Brandon Walker, Head of Business Development at Amelco, spoke exclusively with SBC Americas this week about the firm’s latest activities Stateside, how the post-COVID landscape will shape up, and some of the relationships being forged.
SBC Americas: Congratulations on the Colorado licence, what does it mean for Amelco?
Brandon Walker: Thank you, it’s certainly great news for us! Colorado is now the fourth state we’re licenced in across the US, and I’m absolutely delighted by the progress we’ve made across the continent since 2018.
We’re already live in the state with Fox Bet there as part of our deal with the Stars group and have also just recently launched our second sports betting platform, BetWildwood, in early July. This will be via a joint venture with ISI Race & Sports to deliver Wildwood Casino’s inaugural online and retail sportsbooks.
As part of our ISI partnership we’ll also be teaming up to deliver retail sportsbooks across two additional casinos, as well as separate plans to announce a deal shortly with a major online operator who is already firmly established outside of the US. While I wish I could say more at this point, it will definitely be a major play for us – which we’ll be looking forward to speaking more on soon.
SBCA: Can you tell us about your plans for your operations across the state?
BW: Colorado is by far one of the most lucrative Intermountain states, and we’ll certainly be looking to establish our presence there as a stronghold for regional operations as we have five deals there already.
The state is highly profitable for operators and holds plenty of growth potential given its already well established land-based presence. Throw in Colorado’s passion for sport – from hockey to basketball (and everything in between), and you’ve got a highly diverse range of revenue streams.
SBCA: You’re live with quite a few major operators across the US, how would you summarize betting activity during the past few months?
BW: The numbers don’t lie, and they took a big dip. It’s great to see things returning of course, especially with the steady stream of European and Asian sports which have been played behind closed doors for the past few months. Esports, casino and live dealer have also been strong performers – and we’ve learned a lot when it comes to the sportsbook / casino cross-sell that should arm us well for the future.
I think the biggest takeaway for us has been that it all comes down to RNG. For US gamblers, betting on live outcomes will always be a stronger cross-sell than the world of RNG-based betting offered by slots and virtuals – and I certainly suggest operators take note of their recent lessons learned.
SBCA: Do you think this summer’s calendar of sport will help bring the market back to normal?
BW: If everything goes as planned, which I certainly hope will do so, I expect we’ll see an initial spike of activity once US sport really gets underway, with a steady plateau back to pre-COVID levels.
We’ve got the MLB, NBA and NFL all coming up, but there are a lot of variables at play to make sure this goes through as hoped. The NFL for example, has cancelled its pre-season games, which is an indicator that the environment is still uncertain. However, given the American passion for sport, as long as we can have it in some way or form (albeit in empty stadiums) – the market will be here to stay.
SBCA: What’s your view on land-based for the rest of the year? Where will Amelco be focusing its activities?
BW: I think again we’re dealing with a situation that has a lot of moving parts. On one hand, casinos and sportsbooks are re-opening, and that’s fantastic to see. What restrictions mean for the bottom-line however, remains to be seen. That’s not to say the outlook isn’t positive – given that the majority of the US has been under lockdown, I’m sure we’ll see plenty looking to get out and about, especially with the generous offers casinos are laying on to bring punters over.
At the end of the day, however, online is going to be the strongest bet for operators. We started out as an online provider more than a decade ago and it’s where we’ll always stake our leadership credentials. In terms of the rest of the year, we’ll keep focusing on multiple states, with a keen focus on boosting our credentials as a multi-state provider. Of course, I expect in line with that to be plenty more licence announcements soon enough, so do stay tuned.
SBCA: What would be your advice to operators looking to capitalize on a post-COVID environment?
BW: Engage your customers across all sports. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year, diversification is always going to be the winning strategy – you just don’t know what’s around the corner. Not only that, but when it comes to the US, you certainly don’t want to pigeon yourself to one sport. You need a diverse enough book to attract the sheer scale of sporting events American punters watch every night of the week.
Aside from that, keep the products that have worked well this year, especially live dealer and poker, but make sure it doesn’t cannibalize the sports wallet. Also keep in mind to tailor your bonusing and promotions with regional markets in mind, because you’ll need to get them correct to appeal to the right audiences. Also, customer acquisition is no doubt going to see a surge, with plenty of new operators emerging on the scene – so make sure to do enough to stand out.