Betsson AB is optimistic about “progress across all fronts”, and anticipates regulation in Brazil to provide an extra boost to its outlook, group CEO Pontus Lindwall informed SBC News in an exclusive interview.
Having reported record-breaking full year revenue of €777m and Q4 earnings of €220m, marking a respective 18% and 40% growth rate, Lindwall continues to earmark Latin American expansion as the company’s main area of focus moving forward.
Full throttle on LatAm expansion
Despite Brazil recently missing the mark to regulate sports betting, denying the global industry access to its most likely lucrative marketplace, Lindwall shared his view that ‘it will proceed, that is my expectation and that is what we work from’.
“We see good traction on regulation in many parts of Latin America, and are seeing that some countries are moving on and gaining tax revenues,” he said.
“We are keeping an eye on Latin American countries and see that regulation is happening in that region over time pretty much everywhere.”
Much of Betsson’s progress in Latin America has been underpinned by an extensive marketing strategy, as highlighted in its report, with football sponsorships inked in both Peru and Chile.
Commenting on the group’s approach to brand visibility, Lindwall added: “Sponsorships are important but it is only one piece of the puzzle. We have a thorough marketing activity plan for the region, building the brand across Latin America.
“Sponsorship is mainly what is seen on TV but is only one part of what we do there, but is still an important part of the marketing mix there.”
In the face of rapid growth in Latin America and the Central and Eastern European (CEECA) regions, Betsson leadership has noted that – despite maintaining growth and market share in the region – its founding markets of the Nordics are not at the forefront of its 2023 approach.
As it stands, 34% of Betsson’s group wide revenue was generated from locally regulated markets, comparatively less than other firms, but Lindwall asserted that the group’s mix of markets was ‘sound’.
The key thing to remember, he added, is that Betsson operates through a combination of locally regulated markets and its Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licence.
“Of course I believe that over time the locally regulated part will increase,” he continued.
“It’s not a competition for companies in this industry to have the highest number of locally regulated revenues, as we will all end up there sooner or later.
“It’s about making profits, that is the intention for every company and we have a sound mix of locally regulated and point of sales revenues.”
Betsson can continue its ‘record breaking’ pace
Casting a look back over 2022, Lindwall noted that the year’s sporting schedule had a plethora of major sporting events, and the group’s Q4 earnings call highlighted the World Cup in particular as driving growth.
This, coupled with regulatory uncertainty in a number of European and Latin American markets, could create difficult comparatives against 2022 as the new year progresses – but Lindwall remains undeterred.
“Of course 2022 was packed with good sporting events, we have used that opportunity to build a bigger user base and have marketed quite hard,” he said.
“In the fourth quarter we brought in a lot of clients and had our highest activities ever by far. We have been able to link this to the foundation of the company, and will enjoy that for 2023.
“2023 has less sporting events, but football is on every evening and we have a bigger customer base than we ever had before. We’re in a really good position for progress in 2023, I’m optimistic.”
Laying out its 2023 ambitions in its trading update, Betsson outlined growth in existing markets, expansion into new jurisdictions and enlargement of its B2B operations as key objectives.
On the B2B side of operations, Lindwall informed SBC that North America will be a key focal point, although the group’s acquisition of KickerTech last year will provide foundations for ‘progress in Europe and elsewhere for our B2B in 2022’.
Central to any plans will be a strong company culture, cultivation of which Lindwall explained has been one of a major project for him throughout his two tenures as CEO between 1998 and 2011 and 2017 to the present day.
He remarked: “We have a very strong company culture, and that is very important when you are a global company with people all around the globe.
“It all comes through company culture, and a lot of what I do is spreading that company culture throughout the organisation, and I think that’s one of our strongest assets.”
Concluding his discussion with SBC, Lindwall reiterated that 2022 had been a ‘fantastic year’, which had cemented Betsson’s status as a unique company among public listed betting operators.
“2022 was a fantastic year for Betsson and the fourth quarter was a very good end to that year, and we can conclude that we are, quite unusually, a large but fast growing company,” the CEO summarised.
“Despite the investments we make in marketing etc, we have a healthy profit and give dividends to the shareholders. That’s a rare combination in the stock market. The fourth quarter seals the fact that we are an usual company in this regard.”