Max Meltzer Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of leading sports betting technology firm Kambi Group Plc, details his firm’s comprehensive partnership with Swedish legacy racing operator ATG.
A key stakeholder in the delivery of new ATG systems and platforms, Meltzer details to SBC the complexities of servicing Swedish betting’s legacy incumbent, as it faces sweeping changes within its home market…
SBC: Hi Max, thanks for speaking to SBC… Why is your technology agreement with ATG Sweden such a ground-breaking partnership for Kambi’s enterprise?
Max Meltzer (Kambi Group CCO): The partnership between Kambi and ATG is exciting for many reasons. First and foremost, as a result of new regulation, ATG was permitted to offer a traditional sportsbook product, to complement its existing trotting and horse racing product, for the very first time. Being state-controlled, ATG was very selective when choosing its partner, ensuring it not only sought the best quality product but also partnered with an organisation that put integrity and trust at the heart of its operations. Further, it needed a supplier it could trust to launch without issue on January 1st, both online and across 2,000 retail stores – Kambi was able to deliver on this promise. In addition, ATG has really grasped the freedom we offer operators to create bespoke sports betting experiences. For instance, the ATG Sport homepage is like no other in the market – resembling more of a sports news site than a classic sports betting page, with articles that link to related betting markets. Kambi’s coverage of the Swedish market is vast, which could have been a concern for ATG, but they saw the potential of our APIs and open platform and realised they could offer their players something unique to what was available elsewhere.
SBC: You have delivered the partnership, at a time of drastic change for Swedish gambling stakeholders – What is the role of ATG in a re-regulated Swedish marketplace, and how has this impacted the partnership’s development?
ATG’s role is simple, to deliver the best and most exciting sports betting experience to their millions of players in a safe and secure way. To do so they required a partner that could deliver all the sports that Swedish players expect to enjoy, such as Ice Hockey, Bandy, Handball and Winter Sports, to a high standard. These are sports we have been offering to scale for a very long time, having built trading models and algorithms a decade ago, which we have been fine-tuning ever since. Also, the Swedish player has a keen interest in US sports, which we have proven in recent years to be market leading in. In terms of player safety, Kambi has developed a proprietary algorithm that is able to detect signs of problem gambling before they become harmful, and therefore we are well positioned to support ATG with their responsible gambling initiatives, which are not only core to ATG but a central plank of Swedish regulation.
SBC: Both Kambi and ATG are Swedish enterprises, does this factor hold any strategic advantage for stakeholders?
MM: Of course, Kambi and ATG having a shared Swedish heritage is great and helps in some areas, however, Kambi operates across the world and has more than 700 staff spread out across six countries, so I would say we are more of a global company today than a pure Swedish one. Moreover, it was Kambi’s listed status, as well as our extensive offering and incredible record with speed to market, that ATG saw in us. The importance of delivering on time and with a leading product cannot be understated, and it speaks to the Kambi-ATG partnership that we were ready and able to take the first bet two seconds after midnight as we moved into 1 January 2019 and the opening of the new market.
SBC: As Sweden opens its regulated online betting marketplace. Can a state-owned incumbent really compete and catch-up against seasoned digital incumbents…Is this ATG’s reality?
MM: We have to make a distinction as ATG isn’t state-owned, it’s state-controlled. ATG is owned by the Swedish Trotting Association and the Swedish Jockey Club, however, the company’s business activity is regulated by a contract between ATG’s owners and the state.
However, I understand the meaning of your question. And yes, we firmly believe ATG can compete in the re-regulated digital environment. You have to remember that ATG already offers its trotting and horse racing product online and has more than two million extremely loyal customers, many of whom have been waiting for ATG to offer a full sports betting product for many years. Prior to reregulation, ATG held the number two position in the betting market without a full sports offer and we’re already seeing ATG players placing sports bets in between trotting races, a trend we expect to grow. So to answer your question, when you add a market leading sportsbook to a popular trotting product, which just happens to be one of the most recognisable brands in the country, there’s no reason it can’t compete, or even lead the market.
SBC: Furthermore, how have you incorporated and presented ATG legacy assets of racing/trotting within a new digital framework?
MM: ATG continues to run their trotting and racing division online themselves as they have done successfully for many years. It’s actually ATG who have presented the Kambi Sportsbook within their own digital framework, using the tools we provide to ensure the sportsbook meets the expectations of their customers. ATG wanted to ensure the transition between its legacy trotting product and the Kambi Sportsbook was as seamless as possible, which is why they needed a sportsbook product with the flexibility to enable them to do this.
SBC: When advancing ATG’s digital proposition, how aware were you of ATG’s commitments to wider stakeholders and Swedish social directives?
MM: How operator stakeholders distribute their online and retail profits is of course no business of Kambi’s but ATG’s commitment to Sweden’s trotting and thoroughbred industry is well-known, very much in a similar vein to the financial support PMU provides French racing, for instance. But this isn’t the first time Kambi has worked with such businesses. Kambi has also partnered with state lotteries and monopolies that contribute towards society, both in terms of their financial contributions and their commitment to addressing problem gambling, and we are privileged to help them generate these important funds and use our advanced technology to identify signs of problem gambling before they become harmful.
Max Meltzer – Chief Commercial Officer – Kambi Group Plc