Marek Suchar, Co-Founder and Managing Director for Partnerships at Oddin.gg, speaks with SBC News about the growth of the esports solutions provider in recent months and the potential that the World Cup presents for player acquisition.
SBC: Oddin.gg recently announced that it had raised significant investment to fund its growth. What can you tell us about your plans?
We continue to expand and sign more and more partners globally, both bookmakers as well as platforms. I do not see anybody else being commercially successful as much as we are. We have also not lost a single client and I believe we have a very good relationship with all our partners as we tend to under-promise and over-deliver.
A core part of our partnerships is also that we generate our partners extremely solid margin on a monthly basis. Similarly, we are constantly improving our offering, either in terms of adding new titles, adding new markets or verticals such as widgets or esims.
In 2023, we expect to close the loop by becoming an end-to-end esports solution provider built around our core competence, which is our odds feed, where the actual monetisation happens. The supporting verticals will be data to further improve and strengthen our odds feed solution.
We will continue to work on a full set of widgets to further engage esports bettors on the bookmaker’s site so they do not need to head elsewhere. We are also extending our esports marketing services and want to build a more robust proposition there, after our acquisition of Jotun.gg last year.
We are hiring for literally every position (marketing, business development, IT development, data scientists, traders, etc.) to support the above growth.
SBC: Recent weeks have also seen Oddin.gg make a number of key hires. What do the new people bring to the team?
We have been constantly hiring for all the positions in sales, data science, development and trading. Some of the recent hires were more vocal as they are externally facing, speaking to clients, prospects and other partners.
In that regard, Mark Balch brings a ton of expertise in product, integrity and around the data ecosystem. Juana Bischoff understands the esports betting ecosystem inside-out and has been focusing on building long-term relationships. Richard Kidd has been working on verticals that are new to us but would make our product mix much more compelling to our partners.
SBC: Oddin.gg works with a number of the biggest sportsbook platform providers; how have those partnerships helped to drive the company’s growth?
We are fortunate to work with almost every type of client: traditional or esports centric – bookmakers or platform – with different levels of esports understanding and expertise. Each of them have their own challenges, where we can help or we can actually improve ourselves as we constantly speak to our partners.
We are ready to support them no matter at which stage they are or the solution they need. In case they are looking for a core betting solution to monetise their traffic: we can provide odds feed, odds feed with risk management or iframe.
In case they are looking for more content, we support them with esims (like 24/7 football). Should they aim for a more engaging solution, we can help with widgets. If they need traffic, we can help them with the marketing advisory. We have been building long-term relationships with our partners at the end of the day; and the more they grow, we grow with them.
We have the best of the best such as Betway, Thunderpick and Yolo as bookmakers or Altenar, OpenBet and Aspire Global as platforms. The majority of our partners have risk management from us, therefore we are able to see the traffic of incoming bets in real time.
Thanks to that, we are able to improve the lines and understand the market sentiment in real-time, similarly to identify suspicious activity when it comes to potential match-fixing. So by working with Oddin.gg, new partners are becoming an integral part of the leading esports betting ecosystem that constantly grows, improves and protects their margin.
Platform providers help us to fulfil the vision of truly engaging esports betting experience for everybody as they provide us the access to dozens of their clients through one integration. This is one of the key reasons why our solutions are currently available with more than 250 clients.
SBC: Esports betting has been seen as the industry’s next big thing for a number of years. How would you assess the esports betting landscape today; is the market anywhere close to reaching its potential yet?
Esports betting is nowhere close to its potential yet. You have millions of people tuning in to watch esports matches on Twitch for the biggest tournaments. Just listen to your kids, whether they tend to speak more about traditional sports or Counter Strike, Fortnite or their favourite streamer(s). There is no doubt the audience is significantly growing and at the same time maturing.
Counter Strike is an example of the game that has been around for more than a decade, having its players back then. These players, whilst in theory were not playing as much due to career and family commitments, have become viewers and bettors with higher than average income.
Back then, if you had access to a computer to play the game, you had access to a computer to educate yourself more. Ending up in a much higher-income category. So we have not yet reached the full potential of esports as there are significant tailwinds to the industry: larger audience, much more mature audience and new geographies opening up (US, LatAm, etc).
You are correct though, that esports has been a buzz word for quite some time, yet many bookmakers have not seen the fruition of that yet. What we have learned, working with many profiles of the partners was, that without proper product and communication to the esports audience, you will not achieve much.
When you have just a few markets available and they are usually suspended, bettors will hate that and leave. Similarly, if they do not know about your sportsbook, they will not bother to visit your website. The partners that addressed both product as well as communication have seen double to five-fold growth year over year. And their starting esports volume was already decent.
SBC: The FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be a great customer acquisition opportunity for sportsbooks around the world. What advice would you give operators keen to use esports to retain younger punters who might have signed up amid the excitement and blanket media coverage of the world’s biggest sporting event?
In October and November, the largest esports events across the year will be played: The International in Dota2, The Worlds in League of Legends and ESL Rio Major in Counter Strike. These are the events bookmakers that want to move into esports should have paid attention to.
You want to attract the right audience with the right content, not force nor educate bettors to bet on a certain content they have no interest in.
Nevertheless, outside of core esports (Dota2, League of Legends, Counter Strike), there are esims (football, basketball etc) that speak to the audience of FIFA World Cup as the game is basically football, just played by two people instead of 22 and on console instead of the playing field.
Bettors immediately understand the mechanics and winning conditions on the contrary to eg League of Legends. So esims are the right proposition to co-exist within WC as they are able to fill the gaps between the matches.