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Exclusive Interview with Matt Howard (Director of Sportsbook Solutions), speaker at Vienna International Gaming Expo 2018

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I am delighted to share with you my latest interview which focuses on sports betting solutions in the online gambling industry with emphasis on Risk Management and Fraud detection.

Matt Howard is the Director of Sportsbook Solutions, a premium sports betting advisory and management firm located in the UK and serving businesses worldwide. Matt has worked for and with some of the largest operators and suppliers in the sports betting and gaming industry, amongst them William Hill, Betfred, Totesport, BetConstruct, Aspire Global, BetRadar, BetGenius and Digital Sports Tech.

Matt will be a speaker at iGaming Knowledge Seminar and at the Millennial Gaming Forum, which are part of Vienna International Gaming Expo 2018. (more details here…)

I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself and also speak about the company you represent, Sportsbook Solutions.

Matt: Thanks very much! I am Matt Howard and I am a consultant and director of the company Sportsbook Solutions. Sportsbook Solutions comes from noticing the lack of skilled people currently working in sports betting, in terms of operational Trade and Risk Management mainly. As the industry expands into new regions there are obviously also issues in terms of local skill if there is no background in sports betting in that region. Sportsbook Solutions provide outsourced Sportsbook Management Services to clients worldwide to solve both these issues for them. We work depending on each client’s requirements and budgets; so we may compile extensive reports for some clients, whereas with others we provide entirely outsourced, dedicated sportsbook management teams. We only staff with Tier 1 trained employees and believe this makes us completely unique and premium.

You have rich experience in gaming and gambling industries since you have been giving advice to clients for a long a time on different aspect of this industry. Why did you choose this industry and which are the areas you are most interested in and give you the most success?

Matt: In the UK we grow up around betting and it has extremely close ties to sports. I was a huge football fan and also very good at Mathematics so being able to combine these two interests and skills with sports betting was a great fit! I was fortunate enough to start my career with one of the world’s largest firms, William Hill, and have always been keen to take on new and interesting challenges in the 14 years since I started my career back in Leeds!

What can you tell us about the projects you have worked on so far, and the difficulties and successes you have experienced?   

Matt: I have been lucky enough to work in both B2B and B2C and with companies of all sizes and stages of their lifecycle. I have also worked in every department within sportsbooks and in the most senior roles operationally, too. I think this gives me a unique perspective on how to manage sportsbooks effectively and with an in-depth understanding of how the suppliers also work to be able to both identify weaknesses and also to work to eliminate these areas.

There are always some difficulties and these can come down to a lack of processes, budget constraints and sometimes a lack of skill and expertise also. I am a huge fan or process and organization and I always start from here. Some of the major successes I have had have been project managing the first integration between the Margin Maker console and BetRadar, rebranding the UK’s oldest sports betting company and, most recently, in leading the BetConstruct sportsbook to be the largest B2B sportsbook currently available. This included increasing their clients by over 100%, increasing turnover by over 300% and increasing profit margins on sports betting by over 50%.

Risk management and fraud detection are major goals of Sportsbook Solutions. How can you help other companies who operate in this domain to be more efficient considering these two major aspects of the industry?

Matt: One of the areas Sportsbook Solutions consider to be suffering in the industry is Risk Management. The rise of pooled resources and automation have been good in many ways, but we don’t feel this is true of Risk Management. A goal of our company is to provide personal management to our clients businesses and Risk Management is a hugely personal process for every company. As a very simple example a start-up sportsbook would benefit from much tighter control of Risk Management than an established brand who has found their place in the market. Our clients typically increase their profitability by over 25% by working alongside us because of this personal level of management. This is not only Fraud of Player Management either. What is rarely discussed is Risk Management of the Limits and Margins of a sportsbook. One of the most regular issues we see is that the pooled nature of these areas on Turnkey Solutions means that areas are both losing too much and others are restricting profitability. The combination is very damaging to profit margin. The good thing is this can be changed and the solutions allow you to do so.

What is your personal opinion about the European gambling industry and could you make a comparison with the market that you know better and the European situation in terms of gaming and gambling?

Matt: I have worked extensively in Europe (even at William Hill I focused on their Spanish operation) so I consider this to be one of my main markets. What is happening now is a huge growth period in terms of new businesses because of the much lower entry cost. The issue we see mostly is a lack of professional advice or management. We feel that no business should enter into a market without knowing what they are getting involved in, this is where Sportsbook Solutions comes in!

What upcoming events is the company focusing on nowadays and how prepared is the company for these events?

Matt: We are still quite a young company and we plan to attend as many events with a sports betting focus as we can. However, we are also very careful not to do this at the expense of our existing client’s management. So, we pick carefully the most interesting events in terms of content, attendees and business opportunities. VIGE appealed to us because it ticks all the boxes, but the focus on millennials really caught our eye!

Please, tell us more about the future plans of Sportsbook Solutions.

Matt: Our plans are to keep trying to educate the sports betting industry that things can be improved with personal management. We hope this leads to us being able to work with more clients, but we also feel just by making people think more about how their business is being managed will see improvements, which will be good for everyone and drive the industry forwards.

 If you could change anything in the world of gambling what would that be?

Matt: I would hope to change the idea that Trade and Risk Management are ‘old school’ concepts. We are a forward thinking company and we understand that the days of doing all the odds in-house are over. But, the basic principles of these two areas are what define the profit margin in sports betting more than any other area.

What are your future plans regarding you career and where would you like to travel the most?

Matt: I hope my career sees Sportsbook Solutions become a successful and respected service provider within the industry. I have no intention at all of leaving sports betting as I truly find every day interesting and exciting, even after 14 years!

In terms of travel I have been very fortunate to travel extensively in my professional and personal life. I would love to see more of South America and consider it a huge business opportunity also, so hopefully I will be able to combine the two!

If you want to meet Matt in person or networking with the biggest names of the Sports betting, Casino, VR/AR, Marketing, eSports, DFS, Virtual Sports and Crypto industry, make sure you attend the Vienna International Gaming Expo.

With this occasion, I would also like to thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to reka.szalo@europeangaming.eu and I will happily get back to you!

 

 

 

Reka is an Experienced English second language teacher with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Microsoft Excel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Translation, Foreign Languages, and Lecturing. Strong education professional with a Bachelor’s Degree majored in English Language and Literature/Letters. Reka is in charge of conducting the exclusive interviews on European Gaming and our printed magazine

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Conferences in Europe

#PragueGamingSummit3 – Speaker / Moderator Profile – Dr. Matthias Spitz (Senior Partner, MELCHERS LAW)

Zoltan Tundik

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We are delighted and honored to announce that Dr. Matthias Spitz (Senior Partner, MELCHERS LAW) will join the third edition of Prague Gaming Summit as a speaker in the “DACH market industry trends” compliance panel discussion and as a moderator in the IMGL MASTERCLASS™ which focuses on Advertisement banning trends in the European Union and the Balkans.

Dr. Matthias Spitz is a senior partner with the German law firm MELCHERS and specialises in gaming law, with a focus on administrative matters and European law. Since 2013, he is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL).

His areas of practice cover regulation of sports betting, land-based and online casino gaming as well as social gaming. He was involved in all relevant licensing processes in Germany on behalf of major gambling companies over the past years, including the Schleswig-Holstein licensure and the sports betting licensing process under the Interstate Treaty on Gambling. Further, he advises clients on the implementation of new gambling products on the German market, gambling-related tax issues, AML and developing advertising strategies. Coordinating litigation against Interstate Treaty enforcement in a number of German states, he is well acquainted with the enforcement risks arising from German gambling regulation.

Being a frequent contributor to leading journals of the gambling industry, recent publications include the European Gaming Lawyer, the Online Gambling Lawyer, the European Lawyer Reference Gaming Law and the International Comparative Legal Guide (ICLG) to Gambling.

Do not miss this opportunity to attend the leading conference in the region offers the opportunity for both new companies and veterans, to learn about industry insights and compliance updates, while also take part in several industry related discussions with the leading groups that are at the forefront of the gambling industry in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany.

You can Register here or View the Agenda

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Balkan's

Advertisement banning trends in the European Union and the Balkans, subject of the IMGL MasterClass in Prague

Zoltan Tundik

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There has been a recent wave that has swept across the gambling industry and had the form of banning gambling related advertisement. This is the case in many European jurisdictions, but we are not excluding that this is a global wave. Media outlets have reported that such bans are scheduled to be included in Asia as well.

In Sweden, new online gambling operators may lose their ability to market their products entirely if the government takes note of new survey results which shows more than half (53%) of Swedes believe gambling advertising should be banned.

The latest survey results are not a surprise and come to complement the Minister of Civil Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi beliefs, who has summoned all 69 Swedish online gambling licensees to a meeting on the 14th of February to discuss their marketing activities. Just earlier, Shekarabi publicly contemplated following the UK’s lead and banning all gambling promos during live sports broadcasts.

About two weeks ago, Niels Folmann, director of the state-run former gambling monopoly Danske Spil, told local media that the Danish government should follow the UK’s lead and enact a blanket prohibition on gambling advertising during televised live sports events.

These subject are among the reasons why we have asked the experts of the industry from IMGL to present a MasterClass during the event which will focus on these aspects and treat the industry is currently facing in several European jurisdictions and also in the Balkans.

You can Register here or View the Agenda

Italy in the focus – Good news and bad news

The Italian gambling authority, Agenzia delle dogane e dei monopoli (ADM), released the list of the approved candidates that will be allowed to operate in the local market. Their licenses will be valid through December 31, 2022. The regulator has awarded 66 concessions and has also issued licenses to four other companies which will treat with reserves for reasons it said it would communicate to the licensees themselves.

Even if the Seria A gambling sponsor ban has been delayed until July, there are still lots of tensions in the “lo Stivale”.  The Italian soccer clubs have been permitted to keep existing betting deals until the end of the season. The extension follows the enforcement of a government-led blanket ban on gambling advertising throughout Italy.

The ban applies to all gambling-related products and services across all media platforms – including television, websites, and radio – and sports clubs are also to be prohibited from carrying sponsors from the industry.

While the delay to the implementation of the ban is a positive for soccer clubs in the country, the move merely marks a delay to a law that could have severe consequences for Italy’s soccer industry.

Operators within the gambling industry have criticized the new measures, warning that prices may rise and the illegal gambling sector could benefit as a result.

In an open letter written in July to Luigi Di Maio, the government’s Deputy Prime Minister who authored the decrees, Italian-licensed gambling operator LeoVegas added that the ban wouldn’t achieve a significant reduction in gambling activity. Rather, he wrote, it would lead to a surge in advertising by gambling operators not holding Italian licenses. (source sportspromedia.com)

Quirino Mancini, the Global Head of the Gaming and Gambling Practice at Tonucci & Partners will take the role to give an in-depth review of the Italian market.

The company he represents, Tonucci & Partners, is a top-ten Italian general practice firm with offices in Rome, Milan, Brescia, Padua, Florence, Tirana, Bucharest, and Belgrade.

Quirino is one of the leading Italian gaming and gambling lawyers with a specialist practice of almost 20 years. He acts for Italian and foreign-based online and land-based companies operating in the Italian gaming market, advising them on legal, licensing, regulatory, day-to-day compliance and any other operational aspects connected to their activities. He also runs a bespoke matchmaking and business strategy service to provide clients with a customized type of assistance that includes also introduction and facilitation of dealings with the local regulatory authorities, banks as well as scouting and suitability checks on potential business partners.

Quirino is a regular speaker at most international gaming conferences and sits in the editorial board of various sector reviews and magazines. Co-founder and editor of www.gaminglaw.eu, a pan-European information and commentary portal focusing on legal and regulatory issues under European and national gaming laws.

Secretary and fellow member of the Leadership Committee of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), a worldwide organization gathering regulators, lawyers and advisors, in-house counsels and educators engaged in the gaming business. A fellow member of the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA)

You can Register here or View the Agenda

Britain to blame for the situation?

If you have read the intro part of this article, you will find one common fact. In each situation, the UK gambling ban is cited. It seems everyone is following the idea of the advertisement ban which has been sparked last year.

UK press has just announced that it has been decided that gambling adverts will no longer be allowed to appear on websites or in computer games that are popular with children, under new rules designed to stop irresponsible gambling.

Bookmakers will be required to use every targeting tool possible to ensure online gambling promotions are not seen by under-18s. They will also have to avoid placing gambling adverts on parts of websites that are popular with children and stop using celebrities or other people who appear to be under 25 in their promotions. (source: theguardian.com)

Coming into force on 1 April, the guidelines devised by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which is responsible for writing and maintaining the UK advertising codes, will prohibit online ads for gambling products being targeted at individuals likely to be aged under 18. These standards cover all digital media including social networks and other online platforms.

This complements many other banning procedures, as you may know, from July 2018, the British betting industry has implemented a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on all TV betting adverts during pre-watershed live sports programming, with the exception of horse and greyhound racing.

William Hill has become the first UK-listed operator to call for a media strategy review in 2019, with competitors likely to follow suit as betting leadership adjusts to new advertising realities.

Russell Mifsud (Gaming industry specialist – Associate Director at KPMG Malta) will take on the role to discussing these aspects and how will report how operators are taking steps in order to comply while also keeping an eye on the brand strategy and business run.

Russell is an Economist and Associate Director at KPMG, who leads the firm’s gaming department. Russell provides insight on the industry externalities and commercial strategy for KPMG and our clientele across the board. He also helps drive a core group of professionals who specialize in gaming within the KPMG network globally. Russell also sits on the board of the Malta Remote Gaming Council and Silicon Valletta. He works closely with the KPMG Audit, Tax & Advisory teams locally and internationally in order to assist network with identifying risks and opportunities, with a view to adding strategic insight and guidance to clientele across the board.

Russell Mifsud and Quirino Mancini will be joined by leading experts from Central Europe, the Balkans and Germany to complement advertisement banning procedures which are being implemented or discussed in their jurisdiction.

Jaka Repanšek (Media and Gaming Expert), Zlatan Omerspahić (Data Protection and Compliance Lawyer at NSoft) and Martin Arendts (Founder of ARENDTS ANWAELTE) be the experts taking on this role while the MasterClass will be moderated by Dr. Matthias Spitz (Senior Partner, MELCHERS LAW)

Do not miss this opportunity to attend the IMGL MasterClass presented by members and non-members of the International Masters of Gaming Law at Prague Gaming Summit 3!

You can Register here or View the Agenda

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Central Europe

Dr. Raffaela Zillner, LL.M to speak at Prague Gaming Summit 3

Zoltan Tundik

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As announced earlier, the 3rd edition of Prague Gaming Summit will feature a special DACH region oriented panel in which the experts will discuss and debate the likely options of regulation updates that will allow operators to fully engage in gambling activities.

We are honored to present one of the leading experts who will join the “DACH market industry trends” compliance panel discussion.

Dr. Raffaela Zillner, LL.M. runs the General Secretariat of the Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG). She has been in this leading position for well over 2 years and she’s the first point of contact for all association matters. Raffaela holds a law degree as well as a Master’s degree in Information and Media Law and a doctoral degree in law. Furthermore, Raffaela successfully passed the Vienna (Lawyers) Bar exam. In her professional career, she has worked as an Associate at a Vienna-based law firm with a special focus on gambling and sports betting law.

The Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG) is an Austrian special interest group aiming to create awareness of the industry in the minds of opinion-formers and political decision-makers. Through lobbying, the association would like to contribute to achieving greater fairness between the providers in the Austrian market and to illustrating the diversity of the industry. The association concentrates on the online gambling and sports betting sector.

The association was founded in August 2016 and comprises full members and associate members. The members are subject to stringent acceptance criteria, see also values in this respect. Most members are active as sponsors of sports clubs or sports associations. The list of members includes bet-at-home.com, Mr. Green, CashPoint, Lopoca, Interwetten, LeoVegas and Kindred Group.

The Executive Committee is headed by Claus Retschitzegger (bet-at-home.com), the President of the Association. The other members of the Executive Committee are Jan Tjernell as deputy (Mr Green), Michael Wondra (Cashpoint) and Simos Mantzouranos (Lopoca).

Do not miss this exciting opportunity to hear the latest information first hand at Prague Gaming Summit 3 and discuss collaboration possibilities with attending delegates!

You can Register here or View the Agenda

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