(Exclusive interview).- Valery Bollier, CEO of Oulala, offered Focus Gaming News an inside evaluation of the Daily Fantasy Sports market and the company’s future plans.
Oulala has proven itself to be a ground-breaker in Daily Fantasy football in Europe. Its innovative DFS platform has great potential in other markets too. CEO of Oulala, Valery Bollier, talked with Focus Gaming News about the challenges DFS is currently facing and the possibilities that the future can bring to the company and the industry.
How does your fantasy game work and what is the biggest attraction Oulala offers to its players compared to many other fantasy leagues out there?
Right now, Oulala can be considered the most innovative daily fantasy sports platform in the game. We have put in 6 months of work alongside a team of statisticians in order to develop a mathematical matrix that would render the results of our game as close to the reality of a football match as possible. Our scoring system includes 70 different football statistics, as compared to the approximate total of around 10 to 16 from our competitors. The criteria is weighted respectively based on the player’s position thus producing a total of 275 ways to gain or lose points.
Since it is a European game, playing on Oulala means that there is an option to pick players from any of the Italian, English, Spanish or French league teams. Furthermore, Oulala is the first Daily Fantasy Football game that is a real second screen game. In an effort to bring the experience as close to reality as possible, we have developed an innovative process that enables customers to make live substitutions during the matches.
US-based DraftKings recently applied for a license in the UK. Do you think that this could attract and boost your own business? Could it help changing the unsuitable legal framework that DFS operators are facing in the UK?
Whilst a number of smaller European DFS operators have expressed their concern that DraftKings’ seemingly imminent domination of the market may ultimately force them out of the game, I personally believe that this could be the necessary catalyst to increase the progression and attention towards the entire DFS industry. The arrival of such a major DFS operator is highly beneficial because it will gradually yield more opportunities and prospects for smaller operators.
Even though we have established a level of interest for our product in the market, we have yet to penetrate the mainstream market. It would be beneficial for us if we followed in the same vein and openly welcomed any competitors who are capable of helping our sector in crossing the chasm.
Regarding the legal aspect, the market has moved at a much quicker pace than the legislators have, meaning that Europe’s national regulators have yet to adapt to the new reality coming into play. More often than not, DFS tends to be considered a ‘pool betting’ activity, therefore in order to safeguard our young industry, it is crucial that we push for a legal frame that is adapted to our specific function from the gaming authorities. If the goal is to operate a DFS game in the UK then offering your game in the US will not be permitted. Considering how massive the DFS industry is in the US, the current situation seems rather ludicrous.
I firmly believe that our industry requires a tailor-made DFS license, one that should only be granted to companies who are successfully able to prove that theirs is a real skill game. It is imperative that legislators exert caution when selecting operators, basing their decision on the quality of their game and scoring system, whilst holding the accuracy of a DFS game as the factor of paramount importance. A DFS license should only enable proven skill games to offer a white label version of their game to third parties. Oulala is currently one of the few that offers one to the market, however other companies will soon follow, hoping to launch their own game through various partnerships.
Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is carrying out an analysis on a case-by-case basis of whether a particular game involving a predominantly skill-based nature requires added controls from a regulatory perspective. This is, however, simply a temporary period which will eventually lead to the creation of a specific skill game license. There is no doubt that this will be a huge step forward in the development of fantasy sports in Europe, also placing Malta at the centre of action for DFS operators.
Regarding the legal aspect, the market has moved at a much quicker pace than the legislators have, meaning that Europe’s national regulators have yet to adapt to the new reality coming into play.
In the event of legislating DFS in key markets, which are the most important aspects new legislation should cover?
It is in the interest of both the operators and the players that there is proper legislation in place. The system should not allow any unfair advantages to the professional players over casual players. It is essential to create policies that discourage them from using a game and its amateur and social players as their own personal piggy bank.
At Oulala we limit the maximum player stake per league to €200, players are prevented from using software to manage their teams, and the number of teams entered by a single client into a specific league is limited. Businesses will see far greater long-term value by protecting loyal social players from the more sophisticated professionals.
Oulala is about to launch a system that will allow our customers to see the status of other people entering a league. After all, few of us little fishes would want to swim in shark infested waters. We are also preparing to launch specific leagues that will be reserved for people of the same status level.
I believe that DFS games must be as close to reality as possible. Our sector is unique in which our games are meant to be a reflection of the reality of a sports match. If DFS games focus on mirroring reality, the more technically or mathematically minded players will be unlikely to find and exploit any advantageous flaws within the system. Fantasy sports games will need to be adapted and tweaked frequently throughout the course of our sector’s development.
You have recently expanded to the Australian market, what is the next big step for the company?
Our main intention in the near future is to further develop our network of iGaming partners. Just recently we have partnered with international gaming platform provider Game Interaction Group, who will not only serve as our exclusive partner in Italy, but will also help us spread our operations to other European countries. Oulala is in a very good position as we are the first DFS game to specialise in European football. This explains why so many international iGaming operators are interested in offering our game as a white label. Our aim is to continue along this path in order to evolve and become the leading Daily Fantasy network for European football.