SBTech’s Chief Development Officer, Andrew Cochrane, talks about the firm’s recent contract with Finnish monopoly, Veikkaus – only the latest testament to its reputation for improving market share for WLA members, in a responsible manner.
iGAMING TIMES: SBTech recently came out on top in an extensive public procurement process to become the sportsbook platform partner for Finnish monopoly lottery operator Veikkaus. What gave you the edge over your competitors?
ANDREW COCHRANE: Make no mistake, it was a tough vetting procedure, but we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. After all, rigorous public procurement always enables the leading offering to come through and the flexibility and omnichannel versatility of our award-winning sportsbook platform really came to the fore against its rivals. The strength of our innovative in-play offering really sets us apart. Overarchingly, we will be overhauling and upgrading Veikkaus’ existing pre-play and in-play sportsbook products, allowing Finnish players to now wager on more than 55 sports and over 2,000 betting markets as well as increasing player engagement through a host of mobile-first in-play features such as Yourbet bet builder, subject to regulatory approval.
We’ve already begun to integrate our award-winning sportsbook for Veikkaus’ online channel with rollout scheduled for early 2020, complete with a bespoke user interface for the Finnish market build by Veikaus themselves off facilitated by our suite of next generation APIs. This will be accompanied by the launch of our sportsbook platform across their extensive retail network of more than 3,000 outlets across the region. The growth of SBTech’s multi-channel platform solution has been a key driver in a wider milestone year for the company, continuing to generate record revenue growth for partners and agreeing significant renewals for major customers in many of Europe’s most competitive territories. Planting a major flag in Finland with a respected World Lottery Association (WLA) member such as Veikkaus really unlocks the territory for us across both online and retail channels and further cements SBTech as the sportsbook platform provider of choice for WLA members looking to protect their market position and grow sportsbook revenues through a best-in-class product offering.
iGT: What sort of changes can Veikkaus customers expect to see in the operators’ offering over the coming months as a result of your collaboration?
AC: Our in-play technology heads the field for live betting across all sport, harnessing the fastest and most accurate data feeds to drive market innovation. As for the in-play medium itself, allying these most reliable data feeds to localized player preferences will drive success and improve revenues. In the UK, for example, more than 70 percent of the sportsbook market is now in-play, and I can see that trend extending in Finland, albeit over fewer core sports (football, basketball, ice hockey) and with a reduced emphasis on endless long-tail inplay markets.
Away from those key sports, watch out for the rise of in-play tennis among a largely uninitiated public. Tennis’ unique scoring increments are perfectly served by in-play algorithms, while its myriad daily matches and markets are increasingly well-served by rights holder IMG. The sport’s ubiquitous nature (somewhere in the world, someone’s always playing) coupled to its unique scoring increments – not to mention natural breaks between points, games – frames live tennis as an attractive breakout product for Finland.
The challenge, as ever, is for the live pictures to keep up with the live data, so that the viewer and betting experience is seamless. We operate the go-to platform for assembling this content to best effect, seamlessly integrating these finest data and audio-visual feeds with the automated trading expertise which helps traders focus on value-added risk management decisions, unencumbered by old-school legacy demands.
iGT: You’ve worked with other WLA members such as Danske Spil in the past. What have you learned about driving growth and customer loyalty in what is often an overlooked sector of the industry?
AC: We enjoy a strong previous heritage working alongside WLA-member lotteries such Danske Spil and Sazka and recently launched the Azerbaijan lottery Topaz on our sportsbook platform. For each, while their respective needs and drivers can be very nuanced or specific, the aim has been to boost revenues by creating an original challenger brand which can target and leverage new players from different demographics, and compete from a core product level to adopting the right trading and risk management perspective. To this end, we went to great lengths with Veikkaus to select the right solution within our toolkit to improve market share in a responsible manner.
Knowing your customer from the login has never been more important – from determining what type of player is betting with you, to whether they can afford to bet with you, or even if they should (cue beefed-up AML measures). Proactive social responsibility tools and deep data analytics are central to acquisition and retention today, especially when recruiting the next generation of players.
iGT: As a supplier with a strong background in catering to the Nordic markets, what do you find unique about these regions, and how will you be tailoring your offer to Finnish players in particular?
AC: This Veikkaus partnership bolsters the commitment we have to the Nordic region and our continued success there in the Lottery sector by signing yet another WLA member. Prioritizing the sports and games that Finnish fans love to play is a vital first step. However, our latest portfolio of game-changing sports innovations – such as upgraded cashout functionality that allows Veikkaus to set its margin, YourBet Betbuilder for multiple sports (including in-play) and PulseBet all promise to unlock improved player engagement and dwell-time after these features have passed the Finnish regulator.