SG Digital CEO: Sports betting performing even better than I thought it would

SG Digital CEO Jordan Levin caught up with Gambling Insider to discuss the supplier’s movements across Europe and the US, as well as plans for the rest of 2019.

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You have offices across the world but there appears to be a focus on your US adventure at present. Is there anything new you are in the process of?

The entire buzz in the US is sports betting and we are doing well there. Gaming is live in New Jersey and is continuing to grow at a blistering pace. Our platforms take close to 50% of all bets in that market.

We are continuing to launch additional themes, features and customers – the most recent example being Bet365, which we just launched in New Jersey two weeks ago. We will be launching DraftKings very soon once we get through regulatory approval and then we will look west of New Jersey, towards Pennsylvania – it is likely we will be launching in Pennsylvania towards the end of September.

People always forget about the sleeping giant which is lottery. The heritage of Scientific Games is lottery systems and scratch tickets, and we are very active with proposals and new business opportunities around digital lottery, content and platforms. The per capita performance of Pennsylvania at this stage being only live for over a year is the fastest-growing lottery in history for us, for the pieces which have gone online.

There appears to be a "follow the leader" effect at present with lottery. The more states which legalise, it creates a snowball effect with others. It’s hard to forecast, but I see a likelihood lottery will expand into at least half a dozen more states within the next 12 months.

Sports betting is really leading the charge though, even more than I thought it would. It should be legal in almost 20 states before the end of 2019, which is impressive. Partners we announced so far are Caesars Entertainment, who we are now live with in five states – we launched in three properties last week in the state of Indiana; that is retail and we also have mobile coming. We’ve announced we will launch Wynn Casino’s product late this year.

You mention your recent launches in Indiana, including the Indiana Grand Casino with Caesars; what other states/venues can we expect to see SG Digital expand into?

We’ve recently agreed to an extension with Caesars, who recently launched in Illinois and North Carolina. I can’t say right now, but we have a pretty robust pipeline of additional opportunities ranging from tribes in Michigan to mobile state operators and national operators.

There are additional, big powerhouse operators that have not yet entered America, who we are in discussions with to potentially partner and support their clients across the US. No shortage of work, that’s for sure.

Can you tell me more about OpenSports, which has launched across five states?

Before, the old OpenBet was really just about the core sports engine, which handles the transactions, dynamic odds, inbound wagering etc. That is what OpenBet has done really well for the better part of 20 years and has really led the charge.

What we have done is rolled out OpenSports, which we have branded for our sports solutions. Not only does it include OpenBet, which is that transaction engine, but it also includes a player account management platform, which includes wallets, payment solution providers etc.

On top of that, it includes the ability to offer website and mobile app solutions and user experience. Last but not least, it also offers creator solutions for managing services, which is powered by our Don Best acquisition.

Away from the US, can you tell me about any projects you are currently working on or have scheduled for the remainder of 2019?

Europe is our most mature market. Within casino, the business continues to grow, albeit at a slower rate as there are headwinds at present, especially on the regulatory side of the industry in places such as the UK and Sweden.

It remains at the core of what we do, building great games, applying innovation and taking the best of our catalogue, turning it into a digital space and having them come to life on mobile platforms, for example. We have also taken classics, such as Rainbow Riches, and we’ve partnered with Big Time Gaming which will launch in due course.

Beyond content, within our casino world, it is very much about building features, such as missions, tournaments and jackpots. We are launching Jackpot Wars, with a sort of esports-meets-gaming type of solution with a jackpot attached to it. We will be rolling that out in a very big, public way at G2E Las Vegas.

We also launched the Turkish sports betting service two weeks ago, we did a joint venture with a local business called Demirören Group. We announced this partnership back in March but managed to launch it by the end of August, which was a quick turnaround for sure.

One of our biggest focuses from a market perspective is Italy on the casino side. It’s a market we have continued to see grow, despite some of the regulations and TV advertising limitations which are in place. We have been able to launch eight new sportsbooks in the last three weeks, which is something we are particularly proud of as we continue to work very hard and strive to do our best. Our latest launches may not be headline-worthy, but we are continuing to grow with new features and focus on different markets.

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