Jordan Levin is confident that the Integration of IMG ARENA under OpenBet will create global gambling’s most sophisticated technology business, delivering end-to-end sports data, technology and content ecosystem for betting operators and rightsholders.
Levin told SBCNews following the disclosure by NYSE sports and entertainment firm Endeavor Co that it had taken the decision to merge IMG ARENA’s business with OpenBet.
As cited by Endeavor: “The integrated entity will leverage the individual strengths and operational expertise of both global businesses, marrying OpenBet’s industry-leading betting technology, content, and services with IMG ARENA’s data rights and intelligence capabilities.”
IMG ARENA’s integration will be overseen by Levin, the long-standing CEO of OpenBet, who is also tasked with undertaking a further transition, needed to elevate OpenBet’s status as the leading technology supplier of tier-1 operators.
The integration and consequent transformation of OpenBet’s business is viewed as somewhat of a family affair by Levin, who explained: “Endeavor acquired OpenBet in September 2022, as this has always been in its vision that OpenBet would be working closely with IMG ARENA.
“In that sense, you might think of us as cousins, working under the Endeavour umbrella. On my part the integration is to make a new OpenBet operationally and functionally formalized, but keeping a close eye towards the market and how it is changing for our clients and their customers.”
Questioned on Endeavor’s motives to separate IMG ARENA from IMG Corporation, and ‘marry its cousin’, Levin responded: “Yes, ARENA was part of a very successful media and sports business in IMG.
“It could have remained a standalone unit for IMG, but it makes sense to pull our businesses together as we serve the same market. Which, on a combined basis, sees us serve 450 betting and gaming brands. We now have one voice to serve the market and one agenda to coordinate.”
Taking on the forthcoming enlargement of OpenBet’s business, Levin reflected on the technology group’s unique history of transitions under different owners since the company’s foundation in 1996.
“For Scientific Games I led the acquisition of OpenBet from NYX Gaming in 2017. Prior to NYX, OpenBet was owned by the private equity fund of Vitruvian, and way back by News Corp. That’s at least five separate owners!
“What gives me confidence is that through all the changes in corporate ownership, OpenBet has remained reliable and resilient as the best platform servicing gambling’s biggest operators. It’s in our DNA and a very rare thing not just in this industry, but for a technology business to overcome so many changes and maintain its leader status.”
Trust is key, as Levin acknowledges growth in competition seeking to take away tier-1 clients from OpenBet. “Over the years, OpenBet has consistently remained a solid platform of choice” he said, one that your CTO doesn’t get fired for.
“I tell everyone, OpenBet is the most reliable and resilient platform, that plain old works, whether you are taking bets on the SuperBowl, the Spring Festival, Grand National or World Cup our systems work. I don’t know if everyone can promise that.”
Having worked on key projects with IMG ARENA, Levin stated that OpenBet’s next evolution will be focused on merging the tech competencies of both companies to deliver aggregated data, pricing and complementary services for clients.
Reflecting on the recent launch of OpenBet’s Trading System, Levin explained the challenge as an “omnibus integration to deliver more agile systems/solutions which can deliver all sports betting and gambling services needed by clients to serve their respective markets”.
He noted: “It’s really taking that concept of aggregators and applying it to sports betting, which nobody’s really done well yet. So that’s the opportunity.
“We’ve already built the system and started customising it for our first customers. It includes proprietary pricing and modular components like SportCast feeds, which is a business that we acquired a couple years ago.
“It also includes virtual sports by Leap Gaming, which was part of the portfolio. The system will allow a whole host of third-party partners to plug-in, some of which have been launched and some of which will be launched”.
From a tech and innovation stand-point, IMG ARENA’s integration reflects a broader industry trend towards consolidation, driven by the need for efficiency and value creation in a competitive market. It’s a narrative which Levin sees as further proof of consolidation amongst competitor “suppliers to address margin pressures and changing market demands”.
Questioned on any internal changes to OpenBet such as a rebrand to integrate ARENA, Levin detailed: “There could be a rebrand in the far future maybe, but right now, those plans are not on the table.”
As such OpenBet will remain the primary brand, leveraging its market equity, while IMG Arena’s products will continue to be recognised under their existing brands.
Levin concluded that even prior to today’s announcement, OpenBet was undertaking a transition following its acquisition of AI-compliance and fraud detection specialist Neccton, expanding its business to become one of the leading a players in RegTech for industry compliance needs.
As such, OpenBet, the ‘old boy’ of industry tech enters a new chapter driven by a vision of ever-evolving technology and integrated services, operational efficiency, and customer-focused innovation amidst evolving market dynamics.
“I hope it does not get lost in the shuffle of today’s announcement, but 2024 is an exciting year for our business. And I’m excited to keep leading a business that keeps evolving through the acquisition of Neccton and integration of IMG ARENA and we can match all our client needs.”