs, who are keen to capitalise on the opportunities further regulation will unlock.


With market growth comes market saturation. What's key for operators looking to generate and retain customers in terms of marketing and improved player experiences?

Regulatory changes and the battle for customer retention put the emphasis on product, and it will always be those with real strength of product that win out. With a view to new innovations, introducing bells and whistles for the sake of innovation alone is unlikely to drive long-term retention. It’s ultimately the in-game offering that is the key battleground where players will be won and lost, and it's increasingly the differentiator between an excellent sports betting experience and merely a good one. We have invested heavily in our in-game offering, and this has been vindicated by the growth we’re experiencing with our instant markets, or bets that are settled swiftly like ‘result of next pitch’ in baseball or ‘next point winner’ in tennis. During the 2020-21 NFL season, instant bets rose by more than 400% on our US network, a clear illustration of their popularity. The power and complexity under the hood required to present a comprehensive range of instant markets in a seamless manner to the bettor with low delays can't be overstated, nor can the expertise this requires in proprietary pricing.


Are there other markets besides the US you see as good growth prospects?

Absolutely. Kambi has signed new partners on four continents in the last year, and while the US is a big focus for us commercially, we're always assessing opportunities in new and existing regulated markets. We are very enthusiastic about regulatory progress in Canada, where regulation of single-game sports wagering looks imminent. Deloitte estimates indicate that in year five following regulation, the market could be worth C$28bn (US$22.6bn). And if all US states and Canadian provinces were to regulate, Ontario would be the fifth-biggest jurisdiction in North America, underlining the scale of the opportunity. Furthermore, there are clear signs of progress in Latin America. Kambi recently launched an online sportsbook in Argentina’s Neuquén province with new partner Casino Magic, building on our footprint in the region, and in particular partnerships with Colombian market leaders BetPlay and RushBet. Brazil also has the potential to become one of the world’s largest and most exciting regulated markets.


How do you see the sports betting market developing? What will drive growth and innovation?

When Kambi’s founders laid out the company vision more than a decade ago, they recognised the importance of being a sportsbook partner that could lead the market not just in terms of technology, but also by being at the forefront when it comes to compliance and regulation.

Kambi needed to be a partner that regulators and operators could trust. We have held true to that vision, and our commitment to corporate probity has been a central factor behind our progress in the US. As more markets regulate, the ability to adapt to those regulations and give players in those markets an unmatched depth and quality in their sports betting experience will ultimately be the deciding factors in securing positions of market leadership. It’s worth mentioning the important role a partner network can play here as the global sports betting market expands and matures.

As our network continues to grow, so too does the value it offers its partners. The success Kambi delivers is anchored in its ability to leverage its network data from a global player base, creating network advantages that increase as each new partner is added and existing partners grow. Every player interaction or bet benefits each of our partners, whether they took the informative bet themselves or not. In addition, a greater volume of data will lead to a more accurate understanding of player behavioural habits, aiding Kambi in providing a more frictionless and intuitive user experience. It means that when Kambi launches with a new partner, or enters a new regulated market with an existing one, it’s never done from a standing start and has the benefit of experience and actionable intelligence behind it.