Dolan Beuthin is founder/CEO of Nigerian sportsbook BestBet360. Beuthin’s lifelong passion for the gaming industry began as a betting clerk on the race course in South Africa and he has extensive experience with the African sports betting market. We spoke to Beuthin about the American and African sports betting industries.
Africa is a fast-growing gaming market. Do you see any similarities with the U.S. sports betting market and its fast, post-PASPA growth?
BEUTHIN: While growth levels are similar, the base conditions are not proportional in measure, given the difficulties which brands face in these markets which are not even considered in the US. From the quality of the internet, mobile usage, player monitoring and compliance, micro-betting and volume of bets, the sums might even up and look similar, but the road in Africa is much more obstacle filled than the new “blue ocean” US market.
What can U.S.-based operators and affiliates learn from the African market?
BEUTHIN: I believe there is a learning curve to be had on both markets. In Africa, you have to overcome difficulties with a pinch of creativity and a flair for handling fewer good outcomes, learning how to handle yourself with less fair conditions prepares you for anything in more mature markets. Although the US market just opened up, it’s hardly an immature growth ground with affiliates, operators and software suppliers all coming from diverse territories and years of cross-jurisdictional experience ready to apply.
The main takeaway from African territories to US-based operators is – do not take the many resources available to you for granted, and understand that the US is partitioned into multiple states just like Africa is partitioned into multiple countries, not all of them share the same values and should not be addressed the same way.
The US as a whole doesn’t exist, just as “Africa” as a whole, doesn’t exist, and that is the first mistake most operators make in Africa and that they are transporting to the US. A state by state approach will help you acquire with less cost, maintain customers on a longer journey and at the end of the day help your operation grow at a steadier pace.
What are your thoughts on the best way to attract those who are interested in sports betting but have not yet signed up with any operator?
BEUTHIN: In new markets the journey always begins with player education. Don’t assume that because they enjoy sports, they understand the hundreds of tables and betting lines that populate most betting websites. These appeal to the mature bettor but the majority of sports fans wouldn’t know where to start.
For me “keeping it simple stupid” as a methodology is the best way to initiate these potential players into this “new” market, and don’t discard the female market either. In Africa, there is a saying which is used often which goes “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same concept applies to other areas in our life – show players what could happen “if only they had” taken the time to place a bet!
Educating new players is important in new sports betting territories. How can operators and affiliates ensure that potential players are well-informed and aware of what it means to wager online?
BEUTHIN: We touched on this subject slightly in the prior question, but taking it a a step further, I believe affiliates will play a major part in this education path for new players. In the same way, you had poker schools and forums which helped players understand the basics and apply their tactics in a safe and fun environment, affiliates have the opportunity to help sports operators on this same path, by unbiasedly informing players on the entertaining side of betting but also on the issues that can arise.
Let them understand their spending limits over a month and measure the time they spend on it adequately. Social Media Influencers can also play a huge role in this new era of players, they have proven highly successful in mentoring and influencing the daily habits of millions of consumers. There is still so much that can be done.
How is technology shaping the betting industry and what technology do you think we will see introduced in the next 2-5 years?
BEUTHIN: In my opinion, Artificial Intelligence will be key! Big data without the emotion turning players into experts and pushing sports betting operators into creating almost individual like journeys. Player analytics has always been an instrumental part of any operation, but in the near future it will also service players and this will be their edge.
The player experience will become enhanced with more relevant content, a unique take on the sports interesting to them and also used as a prediction model for protective measure against problems and addiction.
There is also a case for the opposite of technology as well in a way. That people may feel that too much of their lives are run by algorithms and are predictable and maybe sport offers an unpredictable ‘fairy tale’ story sometimes. A place where any outcome is possible at the beginning of a match? It has the potential for greatness.
What do you think will be the key challenges for operators and affiliates in the U.S. in 2019 and beyond?
BEUTHIN: The main challenge will be the changes and adjustments to the multi-state regulatory framework in the US. One size will not fit all, and everyone has to be on par with complex guidelines and player-centric measure that will tighten over time (look at the UK example). More states will regulate, but will deepen the differences between them and the consequences will be felt with affiliates, players, types of games and playability.
Other challenges might derive from the fact the law keeps operators tied to offline operations which of course have their own influence on how brands and games must be managed and developed. Challenging times yes but still an amazing opportunity.