In March, Swedish online gaming operator Betsson announced a major milestone within its global expansion plans by entering its first state in the US. The ambitious move saw the sports betting and iGaming giant launch its Betsafe sportsbook app in Colorado, a vital part of its B2C and B2B objectives for the continent.
"Betsson has always had a business model of growth through geographic expansion and diversification, so expanding into the US market falls squarely in line with that strategy," Marina Bogard, Betsson's Managing Director in the US, tells Yogonet in an exclusive interview. "We see significant growth opportunities here."
In the interview, Bogard details the company's plans for both the B2C and B2B segments, opportunities and challenges in this new market, expansion plans for the continent, and what sets the company's product apart. Additionally, she discusses Betsson's growth model and the future of the US gaming landscape.
Betsson has recently entered the United States through a mobile sportsbook launch in Colorado. Could you tell us what are the keys behind this landmark event?
The Betsafe launch in Colorado is an important milestone in the global expansion of the brand onto this continent, so it’s really exciting for us and it continues to solidify the B2C and B2B objectives that we have. We know the US market is highly-competitive in general, and we are one of many options that the consumer has in the state. But the US is also an extremely vast market and is still early in its infancy, and will continue to expand - not only for sportsbooks but iGaming in general. We’re ready and confident in our execution strategy to broaden the best state brand in Colorado and to the rest of the market in the US through our B2B strategy.
We've just launched our mobile app sportsbook product under the Betsafe brand in Colorado, U.S.A! This is an opportunity to showcase our proprietary, U.S.-adapted sportsbook for new/existing operators - an important component of our B2B strategy in the US. https://t.co/NNu49YGJUK pic.twitter.com/4caGiOvPAN— Betsson AB (@BetssonAB) March 28, 2022
What would you describe as the main features of this new Colorado sportsbook and how does it compare to existing offerings in the market?
The Betsafe brand has been around for many years in the Betsson family, and so even though it's new in the US, it has been well-received by our players across the globe. We’re going to be bringing the same exciting play style that has shown success in other markets, and obviously we’re going to Americanize the app to be more US-centric with its offerings. This includes the expected features that you typically would have in the sportsbook app, but also a focus on players’ regional needs, ease of navigation, customized offers and experiences in a broad sports betting category.
And then there’s our award-winning customer service team. We’re focused on our players through our customer program, which might be a little bit unique compared to the others, where we take feedback from our players and ensure that our short and long-term roadmap captures those particular requests.
Betsson chose Dostal Alley Casino as a partner for this launch. Why was this business selected as a partner and what was the launching process like in general terms?
The Dostal Alley family and Betsson have a very good relationship. I can’t speak for them particularly and what their strategy is, but we’re going to support each other and bring together the very best experience for the players in Colorado. Collectively we have decades of experience in this industry, and we’ll continue to leverage the learnings from both our organizations to create an exciting Betsafe experience.
The launch is very important for the company as it grants the opportunity to showcase its sportsbook to new and existing US operators in the market, which is vital for Betsson’s B2B strategy. What are your expectations for this segment? Has the company already received interest from operators since the product launched in March?
The US investment is focused on presenting the sportsbook platform and services to other operators and potential partners with our B2B offering. We have had early conversations prior to going live, and since launch and through various events that we attended we have renewed interest, specifically from commercial casinos, tribal casinos, as well as potential operators that are trying to enter into the marketplace, where we can provide a full turnkey solution for them. We’re really excited about the opportunities that are coming our way and look forward to being able to announce some partnerships in the near term.
The company is committed to the US market and has now opened an office in downtown Denver, and account directors have been recruited for both B2B and B2C. How do these developments position the company going forward and how do they support its ambitions?
We’re really excited about our office in Denver, which is primarily going to support the B2C efforts in Colorado, as well as in Canada, as we move into the regulated market in Ontario and the rest of the country with the Betsafe brand. We are GLI-33 certified and meet the high standards required for a sportsbook operator in this market and our intent is to showcase the Betsafe sportsbook offering through our local acquisition efforts and the support infrastructure from Malta, which would include our customer service, our AML and KYC, and our trading team. The B2C arm will mirror exactly what the ecosystem for our B2B partners would look like as they come on board, and we’ll be able to actually show them the full experience here.
Betsson at iGB Affiliate London 2022
The company is one of the largest in the European gaming space, but this launch represents an entirely new market and continent for the business. How do you assess this in terms of the company’s global ambitions, and what would describe as the main opportunities and challenges present in this market?
Betsson has always had a business model of growth through geographic expansion and diversification, so expanding into the US market falls squarely in line with that strategy. Depending on what you read in terms of projections and forecasts, everyone’s kind of coming to an evaluation of about $17 billion by the end of 2025, so we see significant growth opportunities here.
It’s still an early market in terms of iGaming and sportsbooks in general, so it will continue to evolve and innovate with operators coming in with new solutions. We face profitability challenges as anyone else when you enter a new market, but Betsson has always had a diligent and methodical approach to gaining profitable market share, and we’ll continue with that philosophy in the US market as well.
Certain geopolitical challenges that we are all facing regardless of industry will probably continue to create headwinds as consumers face economic pressures, but as I said, that’s not just our industry - it’s just across the globe, and we’ll continue to keep our eye on that.
I won’t go into specific market share projections, but we’re coming into this market for the long haul and we’re going to be focused on a B2B strategy showcasing our product. Betsson has been launching products into new geographic locations for decades and we understand what it takes to enter a market and how long it takes to achieve a profitable business model.
At the same time, I do believe that there will be consolidation in this space, but as Morgan Stanley just mentioned, it is a very large market; one that is just opening up. And I think it continues to have significant growth opportunities for decades to come. It is far from being saturated, so there’s room for many players here.
As you mentioned, the company is seeking long-term and sustainable growth. What will be the general approach to investment and marketing spend within the US?
Without going into the specifics of our marketing strategy, one of the advantages of not being first in the market is to have a lens on the competing strategies and approaches. There are many sportsbook operators that continue to struggle with the profit margin line and have a long runway to break even, and the current acquisition models we know -and everyone knows- are not sustainable in the long run.
We’re starting to see some pullback on various promotions and offers, and I think we’ll continue to see that, so we do have an advantage of understanding what’s working, what’s not working, and where to focus specifically and target. And as in all of our markets, we’ll continue to focus on the user experience and support of our B2B partners as we deliver a best-in-class sportsbook platform.
There’s a partnership already in place with Paysafe, which will be providing traditional and alternative payment solutions for the sportsbook. What can you tell us about this deal and what role could Paysafe play in the long run, as the company seeks to expand within the US?
Paysafe has been a partner of Betsson for many years in different markets, and we’re excited to continue that partnership in the US. But we also know that consumers value very highly the ability to have safe, easy and quick deposits and withdrawals, so we will be continuing to partner with other options as well, just to let the players have a preference and choice of how they want to deposit and make withdrawals, so we will have a plethora of other options.