The Seminar with the theme Running your Sportsbook, ran over two days with a side-workshop for WLA/EL Regular Members, dedicated to data rights. Sports betting and lottery professionals discussed market trends, illegal betting, data rights, integrity and responsible practices.

Running your Sportsbook: From market trends to responsible practices

The Seminar highlighted market trends, illegal betting, data rights, integrity and responsible practices, and was moderated by Alvise Angelini, EL Senior Policy Advisor & Sport Secretary and Luca Esposito Poleo, WLA Executive Director.

On the first day, several members of the EL Sport Working Group were actively involved in the programme. Zoltán Horváth, Sports Betting Director, Szerencsejáték Zrt. Hungary, highlighted points to consider when running a sportsbook, such as: market environment, regulations, competitors and tip mix propositioning. Markus Stefan, Head of Sports Betting Operation at Austrian Lotteries, explained their multi-client system with different suppliers and how they worked their odds distribution, events entry and odds creation and Jens Nielsen, Sports Betting Director at Danske Spil, talked about how his organisation develops and safeguards its position in a competitive market, by positive differentiation on domestic sports and athletes and sports fan engagement, with unique offerings in new areas, such as esports and other promotional opportunities outside of sports and deploying efficient responsibility measures.

On the second day, Francesco Taricone, Betting Experience Innovation Manager, Sisal, Italy, gave the audience a taste of “Tipster”, the first social betting platform integrated in a sportsbook, a turning point in the betting experience which acknowledges the emerging trends about digitalisation and socialisation. Ola Carlsson, Head of Pools, Svenska Spel, Sweden, focused on the interest of ‘pooling’ pool games among several countries. Supervisory Chair of the EL Sport WG and CEO of Loterie Romande, Switzerland, Jean-Luc Moner-Banet, gave a presentation with insights on how to market and advertise sport betting products in a more responsible way. The lottery industry ensures responsible gaming for players and markets and advertises sports betting products responsibly, by taking measures, such as player registration, setting mandatory loss limits and ensuring players receive real-time information on losses and game sessions. Regulated lotteries and sport betting operators have to be attractive and competitive while being responsible. It is possible to generate gross gaming revenue (GGR), by marketing and advertising sports betting products in a responsible way.

David Henwood, Director at H2 Gambling Capital, United Kingdom, gave an enlightening presentation on the topic of global sport betting and operator analysis, with a data-oriented overview of the fast-changing sports betting market as it relates to the lottery sector, including key trends from private operators in the space, and the overall impact on illegal market channelisation. Henwood also noted a decade of digital and the shift to online operations; convergence of entertainment with betting/gaming lotteries; digitalisation of payments; responsible gaming and player protection as standard and innovation hubs such as virtual and augmented reality and the metaverse; sustainability, and emergence of new markets. In recent years, the global pandemic pushed operators to go even more digital and to explore multi-channel opportunities as well as new developments such as e-sports betting. This all while maintaining the highest level of sports integrity.

Martin Purbrick, Chair of the Council on Anti-Illegal Betting & Related Financial Crime of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF), a regional federation comprising 27 national racing authorities and racing related organisations from across Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East, presented a new report produced by the ARF Council on the State of Illegal Betting. The report assesses recent changes in illegal betting markets and predict how they will change further in the coming years, and covers issues such as problem gambling, organised crime and money laundering.

Sport integrity and the Global Lottery Monitoring Service

Sport integrity remained a relevant topic in the programme. Luca Esposito and Ludovico Calvi, as Secretary General and President of the Global Lottery Monitoring Service (GLMS) presented GLMS activities for the prevention of illegal betting and its vision for the future. GLMS works to prevent, detect and analyse irregular and suspicious betting activities that could question the integrity of a sport competition. Esposito explained what happens behind the scenes, when investigating an integrity incident. Given the complex and often transnational nature of match fixing that is often related to other illicit activities such as money laundering through illegal sports betting operators, he stressed the need for a united effort from many stakeholders.

Calvi, focused on trends affecting the global betting industry, such as digitalisation, increasingly data-driven betting operations and greater use of mobile phones. He noted some of the challenges faced when maintaining global betting integrity, such as ensuring all key stakeholders (regulators, sports organizations, law enforcement agencies) at domestic and global level get involved, and protecting consumers through the development of effective gaming regulatory frameworks, as well as finding ways to share intelligence effectively across the global community.

EL and WLA welcomed Ennio Bovolenta, Head of Integrity at FIFA to the Seminar who outlined the aim of FIFA to protect and defend the integrity and reputation of football worldwide and adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards match manipulation. He focused on the actions undertaken, in line with the FIFA President’s vision to make football truly global, in order to fight match-fixing at global level.

To achieve this, FIFA works closely with football confederations, FIFA member associations and integrity officers, and partners with law enforcement and other sports and sports betting monitoring organisations such as GLMS, Sportradar and INTERPOL.

Uniting Members from around the world

A great strength of this yearly WLA/EL Sports Betting Seminar is the capacity of the two Associations to bring together a detailed European perspective and complementing contributions from all other continents.

Christian Kalb, Founder, CK Consulting, recognised expert of the gaming and sports betting sector, moderated a panel debate on the theme: market trends, illegal betting, data rights, integrity and responsible practices. Kalb highlighted that the worldwide sports betting market now represents between 60 and 70 bn. euros, illegal betting included (without horse and greyhound betting). Sports betting has been the most dynamic gaming market for one decade, and the most controversial: Illegal betting represents around 45 percent of total GGR, and sport integrity has become even more challenging after the pandemic. Lotteries are still part of the game, five of them being in the top 10 worldwide, with the China Sports lottery being the leader.

The four panelists – Louis Beaudet, Director for Sport and Entertainment, Loto Québec, Canada, Khalid Naili, Special Advisor, La Marocaine des Jeux et des Sports, Morocco, David Sargeant, Sports Betting Consultant, Advisor, Investor, UK, and Aleksandar Saša Pavicevic, Director of Gaming & Game channel Development Division, Hrvatska Lutrija, Croatia discussed current worldwide sports betting challenges.

Aleksandar-Saša Pavićević gave an overview of the situation in Croatia. After many years of very strong competition, the market has been consolidated around six operators, all of which are foreign owned, except the Croatian Lottery. The extensive betting offer has more than 250,000 live games a year and very low margins. Saša also presented a very innovative way of negotiating live betting data feeds, based on the aggregation of purchases through one single operator, in charge of optimizing costs with all the different data vendors.

Louis Beaudet presented the current situation in Canada, after the opening of the online market in Ontario. The main change was the recent possibility to offer single bets (2021), and as in many countries, Canada faces some important challenges such as the fight against illegal betting (in particular against operators based in Central America and the Caribbean). Making scale economies is very important for countries or provinces that do not have the critical size, as well as having a first-class product and reengineering retail.

Khalid Naili showed that the Moroccan sports betting market still has a lot of potential. Main challenges, also throughout Africa, include the development of digital betting, cultural evolution, in particular creating a link between lotteries and good causes, and an increase of the betting offer. It was noted that the gap between Morocco and Europe regarding pay-outs, is still very low (MDJS target for 2022 is 66%).

David Sergeant reminded participants about the history of sports betting in the US, after the big change of the Supreme Court in 2018. In less than four years, the US has become the second world market, after China, and will be the leader in the coming years. By May 2022, 25 States had legalised sports betting, each with its unique regulatory framework. More surprisingly, market consolidation has resulted in three brands representing more than 75 percent of the US market. Lotteries are part of the game, as regulators, license owners or directly as operators.

To conclude, using an interactive app during the Seminar, participants identified three main challenges : the fight against illegal betting, the need to improve the betting and trading platform, and to develop digital channels. Regarding data rights, 80 percent of the audience was in favor of working on a common basis to avoid unfair competition.

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to reconnect and meet new colleagues in person. WLA and EL would like to thank all the attendees who made it to Seville and invite them to the next joint sports betting seminar in 2023.