Betsson’s Coming to America story

Betsson Sportsbook North America
Image: Shutterstock
Lance Agostino

Everyone in the betting industry knows Betsson, right?. It’s the powerhouse European operator that is making inroads in Colorado and Ontario with its Betsafe B2C brand. That is, of course, all true – but it’s not the full story.

In North America at least, the Betsson Sportsbook B2B offer is the primary focus alongside its consumer business. 

That means the proven technology and strategic knowledge that has driven huge success for the company in Europe and Latin America is now available to any other operator that wants it. Including those that might be competing against Betsafe in Colorado or Ontario.

It’s not a scenario that worries Lance Agostino, US Account Director for Betsson Group. In fact, as he explains, the B2C operation supports the B2B sportsbook side of the business by demonstrating that the technology works as well in a US or Canadian setting as it does in Betsson’s core international markets.   

Of the company’s US launch, Agostino recalls: “We knew our strengths as a large operator and what it was going to take to get into the market. We evaluated coming in as Betsson, but quickly realized that would be too costly. 

“Instead, we decided that, first and foremost, we wanted to bring our technology over here to offer to other partners and providers. 

“One of the first questions we get asked in RFPs or procurement processes is ‘where else are we live in North America?’ So, we decided it was probably more pragmatic and faster to go ahead and get live ourselves with the Betsafe brand, so we are able to play in our own sandbox.”

Betsafe being live has proved useful for the B2B operation, as it has proved that Betsson knows how to get licensed, operate in a North American regulated environment, fulfill reporting requirements, work with affiliates and all the other things that potential partners care about. 

As well as answering those practical questions, the fact that Betsafe’s hold on the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS is “very much in line with market expectations” shows the effectiveness of Betsson’s trading and risk management services. 

One further benefit of the two-pronged approach is that in Ontario, Betsafe also has a live iGaming operation. That has given Betsson’s North American team a host of insights into how iCasinos coexist with sportsbooks in a regulated environment, how to cross-sell, and how to manage players, all of which it can share with partners in iGaming states and provinces. 

A one-stop shop for operators

Perhaps the most surprising element of the Betsafe operation in North America is that it utilizes a third-party platform provider, Strive Gaming, rather than Betsson’s own tech stack. That decision was taken in order to demonstrate that the sportsbook can be successfully delivered on whichever platform a partner chooses.

It also explains why when asked to describe the Betsson Sportsbook offer, Agostino begins by stating what it isn’t.

“I’m always wary of using the term ‘platform’ because I think it gets thrown around too loosely. However, it certainly serves as a one-stop-shop for everything you need to be a successful sportsbook operator,” he explains. 

“We have all the major providers plugged in for pricing, meaning we have about 20 sports already automated for pre-match trading. Additionally, all live trading pricing is automated, and we handle a substantial number of live events – about 600,000 per year – so it’s a big, robust offering.”

The question of how many events Betsson trades is one that Agostino is asked a lot, as prospective partners are keen to have the broadest possible offer for customers in what are hugely competitive state markets. 

Rather than provide an exact number, he settles on: “If there is an event happening globally that is regulated by some kind of governing body, there’s a high likelihood that we have at least a limited offering, if not a full robust offering on it. So we have everything from lower league soccer matches in South America to numerous table tennis events.”

Global coverage is not everything though, as Betsson has also adapted its offer for American tastes. Central to that localization process was the development of an extensive single-game parlay offer.

“It’s one of those unique things that not only do players like, operators find it attractive due to the margins,” he says. “We’ve expanded the single-game parlay offer to cover all major sports like MLB, NBA, and NFL, which has been a nice little addition to help total margin management.

“Moving forward, it’s likely to evolve so that we see single game parlay, live betting, being able to combine single game parlay betting with additional parlay. So effectively just be able to parlay anything.”

All of this is backed by a sportsbook trading team with a head count of almost 150, who provide a fully-managed trading service that covers pricing, risk management, player profiling, and liability management. It is not a one-size fits all service though. 

“We can provide assistance in managing liability for regional operators, even if we can’t alter the overall lines of the sport,” Agostino says. “For instance, if an operator has a heavy betting volume on the Chiefs due to being in Kansas or on the Nuggets due to being in Denver, we can help manage the liability at the game level and then at the player level.

“Our tools allow us to categorize player types, understand risk profiles, and even set appropriate limits on players or events to ensure our operators are better managing their total liability.”

The expertise of the trading and risk management team mean Betsson Sportsbook can work for operators targeting only the recreational player through to those happy to take on the high rollers, with liability managed appropriately for their risk appetite. 

A fully customizable offer

Betsson has made a number of investments to help it deliver what partners in the US and Canada really want.

One of them has been in personnel, as it has augmented its European expertise by hiring both a Head of Sportsbook and Head of Sportsbook Product based in North America. 

Just as significant has been the investment in making the Betsson Sportsbook as customizable as possible. It is already set up to support live streaming where that is permitted and the team is working on improved social options for the app, but perhaps the biggest development has been in front-end APIs.

“We’ve heavily invested in front-end APIs to offer potential partners greater customization options,” Agostino says. “We don’t want our partners to look homogenous and, this way, they can develop their own unique front ends that align with their brand and unique selling proposition.”

That goes beyond just how the app or website looks. The API functionality also allows partners to plug in additional data and pricing feeds to super customize their offer. 

So whether an operator wants to differentiate by offering the widest range of markets on its state’s college football teams, focus on esports betting or become the number one Professional Bull Riders sportsbook, Betsson’s product can help them to do it. 

“We’re looking to work with operators who can get licensed, whether tribal, commercial, or casino-based, who have some form of unique offering,” Agostino concludes. 

“We’re looking for folks that have thought hard about the economics of sports betting and sports betting operations, and understand the kind of investment that it takes to be a sports betting operator. 

“That could be a larger brand looking to differentiate itself because it’s currently on the same sportsbook provider as other big brands. Or it might be a smaller regional operator; we’ve shown that we can be successful in Colorado and Ontario with just ten full-time staff here, so we know we have the model and the technology for that set-up.”