In an interview with Brandon Walker, Head of Amelco USA, he takes a look at the company’s recent partnership with Sportradar, focusing on which states hold the most potential and why Amelco is confident about its future in the US market.
SBCA: Congratulations on your recent Sportradar partnership – can you tell us a bit about what that means for your US plans and how you’ll be working together?
BW: We’ve been in partnership with Sportradar across our global operations for a number of years and we’re very proud to have established such a productive relationship.
The US market has marked a first for us collaborating on MTS (managed trading services) projects, and we see our relationship there going from strength to strength as we continue to support the launches of some of the country’s most exciting betting brands.
In terms of deals, the proof is in the pudding, and having signed with the likes of BetWildwood (Colorado), Action247 (Tennessee) and BetVigtory (New Jersey), we’ve set the stage for a very exciting 2021. Testament to this is the quality of our platform, and as a trusted Sportradar partner, we’re delighted to be moving forward together with one of the US’ most advanced betting solutions.
SBCA: Amelco is now live across 5 US states, what markets have been your biggest performers and where do you see the most potential?
BW: We see excellent potential across all of them, with each bringing their own opportunities. Our Tennessee entrance this month was a really strong win, marking us as one of only 4 operations to go live there. This of course will ensure we have a very strong advantage to come out of the gates early and gain some serious market share. The fact that we’re one of the few to go live alongside DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM is confirmation of how far we’ve come as establishing ourselves as one of the nation’s tier one suppliers of choice.
Michigan is another jurisdiction we’re keeping a close eye on – particularly given that’s it’s going live before the New Year. While I can’t give away anything just yet, suffice to say it will be with a major player and a hugely well-known brand, so watch this space!
Another very interesting state is Iowa, which will be removing its on-site registration restrictions in January 2021 (which meant customers had to previously register in-person at the casino to access online sportsbooks from their home in the future). I’m confident that we’re going to see a real surge in player acquisition and registration once the restrictions are removed, and we’ve been working hard on getting things ready to go there.
SBCA: In terms of new states – where should our readers be keeping an eye on for 2021? Do you anticipate any administrative processes associated with the US election will slow the process down?
Maryland, Ohio, California and the state of New York are all ones to watch – and should be on every major industry player’s radar. Of course, the nature of the bureaucracy involved means that it will be hard to gauge how long that process will take.
In regard to the election, states ideally should (in theory) be left alone to get on with their own regulatory process without interference or influence from Washington, so one would certainly hope that any processes continue unimpeded.
SBCA: Looking back at 2020, what has been the greatest lessons learned for pandemic-proofing sportsbooks? Has US player behaviour been different in any way to what we’ve seen in terms of cross-selling to European players?
BW: US player habits have been markedly similar to Europe in choosing alternatives to sport, but we need to remember that unlike Europe, many US states restrict the provision of online casino games. Having said that, in the ones that allow it, such as New Jersey, we have seen an unprecedented surge in casino and live dealer during the sporting hiatus. Those states that were unable to offer such alternatives have certainly been left on the back foot.
Looking at lessons learned, US states would certainly do well to regulate these verticals to ensure that online sportsbooks can ‘pandemic-proof’ their operations if there is a future loss of sport. However, there’s also a variable here in that stakeholders from the land-based casino industry will likely lobby heavily against the online regulation of casino-based verticals that would traditionally be their bread and butter. Looking at the long game, I believe regulation of those verticals will be inevitable, as the business case is clearly there, and will likely outweigh any lobbying efforts over time.
SBCA: Looking to 2021, how do you recommend US operators prepare to hedge against any potential cancellation of live sport, and do you see it as a risk?
BW: It’s all about alternative content and making sure you have an armoury of entertainment to deploy if Saturday Night Football disappears from the screen. Of course, with that comes the need to ensure that the verticals that can deliver a replacement have been regulated in the state, so we’re certainly strong proponents of seeing that happen to ensure our partners can stay ahead.
While we’re always optimistic in our outlook, a repeat of US sport being cancelled is a very real threat and one that we have to price in – there’s just too many variables at play for such a risk not to be accounted for. Looking back at this year’s uncertainty, nothing can be ruled out or taken for granted. Morgan Stanley’s devaluation of the majority of the US’s major betting stocks are a strong indicator of the potential uncertainty ahead.
SBCA: And last but not least, any predictions you can share with us as to how you see the US in general shaping up for next year?
BW: We’re very confident about the future here, and we’re certainly on an upward trajectory that will likely bring another year of record-breaking growth assuming sport is set to continue. We’re already seeing US states breaking records month on month, and I only see things getting even better as technology and the customer familiarity with online sportsbooks continues to increase.
As we’ve discussed, there’s a wealth of states and operators looking to progress across multiple jurisdictions, and as more come online, I’m very much looking forward to getting to know their population’s betting habits and fine-tuning our world class delivery even further. It’s certainly an exciting time to be in business here!