32_2019.gif
32_2019.gif
32_2019.gif
CLOSE
× Gambling News In-Depth iGaming Calendar Connections GI Friday Trafficology GI Magazine
GGA 2019 AffiliateCon
NEWS 17 July 2019

Better Collective CEO: Affiliates can help ensure there are good actors in new markets

By Matthew Enderby

Jesper Søgaard, CEO and Co-Founder of Better Collective, spoke exclusively to Gambling Insider on the affiliate's progress in Brazil and the steps necessary to enter a new market.

What is most exciting about the opportunities presented by the Brazilian market?

We see Brazil as a very interesting growth market. With a regulatory system to be implemented in the country, a market of more than 200 million people will be brought into the world of regulated sports betting - this of course provides business opportunities to expand our activities. 

How can affiliates help drive the growth of the market?

Whenever a new market starts to regulate, educating sports bettors on the new legal approach becomes crucial, and this is where affiliates are key in providing value. Affiliates can help ensure the promotion of regulated bookmakers and good actors. Affiliates can help empower the Brazil online betting audience through value-creating content, which will ensure bettors get the most entertainment for their money.

You have previously said it could take up to two years for the sports betting market to go live in Brazil. I’m sure you have your eye on markets across the world, especially the big ones, but at what stage during legal developments do you start to actively pursue operations?

We take our cue from the regulators and legislators. Where the regulator indicates they are not against the responsible promotion of betting and gaming activity while they are in the process of developing a concrete regulatory framework, we assess how to engage with users in a way which best suits the developing market. We have high internal customer protection and social responsibility standards that we apply in all markets, regardless of the level of regulation.

What kind of approach do you think would be best suited to operations in Brazil? Would it be based in M & A or embedding your own current brands in the market?

Both approaches are doable. We currently have a very strong presence in Brazil with Apuestas deportivas. But with the Brazil market moving from a grey to a regulated market, we also look for M & A opportunities to strengthen our position even further.

Legislation has been introduced that could see up to 32 casinos built in the country. Would you be interested in affiliation in this vertical?

At Better Collective, we are focused on sports betting, but we evaluate the opportunities in this vertical as well.

We know operators can sometimes work in unregulated or grey markets. Is there much of this going on in Brazil?

The effect of supply and demand is fairly undeniable. What you can see globally is that where there is a lack of clear, balanced regulation on gambling, a grey market springs up. The best way for a country to tackle this and ensure market oversight is to develop sound regulation with high social responsibility standards and a commercially viable licensing and taxation plan. We are very happy to see that Brazil is moving down this road as this ultimately will protect the Brazil betting audience and secure steady growth.

How would you compete with these companies once the market regulates, considering they might already have an established foothold in Brazil?

The same question is being raised in the developing US market. Ultimately, it comes down to ensuring a high-quality customer experience and brand recognition. As licensed operators will be able to advertise within a regulated market in a way that unlicensed operators cannot, licensed brands will receive higher exposure. Customers will also be able to rely on a level of consumer protection that cannot be guaranteed with unlicensed operators.

RELATED TAGS: Online | Industry | Sports Betting | Marketing | Legal & Regulatory | Casino | Affiliate | Feature
DISCUSS THIS ARTICLE
IN-DEPTH 16 August 2019
Roundtable: David vs Goliath – Can startups really disrupt the industry?

(AL) Alexander Levchenko – CEO, Evoplay Entertainment

Alexander Levchenko is CEO of innovative game development studio Evoplay Entertainment. He has overseen the rapid expansion of the company since it was founded in early 2017 with the vision of revolutionising the player experience.

(RL) Ruben Loeches – CMO, R Franco

Rubén Loeches is CMO at R. Franco Group, Spain’s most established multinational gaming supplier and solutions provider. With over 10 years working in the gambling, betting and online gaming industries, he is skilled in operations management and marketing strategy.

(JB) Julian Buhagiar – Co-Founder, RB Capital:

Julian Buhagiar is an investor, CEO & board director to multiple ventures in gaming, fintech & media markets. He has lead investments, M & As and exits to date in excess of $370m.

(DM) Dominic Mansour – CEO, Bragg Gaming Group:

Dominic Mansour has an extensive background of nearly 20 years in the gaming and lottery industry. He has a deep understanding of the lottery secto,r having been CEO at the UK-based Health Lottery, as well as building bingos.com from scratch, which he sold to NetPlay TV plc.

What does it take for a startup to make waves in gaming?

DM: On the one hand, it’s a bit like brand marketing; you build an identity, a reputation and a strategy. When you know what you stand for, you then do your best to get heard. That doesn’t necessarily require a TV commercial but ensuring whatever you do stands out from the crowd. Then you have to get out there and talk to people about it. 

AL: Being better than the competition is no longer enough; if you’re small, new and want to make a difference – you have to turn the industry on its head. Those looking to make waves need to come up with a new concept or a ground-breaking solution. Take Elon Musk, he didn’t found Tesla to improve the existing electric cars on the market, he founded it to create the industry’s first mass-market electric sports car. It’s the same for online gaming; if you want to make waves as a startup, you have to bring something revolutionary to the table.

JB: Unique IP is key, particularly in emerging (non-EU) markets. As does the ability to release products on time, with minimal downtime and/or turnaround time when issues inevitably occur. A good salesforce capable of rapidly striking partnerships with the right players is vital, as is not getting bogged down too early on in legal, operational and admin red tape.

How easy it for startups to bring their ideas to life? How do they attract capital?

AL: It depends on the people and ideas behind the startup. Of course – the wave of ‘unicorns’ is not what it used to be. Some time ago the hype was a lot greater in terms of investing in startups, but that’s changed now. Investors now want more detail – and even more importantly, to evaluate whether the startup has the capacity (as well as the vision) to solve the problem it set out to address. That’s not to say investors are no longer interested in startups – they certainly are – but now more than ever, it’s important for startups to understand their audience as well as dreaming big.

JB: To get to market quickly, you need a great but small, team. If slots or sportsbook, the mathematical engine and UX/UI are crucial. Having a lean, agile dev team that can rapidly turn wire framing and mathematical logic into product is essential. Paying more for the right team is sometimes necessary, especially when good resources are scarce (here’s looking at you, Malta and Gibraltar).

Building capital is a different beast altogether. You won’t be able to secure any funding until you have a working proof of concept and, even then, capital is likely to be drip fed. Be prepared to get a family and friends round early on to deliver a ‘kick-ass’ demo, then start looking at early-stage VCs that specialise in growth-stage assets.

How do you react when you see startups coming in with their plan for disruption?

RL: We welcome the innovation and fresh thinking startups bring. This is particularly the case in Latin America, with a market still in its infancy. One area we’d especially like to see startups making waves is in the slot development sector. Latin America is a young market that needs local innovation suited to its unique conditions – especially in regard to mobile gaming.

Operators eyeing the market have Europe‐focused core products, which creates a struggle to work to the requirements of players and regulators. To succeed there, it has become more important than ever to work with those with a knowhow of the local area to adapt products and games to besuitable from the off; we welcome the chance for local talent to develop and grow.

Do you think it’s easier for established companies to innovate and establish new ideas? 

AL: From a financial perspective, yes. It is without a doubt easier for incumbent companies to establish a pipeline of innovation via their R & D departments, as well as having the tools to hand for data gathering and analysis.

But it stops there. Startups hold court in every other way. Not only are they flexible, they can easily switch from one idea to another, change strategy instantly as the market demands and easily move team members around. Established companies know this – and this is why we’re seeing an emerging trend for established companies to acquire small, innovative online gaming start-ups. They have the right resources and unique ideas, as well as the ability to bring a fresh approach to businesses’ thinking.

RL: For me, it’s always going to be established companies. Only with the resources, industry experience and know‐how can a company apply technology and services that truly make a difference. Of course there are exceptions. But when it comes to providing a platform that can be approved by regulators across multiple markets – as well as suiting an operators’ multiple jurisdictions – it is simply impossible for a couple of young bright minds with a few million behind them to get this done.

DM: I actually think it’s harder for established companies. It’s key to differentiate between having a good idea and executing one. That’s where the big corporates struggle most. They’re full of amazing people with all sorts of great ideas but getting them through systems and processes is nearly impossible.

Is it essential to patent-protect innovative products?

AL: It’s a very interesting subject. If we take IT for example – patents can actually become a block to the evolutionary process within the industry. Of course, getting a patent future proofs yourself from the competition copying your concept but, having said that, if you’re looking to protect yourself from someone more creative, smarter and agile, you’ve probably lost the battle already!

In our industry everything is moving faster and research takes less time than the development itself. No matter how good you are at copy pasting, you can’t copy Google or Netflix. The most important thing is not the tech itself but rather its ‘use-case’ – or in other words, does it solve what it’s meant to solve? Competition is healthy and the key to innovation. If you spend your whole time looking behind you, you’ll never be able move forwards.

JB: Tricky question, and one that depends on what and where you launch this IP. It can be difficult to patent mathematical engines and logic, mostly because they’re re-treading prior art. Branding, artwork and UX is more important and can easily be copied, but the territories you launch will determine how protectable your IP will be once patented. US/EU/Japan is easy but expensive to protect in. But China/South East Asia is a nightmare to cover adequately. Specialised patent lawyers with experience in software, and ideally gaming, can help you better.

READ MORE
PREMIUM CONNECTIONS