On the eve of ‘the greatest show on earth’, ICE London, we sat down with Gal Ehrlich, CEO of BETER, to find out why this particularly company is one to watch.
For so long now, our entire industry has looked forward to this week’s ICE event in London, welcoming the opportunity to reconnect in person and, ideally, usher in a positive new era. The past months have been tough on most of us but, for those with deep roots in the beleaguered nation of Ukraine, the ongoing situation is both personally distressing and commercially disruptive.
Once such company is a good friend to Global Gambling News, the sports betting, gaming and Live Casino provider, BETER, present at ICE for the first time. Their CEO is former Playtech and Fortuna product officer, Gal Ehrlich, and we began our chat by asking him to briefly introduce the company to our own diverse audience.
“We began in 2018, with a clearly defined vision of the product that today’s sports betting industry demands. We kept pace with the prevailing trends of content consumption and developed a strategy of producing and delivering a high turnover of fast, exciting events. We started with table tennis and expanded into efootball and other sports and esports disciplines. This has led to BETER creating a complete, intuitive and next-generation product that includes reliable tournaments, streamed 24/7 live with accurate odds and stable live data. During Q4 of 2021, we also added a completely new Live Casino product, with state-of-the-art live studio and software, to complement our fast-betting and gaming portfolio.”
Fast-paced betting and constant engagement
Today, BETER’s content is featured on over 200 sportsbooks around the world, with the company covering more than 300,000 events each year and employing over 500 people across multiple locations. But the betting industry is so fast-paced and fast-growing, one wonders what advantages BETER offers, over its competitors?
“BETER provides the most advanced selection of fast-paced betting and gaming that the new generation of player demands,” Gal Ehrlich explains. “The past 18 months have been transformative for the industry and the landscape as we knew it has totally changed and evolved. We believe we are now the industry’s leading experts for taking partners into a new era of betting. Our high-margin services offer unmatchable reliability, 24/7 entertainment and superior pricing and odds – all guaranteed to deliver constant engagement across 30,000 monthly events. And importantly, this is powered by our best-in-class people, every one of whom is driven by a love for what they do.”
The importance of being present at ICE
With BETER making its debut at ICE, and the event being such a key networking and engagement opportunity for the entire industry, Gal is keen to stress the effort that has gone into simply being here.
“We are excited to see ICE London return after a two-year pause. Originally, we planned to ‘go big’ this year, with an outstanding booth showcasing our diverse portfolio. The war in Ukraine and the existence of martial law, means that most of our employees cannot leave the country, so we have had to switch to a smaller format consisting of a few meeting rooms, in which will meet customers and industry friends, something we are still very much looking forward to.”
Content is king in the exciting times ahead
When you sit down with a CEO, especially one at the head of a dynamic company, it is always important to try to get into their head, and hopefully get a sense of what they believe the future holds. Obviously, these guys don’t give away their deepest secrets, But Gal is open about BETER’s intentions, and the immediate prospects for the wider industry.
“We will continue the excellent work we are doing for multiple tier-one industry brands, the likes of William Hill, Fortuna Entertainment Group and Bet365. Interest is still strong in our products and services and we will continue to develop these. For ICE this year, our focus is on our sports and esports products, as well as our recently launched all-new Live Casino.”
“As for the wider aspects of our sector, the immediate future will be all about fast-paced betting content for esports and live casino, driven by high turnover of events and bets placed. The conversion of existing sports bettors will also be key, ensuring that they can be retained within your sports ecosystem, as is our aim with our exciting and engaging casino-style selection of live sporting events.”
Esports innovation for a new generation
Although undoubtedly accelerated by the personal restrictions associated with the global pandemic, it now seems impossible to engage in any discussion about the online industry without mentioning the two most significant disruptors of recent times – esports and cryptocurrencies.
“Fast betting in esports is going to be key for us and to help with that we’re going to show the world our new esport iframe, a system designed to be esports-oriented in its user journey, UX and UI. It will offer the younger generation, who are used to esports and not traditional sports betting, a new experience with a ‘Twitch-like’ presentation, speaking to that demographic in a way that traditional sportsbooks do not. Cryptocurrencies will continue to see significant growth, particularly in Asia and Latin America, along with a general evolution in payment solutions. The Metaverse? It is too soon for that – I don’t expect to see any significant developments until at least 2023 in that regard.”
The challenges of international expansion
Shifting gears slightly, and understanding the general challenges of international growth, such as licensing, regulation and language, it is interesting to get a sense of how companies with their roots in certain parts of the world approach the task of geographical expansion.
“There are always challenges when you expand into new territories, but not everything changes as you cross borders. We’ve already been successful in finding new homes for our Setka Cup table tennis tournament in the Czech Republic last year, Slovakia and Moldova following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where we originally held these events. BETER is a modern, digital, agile company and as such, we adapt to the challenges that crossing borders brings.”
Perhaps inevitably, this leads us back to the topical issue of the day and, as one might expect, Gal and his team have adopted a firm and positive position.
“The response so far has been incredible, and most companies have been doing the right thing. For BETER, we have had to completely reformat the way we operate and deliver value to our customers. We’ve had to adjust rapidly to the developing situation, and I believe we have done our best for both our people and the company. We took an immediate decision to cease all cooperation with Russia-based brands and suppliers. Looking at what our people on the ground there are dealing with, this is a moral statement on our part. Being a truly pan-European company, with multiple locations across the continent, the closure of most of our sites and venues in Ukraine required us to put more focus on expansion in other European countries as I’ve already mentioned, and this continues to be an important work in progress.”
Continued growth driven by data and next-gen focus
Finally, to close the conversation, the question every interviewer asks is ‘Where do you think you will be in the next three to five years?’ As a leader, in one of the fastest moving of sectors, it is interesting to have Gal Ehrlich’s take on this old favourite.
“I can’t see anything changing wildly in the mid to long term. We see an actively growing demand for our product and services, and we are constantly increasing our customer base and market share thanks to our solutions like esports iframe and our data-driven and next-gen focus. While the current developments in Ukraine have had a short-term impact on the way we operate, I don’t expect it to have any long-term lasting effects. The contingency plans we initiated since the hostilities began means we were ready and resilient. So much so, that we believe our team will emerge stronger once peace eventually reigns and we will continue the fantastic momentum we generated in 2021. As for the industry as a whole, there are so many others that aim to operate similarly, and this means lots of healthy competition, which in turn supports innovation and invention.”