Dave McDowell, CEO of FSB, talks about the global betting provider’s activity in the US market and its relationship with Clairvest, before summarizing it’s US sportsbook offering and discussing both what has been learned so far and what improvements are needed.
SBCA: Following October’s announcement regarding the Clairvest tie-up, what has FSB been up to in the US market?
DM: We hired our first business development team member in Q4 last year, so we now have a permanent presence in Las Vegas. We are also recruiting for a senior head of business development in North America to continue our investment into what we see as a key strategic market for FSB. While the sales team is a crucial first step, we will soon be adding operational staff to support the territory and we believe that this staffing strategy will be the key to establishing FSB as a leading technology and services provider in North America.
The partnership with Clairvest has been the catalyst and driving force behind our investment into the US market. We are starting by generating awareness about FSB and our best in class technology among US operators.
SBCA: How is the relationship with Clairvest going? Are things working out as planned?
DM: The partnership is going incredibly well. Clairvest and FSB have both quickly become comfortable with the working relationship and progress we have made in a short space of time. As with all partnerships, we have faced challenges that we have worked together to overcome and they have been a true partner in helping us to focus on strategy and the bigger picture. We are quickly transitioning away from being a white-label provider to working exclusively with enterprise customers.
Clairvest is behind our strategy 100% – which is why they invested in FSB in the first place – and has been instrumental in allowing us to build an international business development team and open our Las Vegas office. We also see opportunities to expand our geographical reach into additional regulated markets, and again Clairvest is confident in our approach.
Like myself, they believe that FSB has market-leading technology and that we are now in the perfect position to drive growth internationally.
SBCA: ‘Buyer’s remorse’ was a phrase you coined at the time of that announcement. Do you still stand by your view that some firms may have regretted their rush to market?
DM: Absolutely! In the rush to be first to market I believe that a number of operators have picked the wrong long-term partners, especially those using legacy technologies or technology designed for unregulated markets. Already, we have seen some of the biggest gambling operators voice their frustrations over the limitations of their partners.
I am a strong believer that legacy platforms simply don’t offer the flexibility, quality and features of modern technology platforms. For example, operators using legacy technology are often forced to bolt-on third-party solutions for new products and features, which ultimately provides an inferior player experience and costs more money to operate.
Some have even taken the fairly extreme measure of switching platform providers less than a year after first going live. Of course, there were not a lot of choices available when the market opened up and more modern technology suppliers – including FSB – will appear and provide operators with superior alternatives.
SBCA: With regards to sportsbooks, you offer a variety of solutions including white label, enterprise and retail. Can you give us a brief summary of each and what they bring to the US market?
DM: The white label model has been a great way to build and scale our business in the UK, but as we enter additional regulated markets we are looking for operating partners who hold their own licenses. These enterprise service opportunities are often larger customers who are looking to upgrade from their existing online platform or perhaps introduce retail and online sportsbetting to their existing casino-led audience. We are looking for regulated operators that want to deliver the highest possible standards across both safe gaming and customer experience.
We see retail as a critically important channel for FSB to expand into and FSB has recently launched our self-service betting kiosks that can be deployed across land-based betting locations in the US and elsewhere around the world. We can connect these products and services to our market-leading platform for online gambling, allowing us to provide a truly omni-channel service.
SBCA: What have you learned so far from your experience of US sports betting and what can you take from those lessons to improve FSB’s offer?
DM: As we have yet to enter the US market with an operator partner, I can only comment on what I have seen from those already up and running. As mentioned above, I believe that many operators are dissatisfied with the platforms or partners they have selected, especially when it comes to the sports betting features they want to offer players.
Operators ultimately need flexibility to deliver the best possible experience to their users and legacy and unregulated platforms simply don’t provide the best solution. Operators wanting to build a large and sustainable sports betting business across the USA must use technology platforms that are modern, scalable and designed for the multi-state deployments.
As frustration grows, I believe we will see more operators migrate to new suppliers and platforms as more modern suppliers commit to the US market.