Lisa Waterfield, FSB: reflecting on the importance of tribal gaming

Sports betting offers an immense amount of opportunity as North America moves forward with continued regulation across the region, according to Lisa Waterfield, North America Sales Manager for sportsbook and igaming solutions provider FSB. And despite the political challenges within the sector, she believes tribal casinos can play its part in the roll out of sports betting.

Speaking ahead of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) event this week, SBC Americas sat down with Waterfield to understand why tribal gaming is of key importance to the fast-growing supplier.

SBC Americas: Hi Lisa. You’ve become an integral part of a growing North American team at FSB. Tell us about your experience and the road that led you to FSB.

I’m originally from the UK, but have spent the last 25 years living and building my gaming career in Las Vegas. My family owned a sports betting retail business in the UK and I started my casino gaming career near London. From there I spent three years in casino operations in South Africa and then came to the States to work in cruise ship gaming. During my extensive career I have worked with some of the major gaming suppliers selling into and building relationships with tribal entities across North America. 

I joined FSB in 2020, and it’s been an exciting journey watching us grow and building a strong and experienced team. My extensive, cross-product tribal and commercial casino sales experience dovetails well with the dynamic sportsbook expertise of Mike Van Ermen (VP Business Development) and Bob Akeret (VP Operations), and we are on track to build a healthy client base across a number of key segments.

SBC Americas: Why is the tribal gaming segment important to FSB and to you specifically?

There’s an awareness at FSB of the wholehearted authenticity of tribal gaming. Community is at the heart of tribal operations with gaming revenues used to fund the likes of schooling and health care within their infrastructure. These are values that we admire and respect. 

On a commercial level, the sector offers an immense amount of opportunity as North America moves forward with continued regulation across the region. At this point though, it’s fair to say that with the pedestrian jurisdictional roll-out of sports betting and igaming coupled with the multi-layered regulations and changes to compacts with the states, tribal casinos haven’t fully taken a leading role in this expansion.  

At FSB we are keen to respect this approach and provide the right support, solutions and guidelines to help tribes evolve their businesses at their own pace.

We’ll be attending the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) event this week in Anaheim, California, and will once again follow that up with appearances at the Northwest Indian Gaming Association in June, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) event in August and November’s NIGA MId-Year gathering later in 2022. We remain committed to supporting tribal gaming events and the sector as a whole.

On a personal level, I’m a relationship builder with a passion for people armed with a consultative sales approach. I believe in getting to know the staff at all levels and helping the tribes in making good product decisions. I have worked with tribes for many years and truly understand the importance of their culture. Networking with the tribal casinos over the years has always felt real and it’s these events that make me feel part of the community.

SBC Americas: What can FSB offer the tribal gaming segment?

Sportsbook expertise. In Mike and Bob we have leaders who have launched and operated major sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey respectively over the last decade. While we offer the full stack of sportsbook, casino, retail, platform and PAM, it’s in sportsbook where we excel with an award-winning omnichannel offering enhancing on-premise experiences. 

This, aligned with our deep experience across operations and trading and supported by our multi-channel, multi-vertical back office, offers tribes a compelling proposition.

We’re passionate people and truly believe in the power of collaboration to make sure operators can work with us to curate the optimal sports betting experiences they require for their market and players across our product and platform. 

It’s clear that tribes have built world-class casinos, but may need a partner to engage their staff and customers through training, tools and experience to fully onboard a successful sportsbook operation. FSB’s managed services offers trading, risk management, customer support and compliance to eliminate the need for tribes to hire additional staff with specific skill sets in these areas. This is where we can add huge value. 

We’re also here to help them grow. Partnering with FSB allows tribes to build their brand and continue to control their customer database as opposed to surrendering it to a B2C operator. Our platform gives tribes the tools they need to leverage their database and differentiate via empowering trading, marketing and bonusing tools whilst being able to cross sell seamlessly across online and on-premise due to the omnichannel nature of our offering.

And again, I’ll mention relationships. We’re here to build long-term partnerships with the tribal community fuelled by experienced staff, best in class technology and strong communication. This is about tribes letting their strategy drive our technology. Let’s talk!

SBC Americas: And finally, we spoke with Mike Van Ermen and Bob Akeret last year on SBC Americas, can you update us on FSB’s North American momentum?

As you can imagine, it’s been super busy. We began scaling up our North American team at the start of 2021 and now have operational hubs in Nevada and New Jersey across Business Development, Operations, Technology, Project Management and Compliance. We secured market entry last year via a major sports wagering agreement in South Dakota, received our license in Ontario before the market opened earlier this month and are looking forward to launching three brands in the province in the coming weeks. This is just the tip of the iceberg as we move forward with this talented team and enabling technology.

Lisa will be part of the FSB team exhibiting at NIGA this week from Booth #1738.