Andrew Cochrane, SBTech: Helping lotteries to keep pace with the sportsbook competition

Lotteries are “turning to SBTech” for sportsbook services when their market share comes under pressure. That’s according to the firm’s Chief Development Officer Andrew Cochrane, who spoke on a panel about replicating the European Lotteries experience at this year’s Betting on Sports America (BOSA).

Why is SBTech well placed to join the debate around lotteries providing sports betting in the US?

AC: SBTech has been providing sportsbook services to numerous European Lotteries for a number of years and soon we will be propelling a state lottery into the sportsbook vertical in the US (Oregon Lottery). Our omni-channel solution covers online, mobile and a US-centric on-property solution. 

Essentially, lotteries are turning to SBTech when their market share is under pressure, typically through old legacy technology or where they see the value in giving their players a best-in-class product supported by strong responsible gaming controls.

Do you think sports betting is complementary to the lottery business? From your clients’ perspective, how do they see sports betting customers and sports betting products fitting in to their existing offer?

AC: We work with a variety of state lotteries, some of which have been in sports betting for a long time, for example Danske Spil. What’s interesting about lotteries is that they all have their own goals and objectives, and often differ quite significantly from the private sector. 

In Denmark, the biggest challenge with their core brand was they simply couldn’t compete on a product level, or certainly from a trading and risk management perspective, with some of the big offshore books like bet365 and Kindred.

So, what they did is turn to SBTech to launch a new brand, essentially a challenger brand, to go after a new demographic and start using product as a way of capturing these players.  

It depends largely on the goals of the individual lottery. The state lotteries also have a different view of what a VIP is, and how they manage their marketing promotions, so profit from SBTech’s significant investment in responsible gambling tools. We make sure we’re providing all of the available tools to ensure they meet their wider CSR objectives.

If you could give one piece of advice to a US lottery about sports betting, what would that be?

AC: Take a look at Europe. Look at the market shares of the big lotteries, and see how they’re faring against the competition with the current product suite that they have. 

Actually, what you’ll realise is the opportunity for lottery is – with very large brands and very large databases of loyal players – to offer an innovative product that can compete with the large online sportsbooks.

In summary, the message is product. We are very much a mobile led business, so all of our investment in product goes into a mobile first approach. It’s all about player engagement on mobile.

Mobile gaming isn’t allowed in too many states; how can you work with betting companies to embrace your vision if mobile isn’t permitted by regulation?

AC: One example might be allowing players to create a bet, go through the hard work of building a bet without having to stand in line at a counter or a kiosk. 

Actually doing that on a mobile app and walking into a lottery premises, or a casino, and showing a QR code or simple five-digit code. You can then place a bet very quickly without having to spend time in that location. 

It’s just an example of using mobile where perhaps regulations don’t allow to still engage with players. Another example would be in Mississippi where mobile betting is restricted but you’re allowed to offer it within the confines or walls of a casino property that’s fully licensed for sports betting. 

So we’re working with geo-location providers who we’ve integrated into our award-winning Chameleon360 player account management platform, and essentially it allows players to download an app and actually place online sports bets so long as they’re within the boundaries of the casino. They can then bet at their convenience.

There’s been a lot of discussion in the US about the state specific regulations, different rules around college sports and integrity issues. What has your experience been so far of working across multiple markets?

AC: Operationally, we make sure that from a configuration perspective, we have the ability to allow an operator remove certain content e,g. college football;  if that is part of regulation or the operators strategy. 

In addition, we are respecting international rights on data. 

For example, with live tennis we recently expanded our partnership with IMG who own the rights to certain tennis competitions, so if our partners want to offer their players live betting on IMG events then essentially they need to obtain the relevant data licence directly with IMG.

Our experience with lotteries has told us to ignore competition at your peril. So even with a state monopoly partnership, we’ve spent time analysing the offshore books – where players in that state might be betting – to make sure we understand the product offering that is available and ensure our offering is compelling to the player in that state.

We need to understand what events are being offered, as well as the pricing and the lines, what kind of margins are being offered. That helps us to make sure that the proposition is compelling to the player to pull them away from the offshore books.

We’re also thinking about future competition as well, so neighbouring states might be looking to enact legislation in the coming 12-18 months. So, they need to understand the extra level of threat to them in the mid-term.

For any US state lottery organization doing an evaluation of a technology provider, what should they be looking at?

AC: Every lottery has its own goals. In the US it’s slightly different to Europe. When you start talking to them, there’s a real void of knowledge about sports betting, so I think on the one hand we’re a technology partner but in reality these lotteries are looking for a partner in sports betting. 

They’re looking for expertise, for someone to help them on this journey, and how they’re going to deliver their revenue goals for the long term but at the same time have confidence that the chosen technology partner can deliver on their responsible gaming and CSR goals.

At SBTech, we invest significant time and effort into a partnership approach, we are not just a technology supplier – we are a true partner. We believe that this sets SBTech apart from our competition, both in Europe and the US.

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