Brandon Walker: the New Jersey igaming licence is another feather in the cap for Amelco

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Brandon Walker, Head of USA at Amelco

Back in September, Amelco announced that it has extended its US footprint even further by launching its igaming solution in the New Jersey market. 

For Brandon Walker, Head of USA at Amelco, this latest market entry presents a whole host of opportunities to showcase the company’s igaming expertise, having already established itself as a leading force within the sports betting space.

The Garden State has long been tipped as being one of the most competitive markets in the US. But for Walker, the timing hasn’t been right to enter the state until now. 

He began: “If we’re being completely honest, we would have liked to have entered New Jersey a lot sooner. But the timing wasn’t right, and none of our active clients were operating in that market. 

“It just so happens that the client that we’ve just gone live with was switching from one platform provider to us. It wasn’t that they weren’t necessarily live before, but they have now migrated onto our platform.

“We have been able to offer them a lot of flexibility with our product, a lot of new integrations, a range of new tools, enhanced CRM capabilities and casino-specific functionalities that they were previously missing. 

“It’s fantastic that they’ve transitioned over.. It shows that we’re doing something right and that our products are what operators are looking for. 

“We may be slightly late to the market in terms of igaming, but I do believe that we’ll go from strength to strength. There is certainly going to be a lot more operators looking at our products and our platform for further igaming adoption.”

Finding a competitive edge

Standing out from the competition in an increasingly saturated market is no easy task. With numerous sportsbooks and casinos already operating within New Jersey, platform providers often find themselves competing for business. 

But for Amelco, this isn’t cause for concern. Instead, Walker is confident that the prowess of Amelco’s product portfolio speaks for itself. 

Walker said: “From my perspective, effectively marketing your platform in a competitive state such as New Jersey is simple. The proof is in the pudding really; everyone can see your products. 

“What we’ve noticed is that bonus capabilities are a big differentiating factor for my casino operators, particularly how CRM products interact with the bonus functionality. Something to also consider is how you target your customers with relevant bonuses that aren’t just going to fall by the wayside. 

“That is a big portion of what we’ve been focusing on. We’re looking at the look and feel of the app and making sure it looks very slick; it has to be fast and responsive too. New Jersey is such a competitive state with so many operators there already. So, anything that is second grade is just not going to fly. We’re making sure that the UX and UI is up there with the best.”

Behind the scenes, Amelco is also carrying out upgrades to its CRM and bonus functionalities to make sure they are “best in class” for its partners. 

“We’ve designed a number of unique bonuses and features that operators are already using. Now that we’re live with one partner in the state, we’re so proud,” he added. “We’d like to think that this is only going to be beneficial for us and we look forward to expanding our footprint even further.”

There’s no cookie cutter approaches here

As Amelco continues to expand its presence across North America, the question of partnerships – and the importance of being selective – soon cropped up.

During the interview, it was plain to see that Walker places a huge emphasis upon the bespoke side of product development. He said: “At Amelco, we don’t just want to partner with anyone and everyone. We want to take our time, carry out our due diligence and make sure that they’re the right fit for us. 

“When looking at new partnerships, we look closely at what states they operates in, whether they’re a single state operator, or whether they have aspirations to enter multiple markets. We are very flexible. Amelco works with both tribal and non-tribal operators too.”

He explained that Amelco aims to deliver a unique product proposition to each of its clients that is tailored to their individual needs – but to effectively do this, you need to be selective with your partners. 

“There are so many nuances to consider before partnering with someone new. We want to make sure that the relationship is beneficial for everyone. One of the key things for us is that we’re not just a white label sportsbook provider, we’re not just a plug and play platform. We don’t just offer a cookie cutter, one-size-fits all solution over and over to every customer. We deliver bespoke solutions that are relevant and suitable to the market and each of our partners. 

“It takes time for us to build a new product, finalize the design of the front-end and the apps. We pride ourselves on delivering quality over quantity. Every single one of our customers has their own instance of our software and solutions. We don’t have multiple operators running off the same system.”

As well as being able to access more tailored solutions, Walker also highlighted that Amelco is carrying out all of its product and platform development in-house. 

This, he noted, not only showcases the fact that Amelco is the “most comprehensive platform provider on the market” but will also reduce the reliance for third-party contractors and streamline the integration process considerably.

Walker continued: “We are trying to bang the drum about how we are the only B2B provider in the market that offers you a full PAM, sportsbook, and igaming solution. Essentially what that means is you don’t need to shop around and use multiple different software providers and hope that they work together in a seamless way.

“By bringing everything in-house, it makes everything much more seamless. From registrations to payments and onboarding, we’re getting the message out there that Amelco is here in New Jersey and we’re the most comprehensive platform provider out there.”

The roll out of igaming

It’s been five years since PASPA was repealed, and since then, 37 states plus the District of Columbia have welcomed sports betting legislation. However, the adoption of igaming has been somewhat slower.

Walker believes that there are various different reasons for this: “The US has a very large land-based casino presence in a lot of states, many of which have been fairly reluctant to make that move into the online space. That has been a big factor. 

“But as the market matures, both in terms of sports betting and casino, people are becoming much more educated about what gambling entails. They understand a lot more about what online casino and online sports betting is. That process does take time though.”

One of the challenges that betting and gaming companies face is the apprehension from players to fully embrace igaming, particularly from a responsible gambling standpoint. 

To navigate this, Amelco’s Head of USA suggested that the industry as a whole should showcase the measures it has taken to protect players.

“I do think that people are being a bit more cautious about the roll out for igaming because it is much more quick-fire content. Unlike sports, you can access an online casino every hour of the day. The market has a long way to go to alleviate any concerns relating to responsible gambling and underage gaming. We need to show the measures we have in place to protect players. 

“It’s going to take a few more years but it is great to see that more states are beginning to embrace igaming. There are approximately six states live now, with talk of more coming online soon.”

For Walker, there are four front runners to embrace igaming legislation: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and New York. When asked why he identified these four states in particular, he drew particular attention towards the states’ mature sports betting markets as being great building blocks for a successful igaming sector.

In the last few days, we’ve heard whispers of Florida opening back up. And for Amelco in particular, this would present a huge opportunity for expansion. 

He said: “In terms of our software, we’re already powering every Hard Rock property across the US. From a sports betting standpoint, it would be great if Florida does open up. Fanatics is also expanding too. We recently heard the news that Fanatics now has access to the PointsBet sports betting licence, so it would be great to see them roll into New York on the sports betting side, especially since we power their sportsbook.”

Florida isn’t the only market on Amelco’s radar for the next few months. The company has set its sights on the Canadian market, having recently acquired a license for Ontario. But as we edge closer to 2024, Walker expressed his confidence that the next 12 months will be filled with plenty of new opportunities for Amelco.

He concluded: “We’re now live in 15 states plus Ontario; we’re constantly pressing forward. Whether it’s sports or igaming, we provide a full end-to-end solution. 

“We’re soon looking to expand into Maryland with a new operator. And we’ve also rolled out our retail solutions to Saracen Casino too which was fantastic to see. Amelco is really going from strength to strength. In short, the future is looking incredibly bright for us as we continue to look for new opportunities.”