Gambling Insider speaks exclusively to Kambi CCO Max Meltzer about the supplier’s contract renewal with National Lottery JSC in Bulgaria, as well as its expansion to Moldova.
Can you describe the growth Kambi and National Lottery JSC, in particular the 7777.bg brand, have experienced together?
The National Lottery was with BetConstruct before and it wanted a solution capable of competing with the likes of Bet365 and other market leaders in the country. It found the Kambi solution really enabled it to do so.
We have to recognise it has a fantastic database; it has scratch cards, lottery products all across Bulgaria at retail locations and the company has national TV shows. It has also used brand ambassadors, past and present, such as Hristo Stoichkov, the former Barcelona striker.
What we found was with the cross sale, the strength of brand and the Kambi solution, including some of our more localised Bulgarian offerings, the National Lottery has been able to almost double its position from when they first signed with us. They have continued to grow in terms of revenue in Bulgaria.
Have you learned anything new or surprising from operations in Bulgaria?
In Bulgaria, they are hugely passionate sports people and there’s a real desire for gaming; but it’s still what we would recognise as all about the typical European sports. Football, basketball and boxing, those are some of the key sports for the region.
There’s lower stakes than some other markets, but those come at a higher volume.
Bulgaria has seen support for bills aiming to restrict gambling advertising. Do you expect these to develop and affect business in the country?
The benefit for the National Lottery is of course that, first of all, it's government authorised. Any of those implications may not necessarily be relevant for lottery in the way it is currently operated there.
I think any implications that could occur are going to have less of an impact for the National Lottery than any of the other brands trying to operate in Bulgaria.
Obviously, there are discussions around gaming in the country; but I think the Bulgarian market is attractive and will continue to grow.
Moldova is a monopoly-based market, with National Lottery JSC winning the tender for 15 years. Is this the first time Kambi will supply an operator in such a market and what are your views on the Moldovan market?
Yes, it is the first time. I think the opportunity there is going to be good for both businesses. It’s another great opportunity here is to showcase our strength in a retail rollout, just like we did with ATG in Sweden.
Talking about the retail rollout, what will it look like when it goes live in Moldova?
From a technological standpoint and user experience it will be like going into an ATG shop in Sweden right now. They are going to get a genuinely world-class solution in Moldova.
So we are really excited to say this is not a monopolistic situation where players will get a bad experience, from a bad solution. This is going to be an excellent solution provided by an operator that really gets it.
Would you expect a lack of bettor education or knowledge to exist or will most bettors simply be transferring from offshore operators?
I think in retail there might be an initial focus on pre-match bets and players will need to learn about the functionalities we can bring into a retail location. But, naturally, they will have been exposed to other bookmakers potentially in Moldova.
I expect them to be understanding but what we have to realise is we’re not just trying to penetrate a market that only has people who are experienced with bookmakers. This is an opportunity to capture a new audience in Moldova that perhaps haven’t had the chance to bet.
We do expect there will probably be quite a diverse range of customers that we will have to cater for; but nothing we haven’t done before. The idea of going to a country like Moldova to do something like this is a very exciting prospect for Kambi. It’s exciting from the prospect of online and particularly the retail there as well.
How does the extension of the National Lottery contract reflect Kambi’s strategy?
What the deal really shows is: not only has the National Lottery grown with us, they have also recognised we can move into different countries, we are scalable and that they can trust in us.
If you’re going to be running a monopoly, you have to be sure you have the right partner, one the government is going to recognise as safe. I think the National Lottery extension is just one example of our partners expanding and growing into new territories. What we are finding now is we are globally expanding even further; that’s what we believe this deal summarises.