Born and raised in Belgium, Christiaan Bollen (Boljoro) is among the few LRT Certified Professionals in the world.
EEGReport Magazine: Hi Christiaan, tell us a bit about yourself, we want to know who Christiaan Bollen really is. Where were you born? What was the key idea of developing these skills that got you so far in the industry?
Christiaan: I am born and raised in Belgium. As a kid, there was always a big interest in computers. In high school I started creating my first affiliate websites, it was a nice extra income for a teenager. Later in university I graduated in Software Development, during my time at university there was not so much time for the websites, there were other priorities during those years and the affiliate websites were put on hold.
After graduating at university, I started working as consultant in a local Belgian software development agency.
In the evenings after work the urge to make my own websites came back. At that time in 2012 in Belgium the gambling market just got legalized. Because there was not really a website that gave an overview of which casinos were legal I decided to make a website that gives an overview of legal gambling websites. I had no idea how much money there was to make as an affiliate in this industry.
My first website https://www.goedgekeurdegoksites.be started small, an overview of all the legal websites with some information and a few affiliate links. From time to time some extra news was added. Nothing big. After some months the income became bigger and bigger. Later I decided to stop working as software developer and started up my own company. Today Goedgekeurde Goksites is one of the biggest iGaming affiliate websites in Belgium. The website also has a version for the French speaking part of Belgium, Jeux de Casino Approuvés .
Being an affiliate gives you a lot of freedom. As long as there is an internet connection and you have your laptop with you, you can work. There are even some people who claim to do all their work on their smartphone.
Having all the freedom in the world, last year I decided to move to Barcelona, my favorite city. The company is now also officially in Spain. Soon more Spanish and International websites will be released. At the moment those are in development.
What I like and focus on is SEO. In the 5 years I have been to many SEO conferences and got really good in it. Last year I was honored to join the SEOktoberfest, one of the most exclusive SEO conferences with all top experts. Sometimes I also speak as SEO specialist at conferences.
Going to conferences gives me a chance to travel around the world and discover new places. It is also a good variety in my daily life as affiliate.
EEGReport Magazine: Since there are hundreds of Search Engine Optimization, Online Marketing and Web Development agencies out there, where do you think Boljoro stands in relation to the competition at this moment?
Christiaan: Boljoro is a small company, I mainly do consultancy work as SEO specialist. Build an SEO strategy for a company that their in house team can execute.
It is hard to say about myself but I believe my knowledge is above average of other SEOs. Going to many conferences talking with other experts but also getting ideas from other people you talk with. It doesn’t always have to be an expert that has good ideas.
Being part of closed communities like the SEOktoberfest gives me the opportunity to be in close contact with people from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and big agencies. This is my biggest source of information. It benefits me as affiliate and my clients.
EEGReport Magazine: Tell us which markets do you target with Boljoro and in which fields/niches are your clients active?
Christiaan: The biggest market for Boljoro is still Belgium, next to that the focus is going to Spain as we relocated. As I am an igaming affiliate, the igaming niche is the most important. But Boljoro also has clients in other niches, the car industry for example.
In the beginning you try to get clients and don’t really focus on a market. Now there is so much work that I don’t take random customers in different markets anymore. My focus is on the gambling industry. I am open to new projects in other markets but only if they are interesting enough for me.
EEGReport Magazine: We know that you’re constantly travelling, could you share the most interesting events that are dedicated to SEO/link building or affiliate conferences/events?
Christiaan: The most interesting SEO conference for me is Ungagged, this conference is 2 times a year. In June in London and in November in Las Vegas. For a igaming affiliate the fact that it is in Vegas is an extra plus.
If you focus on a specific country, try to go an SEO conference in that country. The local people will have their own strategies that you can learn from. Some things work different in other countries.
Always try to blend in with your competitors if you do SEO, just be a little bit better then them.
For the igaming affiliates, they can not miss the London Affiliate Conference. This conference makes it possible to talk affiliate managers from most of the brands. The other iGB Affiliate conferences are also good but there are less brands present. At the iGB events lately the level of SEO presentations also got better.
EEGReport Magazine: Google rolled out it’s final version of Penguin, what’s your angle on this “real-time update” ?
Christiaan: Calling it the final version might not be so accurate, it keeps getting updated. You have to be even more careful with your link profile as they can push a change every day. One of these updates might have a big influence on your website. My advice is to keep a clean link profile.
EEGReport Magazine: How about Google’s New Mobile Index?
Christiaan: An obvious evolution, mobile had a big growth in the last decade. These days everyone is walking around with a smartphone and using it whenever they can. The amount of mobile traffic got higher than desktop. It is normal that Google follows this evolution and puts mobile before desktop now.
EEGReport Magazine: Can you tell us how did you see this year in terms of Google and what do you predict for the New Year, any major updates or so that you expect?
Christiaan: Continuing on the previous question, mobile got more important. We saw Google put the mobile friendly tag first, now the mobile first index. In the next year I expect that AMP will grow more and become more important. Or at least that is what Google wants. This way they have even more control over the internet.
EEGReport Magazine: Which term do you prefer link builder or link earner, and why?
Christiaan: Link earner, the links you can earn naturally are probably way more relevant and helpful for the reader. This will also reflect in the user behavior on your website which will have a positive impact on your SEO. These links are also more likely to convert your users. After all that is what you want to do with your site.
Buying links is possible but be careful what you do, Google is watching. I prefer earning links.
EEGReport Magazine: How do you see this “new era” in the backlinks world, I mean is content king in your opinion?
Christiaan: Don’t believe people who say that links don’t matter, they do. Even Google’s, Gary Illyes said it last year: “Ranking without links is really, really hard”.
EEGReport Magazine: Do you use metrics like Alexa Rank, PA and DA, Trust Flow and Citation Flow. if yes what’s your opinion about these?
Christiaan: For me metrics are important, mainly I use Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Next to that I also use Link Research Tools Power and Trust.
But don’t get to focused on metrics. You also have to visit the website. See how it looks, what is your “feeling” about a website. The more experience you have as an SEO this feeling will become more accurate and clear. There are so many factors that matter.
A website with lower metrics can be better for your link profile than a website with higher metrics. It is important that the content in which your link can be found is related to your website. The website must fit yours.
Be careful with websites or self-called SEO’s or marketers that try to sell you links. Many times they manipulate you into buying to expensive links. Alarm bells should start ringing if you get an email from email@example.com that has these great links for sale.
Always try to check the history of a website. How long has it been online, did it have a big change in the last months, has it been offline for some time, etc.
EEGReport Magazine: Let’s talk affiliates a bit, how do you see the future of the online casino/gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?
Christiaan: Is it not already global? Gambling is everywhere over the world, online and offline. Where people have the possibility to go online there will be people gambling online. There are also affiliate websites all over the world. Some regions might not be as popular as others but when casinos or affiliates see a way to earn money they are there.
I am not sure how legal it will be in different places in the world. As we can see in Europe, more and more countries start legalizing online gambling. The reason they give for this is to help people, don’t get them into debts or addicted. According to me their main reason is that they see a way to earn more money by charging taxes for gambling.
EEGReport Magazine: Do you have any advice that you would like to offer to newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
Christiaan: 100% agree, this industry is great. For newbies, don’t give up! It is a really hard and competitive market. You need confidence that you can do it, make a plan. You will need a lot of patience.
Don’t expect that it will be easy or quick money. You should work hard for it and it will take time. It can take months or a year before you earn your first euro. If you plan to give up your job for it, don’t do it. You need savings to go through the first year or keep your current job next to it.
EEGReport Magazine: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino/gambling affiliate world?!
Christiaan: More cooperation between (European) countries in their gambling laws. Every country has its own laws, in some countries the laws are even different for parts of the country like in Germany.
Affiliates but also gamblers can’t see the wood for the trees. As I told before, this was the first reason for me to start up my main website Goedgekeurde Goksites. Everything I publish on my website is legal in Belgium. If you translate the title to English it is “Approved Gambling Websites”. I want my visitors to be able to browse my website without having to worry about legal stuff when they are on my website.
EEGReport Magazine: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe?
Christiaan: Everywhere, I love traveling. I have only been to Budapest, Hungary, in Eastern Europe. In the future I hope to see more of the East of Europe. Usually my travels are a combination of work and fun. I go to a conference and stay a bit longer to explore the area. If you can advice me any conferences?
EEGReport Magazine: Do you have region or country that you wouldn’t want to visit in Eastern Europe, if so why?
Christiaan: There is no specific country that I would not like to visit. The only thing places I wouldn’t want to go to are places where it is not safe.
Event Reports: SiGMA raises the bar with mega successful show (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
The third edition of SiGMA broke all records. The island has never witnessed an iGaming bonanza this spectacular, this successful: everyone walked out a winner. The organisers anticipated close to 3,000 attendees, with the final numbers edging 4,000, double last year’s numbers. This was clearly visible on the expo floor, which was extremely busy on both days.
The iGaming storm came to Malta on 16-19th November. The organisers behind SiGMA pulled off an impressive number of strategic partnerships, culminating in a much anticipated Malta Gaming Week, bringing the entire gaming community together; from affiliates and operators to regulators and vendors.
After receiving plenty of great feedback, this year’s summit saw some great upgrades, including the fact that over 300 affiliates flew to Malta for free, from the organisers’ own pockets. There are plans to reignite this idea with 300 fresh flights, but for new affiliates, thus injecting the show with “fresh attendee blood”.
Following last year’s overwhelming interest in conferences, the organisers switched to a bigger conference hall, with completely redesigned layout. Instead of standard theatre style setting, the room was set up cabaret style, with round tables, giving the attendees a better opportunity for discussion and networking.
Free standing lunch for all the delegates was also introduced on both days. It gave the attendees more time for business during those busy days.
The BiG Charity Dinner was brought to SiGMA for the first time as well, one day before the exhibition officially opened. It was a fantastic night of sports stories and brilliant entertainment, simultaneously raising money to enhance the quality of life of injured, sick or terminally ill individuals around the world, with a focus on the healing power of sport.
First edition of Malta Gaming Awards was held together with the BiG Foundation Dinner at the InterContinental Ball Room. 6 winners were chosen in the following categories:
Affiliate Of The Year – Winner: Game Lounge Limited
Careers Program – Winner: Tipico Careers
Corporate Responsibility – Winner: Maltco
Fastest Growing Operator – Winner: Evoke
Innovator – Winner: Join Games
Investor – Winner: Optimizer Invest
Among the other new events introduced during SiGMA16, the SiGMA Startup Pitch, brought together nine startups and seven investors under one roof. With so many investors wanting to join the gaming scene in Malta as well as worldwide startups, there’s never been a better time to launch this session. Real big names, including Morten Klein (Cherry Group), Ory Weihs (XLMEdia) and Carla Maree Vella from Optimizer Invest were among the investors grilling the start-ups.
Each startup had three minutes to present their project and then faced a seven minute session of Q&A from the investors and the audience in a Dragon’s Den-like environment. Despite initial fears, the format worked marvels, and not a single member from the audience was bored given fast paced session.
The winner of the first edition is Commologic, an innovative sports betting software provider based in Israel and licensed in UK, Malta and Denmark. Their first game, BetUP, the world’s first inplay betting cash tournament game, has recently gone live with Unibet and The Football Pools.
Preparations for SiGMA17 are already in full swing. The details on the next edition will be announced in early 2017, but booths are already selling fast. Stay tuned and check maltaigamingsummit.com for regular updates.
Innovation Talks: SBTech-Multi-Display Betting (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
Two Sides of the Same Coin
There are two sides to the multi-display equation: multi-window and omni-channel. An online bookmaker needs to consider both elements, as well as the interactions between the two, in order to offer an enhanced, seamless experience, boosting brand loyalty and company profits.
First of all, it’s vital to take account of the differing psychologies and behaviors that apply to desktop, mobile and in-shop betting. Mobile UI/UX currently needs to be simpler and more streamlined than on desktop, while session time, bet propensity and stake amount vary significantly between channels: a player will spend more time and money on desktop or in-shop, but will place more bets within a shorter time-frame on mobile. An omni-channel strategy, therefore, shouldn’t be focused on building an identical experience across all touch-points, but on creating complementary journeys in order to add overall value.
There can still be space to offer exclusive mobile offers, for example, although creating special promotions to promote the omni experience is also a powerful marketing tool, considering that the growth in mobile betting, which already represents over half of most operators’ turnover, is certain to continue.
Window on the Future
Players tend to spend much more time researching bet types and statistics on desktop, usually opening multiple windows to research team news and previous performances, whereas mobile players naturally tend to be more impulsive.
This allows for much higher margins from mobile betting, but it’s important to note that future generations of mobile devices, especially tablets, will make much greater use of multi-window, with far-reaching implications. In other words, players will be able to spend more time researching their mobile bets, reducing overall frequency and potentially lowering margins. Gestural interface, especially on smart TVs, will also take off in the coming years, allowing for far more multi-window approaches than are currently possible.
The sheer ubiquity of an omni-channel experience serves to encourage repeat betting. Operators therefore need to consider how mobile can support, rather than supplant desktop and in-shop betting. Cash Out is the perfect example of this: many players choose to make their selections on desktop or in-shop, but then to follow the progress of their bets on mobile, opting to cash them out on-the-go, whether to lock in profits or limit losses.
A Cash Out feature should therefore be as flexible as possible, enabling the player to set the precise amount they wish to take off the table, while leaving the rest of the stake active. This provides that all-important sense of control, which is at the core of building brand loyalty and promoting repeat betting.
‘Fast markets’ in-play betting on what will happen in the next one or five-minute period of a live football match, tennis fast markets on next point and next game, and live basketball betting represent a rapidly growing sector, where mobile can also be a powerful complementary channel.
Offering live betting suggestions for an event on which a player has placed a pre-match bet is a proven means of increasing turnover through the kind of appropriate, non-intrusive personalisation that bettors have come to expect.
In-shop bettors generally spend long periods of time on the premises, and it’s essential to make better use of down-time by providing a wider range of products and experiences. For some, the period between major horse racing events, for example, is an opportunity to research betting possibilities. For other, younger players, it’s the ideal moment to engage in mobile-based social betting.
By integrating both of these mobile device activities with in-shop display units – TV and SSBTs – an operator stands to reap significant rewards. QR codes displayed on large in-shop screens will become increasingly significant as a means of directing players towards specific sites, and it’s therefore vital for operators to invest in the very best hardware.
The Name of the Game
Fully gamified sports betting experiences, involving extensive lists of achievements and rewards, as well as peer-to-peer challenges and social leagues, are looking likely to become a major element of the sports betting ecosystem in the years ahead. A small number of operators have already rolled out products of this type, designed to appeal to new generations of players who have grown up with online gaming.
These approaches are tailor-made for mobile, since they can be readily integrated with social media accounts and will increasingly depend upon real-time interactions with other players. In fact, social media is expected to play a greater part in achieving ultra-personalisation across the board. By tracking trending hashtags within a sports betting game frame, for example, betting suggestions based on the latest team and transfer news, or mirror-betting based on the selections of successful players, can be created.
eSports is also emerging as a major force within the online betting world. It’s fair to say that the sector is still in its infancy, and that the most popular competitive games titles still lack significant mainstream appeal. Game developers are certainly aware of this, and we anticipate the imminent launch of a slew of new games which will be of interest to very broad spectator demographics. In the interim, however, we should also be seeing greater sophistication in terms of bet types. For games such as “League of Legends”, where the action is spread across multiple locations within the game universe, multi-window and very fast markets could well prove to be lucrative areas for operators which have the vision to develop the required technologies.
More prominent integrations with statistics feeds will be increasingly demanded by players. Rather than accessing them through a separate tab, the use of pop-ups and widgets to display the information relevant to specific bets will become the norm. Such features could even include video clips, showing the recent goals scored by a particular player, for example.
Although multi-event streaming in different windows might sounds like a very attractive feature, in practice it has a couple of major downsides. Firstly, the performance of even a powerful desktop or laptop computer can be severely impacted by multiple streaming feeds. This also applies to graphical visualisations, and one major online bookmaker has recently moved away from a feature that offered up to eight simultaneous visualisation windows. However, this is likely to have been for a different reason: what’s sometimes known as the paralysis of choice, or what you could simply call information overload.
This is an important factor to consider when strategising and developing multi-display betting experiences. Although it’s tempting to say ‘the more the merrier,’ there’s a fine line between increasing opportunities to encourage bet placement and swamping players with too many possibilities, causing them to tune out or lose faith with a brand.
There’s an additional issue to consider when it comes to streaming. Because live TV is broadcast with a delay of anywhere between 5 and 20 seconds, data feeds can often announce a goal before the player has seen it on screen. Clearly the operator cannot add a delay to their price updates to sync with TV pictures, as that can open up an operator to abuse by players who are watching the game inside the stadium and have fast feeds. The smart operator, therefore, needs to deploy sophisticated player profiling to determine not only the location, but the previous behaviour and trustworthiness of each and every bettor to provide genuine punters with the best possible experience.
Words of Encouragement
In-play accas are likely to become a key element of the multi-window and omni-channel experience, offering players time-sensitive opportunities to win big payouts, with prompts delivered via pop-ups, push notifications and/or SMSs.
Personalisation plays a big part here. If a player has been identified as a regular favorites-backer, then a timely suggestion notifying him that five favorites are all currently at level-pegging in home games could prove to be a very appealing acca bet opportunity.
Such opportunities are tailor-made for enhanced acca promotions offering extra winnings, ideally on a sliding scale according to the number of selections. The important thing to remember is that although such features are generally automatic, meaning that there’s no need for an opt-in, the promotion still needs to flagged up. There’s no point offering enhanced winnings if the player isn’t aware of it!
Half-time casino betting for sports players is a well-established phenomenon, as are gamified elements such as double or nothing on sports bets. Encouraging such behavior can be achieved by incorporating widgets such as casino mini-games within the sports game frame, or by encouraging casino betting on mobile devices at key moments. The latter approach can be particularly effective, since players who are watching a live game on desktop or on a smart TV are likely to move away from their main screen during the break, whether to put the kettle on or simply to stretch their legs.
Top of the Shops
For the operator, the ideal customer interaction with an SSBT is defined by speed. Operators don’t want punters hogging a terminal for 30 minutes to place 3 bets and lose out on the business of 10 others. Although SSBTs generally do offer match statistics and visualisations, it’s clearly preferable to direct players’ attention towards big screen or mobile live action. This not only ensures greater operational efficiency, but increases bet propensity. A mobile device naturally feels more personal than a public terminal, and is therefore a far more appropriate channel through which to offer bet suggestions and bet management features.
The single electronic bet ticket represents another dimension of the omni experience that serves to reduce in-shop SSBT clogging. Retail operators do stand to lose the percentage of their revenues that derives from lost tickets, but on the flipside, customers will be feel better protected, increasing brand loyalty and overall betting frequency.
In the Lap of the Odds
An operator’s odds strategy needs to be carefully considered when providing a true omni-channel experience. In-shop prices, of course, are traditionally less competitive than online, but the ubiquity of mobile devices means that players naturally expect to be offered the same odds across all touch-points.
Mirroring retail odds online makes it much harder to stay competitive, however, whereas basing in-shop prices on online odds damages profitability.
Most retail operators, therefore, have their SSBTs managed by outside providers, meaning that they do, in fact, offer different prices within the same location, which inevitably has a negative impact on the appeal of omni.
The answer to this conundrum is transparency – being up-front about slight variations in pricing, and in fact making a virtue of them. By offering better prices to encourage in-shop players to place a bet on their mobile or an SSBT rather than over the counter, an operator can increase efficiency and expose the player to a greater number of time-specific and personalised promotions, especially on mobile.
What’s the Takeaway?
In a uniquely dynamic industry, where innovation is at the heart of staying ahead of the competition, every operator needs to be aware of all the latest trends and developments across the world of tech. The most successful bookmakers need truly joined-up thinking in order to take advantage of changing bettor behaviour, the demands of fresh demographics and new ways to enhance the overall omni and multi-window experiences they offer.
SBTech is the industry-leading provider of fully managed and semi-managed sports betting solutions and services in regulated markets, including its complete omni-channel offering and uniquely configurable Chameleon360 iGaming Platform.
The company’s sportsbook offers world-class coverage, including 2,000+ proprietary bet markets and multi award-winning live betting, featuring over 20,000 in-play events every month. SBTech employs over 750 people in eight global offices, including over 200 in-play traders working 24/7.
SBTech’s wealth of betting features, ranging from integrated enhanced winnings accas to flexible Cash Out, its expertise in developing gamified betting systems and its mastery of big data analysis for creating personalised betting journeys make it the platform provider of choice for a rapidly growing portfolio of over 50 international iGaming operators.
More info: http://www.sbtech.com/
Event Reports: SBC bringing a global perspective to sports betting industry (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
As the sports betting industry settles after a year of major consolidation, SBC – Sports Betting Community is planning to provide the sector with the tools it needs to thrive in 2017.
SBC has grown considerably in the past few years as the sports betting industry responded positively to its services. Alongside its SBCNews.co.uk news portal, the company also offers sports betting consultancy work through its SBC Media brand. But it’s the SBC Events division that has really taken off with two established conferences, Betting on Football and Betting on Sports, complemented by the SBC Awards ceremony held at the end of the year.
“We’re bringing an international perspective to the sports betting industry at SBC this year,” explains SBC Founder Rasmus Sojmark. “We’ve had such a global audience attending our events, reading our news site and being up for our awards that we thought we’d acknowledge the fact by embracing the international nature of the sports betting business. We’ll be doing a much bigger global push on our events this year and also introducing some interesting new projects to the industry in 2017.”
The first of these initiatives is the brand new H20 Data – Sports Betting Seminar that is being held on the Sunday before the ICE Totally Gaming Show. SBC has teamed up with sports betting supplier BetConstruct to put on an evening discussing the importance of data to the sports betting industry.
Liverpool and England football legend John Barnes has been confirmed as a headline speaker at H20 Data. The two-time First Division and FA Cup winner with Liverpool will take centre stage as part of the post-dinner entertainment on Sunday 5th February at Whitehall Place. Barnes, who was capped by England 79 times, will be part of a Q&A session along with another big name from the sport, who is yet to be revealed.
Along with the appearance of football royalty, the invite-only seminar will address key questions around the speed, range and depth of data. BetConstruct will also be conveying the importance of its data services to sports betting traders, C-Level Management staff, Sportsbook Directors and Sportsbook Managers across the industry.
Among the subjects covered will be the management of risk, what to look for in a data feed and data for eSports. There will also be an opportunity to find out more about the Megafeed Live Scouting Data that BetConstruct provides to its partners. A panel discussion will also discuss how operators and punters are using data in a day to day capacity.
Starting at 6pm, the sports data seminar will combine presentations about sports betting data with high quality food, networking opportunities and a series of celebrity speakers for the 150 delegates in attendance. The event will officially end at 11:30 pm, but will be quickly followed by drinks and networking at the Royal Horseguards Hotel.
SBC Managing Director Andrew McCarron commented: “We’re trying something new this year with an event focusing exclusively on sports data ahead of ICE. We’ve already attracted a good crowd of people interested in finding out more about data and discussing its uses. It’s going to be an entertaining and interesting evening.
“There are three key things to take into consideration when it comes to data; it needs to be quick, it needs to be accurate and it needs to be robust. All three are vital components to a healthy data feed, which is as important to the sports betting business as water is to life – hence the name of the session.
“Of course there are always issues around the handling of data and filtering what is useful. That is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. The Sports Data seminar is the first of a new range of one-day targeted events from SBC this year, so this is an interesting development for us.”
A key philosophy at SBC is the power of networking for business. SBC’s origins are in networking evenings across Europe and one of its most successful events has been held in conjunction with iGaming Business for the past seven years.
The London Baby networking party is a free event held on the first Tuesday of the ICE conference and this year will be returning to Cafe de Paris on Leicester Square in central London. The free party provides a perfect opportunity for a more relaxed networking experience around ICE, although the free bar into the early hours also helps conversation. Almost 1,000 people attend the London Baby networking party every year, making it one of the biggest events around the ICE show itself.
One of the biggest developments for SBC this year is the evolution of its flagship Betting on Football Conference. This year will see the fourth incarnation of the conference and SBC is introducing some big changes to the format this year with a six-fold investment in the event.
Last year Sojmark promised to turn this 2017’s Betting on Football into ‘a bigger and better two-day event’. The decision to extend the conference was made after hugely positive feedback from the 2016 conference at Stamford Bridge, as well as the experience from the successful two-day Betting on Sports Conference held by SBC Events last September.
Both operators and suppliers were effusive in their praise for the Betting on Football concept. Simon Trim, CEO at Sporting Index, commented: “If you’re an operator or supplier and football is important to you, then this is the place where you need to come.”
Vahe Baloulian, CEO at BetConstruct, added: “It’s an opportunity to meet people that are in the same industry and learn from them. We are good at utilizing the knowledge gained from these conferences, and turning them into profitable opportunities for our partners.”
Tony Kenny, Head of Sponsorship at William Hill, reflected: “It’s been a fantastic day. A great chance to talk about sponsorships for William Hill, and show a lot of people what we do in terms of activation and the kind of sponsorships we’re involved in.”
Lennart Gillberg, Founder at Spiffx, said: “In our business if you get one or two new contacts, that can make a big difference for your business. I met a couple of guys here who are really going to push our business forward.”
Mark Davies, Head of New Business at Leicester City, the reigning Premier League champions, said: “This conference is beneficial for everyone, and these opportunities don’t arrive very often.”
Such positive feedback has encouraged SBC Events to push the boat out this year. McCarron explained: “This year’s Betting on Football will be our fourth and we are taking on board some of the lessons that we learned from Betting on Sports last September, as that was our biggest event to date.
“We’re putting on world class hospitality for around 800 delegates and providing unlimited networking and business opportunities, exhibition and product display, as well as top class sessions from 100 leading industry speakers.
At its core is now a two day conference with two main streams and a breakout room, as well as an international audience. We have broken these down into four tracks – Leadership, Market Profile, Marketing & Media, and Trading and Operations.”
This year’s Betting on Football is also a more international affair, with countries represented from far and wide, meaning the cream of the global sports betting business will be heading to Stamford Bridge in May.
The exhibition area has been transformed and now takes up most of the Great Hall at Stamford Bridge, while the two major networking parties are at the sensational Kensington Roof Gardens and Under The Bridge nightclub. SBC has also introduced networking gatherings either side of the main conference so the event actually stretches across four days – 2-5 May.
McCarron added: “The level of people there will also be extremely high – we have a dedicated evening for C-Level executives as well as a specific dinner for invited affiliates. It also has a much larger international contingent. For instance, from Italy we have the regulator AAMS attending, as well as tier 1 operators like SNAI, and also major clubs like AS Roma and AC Milan. These are just examples of how Betting on Football has become a global conference, with operators, regulators and sports organisations attending from across the world.”
The C-level and affiliate dinners are an embodiment of the greater focus that SBC places on networking at its events. The evening of 3 May sees a major networking party at Kensington Roof Gardens, one of London’s most spectacular party venues, owned by Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson.
The evening itself contains three different elements – the main Betting on Football networking party and the two invite-only dinners. This is followed up on the second evening with another high class networking party at the Under the Bridge, Roman Abramovich’s personal nightclub on the grounds of Stamford Bridge, giving delegates the very best opportunities to make connections with key members of the sports betting industry.
Betting on Sports will also be making a return in 2017 and again will be in central London in September. SBC is expecting around 800 people to attend, a modest increase on last year’s inaugural Betting on Sport event, which offered the most comprehensive look at the betting industry ever seen. From Brexit to Esports, marketing to integrity, money laundering to DFS, and US Sports to payments, the two-day conference featured 90 speakers across 28 separate discussions.
Marathonbet CEO Viktor Hoffmann was on a panel discussing the future of sports betting, along with SNAI CEO Fabio Schiavolin and 10Bet CEO David Bazak.
Hoffmann believes that the conference offered a perfect opportunity for the industry to discuss the latest issues. He commented: “One great characteristic about our industry is that it’s ever-changing, fast-paced and dynamic. New standards are always being set, while goals and targets are being smashed and re-set. Betting on Sports is a chance for us as a business to immerse ourselves in an industry we’re passionate about, and perhaps influence how we grow and achieve more great things in the future.”
Another speaker was LeoVegas CEO Johan Styren who featured on the New faces panel talking about the new sportsbook that the mobile-first operator launched last year. Styren believes that the industry should be looking beyond its own boundaries for innovation.
He said: “There are a few pain points for sports betting consumers, but in my opinion, the main one is the lack of personalisation. Online and mobile sportsbooks have looked the same for a number of years now, and the industry needs to step up its game by looking at what other industries are doing to address this.”
Paul Leyland of Regulus Partners kicked off the conference with a comprehensive overview of the betting industry in 2016, with special reference to the Brexit vote.
Leyland commented: “The key issue facing all stakeholders in the short-term is uncertainty. Lots of people are making lots of predictions, but the nature of this unprecedented circumstance is that nearly all of them will be wrong. Where there is uncertainty, there is an opportunity. This is a time for big change for all sector stakeholders, and while that is scary for most it will be the making of some.”
Away from the main conference room, Betting on Sports also featured a series of interactive ‘breakout’ sessions, which included an anti-money laundering (AML) and data protection workshop targeting chief executives, heads of marketing, compliance teams and money laundering officers.
McCarron commented: “We’ll be building on the success of Betting on Sports as well this year and we already have dates for people to enter into their diaries – 13-15 September 2017.
“We’ve also been excited at the impact of our new look Awards. We really ramped things up last year and tried to offer something different to the usual industry award ceremonies. I’m pretty sure we managed to provide an experience to everyone who attended.”
Bet365 came out on top of its industry peers to take the SBC Bookmaker of the Year Award for the third year running. The Stoke-based outfit beat Unibet, Sky Bet, Pinnacle and 10bet to take the award, sponsored by Oddslife, which was voted on by industry professionals. Bet365 also picked up the gong for best Live Betting Product in a very successful night for the bookmaker.
Yorkshire-based Sky Bet also had a successful evening, winning the Best Football Bookmaker Award, being highly commended in another two categories, and seeing sister brand Oddschecker retain the Affiliate of the Year Award.
400 industry professionals attended the awards at the exclusive Under The Bridge nightclub at Stamford Bridge and were given a Christmas welcome with snow, mulled wine and mince pies. Inside entertainment came in the form of a 138.com sponsored selfie competition and the Slots Million VR casino.
The evening, sponsored by OPTIMA, was hosted by Sky Sports News presenter Hayley McQueen, thanks to sponsorship from BetOnBrazil, who announced the winners and highly commended entries in seven innovation award categories and seven overall award categories.
The innovation awards winners were chosen by a panel of 30 judges, most of whom are leading CEOs in the business, while the overall awards were voted for by people who attended SBC’s two conferences, Betting on Football and Betting on Sports, or who receive the daily Betting Bulletin from SBC News. The night ended with a set from Kellie Acreman, voted one of the world’s sexiest DJs, sponsored by EnergyBet.
Among the other winners were EnergyBet in the Rising Star in Sports Betting category, Betbrain as Football Affiliate of the Year, Pinnacle as Esports Bookmaker of the Year, LeoVegas for Marketing Campaign of the Year, BetBright for Best Football Betting Product, BetConstruct for Best Sports Betting Product, Golden Race for Best New Virtual Sports Product, Oulala for Best Fantasy Sports Product, Better Collective for the Best New Affiliate Product and Optima for Best Retail Betting Product.
The evening also saw the launch of the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame, with Howard Chisholm of Chisholm Bookmakers, Carsten Koerl of Sportradar and FSB Technology chairman Mark Blandford inducted as inaugural members.
McCarron added: “We were particularly excited about the launch of the Hall of Fame as we believe it’s a great way to honour the people who have given so much to the industry. We now have three worthy inductees and they will be joined by more at this year’s awards in December.”
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