Presenting a review and perspective of the burgeoning fantasy sports market in 2015, Valery Bollier CEO & Co-Founder of European fantasy sports operator Oulala Games details why the year has marked a pivotal standpoint for the sector, its future growth and its relationship with external stakeholders.
After eight years of intensive growth in the USA, the second part of 2015 will be remembered as the end of the non-regulated era. In many States, local providers are considered to be carrying out illegal acts in the same way that gaming companies are. They have entered a very stressful period of negotiation with legislators from every State. Their challenge is to find a way to create a legal frame for Daily Fantasy Sports. In order to do so, they will need to prove that DFS is not gambling but rather a game of skill that is not based on luck. There is no doubt that this legal battle will keep them busy during 2016; there is a high probability that they will temporarily disengage themselves from Europe.
On the contrary, after a few failed attempts, 2015 will be remembered as the year where Europe showed a real interest for DFS for the first time. The question is: why only now? Why is it that this interest will increase rapidly within the next few months? The answer is simply because a conjunction of positive factors, as listed below, created the necessary environment for the growth of the Fantasy Sports sector in Europe.
European sports fans are finally starting to analyse sports performances using statistics. In the USA, stats, numbers or percentages are used to discuss a basketball player’s performance, however, until very recently, people in Europe used nothing other than words.
This huge cultural gap in itself explains why fantasy sports has not been particularly successful in Europe thus far. Thanks to big data, European media is now pushing out more and more statistics while European fans are slowly converting towards the idea that talking about sports with your brain and your heart is more ideal and reasonable than simply with your heart.
Another factor is, of course, the incredible amount of money that Fanduel and Draftkings were able to raise during the summer of 2015, that is, 275 million and 300 million dollars respectively. When a sector raises such a significant amount of money overseas, our whole European ecosystem (operators, VC’s, customers) is quick to hear about it. Evidently, without this sudden major surge it would have been a lot more difficult for us at Oulala to raise €1.5 million this summer.
The final main factor is without doubt the fact that iGaming is legal in almost every European country. This will soon also be the case in places where it is not so yet, in order for them not to miss this new market opportunity.
So, why is it that European iGaming operators will strongly embrace DFS in 2016?
To answer that question, we need to think about the influence of big data on the sports betting industry. In the short-term, the development of big data appears to be beneficial for sports betting as clients’ demand for more statistics is growing rapidly. Many gaming customers mistakenly believe that more data increases their odds of making money.
However, there is no doubt that clients will eventually realize that big data is helping bookmakers optimize their offered odds. We believe that if big data allows bookmakers to predict the outcomes of sports events with a higher level of accuracy, their clients will begin to lose interest.
Big data is revolutionising our industry and this is only the beginning. One can therefore predict that, in the long-run, sports betting clients will become DFS players in large numbers. There will always be something exciting about playing against one another, rather than against the house. To reduce this risk, it makes sense for sports betting operators to start offering the DFS experience to their clients as early as possible, in order to anticipate this potential shift.
For this exact reason, we launched a white label solution of our game last month. It is imperative that iGaming operators have access to this new market quickly since, as always, when a new product arrives – such as poker 15 years ago – the first movers often become the major players in the marketplace. Fantasy sports is the next big thing arriving in the European market. With Oulala, any operators willing to benefit from this new opportunity will have access to a plug-and-play solution within the next three weeks.
In this last month, the phenomenal numbers of requests we have already received from operators is a solid proof that 2016 will be the year for Fantasy Sports in Europe.
We hope to announce a dozen white label agreements in the next couple of weeks.
Valery Bollier – CEO & Co Founder – Oulala Games