SBTech's new Chief Operating Officer Dave Hammond spoke exclusively to Gambling Insider after his appointment, discussing his new position and what can be expected from both himself and the supplier.
Why was the time right to join SBTech as COO?
Having had the opportunity to view SBTech from the outside and see their successes across Europe and the US, the chance to join this phenomenal company was not one I could really pass on. I was fortunate to know and previously work with some of the SBTech management team, so I already knew the quality of the people in place. Once I met key team members across its many offices and saw the platform capabilities and product suite, there was only one option in the industry for me to consider and subsequently become part of the success.
What are your immediate ambitions and plans for 2019 with SBTech?
Firstly, it’s key to understand SBTech has already had huge success with its innovative platform and agile culture. My main goal is to make sure we continue to scale and increase the trajectory of delivery and success for our partners. We are a truly global business with a coverage of products many other businesses should be envious of. How we maximise our team’s innovation and development to entertain end users will be crucial for our continued success and a major focus for me from the get-go.
With such a wealth of experience, what can you bring to the company to take it to the next step and beyond?
SBTech is unique in the sector in terms of its growth, client base, employees and revenue. We want and expect this to further increase in velocity and volume. A focus for me is to ensure we are built to maximise this success with internal processes and technology needing to scale, while our performance and stability cannot be compromised. I have been through growth curves and the pain points are known. SBTech will benefit from my experience in these areas.
How different will the transition from Paddy Power to SBTech be for you?
The business structure and operating models are completely different. Yet, overall, the industry and people are very similar. SBTech is market leading in scaling operations and country entry. This flexibility is something I have always had an affinity towards but what I get enthusiastic about is our capabilities. The fact SBTech is privately owned and we move quickly on solid data points is part of our fabric. This differentiates us from every provider or operator in the industry and the ability to see returns from tactical decisions within the overarching strategy is very refreshing.
What are the main challenges SBTech currently faces and how will you address these?
I believe everything can be improved in any business but SBTech is strong across the board. We have invested heavily in quality and quantity in every area from people, technology, infrastructure through to marketing, support and, of course, product. How these areas all interact and share their collective knowledge and analytical learnings will help drive the future waves of success for SBTech. This is a real focal point for me personally. Allowing people to be successful and drive their units based around common beliefs and proven best practices is a simple, but crucial, way of ensuring ongoing market leading offerings.
SBTech is preparing to enter the French market in Q1 2019. How important is this for SBTech and where else will you be venturing in 2019?
France is one of Europe’s most mature regulated markets and will be another key territory for our existing customers as well as winning new deals. Our constant ability to launch partners into new markets has been at the core of the business for more than 10 years and this will continue and expand further. The PASPA repeal of 2018 and US betting opportunity is on every supplier and operator’s strategy paper. SBTech are already there and have partners live and in development across multiple states and will continue to deliver product and innovation into the newly formed and exciting market. That said, we have a very large and demanding pipeline of European partners, with France, Sweden and Portugal, to name just a few, all holding established and well-documented opportunities.
Do you think online sports betting will change over the next few years? And do you think it needs to change?
It would be naïve to think by the end of 2023 current products and player behaviours would not have changed in a quantum measure from where the offering is today. The betting industry and especially SBTech’s multi-territory operations, has such a volume of data which will allow us to expand data scientist teams creating AI and ML projects which will transform the way we create and morph our offerings. Consumer technology and available data points within sports will continuously develop. This means the richness of product offering will have to expand to keep our customers engaged in betting while enjoying the sports experience.
In five years, where do you want SBTech to be?
The answer is simple; we must maintain our B2B supplier status by increasing product, technology, market and client reach. In short, we must innovate and deliver. It’s still very early for the US marketplace and constant regulation movement across EMEA all provides huge opportunities. In five years, I expect SBTech to increase its dominance in our current markets and to serve new products to a wider portfolio of clients in numerous newly regulated and regulating territories.