Tom Light Interview – (EEGReport – Magazine – Issue3 – June – September 2016)
EEGReport Magazine: The Sportsbetting sector in Romania has entered a new era, the era where online bookmakers are having promotions and wagering option battle and it’s not just well known large international operators in this battle, the local land based operators are moving towards the online market as well. How do you feel this will influence the industry in the Eastern European region? I have a feeling that this new operators are hunting the best betting solution providers to help them create this shift.
Tom Light: I agree, the large international brands are not as strong as they are in the mature regulated markets. The large brands, which have worked in the .com environment within these markets, will receive some brand recognition whereas the ones who were sticking only to a regulated strategy will be unknown there.
The big local operators are no longer a monopoly. Similar to what is happening in Romania, Czech, etc., the innovative small to medium size brands can enter these markets at an earlier stage in order to get a substantial piece of the market-share.
A good example is NetBet. NetBet, a medium sized operator in the UK, was never as big as Bet365, William Hill, 888 or Unibet. NetBet had entered the Romanian market early with a great product and offering. Now, a year later, they are the biggest sportsbook in the Romanian market.
EEGReport Magazine: What are the key challenges these land-based (retail) sports betting companies are facing when moving to the online sector?
Tom Light: The main challenge is the mindset. Usually these operators have a ‘traditional bookmaker’ approach and would not understand the online behavior of in-play; neglecting relevant features that are essential to an online sportsbook:
- Fast Markets
- Bonuses and Promotions
- Speed of Withdrawal
- Settlement Time / Immediate Settlements.
- Customer Profiling VS. Traditional Anonymous Betting
- Cross Selling to Casino
- And more…
The second problem is that they will underestimate the power of their brand –at this point they will face the big online operators positioned as a weak online startup. We have seen this with the well-known land based operator, R. Franco. Although R. Franco is well established, they initially decided to open their online brand as a startup named ‘WanaBet’, which still does not get substantial market-share in the market.
An example where the above scenario did not happen and the brand was properly used was seen with William Hill. William Hill Online came with the ‘Brand is King’ approach and the results speak for themselves. Prior to the sale of William Hill Online, Teddy once told me, “In the online gaming hierarchy, brand is the most important factor.”
A good example where it didn’t happen and the brand was used properly was William Hill, in that example the William Hill Online guys came with a “Brand is King” approach and the results speak for themselves. Teddy once told me, prior to the sale of William Hill Online, “In the online gaming hierarchy, brand is the most important”
EEGReport Magazine: Countries like Bulgaria and Romania with new, modern laws already made steps towards the technical reality of this convergence. The interesting thing is that in every market where traces of convergence are allowed local, legal (often land based) companies have a relatively high market share, these local operators tend to comply with the rules and regulations, pay their tax locally. Do you feel that more and more regulators will realize the advantages of these switches and encourage the convergence?
Tom Light: In most cases you would see the traditional monopoly applying pressure, on the government, against regulations that will allow international operators to obtain a license in the market.
As mentioned, since these are financial strong entities and their contribution is big, their demands are usually met. Due to the EU Law and fairness of competition, where a European entity would like to operate in an EU country but is blocked by the monopolies and not allowed a status, we see more and more European countries regulated. That being said countries with existing monopolies which are not under the EU law, such as Israel, will not have such regulations in the coming horizons.
EEGReport Magazine: Let’s talk tech, Mobile Betting & Second Screen Betting, is it truly a phenomenon which has embraced these new emerging markets? As I’ve mentioned in some of our earlier interviews, these markets are not new, they’ve just been regulated….
Tom Light: When it comes to technology and mobile betting, local operators and monopolies are not as advanced as some of the international players. In turn, when a market is regulated it allows strong innovative companies to enter the market with high-end mobile betting technologies, which are usually adapted by majority of the market.
Specifically in numbers one and three:
Grew up with mobile phones and internet – usually are 18 to 30.
Never adjusted/adapted to mobile/internet – usually are 60+.
Did not have internet or mobile phones growing up, but now cannot live without – usually are 30 to 60.
EEGReport Magazine: With the upcoming EURO 2016, do you think that any online sports betting operator is going to add value to the betting experience during the event, that is running on the SBTech platform? Any surprises installed?
Tom Light: Compared to previous years, this year the Euro games will provide a different experience. In the past one to two years betting features became more innovative, user-friendly and advanced:
- Live Streaming: Live streaming enhances the experience of a specific singular event and also minimizes the turnover in betting on multiple events at the same time, as the player is focused on the single event.
- Fast Settlement: Immediate settlement makes the game more exciting and encourages the user to continue betting, increasing their betting pattern.
- Fast Markets: Fast Market offerings allow users to bet on what will happen in the next one or five minutes of a singular event; creating a new thrill for the punter minute by minute. Fast Markets is one of the most efficient and successful cross-selling tool in the gaming industry.
- Cash-Out / Partial Cash-Out: With partial and total Cashout, the operator allows the punter to manage his bet and Cashout at any time during the match. Cashout is also a perfect tool to increase the log-in sessions as the punter keeps track and monitors his bets throughout the match.
- Personalization: Website data can now be gathered from common logs of all betting activities and behavior patterns and created into various detailed algorithms and rules based on specific variables such as favorite team or league, past winnings, previous loosing’s and many more – a much more effective offering. By providing detailed statistics, additional markets and creating the betting buttons on a mobile into a menu navigation on the desktop version enhances the users betting activity.
EEGReport Magazine: Last question, who are you punting for at the EURO 2016? What is the outcome of this tournament going to be, based on your prediction of course?
Tom Light: As Gary Lineker once said, “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” But actually, I’m going to go against the odds favorite and predict Germany to come second. England to come in third, Spain to come fourth and the big winner will be France. I believe, this year surprises would be Portugal and Austria.