The EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar organised in Madrid on 21-22 November held many insights for the future work of lotteries in the sports betting market. Much was said about social responsibility and possibilities in markets facing more regulatory and technological disruption than ever before. The key take-aways from the seminar came from these four areas: regulation, offering, collaboration and knowledge.
On the regulatory and legal front, lotteries, in almost every market, are facing challenges in their sports betting operations. Lottomatica presented their plans to deal with the general advertising ban in Italy. A strong physical presence, search engine optimisation and a smart CRM solution can put lotteries at an advantage even in the context of a total marketing ban. La Française des Jeux presented the potential challenges associated to the question of sport data ownership. There may be another court decision needed to clarify what the famous fixtures case of the 2004 means today in the era of live betting.
For sports and sports betting in particular, the integrity of sport matches is still a hot topic. One of the highlights of the seminar was the panel on maintaining sports integrity between representatives of GLMS, Interpol, the Tennis Integrity Unit and La Française des Jeux. Though the ratification of the Macolin Convention has been slow due to the obstruction of Malta within the EU, this has not inhibited significant national and international collaboration between the three main stakeholders of the convention: sports betting operators, public authorities (police) and sports organisations. The panel urged all EL and WLA members to join GLMS if they have not yet done so. The stronger the collaboration between key stakeholders are, the tighter our grip around criminal activity in sport will be.
Finally, the case-law triggered changes in the regulation of the sports betting market in the United States were highlighted in the panel focussing on the opening of the North American market. In a relatively short time, some 13 US lotteries have either authorised or have already launched their sports betting products. There is a great variety in the regulatory models and technologies being introduced. Time will tell how the market and the larger public will react to these significant changes.
The last few years have seen the rapid digitalisation of lotteries around the world. Cases from some of Europe’s most innovative lotteries, Danske Spil, Veikkaus and La Française des Jeux demonstrated how digitalisation gives lotteries an edge over their legal and illegal online competitors. Lotteries on all continents are faring quite well in capturing market share with innovative digital services. Singapore pools, Szerencsejatek Zrt. in Hungary and even the Oregon Lottery with its brand new sports betting mobile app are giving their competition a good run for their money.
One of the most significant developments in the offering of lotteries in sports betting is the rise of e-sports. Veikkaus reported that these new sports disciplines represent already the fifth most popular sports betting offering of the lottery ahead of basketball. Only a handful of lotteries offer e-sports for the moment. The potential to attract a new generation and segment of customers should encourage lotteries to enter this space. As La Marocaine Des Jeux et Des Sports explained, there are ways of “gently” entering this market by introducing games that fit the cultural profile and regulatory acceptance level of each market.
EL and WLA seminars and events serve as a great information sharing platform. Though some collaboration may be ruled out by regulation, much could be achieved in working together in developing new collective offerings and practices across jurisdictions. The excellent overview of the global market presented by Christian Kalb demonstrated that competitors are getting bigger across the globe. As tennis legend Pat Cash told participants before their departure to see the Davis Cup quarter finals, “you are only as strong as your team is. Even in individual sports”.
Knowledge is power. The Seminars are key in creating a platform for the exchange of intelligence about the global sports betting industry. They also create a smart community of sports betting professionals who have their countries’ good causes at heart. This sports betting seminar was particularity rich in information and encouraging success stories: it is up to the participants now to transform what they learned into knowledge that can improve their national activities. In particular, much insight is needed to transform the many sports betting challenges facing lotteries today into unique business opportunities in the future.
To summarise, with its mix of insights about regulation, offerings, collaboration and knowledge, this EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar in Madrid really ROCKed!
André Noël Chaker
Moderator of the EL/WLA Sports Betting Seminar
Madrid, 22 November 2019