Gambling Insider visited Kambi’s head office to speak with CCO, Max Meltzer and learn more about some of its recent partnerships and plans for the US.
Active in regulated markets across six continents, Kambi powers some of the leading B2C brands in the industry, combining high performance technology with sports betting knowhow to springboard operators to success.
Trading sports since 1998, Kambi has long been at the forefront of innovation-led change, delivering new and exciting sports wagering experiences to millions of players across the world. In 2018, Kambi created sports betting history when processing the first legal online wager in the United States post-PASPA. Kambi now powers eight US-facing operators, which are active across multiple regulated states.
Kambi will be showcasing its leading online and on-property solutions at the upcoming G2E event held in Las Vegas, booth 2230.
Kambi has been busy in the US over the past few months. Could you give us a quick overview of your partnerships and market launches?
It’s been a fantastic time for us ever since PASPA was overturned. The last few months have been fruitful for us as a business in establishing ourselves further as the premium sportsbook provider to the US.
We recently signed Penn National Gaming, which is an incredible partnership for us. It gives us access to 19 states potentially, if and when they regulate, that’s over 14 properties. As you’re aware, we are very much at the forefront of US sports betting across online and on-property. We look forward to a strong partnership there.
We also extended our relationship with DraftKings, this has been a strong partnership and has really been a great success. This deal will continue into multiple states. We recently launched DraftKings in New York on retail; we’ve also done that with Rush Street. We took the first bet in New York, which is testament to us. We took the first online bet in Pennsylvania and we took the first bet in New Jersey as well. So our track record is really exemplary at the moment for being quick to market and nurturing strong relationships, we’re really proud of what we have achieved.
You mentioned a few market firsts in there. Could you give us an explanation as to why Kambi has been so successful at getting its clients to market quickly and ahead of competition in the US?
There’s a multitude of reasons for that. First and foremost, Kambi is a listed company that puts integrity first in our approach. What we’ve seen is regulators trust in what we do. That’s why the Department of Gaming in New Jersey wanted and accepted that Kambi should be the first to take a bet after PASPA was overturned. We have those kinds of excellent relationships with regulators. We give advice as well, we are respected in that regard and we are often trusted to take that first bet.
At the same time, we have a very scalable solution. We could go and launch on-property and online for new partners and current partners while continuing operations in Europe and all across the world. The scalable infrastructure we built allows us to do this without suffering. That’s testament to the way we set up as a business and our product.
We’ve always thought we’re bringing the online pace to the retail space. That’s what we’ve always believed in and that set up has enabled us to really succeed. Our technology, integrity, regulatory approach and legal capabilities provide the basis of why we are very successful in getting our clients first to market. Which is really important when the opportunity is there to do so.
Your most recent customer signing was Penn National Gaming. Can you tell us what’s special about this partnership and why Kambi was selected?
Penn National Gaming is an incredible organisation. If you look at the casino history of these groups, the MGMs and Caesars of this world, you’ll see that Penn National has grown exponentially in the last few decades. They are experts at venture building and M & A. What they have achieved through their sports betting deals is develop a clear strategy of winning. They’ve done that through hiring really talented people, venture building specialists who are focused on sports betting. Alongside that, they have decided they want to work with an organisation that enables them to build their own IP and create a unique experience for players. That’s what they found with us.
They didn’t want to hand away their brand to someone else, they wanted to own and build it themselves. With that access to 19 states, more than any other operator right now, they’ve got an incredible ability to succeed. They are probably the last of the major casino groups that people were waiting to see how they would handle sports betting and I think their strategic approach will enable them to be market leaders across the US. We’re looking forward to that partnership.
Can you elaborate on the market access this deal gives you and how this works in relation to the skin deals Penn National also announced with the likes of PointsBet and DraftKings?
Let me just really clarify this one, the prominent deal that was made there was between Penn National and Kambi. They want to build their own brand; they’ve got incredible developers and real technology experts and real venture builders. They realise the power of Kambi, our flexibility and what we can achieve. So they wanted to do a deal that enabled them to scan into new markets quickly and build their own IP.
Penn National has additional licenses because they have other casinos. There’s no point in them having loads of licenses just sitting there, they might as well generate revenue from doing those additional deals to allow other people into the states. They can then take that revenue and reinvest it in the product they are going to build with us. That’s really the key element of why they’ve done those skin deals, and a key element as to why they’re going to continue to invest and become market leaders. I see what they’re doing, I see their ambition and I think that’s why they decided to do a deal with us.
You recently opened an office in Philadelphia. What was the thinking behind opening an office in this location and how’s it grown so far?
Philadelphia is a sports mad location and that’s the genesis of why we decided on Philly. It’s an incredibly passionate place to be but it’s also a real base for top talent. It has some of the best universities in the world, not just in the US. It’s got a real passion for technology and sport. If you combine all that together it stands out in the market place. We could go to cities where we have seen other sports betting companies set up but we wanted to indentify somewhere that will make us unique and stand out.
There may come a time where other companies come to Philadelphia as well, potentially even attracted by our talent, but what we’re trying to do is develop a really great environment. Our partners think this is a fantastic, easy-to-access location and it’s great that we have top talent in the US now. Ultimately, we are going to provide top-level, 24/7 service. As much as we focus on our technology being scalable, we are all about our fantastic service. Philadelphia is going to be a top choice moving forward.
G2E is just around the corner. Can you tell us a bit about how this event is viewed at Kambi and what you have planned for the show?
G2E is now the biggest event in our calendar in terms of setting up our stand and the number of people we bring over. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to show our technology. I certainly recommend anyone who is going there to come to our stand and see our fantastic on-property technology on show.
I know from when we were first going out to the US and we did road trips all over the country, we thought kiosks wouldn’t work with the US punter. They really want the over-the-counter experience; they want certain lines that they are used to. We then found out that 75% of wagers in Pennsylvania are at kiosks. It goes to show the technology we have is really changing the US landscape. At G2E we have a great opportunity to show that. We’ll also show our Bring Your Own Device technology, where you can build your own bet slips on your phone and take it in to a retail location. This gets players comfortable with using mobile, even in locations like Mississippi where it’s not currently possible to bet on a phone. But you can get people used to it. They like the comfort of not having to be in a huge line and figure it all out, they can do it all on the phone and pass it over.
I think G2E is a fantastic place to demonstrate what we do and this time we’re not going to be in the online gaming zone, we’ll be fully embedded in the casino locations of G2E. We think that’s fair because of where we are right now as an organisation. We are as much in casinos for sports betting as anyone else in the US, so we think we’ve got a lot to share. We’re really looking forward to people coming to meet us.