hich were BtoBet’s major highlights during the first half of the year?
During ICE London, we launched our third generation sports betting and gaming platform – Neuron 3 – which has been developed from the ground up with the main aim of providing operators with the possibility of developing and providing their players with the betting experience as they envision it. The end-player is placed at the very core of the technology, with the platform ensuring wider interconnectivity between all the channels, whether retail or online. The platform features a lot of innovative solutions, amongst which are the new retail solution that allows retail operators to target non-registered players through a rapid registration process, and the social media betting feature which allows the players to make use of the most popular social-communicative platforms to place and check their bets. This will not only result in greater interaction and engagement amongst millennials but will also simplify the whole betting process for the players themselves who will now be able to place bets – even multiples – without the need to navigate to third-party apps.
Given that BtoBet is an iGaming and Sportsbook platform provider, could you detail in which ways did customer demand shift when the first lockdown measures were implemented across the globe? What are operators currently demanding?
The pandemic situation and the subsequent measures that were introduced impacted the industry primarily in two different ways: from a retail and a content perspective. Operators who relied heavily on their retail arm were the ones who were impacted the most. Their shops were closed, and that immediately meant a stop to all their revenue. However, the pandemic also brought literally to a halt the sports calendar.
The scenario that ensued resulted in more and more players migrating to the digital channels, where they had the possibility to still entertain themselves through other verticals, be it esports, fantasy or virtual sports, casino, and slots, or lottery.
Did you have to adapt your product portfolio to the current situation?
Luckily, BtoBet was very well prepared for the situation. The months prior to the pandemic were characterized by a lot of investment in terms of expanding all our content portfolios… we were never focusing solely on the sportsbook. In fact, just a few weeks before the whole world had to get to terms with the novel coronavirus pandemic, we had launched our casino games aggregator, which is regarded as the most comprehensive content aggregator for the casino vertical featuring well over 8000 games from over 100 content providers. This enabled us to be agile and offer alternative content when the live sports events were halted, allowing our partners to mitigate in the best possible way the shortfall in revenue from the sportsbook vertical through a better content diversification.
As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, almost all sporting events were suspended worldwide. Have sports betting operators begun diversifying their product portfolio to adapt to that? Do you believe this "diversification trend" could be something that has come to stay in the gaming industry?
I am of the firm belief that the diversification trend brought about by the pandemic will eventually also be forging the path for the years to come. Whilst up until recently, and rightly so due to revenue reasons, the vast majority of operators were focusing mainly on providing their players with the best possible sportsbook content, whilst treating other verticals with secondary, nowadays they have understood that there is much more they can do to exploit this alternative content. If one were to make reference to esports, we are talking about one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Last year, the esports industry had an estimated audience of 453 million, up from 293 million in 2016. By 2021, that number is expected to reach 557 million. There is so much more to betting than live sports events. Esports is a testimony of how operators could eventually also diversify their revenue stream.
BtoBet has recently signed a landmark deal with Colombia-based MegApuesta and Rappi, and intensified its partnership with Venezuelan operator Camanbet. What do you think are the strengths and advantages of Latin America?
There is no doubt whatsoever that Latin America is a market with immense potential. We are talking about a region consisting of a diverse consumer market of over 600 million people, who are especially keen on sports. Nonetheless whilst this passion for sports is one of the region’s primary strengths, LatAm is constituted also by a wide element of diversification. For example, the Mexican market characteristics are inherently different from the elements that would characterize other markets such as let’s say Colombia, Brazil, or Argentina. Whilst sports betting in Mexico is very much focused on US sports the story is entirely different in other neighboring countries where soccer and local sports reign supreme. The same thing applies to other cultural nuances such as bingo and the games that are usually associated with it. Whilst live games perform very well in Mexico, the same cannot be said to apply in Brazil. Therefore we are talking about a region that provides operators with a wide array of different elements that they could hone to maximize their revenue.
Which are the most important markets for BtoBet?
Whilst we are present in all major markets, we have a very strong presence in Latin America and Africa. As the European market becomes more saturated, providing less margins for growth, many operators are keen to expand into these regions even though they are still considered to be lagging behind the more mature markets from a technological and jurisdictional perspective. In regards to LatAm, Brazil is set to develop into one of the largest markets on a global level once the much-awaited regulatory framework comes into effect. The potential of the market has been also highlighted by the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) which in a recent report stated that within a proper regulatory and taxation structure, Brazil could see a licensed market equating to upwards of BRL 2,389.2m in gross win by 2024, with sports betting equating to 95% of that market.
You've recently announced Venezuelan operator Camanbet has gone live online by making use of BtoBet's Neuron 3 platform. Do you believe other retail operators will follow and adopt an omnichannel strategy?
During the past months, also due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, we have been approached by a significant number of retail operators to assist them in their migration towards the digital channels. However, whilst omnichannel technology has been around for a number of years, you will be amazed how even nowadays the vast majority of this technology does not feature a true interconnection amongst channels, where players are not only able to place bets via all channels – be it retail, web, mobile and nowadays also social media – but also have the possibility to do so with a seamless transition from one channel to the other, with all channels interlinked with one another. This is the new level of omnichannel that operators need to attain.
Could you detail BtoBet’s plans for what is left of 2020 and next year?
Even though it has been a difficult year for the iGaming industry, we are focused on our target which is to keep on expanding our presence in all markets, and from this point of view I am pleased to say that we are on track. It’s also our intention to keep on investing in our content portfolio in order to provide all our partners with natively aggregated content, for all verticals. This in turn enables them to build their brand according to their core business strategy in the minimal time-to-market. In the coming months, we will also be keeping the momentum and launch new innovative features on the Neuron 3 platform, with the main target being to keep raising the bar from a player-centricity perspective.