Promoted feature: From strength to strength
Andy Wright, CEO of Sporting Group, discusses what makes Sporting Solutions, the group’s B2B division, a pioneering provider of software services
EGR Intel (EGR): Sporting Solutions has been very active in the Canadian market with launches with AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis) and OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission), what are your longer-term ambitions for this market?
Andy Wright (AW): Those two very successful integrations were launched just a week apart and create a great platform for us to promote our products and services further in the North American and Canadian market. We see these territories as a key priority for us in the future, as we continue to focus on our managed services platform and our market-leading trading services.
EGR: As a supplier of sports betting technology, what’s the question you are asked the most by operator partners and how do you answer it?
AW: That’s an interesting question and one I have two answers for. First, there are always questions about the time to market and second, requests for a tailored offering. I’ll use the example of the recent launch in Alberta to demonstrate how Sporting Solutions meets such demands. In this instance, not only did we deliver the solution in record time, but if you hold up Ontario and Alberta’s offering, it’s clear how vastly different they are. So, we’re confident that with our highly configurable front-end widgets, we can satisfy the most differentiated offer on any operator’s whiteboard, while naturally our trading capabilities enable partners to determine their own pricing strategy and attitude to risk management.
EGR: In what ways has the explosion in sports betting across the US changed the way Sporting Solutions does business?
AW: We have expanded our sales force to get in front of our potential partners and are now looking at additional offices in North America to house our growing footprint there. There’s no doubt about it, our development pipeline has a more stateside feel to it. However, the main point for me, seeing how the market is maturing and the requirements from local operators, is that each state essentially represents a new territory, a new country, with separate localisation, personalisation and regulatory needs. We’re also hearing a certain level of dissatisfaction from operators regarding third-party platforms and services. In addition, we are uniquely placed for larger lottery providers with sport licences and can leverage the reputation of Française des Jeux (FDJ) as a trusted omni-present operator to capture that new business.
EGR: Where for you are the biggest under-exploited areas in sports betting technology and how are you working to take advantage of this?
AW: It is my belief, and it’s already coming to fruition, that risk and compliance tools and services are under indexed in the supply space. You only need to look at the gold rush of acquisition in the US. As that matures, the regulators, on a state-by-state basis, may start looking in the rear-view mirror in terms of how these customers are acquired. Any operator should be able to stand up to scrutiny in the future and be able to say it is operated responsibly historically, to avoid huge penalties or even worse. We at Sporting Group are working on some tools where operators will be able to demonstrate this with confidence, and continue to compete in acquiring customers. We aim to get closer to existing and new partners by building true collaboration and a better understanding of their needs in this space in the future.
EGR: What does partnering with a nationally recognised operator like FDJ bring to the table?
AW: First and foremost, trust and reliability. As a top 10 gambling company globally, partnering with FDJ provides immediate credibility, through reputation alone. Also, the pre-existing relationships they have opens many doors for us. Additionally, the sheer scale of FDJ as a company has provided Sporting Group with a lot of support for our staff through a very difficult time over the last couple of years, particularly with the pandemic. We are very fortunate to be associated with them.
EGR: In what ways has your business been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant push towards online?
AW: It’s made us look at our roadmap and adapt to the needs of current and potential partners, no doubt about that. I’m still very much a believer in retail but it obviously needs to adapt. More focus on how digital exists in retail is my prediction for how suppliers will win business in the very near future. I’m talking about a seamless omni-channel experience for customers, where they can still be a customer. For example, if they’re on their app and they walk into retail, is there a change to the colour of the app? Are new bespoke promotions being pushed that reward that customer for placing bets digitally in a retail environment? I think it’s a very exciting space in the future.
EGR: What for you is Sporting Solutions’ key differentiator from its rivals like Kambi, Sportradar and Genius Sports?
AW: Obviously, all those companies are very established in this space, but I believe Sporting Solutions has a different blend of what operators require across the full value chain. We’re not interested in competing in the data rights space, but instead are fully focused on our market-leading reputation in pricing and risk management to win business. Plus, we’re able to demonstrate the reliability of a platform, supported by FDJ in its stability to progress our platform and our managed services strategy.
EGR: What are your plans for the remainder of 2021?
AW: My first five months with Sporting Group have gone so quickly. Naturally, the group’s plans are to continue to advance our strategy in the managed services space, not just in North America but across the globe, as well as continue to evolve our sophisticated risk management services. I think 2022 will be a very exciting period, so Sporting Solutions will be getting ready. Bring it on!
Andy Wright is the CEO of Sporting Group. Prior to joining Sporting Group, he led the wagering business for Tabcorp following their A$12bn merger with Tatts in 2017, taking the business through a reset and constructing and executing upon a new three-year strategy. Prior to this, Wright was group trading director at Ladbrokes, where he sat on the executive leadership team. This followed roles at several operators across Europe where he led various sportsbooks and trading functions through significant change and the integration of new technologies. Wright’s experience is born out of the financial trading sector, where he worked as a financial money broker for 10 years, gaining a passion for risk management and trading technology, which is at the heart of Sporting Group’s operation.