EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar 2018: Winning in Sports Betting

Never has the sports betting market been as challenging and turbulent as it is nowadays. More and more countries are regulating their markets where national lotteries face strong competition and are required to put in place new approaches and strategies. Thus, it’s time to exchange experiences and ideas among the members of The European Lotteries (EL) and The World Lottery Association (WLA), in order to learn how to become a winner in the market.

The 19th edition of the yearly EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar took place in Lyon on 15-17 May with the great support of the hosting lottery, La Française des Jeux (FDJ). The event registered an all-time record of 140 participants from all over the world, an audience that deserved a qualitative agenda: highly experienced professionals from the industry, mixed with keynote speakers and suppliers, treated the attendees with interesting and innovative thoughts and experiences.

A key part of the Sports Betting Seminar’s agenda has always been the analytic contributions of the latest updates on the market. This year, the speaker from the US Mark Hichar (Chair of Gaming Law Practice Group), had to do some important last-minute modifications to his presentation since just the day before, the US Supreme Court decided in favour of New Jersey’s law permitting wagering on sports, making it possible for other US states to legalise sports betting. It was great that Mr. Hichar managed to update his work and give the audience an extremely timely effective overview of the current situation in the US, considering this game-changing decision and indicating the most likely upcoming scenarios.

As the illegal US sports betting market has been estimated about 150 billion USD in 2015 and the total amount of American bets estimated about 500 billion USD worldwide (Hinckley Allen, 2018), lots of opportunities arose for state lotteries in the US to take a piece of the pie. Speakers highlighted the fact that colleagues in the US will be able to benefit from the knowledge of those members who have been very active in the sports betting industry for many years and that they will be happy to support them in this new legal position.

Future opportunities for retail

The raising relevance of online betting should not let us forget about the importance of retail and the very valuable new opportunities that technology offers to improve it. The impressive figures of the new Self Service Betting Terminals (SSBT) presented by Thanos Rigas of OPAP, as well as Frederik Skov of Danske Spil demonstrated how they were able to modernise the retail user experience, proving that retail still has a great future. Especially supported by the suppliers who were able during this seminar to express their vision, that it fits perfectly in an omnichannel strategy, where one can serve the same punters from different places at different times.

Diversification and concentration in the private market

Another key part of the programme was the yearly regional and private market update. The presentations showed that lotteries are still growing with sports betting despite the heavy competition. Christian Kalb (CK Consultancy) and moderator Walter De Beauvesier Watson reflected on their survey, that with the recent acquisition of Ladbrokes/Coral by GVC and the growth of Bet365, we have come into a new era which leads to a concentration of a few big private companies that will dictate the market. Furthermore, private companies are focusing their strategies on diversification (new products in new markets) and regulated markets, as they concluded that their performances in illegal markets generated less profits than in regulated markets.

Global Lottery Monitoring System

Integrity in sports is and has always been a defining value for lotteries and of course a fundamental pillar of the EL/WLA Sport Betting Seminars. Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) President, Ludovico Calvi and Matthew Perry from the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) announced to join forces in order to keep tennis free of manipulations. And during the seminar, the audience listened to a very interesting panel discussion with participants as Cassandra Fernandes (Council of Europe), Friedrich Martens (International Olympic Committee) and Claudio Marinelli (Interpol) that emphasised the importance of having good procedures to detect and alert irregularities in sport betting.

Time to say goodbye

Moderator of the seminar Walter De Beauvesier Watson took the opportunity, during his closing remarks, to thank all colleagues from the lotteries’ family for the great cooperation. After having worked for 34 years at De Lotto, Nederlandse Loterij, GLMS and EL (as Chair of the Sports Working Group), he decided to start a new enterprise on Sports and Integrity. EL, WLA and all the colleagues who had the pleasure to work with him wish him best of luck in his new adventure and fruitful further collaborations with lotteries.

“During all these years we have become friends besides being also good colleagues and I will miss that” - concluded Mr. De Beauvesier Watson.

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