Andy Wright, Sporting Solutions: Alberta and Ontario deals just the start of North American growth plan

After entering the Canadian market via partnerships with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC), Sporting Solutions’ CEO Andy Wright is confident that these new agreements are just the start of the company’s expansion into the North American market.

Speaking to SBC Americas, Wright shed some light upon the ways in which Sporting Solutions will help deliver “a seamless wagering experience for bettors” across the two provinces.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Andy! You’ve been CEO of Sporting Solutions for nearly four months now – how are things progressing since your arrival?

AW: These last four months have gone incredibly quickly! I’ve still got a lot to get up to speed with, but I’m really enjoying working with an enthusiastic team that have a strong heritage, with both trading and risk management very much at the company’s core. 

Of course, it’s been an interesting time to join the company with these two recent deals being imminent to launch. They are very much indicating which direction we are going in for the future!

As you mentioned, In the last week or so Sporting Solutions has made two major announcements with regards to OLG and AGLC. Starting with OLG, can you tell us a little bit about this agreement? How does it feel to be the first legal sportsbook in Ontario?

We’re delighted to be the first regulated sportsbook in Ontario and be in a position to take the first legal single bet. It’s a fantastic opportunity in this evolving market and a very important milestone for the FDJ group. 

We are delivering a fully managed service to OLG: pricing and trading from Sporting Solutions, our hosted betting platform that supports digital retail and pool games and our proprietary automated risk management service supported by our trading team in both Edmonton and here in the UK. 

OLG has set the bar very high in terms of quality of product, and its suitability for their players. And rightly so, particularly in this environment. It has proven that we can deliver to those exacting standards and provides us with great confidence in our products and services as we move forward to expand our presence further still in North America in the future.

How will Sporting Solutions ensure that it delivers a seamless wagering experience for bettors?

Our approach to having a seamless experience starts with having a unified platform that underpins all channels of distribution, and providing flexible front end components that can be integrated and utilised in a variety of contexts. 

Our lightweight front end components are integrated fully with the betting platform and are used across all digital channels whether desktop, mobile, web, or native application so that the player has the same level of functionality, layout and experience wherever they choose to bet. 

In our next phase, and this is an iterative process, we’ll be launching a new native application to support digital retail experience where a player can build their bet based on the same sportsbook as online and generate barcodes to place bets quickly in store. 

This will support the traditional coupon based play in store as well, all of which comes back to the same platform. We’re also fortunate to be able to offer OLG’s pool games to the players alongside the same digital touch point thanks to the depth of functionality we have at our disposal on the platform.

What were the key challenges when it came to entering the Ontario market?

Creating a localised wagering experience that satisfies the demands of the Ontario market is the main challenge. We can’t simply provide a European style sportsbook – we’ve developed a highly configurable product that can provide content in the most appropriate way for players. 

The basics of having configurable odds format event and outcomes being away/at home are just the tip of the iceberg. We also have the challenge of ensuring that the entire user experience is localised, not just in English, but also in French. And thankfully, our platform has the ability thanks in part to our European customers. But of course, with our owners being Française de Jeux, who have been using our product in a domestic French market for the past 10 years. 

Alongside this requirement is ensuring that our products are accessible to all, which is something we take great pride in making sure that we meet and exceed the standards set by the regulator.

You also announced that you have partnered with NeoPollard Interactive and AGLC to launch PlayAlberta’s first sports betting platform. Why is this agreement so important for strengthening your position in the North American market?

We’re very excited to work with AGLC and NeoPollard to launch Alberta’s first regulated online sportsbook. With the recent legislation of single event wagering in Canada, this is the ideal time for PlayAlberta’s launch. 

We’re confident that our technology and sports betting expertise will bring a dynamic and compelling offering to Albertans and it demonstrates to other operators that we can deliver two very different offerings very much tailored to what the operators needs.

How will Sporting Solutions help drive player engagement for PlayAlberta?

This is done in conjunction with NeoPollard and the part we play is providing a reliable betting experience underpinned by sophisticated risk management tools. 

The consistent service our trading technology provides will generate stickiness, and loyalty once the market becomes even more competitive.

And finally, what are your overall plans for the Canadian market? Can we expect some more partnerships?

Well, you can certainly expect more partnerships whether it is in Canada or North America. These two deals have been delivered within less than a week of each other and have let the market know that we can do two very different complex integrations. Our plan is to leverage the success of these launches to capture new business with similar operators in the future.