Dima Reiderman: Maintaining momentum in Spain’s disrupted igaming landscape

Following the publication of  the ‘Spain Betting Focus report, BtoBet revealed that online casino growth had ‘closed the gap in the fight for the largest market share by vertical.’

Speaking to SBCNoticias, BtoBet COO Dima Reiderman outlined the growth prospects of the Spanish market following its continued adjustment to Royal Decree orders, as well as COVID-19 impacts on sports betting and consumer habits. 

SBC: Could the ban on sportsbook advertising in Spain help the casino vertical to close the gap on sports betting?

Dima Reiderman: First of all, one must say that the industry had long been welcoming of regulation that offers a broader player protection. This is something that is evidenced by the voluntary code of conduct that was introduced in 2020 by members of Spanish iGaming operator association JDigital. Furthermore, JDigital’s members had also complied with pan-European standards coordinated by the EGBA.

Nonetheless, one does seem to get the impression that the new law is not well calibrated. Because whilst operators were forced to face the brunt of the restriction in online gambling advertising, state lotteries increased their activities. As the EGBA clearly said, adopting a heavy-handed approach could have the detrimental effect of ultimately pushing players towards unregulated operators.

On the other hand, I remain of the firm belief that the sports betting vertical will retain its market share, especially in the Spanish context where people are so passionate about sports. It is true that the casino vertical increased its market share throughout 2020, but this was more of a direct result of the disruption of the sports calendar.

SBC: Do you think that the casino vertical achieved those results because of the unusual year that the sports calendar went through in 2020?

DR: Taking a close look at the data made available by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) clearly points in that direction. In the first two months of 2020 the sports betting vertical generated €43.27 million and €40.22 million respectively versus the €25.05 million and €24.44 million generated by the casino sector. In March, casino eventually overtook the sports betting vertical due to the onset of the first wave of Covid-19 cases. And the fluctuant nature of the sports betting GGR throughout the year demonstrates a close affinity between the sports betting vertical and the toll of the pandemic on a national level.

Strong results from the casino vertical were also registered in other countries where sports betting is traditionally prevalent over casino. This has been the case for Italy, where casino garnered the largest market share in the months heavily characterised by the effect that the pandemic was having on the sports calendar.

SBC: Do you believe that the fact that the public still can’t attend games is affecting this sportsbook vertical?

DR: The extent to which the lack of public attendance can lead to affect lines on sporting events is based on varying circumstances. For instance, the extent to which public attendance could affect the outcome of a sporting event varies on the nature of the sports discipline itself, whether it’s classified as an individual or team sports. I don’t foresee the lack of attendance at race events such as Formula 1 or Nascar, affecting the outcome.

However, the lack of fans could be a legitimate factor in team sports such as football, where statistics show that teams perform better at home than away, and that effectively playing without fans annuls this so-called home advantage.

SBC: On the other hand, do you think the Royal Decree will have some type of influence on the market share? What trend have you noticed in recent months?

DR: Sweden is perhaps an example of what the future holds, as operators have had to adapt significantly since the changes announced in 2019. The new licensing model has brought a bonus restriction, with licensed operators having to innovate in terms of products to retain their players instead of relying on regular bonuses. A similar transition from an acquisition-driven model to a retention-focused market model is certainly in the pipeline in Spain. According to the new regulations, Spanish operators can at least offer some bonuses to existing customers, so this should help with their retention efforts.

SBC: Slots and roulette continue to be the preferred games for Hispanic and Spanish players. What can providers do to bring those players to other modalities and verticals? Is it an ongoing subject for BtoBet or do you prefer to continue improving the existing product to not risk players’ loyalty?

DR: The past months have demonstrated how key it is to maintain a high player engagement in multiple products at the same time. With revenue streams collapsing for many operators from mid-March onwards, we saw an understandable eagerness among operators to diversify. However, cross-selling or multi-vertical engagement is easier said than done and requires a high degree of technological capability.

At BtoBet we are fully focused on providing our partners with the right tools to leverage their data and deliver content across multiple verticals recommending trending events. Thus operators will be in a position to deliver hyper-targeted content at the right time, whilst finding their most valuable audiences and increasing the overall player-lifetime value and ARPU.

The benefits of this approach are considerable with operators given the opportunity to maximise their revenue, and in the process converting cross-selling into one that offers a much higher yield for your business.

SBC: 2020 was a challenging year for operators trying to move players from retail to online. Now, almost six months into 2021, do you think those companies have managed to rise to the challenge?

DR:  Amid a slowing economic activity, COVID-19 has led to a surge in e-commerce and accelerated digital transformation. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on those operators who were focusing their business primarily on a retail-based model. And this unprecedented scenario accentuated the decision that needed to be taken… for retail operators to shift to the online, or make the online channels an integral part of their model.

Adults who have entered the digital age of wagering may shift some of their spending to more traditional forms of entertainment channels – namely retail casinos – but many of those adults will undoubtedly continue sharing their wallet with the digital channels. Does this mean that this is the end for the industry’s retail outlets? Definitely not, but I do expect the digitalisation of the industry to maintain its momentum.

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