James Everett: Why Africa is a home away from home for BetGames
The Lithuanian-based BetGames has expanded into territories across the globe, such as the UK, Malta, Latvia, Estonia and Italy. However, the company’s most prominent area of success has been Africa, more specifically the South African market.
Speaking to SBC News, BetGames’ Sales Director James Everett elaborates on how and why the region has become such a successful voyage for the industry-leading provider.
SBC: Talk us through BetGames in Africa – how long have you been established there and what are the key countries?
JE: BetGames has been established in Africa since 2015 when we first launched with Hollywoodbets, South Africa’s biggest online and retail bookmaker. Our growth throughout South Africa has been one of our major success stories and we continue to search for more opportunities across the continent.
Having launched with all the major operators in South Africa, we are currently looking at countries like Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, and other markets where our product is already seeing encouraging growth.
The growth has come as no surprise, when acknowledging that BetGames is well positioned as an invaluable cross-selling tool between sports betting and casino games.
SBC: What’s the timeline for your development in Africa?
JE: We’ve done well in Africa but our vision to expand isn’t limited to the continent, part of our core growth plans is continued on key markets across the globe such as Greece.
New markets are a great interest to all major suppliers, especially as we ease out of the effects from COVID. As we expand, markets of key interest include tier one and two markets, we want to create a wider product portfolio that can work across all markets, established or not.
The timeline of our development within areas like Africa can be reflected by the advancement in technology. As the adoption of smartphones becomes more intrinsic, we’ve seen a shift in operators utilising the strength of modern smartphones and their capabilities in being able to run online games.
This has proven to be a key differentiator for us, particularly during lockdown in South Africa, where we were able to migrate hundreds of thousands of players from retail to online.
SBC: Where do BetGames products offer a key point of difference to operators in Africa?
JE: The key to our success is the result of a combination of several key assets that makes our brand truly unique. This includes a dynamic team of talented business developers, a unique product that appeals to both fixed-odds sports punters and casino players, as well as constantly investing in the adaptation of new games to suit the market.
Some of the key features and benefits that sets BetGames apart from the competition include permitting unlimited seats per game, a wide range of fixed-odds betting options, a multi-currency offering and a quick and simple API integration that is one of the industry’s best.
In addition, our impressive graphical UI mode and low-latency HD stream for data-sensitive users has proven key to success. We also offer a fully responsive iFrame, cross-platform availability and cross selling between fixed-odds sports and casino players.
Our games set us apart thanks to the different risk levels, stakes and payout limits, as well as following simple rules and being super-fast, which gives the exact high-velocity, fun betting experience that we know our players are looking for when it comes to entertainment.
SBC: What can you tell us about your performance with key operators in the region?
JE: Since launching with Hollywoodbets in 2015, we’ve seen consistently impressive performance and reliability. More recently, we partnered with Betway and we’ve experienced similar reports.
Our strategic partnerships have resulted in us expanding our commercial departments, which we’ve had to revamp in order to handle the expansion and our growing list of partners.
Additionally, sports betting has always been a great area in terms of performance, the sports betting margins are usually always higher for operators as they do not require a third party.
SBC: What split are we currently seeing in popularity between online and offline? And how has that changed since 2020?
JE: Being able to offer the majority of our games in a retail environment has been a huge benefit for us. However, we still see online as the major driving force with regards to revenue. The online space has continued to grow since it’s inception and it certainly won’t slow down as operators make a shift online.
With retail restrictions enforced by governments across the continent since the start of 2020, it has been a huge win to see growth in the retail sector. With these restrictions gradually being relaxed as we close out 2021, we are forecasting further growth as the year draws to a close. With cash betting allowed in retail, we will probably see more growth in retail and possibly strengthen in emerging markets.
However, retail is limited and with a continued advancement in the mobile space, it wouldn’t be a surprise for mobile to surpass the retail space and for retail’s growth to decline. It’s nice to see people returning to retail, but given its limitations, it will only feel more deprived as the online sector grows.
SBC: Looking at the emergence of live casino, particularly in the South African market, what sets BetGames apart from the other big name providers?
JE: Having been able to capture a significant part of the “live games” market prior to the emergence of live casino in 2020, we have been able to consolidate our market share and continue to grow our brand in South Africa.
Certainly, our appeal to the fixed-odds sports gambler is a major reason why we have been able to hold our own in this market. Notwithstanding, the size of our retail business is also a key factor as to why we still enjoy a major presence in this country.
Other features that have set us apart include, but are not limited to, the ability to avoid any restrictions on the number of seats available for any of our games, simple rules with superfast games and a comprehensive range of betting options with a wide spectrum of risk levels.
SBC: How much of a difference do you see between the player demographics for live casino and live dealer – which are we seeing resonate more with local players?
JE: The demographic appears to be similar in general, however, fixed-odds sports gamblers and live casino players are fundamentally different, and this is where we are well positioned to continue to enjoy a flourishing outlook. Especially since our services will appeal to both parties.
Live casino players like to have a lot of variety. Within this vertical, you can see 30 wheels available which provides players with plenty of options and players respond to this. With the success of live casino in South Africa we’re confident that we will continue seeing impressive numbers.
Live dealer games have impressed players thanks to the offering of fixed-odds products and have built up a robust and loyal customer base on the back of it.
SBC: Last but not least, talk us through BetGames’ vision for South Africa and beyond over the next 12 months? What are the key challenges and opportunities?
JE: The key challenge we face is to continue to adapt to new market challenges and to work closely with our existing partners in order to tailor new games offerings that best suit our clients. We are also keen on growing our brand name using influencers and strategic positioning within the market.
There are still some areas where we still find issues with internet coverage, these challenges are ones we are pro-actively looking to solve to ensure we can fully take advantage of our already strong foothold in the African continent and rapid growth in South Africa in general.
Once we’ve further developed our capabilities, it will be easier for us to combine our success in Africa with the expected growth in the online gambling space. We’re certainly very excited about our prospects for the year ahead as one of the market’s favourite providers.