Liv Biesemans, Kindred: No Google of gambling industry ‘anytime soon’
The past year has seen a number of major acquisitions – as well as some prominent failed ones – in the international betting and gaming scene, but the prospect of a ‘betting industry Google is not around the corner.
This is according to Kindred’s Group Deputy General Counsel Liv Biesemans, who shared her views on M&A developments whilst also making comparisons between the European and North American betting spaces with Martin Lycka on the Safe Bet Show, recorded live from the SBC Summit Latinoamérica.
For Biesemans, there have been four major M&A trends over the past year – smaller operators acquired by larger ones or large companies acquiring fellow large companies; B2C operators bringing in their own in-house technology, supplier M&A such as NetEnt and Evolution; and lastly, operators conducting acquisitions in order to expand their product verticals, such as sportsbooks integrating igaming platforms.
“The M&A trend in this industry has been incredible,” she explained. “We’re both legal professionals and to be at the forefront of this revolution almost or this transformational change in the industries is a privilege in a sense.
“We’ve obviously seen this M&A movement in Europe where we both come from and we see that now happening in the US, so the consolidation trend is here and it’s definitely going to continue for the next couple of years.”
Although observing that the extensive M&A will continue in the coming years in the international betting space, Biesemans maintained that there will be no ‘Facebook, Google or Twitter’ of the gambling industry ‘any time soon’.
“We will see very big companies, but I think there’s still plenty of space for smaller companies and niche companies who offer something that others don’t, whether it’s product related or whether it’s brand related. I think you’ll see a combination of both in the coming years.”
A final prediction saw the Kindred Group Counsel anticipate greater participation of ‘non-endemic’ players in the betting and gaming industry, something which has already occurred in other sectors.
“We’ve seen it in the esports industry, where none-ndemic operators enter the landscape such as Adidas and Miami Heat. I think we’re going to see a very similar industry trend in the sportsbook industry and I think that’s going to be a game changer and something to watch.”
Commenting on similarities and differences between the European and North American betting markets, Biesemans noted that one key feature both jurisdictions have in common is extensive fragmentation due to national differences in Europe and state differences in the US.
“The main similarity that we see between Europe and the US is the fragmentation. Its member state by Member State (in the EU) or state by state in the US. There’s no one regime, there’s no one framework, and it obviously creates challenges from a scalability point of view because as an operator you have to have the scale to be able to launch in 50+ states.
“I think because there’s only a handful of operators who can do that, you see companies like ourselves who really target specific states based on a number of indicators, and every company by itself determines what are the benchmarks for entering a state.
She added: “Smaller companies will have to have a targeted approach in one sense because of that scalability, which comes at a cost. It’s very difficult to tackle 50 states at the same time.”