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.”