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As lockdown is gradually being eased across Europe, Sportnco is running a series of ‘Inside Sportnco’ articles looking at how the company has evolved since going live in 2010 and how it is developing and integrating new products and projects. David Bonnefous Saavedra, Head of Sales at Sportnco, kicks off the series.    

Sportnco has come a long way in the 10 years since it went live with its first clients when France opened its igaming market to regulation in 2010. Having France as its main ‘home’ market was not easy. Strict regulations, high costs and taxes based on turnover put operators and suppliers under intense pressure as the market got under way.

The group navigated those early years by finding a balance between managing risk and generating margins for its operators. It succeeded and has since grown to become the largest B2B online sports betting network in France. It is also the B2B betting leader in Spain and is active in Belgium and soon in the US and Portugal.

David Bonnefous Saavedra, Head of Sales at Sportnco says the group has learnt so much from those early days. “But the biggest lesson we have taken from our first 10 years of activity is that we listen to our clients, focus on what they want and develop our products to meet those targets. We can then tailor our product to meet their needs and build economies of scale across our networks.”

David Bonnefous (left) with Sportnco CEO Hervé Schlosser.

David Bonnefous (left) with Sportnco CEO Hervé Schlosser

Focus on clients and regulated markets

Many suppliers say their focus is their client base, in fact it is a familiar refrain in the online betting and gaming industry. For a group like Sportnco however, it is driven by a focus on regulated markets and the needs of its partners in those countries.

This emphasis on regulated jurisdictions means Sportnco does not rely on revenues from unregulated markets or operating its own consumer-facing brand (that requires as much service as its B2C clients). Success in regulated markets like France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and soon the US and Colombia, is the be-all and end-all of its business model.

How is this achieved in practice though? And how do Sportnco teams prioritise projects and products for their operators? David Bonnefous explains: “Our policy is perfectly adapted to the strategy and objectives of our clients, who can be of any size. We are able to follow our role of accompaniment and advice throughout the privileged relationship we have with each Sportnco client. Imagining together successful areas of development is a key factor in our win-win relationship with each of our partners.

“If an operator is not hitting the targets they have set themselves we will schedule meetings to analyse what can be done, see if we can introduce new products or manage offers in a new way. For the newest clients we will set out clear roadmaps so there is a follow through at all stages: from launch to growth to product and feature development. First and foremost it’s about answering their needs.”

“Sportnco can launch sites in optimal time and provide clients with distinct branding that allows for differentiation and brand-building. We do this by being available for our clients and understanding what they want”

Bonnefous adds that Sportnco accompanies its operators at all stages of their growth, rather than simply “getting them to renew their contracts every three years”. When onboarding or launching new operators, the group concentrates on time to market and answering client briefs when it comes to design, layout and offers.

“This enables the company to launch sites in optimal time while also providing clients with distinct branding that allows for differentiation and brand-building,” he says. “We do this by being available for our clients and understanding what they want. This means being flexible and open to different ways of doing things and being available to answer any questions or issues.

“This way of working has been really productive as we have grown in Spain in recent years. We carried out two platform switches and both went really well: no downtime or technology issues, which are always operators’ biggest fears. In the end, everything we do, from launching new operators to system updates, integrating new data providers or site redesigns is done with the aim of helping our clients.”

And by being transparent and clear on how the partnerships function and having the group’s senior management easily contactable, Sportnco keeps operators updated on its latest activities and projects.

Structural updates, developing products

It is impossible not to mention the Coronavirus pandemic when discussing the world of sports betting. With all major sporting events cancelled, the past few weeks have been unprecedented in scale and impact on the industry. In late April the French government announced its decision to terminate the football season with immediate effect, with the new season starting in August.

“Of course that is not the news the sector was hoping to hear,” says Bonnefous, “but other governments such as Germany’s are announcing plans to reopen their football leagues and there is hope that other countries will also restart. Sportnco will come out stronger out of this period, we’re proud that we have kept all our staff on full pay and not furloughed any of them. We’re using the time to carry out structural system updates, incorporating new data suppliers such as Betgenius and developing our clients’ frontends to ensure they are ready to go.”

“2021 will have the football Euros, but also the Olympic Games. This promises to be a beautiful and busy sporting period for 2021-2022. The COVID crisis is completely unprecedented, but has shown the value of the online sector”

Again, these projects are all carried out to enhance Sportnco’s client sites: whether an operator is experienced and manages most tasks in-house or if they opt for a fully-managed turnkey solution. As countries around the world prepare for gradual re-openings, Bonnefous says the second half of 2020 and 2021 could be unlike any other years ever experienced by the betting sector.

“Gradually the European football leagues will come back in May-June to end their seasons. August could be pleasantly busy, with hopefully the end of the Champions League. The end of Summer and Autumn will see new football seasons begin, but also potentially major events like the Tour de France and hopefully several major tennis tournaments. Finally, it is good to underline that 2021, announced as a year with no major sporting events, will have the football Euros, but also the Olympic Games. This promises to be a beautiful and busy sporting period for 2021-2022. The COVID crisis is completely unprecedented, but it has shown the value of the online sector, with gaming in particular playing a key role.”

Bonnefous concludes that “while the sporting offer has dropped dramatically, some players have still found markets on which bet. However, in terms of profile and levels of interest, this will never replace the major football or tennis events in Europe. Sportnco has adapted and the period is allowing us to improve our systems and products. This will enable us to bounce back and come back stronger from this period and keep developing with our clients to ensure success is shared across all our partners.”