Amelco seeks to replicate back-to-back successful launches with Entain and Flutter in developing markets, by powering new South African online gambling challenger brand LulaBet.
Iain Gutteridge, Managing Director at LulaBet and Amelco’s Brandon Walker detail the imminent shake-up of South Africa’s online gambling marketplace by offering consumers a dynamic end-to-end platform combined LulaBet’s acute local intelligence.
SBC: Congratulations on taking LulaBet live in South Africa (SA)! Can you talk us through your plans for the market and the launch?
Iain Gutteridge, (Managing Director at LulaBet): It’s crucial to enter a new market in the appropriate manner, as first impressions definitely count! The first thing we want to get right is to offer the best customer service in this space, and our team has put a lot of work into perfecting this process. Amelco has several unique sports features that will, alongside a premium slot offering, allow us to make some early noise. The soccer World Cup will of course be a major acquisition event and an extensive set of automated promotions and bonuses will be served into the market via an omni-channel strategy.
Brandon Walker (Head of Business Development at Amelco): I agree, it’s great to go live in South Africa alongside LulaBet. The key for us is to support our partner as much as possible, giving them the foundation for a seamless go-live and the chance to roll into the World Cup with a robust, solid system. Our market leading platform will enable them to shift their attention to accelerating their marketing strategy and allowing their brand to make as big an impact as possible as they enter the market.
SBC: The LulaBet launch is billed to deliver a top-notch gaming experience for South African players – what’s been the thinking behind the technology and how are you bringing something different to the market?
BW: Our aim is to take the same high-quality gaming experiences already seen in the US and UK and bring it live here. As the market expands, and because of the way our tech is designed, we’ll be able to bring some fantastic brands into the market as they go live in South Africa, ensuring LulaBet get the very best.
IG: That’s definitely the case. We believe that, despite the market becoming congested, there are very few tier-one operators in the space – everyone’s focus has been on the US for the past 3-4 years. Partnering with Amelco has given us the opportunity to enter a rapidly growing market, with a full tier-one platform integrating seamless registration and payments with the ability to automate the entire customer journey.
SBC: Given both your veteran statuses in the gaming industry – how much growth opportunity do you see in South Africa given the prevalence of smartphone adoption?
IG: South Africa has at present, a 30% smart/feature phone adoption rate and this is growing at around 5% per year. We have taken a mobile-first approach and see a big future for our soon-to-be-launched app. A seamless mobile UX on smart and feature phone is a cornerstone strategy, considering the high cost of data in South Africa. Amelco’s experience in data-sensitive markets has resulted in very light loads and tech that suits this space, given that South Africa is in effect, building out its digital economy, and almost a digital sub-economy that is driven by mobile money.
BW: Data is only going to become more accessible and more affordable, meaning the potential for growth is massive. South Africa is certainly a market to be keeping an eye on over the next few years with an increased adoption expected to take place, a prospect Amelco is excited to be a part of. Testament to this is big name suppliers we’re bringing into the mix, including studios such as BetGames, Evolution, NetEnt, and Red Tiger, as well as BetGenius for sports.
SBC: Looking to your launch and the first set of verticals on your platform, what do you see as being key to entertaining South African players?
IG: The recent entrance of online slots preceded by live dealer has completely changed the market, with most top operators now able to offer end-to-end igaming across all verticals. Slots and various niche contingencies will no doubt be the big news over the coming 12 months, and our team’s extensive land-based and online casino experience will allow us to understand our customers and deliver a solid value proposition.
BW: Entertainment is what it’s all about, and we’re here to deliver. We will be equipping LulaBet with a wide range of unique platform features that haven’t been seen before in the South African market, which we’re excited to bring to this space. Our debut here is set to make a real difference, and rather than introducing a generic, white label sportsbook, we are instead bringing a top-notch bespoke product that will enhance the overall betting experience for local players and considerably shake up the betting dynamic here.
SBC: When it comes to the supply side – what key brands do you think every operator needs to make a mark in South Africa?
BW: Live dealer and slots are always going to be big here – as well as numbers betting – with BetGames’ extensive retail presence across the country being a great example of that. Online of course, is where we’re seeing the most growth. Given the prevalence of next-gen smartphones, we’re already at the point where we can offer the same tier-one iGaming experience we’re seeing in Europe and the US, so it’s definitely all about the big brands.
IG: I agree, the major players should certainly be considered; Evolution, with their whole range of live dealer and slots products, Bitville, BetGames and Kiron are all part of the mix. Aggregators who are clamouring to contribute to the growth of this market and take advantage of the huge potential it offers will add enormous value. I also predict brands like Light and Wonder could do very well in in South Africa if they identify the potential here. Their arrival is expected soon enough – so we’re certainly looking forward to that.
SBC: Last but not least – looking to the next 12 months, what are LulaBet and Amelco’s plans for the market?
BW: For us it’s all about consistently adding, enhancing, and innovating the product, while growing alongside the market and resonating with South African players. What we’re delivering for LulaBet really is bespoke and with such a fantastic line up of sport over the next 3-6 months, including the World Cup, South Africa Cricket, Rugby and the UK Premier League means the action will be non-stop. The timing couldn’t be better for LulaBet to launch!
IG: That’s for certain – we’ve got some really exciting plans ahead of us to deliver the best customer experience. In partnership with Amelco, we plan on listening carefully to what our players say and ensure we expand our sport and game portfolios accordingly. We will be concentrating on delivering fully automated instant payments 24 hours a day, while building a lifecycle model that will be market-leading. We’re already looking at how we can expand further, with plans already in place to build a solid operating model that can quickly be replicated elsewhere as opportunities arise.