Richard Moffat Managing Director of leading UK sports betting affiliate OLBG (olbg.com) speaks to SBC on his firm’s recent international expansion and business strategy which has seen OLBG launch its player referral services in Spain, Australia, Ireland and Romania.
Moffat details to SBC readers how entering new international markets has tested OLBG’s day-to-day operations and marketing values as an industry affiliate.
SBC: Hi Richard, OLBG is a UK mainstay affiliate betting portal. Why has it chosen to expand its services internationally?
Richard Moffat: Hi SBC, yes that’s right, for the last 14 years we have been trying to see how big OLBG can grow in the UK. We are delighted that OLBG is now helping thousands of UK punters to find winning bets every day. We love reading the app reviews from people who have used the tips at OLBG to help them to win money from the bookies.
Whilst we have been doing this we have built up a lot of traffic globally but don’t feel that we have really been able to provide enough help to sports bettors outside of the UK. Even our Irish traffic hasn’t been catered for well with a lack of coverage of the sports which they love betting on. olbg.ie is proving popular already as we build up knowledgeable sports bettors across sports such as Gaelic Football and Hurling. We recently ran a really popular tipster competition for the Galway Horse Racing Festival.
SBC: As an affiliate betting enterprise how will international expansion impact and test OLBG operations?
RM: Technology has seen a huge investment but we are blessed with a fantastic development team which we have built up over many years. The biggest challenge now is finding the right people in each country to help us with local expertise and marketing. We need people who are passionate about growing OLBG. We are fortunate that OLBG.com has members from around the globe so many of these are helping us. We are still on the look out for lots of help from people who think OLBG could work in their country and have the local knowledge as well as the passion to make it work. This could be anything from a few hours a week to a full time role depending on the country.
SBC: What research did OLBG management have to undertake with regards to new market expansion and addressing potential blocks and obstacles?
RM: This really has been difficult. There just isn’t a list out there of which bookmakers are licensed in which countries, or a simple rule book of what affiliates can and can’t do. Even asking the operators direct about their plans has been difficult as understandably they want to keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to which markets they are applying for licences in. Then of course things are changing rapidly. This is really why we have waited until now to expand internationally as the landscape is becoming clearer.
SBC: From a leadership perspective, can OLBG UK learnings and competencies be transferred to new market operations, or are market conditions too diverse to create common practices?
RM: A lot of our learnings from growing a community of sports bettors in the UK can be applied to other countries. However we are going into this with the understanding that people bet very differently in each country. Australia is a classic example. The language and the way in which Australians bet can be very different. With olbg.com.au we have the benefit of some great local help which is allowing us to build an Australian site for Australians rather than a UK site marketed to Australians.
SBC: Assessing the individual markets you have targeted, do you feel affiliates and media portals promoting betting services are understood or supported by regulatory bodies? What could be done to improve this situation?
RM: Sports betting affiliates in many countries we are targeting aren’t widespread. So regulatory bodies are struggling to put them into a specific bracket. It is also a challenge to be approved for any advertising. We have regular conversations trying to explain that we aren’t a bookie and therefore don’t have a licence. We are seeing in some countries, Romania for example, that licensing of affiliates is taking place though and anticipate this will happen in more countries in time. I am sure the cost and complexity of this will put off many small affiliate operations.
SBC: Finally entering the initial stages of your planned international, what are your short and long term goals?
RM: Our short term goals are to build OLBG in a few countries, creating enough content to be able to really help local sports bettors to back more winners. This will be through building up communities of knowledgeable sports bettors and helping them to share their great content. Longer term would simply be to do the same in a few more countries.
Richard Moffat – Managing Director OLBG.com
Affiliate marketing and industry player acquisition strategies will be discussed at the upcoming Betting on Sports Conference (15-16 September London Grange Hotel).