Ross Haselhurst, commercial director at UK-based Bede Gaming explains the why and wherefores of expanding into South Africa with casino giant Sun International.
iGAMING TIMES: Much of the sports betting industry has turned its attention to opportunities in Africa this year. Why has Bede felt now is the right time?
ROSS HASELHURST: Most of the growth across Africa has been in the sports vertical with casino thus far lagging behind. Bede has focused on securing an extremely well-placed partner in Sun International, which should smooth our entry into the market. We had been in discussions with Sun International on a number of opportunities since late 2015, so we’ve had our eye on Africa for some time. I suppose you could say we’re ahead of the curve on that one, and the opportunities are no less compelling going into 2018 and beyond.
iGT: Why have you chosen Sun International as your partner in the move?
RH: We really couldn’t have asked for a better partner, they just tick all the boxes for Bede in that respect. They dominate the African market, especially in South Africa where the opportunity in sports is considerable, and we are optimistic that other product verticals will regulate in the coming years. Sun have the perfect footprint across the continent and Bede have the ideal product set to support their ambitions. Furthermore, Sun’s position in Latin America creates huge potential and opens opportunity further afield too.
iGT: What makes the South African market distinctive, in terms of the challenges and opportunities it presents to sports betting operators?
RH: As with entering any market for the first time, the regulatory landscape always provides its challenges, but Bede are well positioned and well-practiced in meeting regulatory requirements in many jurisdictions. Looking specifically in South Africa, one of the most notable challenges is around the requisite certification processes for the regulator at each release cycle, where Bede have set the bar on our short release cycles. However, for the South African market we have had to make provisions for a much slower release pace, so as to allow for certification to run its course. It’s not too often that we’re asked to slow down delivering new features, but we’ve been able to accommodate the requirement while still delivering into our other markets at the same high release cadence our customers have come to expect.
iGT: How does Bede’s technology suit or solve these particulars?
RH: First and foremost, we are truly an open and modular platform, we’re absolutely supplier agnostic. Not being tied to a particular provider for compliance or a particular service or feature, such as payments, or wedded to a particular CRM, gives our customers an incredible amount of flexibility to differentiate in their chosen market. We also offer, a plethora of existing integrations, as we have, for example, with Kambi Sportsbook, which also gives our customers a more ‘out-of-the-box’ experience should they need one. The key ultimately is choice. Our architecture sets us and our customers up well for the scenarios mentioned, and with real-time data at our core, we’re able to meet and often exceed the needs of even the most demanding regulation.
iGT: People often say that South Africa’s more developed infrastructure makes it a good place to test the waters before moving into other African markets. How true is this for you?
RH: Our platform sits entirely in the cloud and is built upon Microsoft’s Azure, so straight away we remove any headaches that come with traditional on-premise deployments and having to source new infrastructure and such. Being able to rely on Microsoft’s global data centre presence means this is seldom a concern for us.
Looking forward we see Latin America as a huge opportunity for us, Colombia especially, but we are also keeping an eye on North America.