“We’re ready for sports betting in Brazil”

Matt Stephenson, Managing Director at Betgenius.

(Exclusive interview).- Focus Gaming News visited Betgenius’ headquarters in London and talked with its Managing Director Matt Stephenson about the company’s strategy in Latin America.

Sports betting has been expanding its reach all over the world, and Latin America is no exception. With countries like Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil jumping on the bandwagon of the gambling trend, Betgenius is more than ready to provide its services to the Latin American markets. Matt Stephenson, managing director at Betgenius, talked with Focus Gaming News about the company’s position in the region and its upcoming plans for 2019.

Thank you for your time, Matt. So, let’s start talking about Betgenius’ business around the world. Over the last few years, the company has been working and investing in Latin America. Could you tell us what’s going on there? 

Over the last three or four years we have made a massive investment in our strategy for Latin America. As a business we have always been good at looking at what’s coming around the corner. We have been growing a presence in the US market for almost four years in anticipation of sports betting being legalised there, and it’s the same for Latin America with a view to the likes of Colombia and Brazil regulating. We are always trying to look three or four years into the future be in the right place at the right time.

Regulation in the region clearly presents us with some commercial opportunities. We’re well-known all over the world for our outsourced sportsbook management services. For major operators like Sky Bet, Ladbrokes Coral and GVC, plus the more than 150 other licensed bookies around the world, our expertise helps them work smarter and more efficiently by outsourcing functions such as trading, risk management and customer engagement. 

We have a team of 400 traders in Tallinn, Estonia focused on offering live betting to our customers. This year Betgenius traded 220,000 live betting events; 10 years ago we were probably doing 20,000 and seemingly there is a never-ending appetite from customers all over the world for this content. And we wanted to be able to replicate that in the Americas. Over the last three or four years we have made a massive investment our strategy for Latin America.

Over the last three or four years we have made a massive investment in our strategy for Latin America.

To be able to deliver that in service in a robust, around-the-clock fashion, we also needed to invest in Latin America as an operational centre. We considered various locations, including in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, but in the end we identified Medellin, Colombia as the perfect place to establish our regional tech hub. The city offers great access to extremely smart technical people in people who are passionate about sports. 

And so what we went about trying to replicate was the operational excellence that we have in Tallinn. It built up slowly and now it’s really gathering pace. We have a 150 people there now – with room for double that number – many of whom are trading and managing live fixtures for customers around the world. We are also growing our machine learning and computer vision capabilities in Medellin, which is extremely exciting to see develop. 

Sports betting in Latin America is increasing, and more countries are regulating (or they’re looking for regulating the market). What are your next steps there?

Where we differ from other sportsbook suppliers is that Betgenius is part of a wider business called the Genius Sports Group. Through this group, we have relationships with well over 250 sports leagues and federations around the world, from the NBA and the English Premier League all the way down to local basketball and volleyball leagues, including several in Latin America. 

Genius Sports provides technology services to these leagues to help them collect their live statistics, transform the way they run their sports, and generate valuable new revenue streams by commercialising that data into the media and regulated betting sectors. 

One part of our strategy is to ensure that we have the content that the domestic operators in the regulated market in South America are going to use. Of course, we can easily present Champions League and English Premier League and international sport, but it’s so important for the domestic operators in particular that they have to be specialists in Colombian football, Brazilian football and Mexican baseball, so our strategy is to build relationships with those sports and then be able to ensure our trading is being powered by the fastest and most accurate data available.  

One part of our strategy is to ensure that we have the content that the domestic operators in the regulated market in South America are going to use.

And the other side of it is focusing on the underlying quality of our product. Football is king everywhere and we either provide data or odds feeds to every major bookmaker on the planet. The reason we’re so successful is that because of the technology we have, we have the modelling departments that ensure our products deliver the highest margin, the technology which ensures that we are able to ensure that our service is robust, scalable, fast and accurate. 

Nowadays everybody in Latin America is talking about sports betting in Brazil. Do you have some plans there?

Brazil is a market we began preparing for many years ago, as far back as before the 2014 World Cup when it felt like regulation was going to see the green light back. So, now that sports betting has been legalised, we’re ready for it.

Brazil is one of the largest economies in the world and their love of sports is famous. But the most important thing from a business point of view is that it now seems that the framework and legislation are going to be conducive to a competitive liberal market where sports betting companies can flourish.

Regulation brings many other benefits, of course. By putting a proper legal framework in place, valuable tax revenues are created, while the transparency it creates also allows for a more proactive approach to protecting domestic sports from the threat of match-fixing. 

Now that sports betting has been legalised, we’re ready for Brazil.

As Betgenius and a wider group, we are laser focused on creating a sports betting ecosystem in which benefits all stakeholders. This means giving domestic Brazilian sports the chance to commercialise their data safely in the regulated market, and ensuring our sportsbook services use this data to offer bookmakers and their customers the best possible experience.  

Beyond Brazil, it’s going to be fascinating for us to see what happens in Argentina – if it’s going to be state-by-state or if it’s going to be federally – and Peru as well. The market is packed with potential four our sector.

And talking about Betgenius’ future plans, not just in Latin America but around the world, what do you expect for the upcoming times?

The international market is so fascinating and we’re also focusing on the US of course. It provides an absolutely enormous opportunity, but we’ve got a strong team and we’re doing deals in the US and working in the same way with the sports and the federations to ensure that things are done in a way that we see right. 

The underlying strategy is the same. We will invest in local talent, local infrastructure and ensure our products – whether it’s a turnkey sportsbook platform or managed trading services – are completely tailored to meet the needs of the local operators.

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