(Exclusive interview).- Kambi’s US Director Max Bichsel talked with Focus Gaming News in regards to the company’s performance at ICE London 2019.
The recent legalisation of sports betting in the United States has opened the market across the country and expanded operators’ possibilities to thrive in a new vertical. ICE London 2019 was the first edition of the show since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, and it was evident on the shows’ expo floor: sports betting increased its presence significantly.
Kambi, one of the leading sportsbooks of the industry, was ready for this change in the US and has taken advantage of the quick expansion the modality is having across the world. Once again, the company showcased its services at ICE London, and Kambi’s US Director Max Bichsel talked with Focus Gaming News to discuss the company’s performance and to discuss the current situation of the industry.
This year’s edition of ICE marked the first one since the US legalised sports betting at a federal level, and – naturally – the expo floor was influenced by this event. What were some benefits perceived by Kambi during this special edition?
The repeal of PAPSA in May naturally led to a greater interest in sports betting from US operators in this year’s ICE event. Of course, with a large land-based casino presence at ICE, US operators have regularly made the trip to London, however, this year we saw casino execs cross the floor to research their sports betting options. From a Kambi perspective, we saw plenty of interest from those who have observed our early success in the US and are keen to learn more about our product and how we have created market leaders, such as DraftKings in New Jersey and Rush Street and Parx Casino in Pennsylvania. In addition to walk ups, we also held plenty of pre-arranged meetings with those seeking a sportsbook supplier with a proven track record of delivery, both online and on-property.
How do you take advantage of the benefits of an expanded gaming floor with more sports betting participation when there are multiple companies trying to captivate the attention and capitalise on the momentum?
At Kambi, we sell on the strength of our product. While others may take a slightly more novelty route, we find prospective customers prefer a little more substance, which is why this year we exhibited our on-property portfolio, new bet builder product and showcased the many ways in which operators have the freedom to create and innovate on our sportsbook platform. We are also in the unique position of being able to provide numerous success stories, with operators signing with Kambi and going on to become market leaders, our competitors don’t have that. Further, the fact there were more sports betting suppliers at ICE this year wasn’t at all concerning, if anything it only served to highlight that we offer the number one product and service on the market.
What did Kambi showcase at ICE this year? Was there a particular message you were trying to convey?
As mentioned previously, our focus this year was on showcasing the freedom operators are given with the Kambi Sportsbook. This can be measured in a number different ways, for instance, by utilising our best-in-class APIs our operators can create totally bespoke frontends. In addition, our Price Differentiation tool enables operators to alter the odds being offered to players, ensuring they can scale up or down their competitiveness in certain markets or on certain games. The freedom also goes for the end user too, whether that be through our bet builder product which enables a raft of combination bets or by using our Bring Your Own Device technology, which allows players in states with no online betting to view odds on their mobile from anywhere in the state and build their bet slip to create a QR codes to be scanned on-property.
The fact there were more sports betting suppliers at ICE this year wasn’t at all concerning, if anything it only served to highlight that we offer the number one product and service on the market.
How does the opening of another online segment within the industry influence Kambi’s operations? While the biggest focus is on the US right now, does it change your stance on the European market?
While the US is undoubtedly a major focus for Kambi at present, it remains a small, albeit growing, segment of our overall business, a business we remain committed to expanding with both with new and existing customers. For example, on the eve of ICE we announced a deal with popular German sports betting brand mybet, which we will relaunch in the coming months. Meanwhile, on 1 January, we launched in 2,000 retail stores with ATG in Sweden as well as helping launch six other customers into the re-regulated market. Due to the fact the Kambi Sportsbook has been built in a scalable way, we are able to balance growth not only between the US and Europe but also other major markets such as South America, where we have made great strides over the past 12-18 months, including building a market leadership position in Colombia.
We are market leader in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania but we want to establish a similar position in every US state that opens up, so long as there is sensible regulation which enables us to enter.
Kambi was one of the first brands to join New Jersey’s emerging online sports betting market, and more states are interested in participating in that segment. As the industry keeps expanding in the US, are you looking to set new partnerships at industry events? Did you manage to create opportunities at ICE 2019?
We’ve gotten off to a great start in the US, signing major customers in DraftKings Rush Street and Parx Casino, but we’re not done yet. We are market leader in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania but we want to establish a similar position in every US state that opens up, so long as there is sensible regulation which enables us to enter. As such, ICE gives us a great opportunity to meet with prospective partners and understand how we can help them add a sportsbook and grow their business. We certainly used the time to strengthen relationships, which helped both parties understand how a future partnership would unfold. Outside of ICE, potential customers, those that have the ambition to be market leaders, are reaching out to find out more about how we are achieving success with our current operators and we are of course in dialogue with them.