Ontario – the market on everyone’s mind and one which is becoming increasingly competitive as more operators and suppliers look to get in on the action. But how do you stand out? According to Sarah Robertson, SVP Sales at Kambi, it all comes down to the strength of the product.
In an interview at the recent SBC Summit North America, Robertson outlined the growing opportunities within the Ontario market, and the reasons why Canadian bettors need to be differentiated from US bettors.
SBC: Why is Ontario such an important market?
Ontario has been a very important market for Kambi. Obviously, it’s the first Canadian market to regulate and it’s a huge, expansive market that can rival some of the largest US states. Not to mention the province has a huge population.
The market is also full of very experienced bettors, because in Canada, gray market betting was very prevalent. So, Ontario is going to be a unique battleground for operators and suppliers to really demonstrate the strength of their products.
SBC: What would you say have been the key takeaways and learnings from your experience of entering Ontario?
To reiterate what I was saying previously, the market is a very competitive one. It is an almost open market in terms of licensing. So there’s a lot of US and North American operators who have entered into the market, but also a lot of very experienced operators with their roots in Europe. That’s proven to be a lot different to US states that have often had limited access.
Ontario is also unique in some of its challenges around advertising. So again, because there’s not necessarily the ability to just pay huge amounts of bonuses to attract customers, it’s really a market where we think that product strength and product capabilities are going to be critical.
SBC: As a European company, what were the biggest challenges that you faced when applying for an Ontario license?
Well, we really think of ourselves as a global supplier. We have offices based around the world and have been working globally for quite some time across South America, Asia, and obviously in the US.
In preparation for the Canadian market, we wanted to make sure that we understood what Canadian consumers want. I think Canadian consumers are too often blanketed as US consumers but they obviously have different behaviors. Different sports are important to Canadian bettors. Hockey, for example, is obviously very popular, as is European soccer.
Making sure that we had really market-leading offerings as well as a lot of combined ability within our product is how we prepared. We have obviously been working with regulators too to make sure that we had a compliant product – that was critical for us to be able to enter the market on day one.
SBC: It’s only been a few weeks, but what has the appetite been like for your Bet Builder and Hockey products?
It’s been great so far. Kambi is a Scandinavian company by heritage, so we had a really strong ice hockey product to begin with and have only improved it. We have a dedicated trading team and product team around ice hockey which also positions us really well.
Outside of that, we really built up the offering, especially across in-play, and also made sure that we had our Bet Builder product available for hockey with in-event and multi-event combinations, which is a big, unique proposition for Kambi that others don’t have. It’s proven to be really, really popular with customers.
SBC: Where do you see the market heading over the next 5 years?
I think Ontario is obviously still very new. Everyone in the market – the regulator, suppliers, and operators – is watching to see where the top line revenues are going to go.
It’s also the first Canadian province to regulate. All of the other provinces are keenly watching Ontario to see the successes and failures of that market – I think we could see a lot of expansions across the other provinces within the next 12 to 24 months.