Meeting the needs of the American market
Martin de Knijff Founder & Director Metric Gaming.
Metric Gaming has recently joined forces with Bethard Group to deliver a sports betting and online casino platform specifically for the US market.
How did the partnership with Bethard Group come about?
I am Swedish and have known the Bethard team for many years. When the US market first opened up to legal sports betting, we started to talk about how it would play out and one of the key things we touched on was that we believed a lot of operators would be unsophisticated in their approach. That’s not to say they are not smart guys, rather they lack experience when it comes to running online sports betting and casino sites.
As such, we thought that a one stop shop would be the best proposition for operators looking to enter the market efficiently and effectively. So one contract, one technology platform and one compelling solution. In short, all the operator would have to do is obtain a licence from the state in which they wanted to launch and concentrate on marketing their brand, with a turnkey solution to take care of the rest.
From this idea, Hard Metrics was born. We looked at the experience and expertise of both Metric Gaming and the Bethard Group and realised that if we joined forces, we would be able to offer a powerful online sports betting and casino solution to operators looking to make a play in the US market.
Of course, Hard Metrics is not just geared towards US operators looking to enter the fray, but also European operators wishing to fight for their share of the market, too. Again, we provide a one stop shop solution, so all the operator needs to do is obtain a licence from the state regulator and then build their brand.
What knowledge, skills and expertise do both parties bring to the table?
The partnership is very complementary. Metric Gaming provides a sportsbook solution that includes everything from trading, operations and risk management, to a growing suite of innovative and proprietary betting products.. Bethard provides business intelligence, their player account management system and their online casino technology, as well as an experienced level of first line customer support.
Together, we have a complete understanding of online sports betting and casino and have a powerful technology stack that allows operators to enter the market quickly and make an impact from day one. In addition to this, Metric Gaming is a US company and we have been operating here for more than six years now. We know exactly what it takes to succeed in this market.
How have you adapted your technologies and services to meet the unique requirements of the US market?
One of the biggest challenges facing operators entering the US market is the different rules and regulations in each state but the regulatory divergence at play in the US market will play right into Metric’s hands. The uniqueness of the Metric Gaming platform is that we can accommodate different offerings by operator brand across multi jurisdictions – giving complete configurability and product autonomy for each brand of each operator. I would describe us as being the direct opposite to the cookie cutter B2B solutions already on the market and this will be a real differentiator when meeting the unique state by state requirements in the US.
Another big consideration is the popularity of particular sports, which obviously differ from Europe to the US. In America, it will be all about the big four sports – Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey. Punters will also bet in different ways with spreads likely to be popular in the early days. This understanding will be key to ensuring operators launch with a product that is suited to the wants and needs of the market. Metric’s experience and pedigree in the US gives us an inherent understanding of those needs.
I think the bar is going to be set very high in the US. Operators will not get away with offering an inferior product – to win, operators are going to have to offer a quality product and continue to develop and improve it. That is going to be a tough task but given the potential on the table, well worth the investment.
Does the joint venture bring any additional value to Metric Gaming and Bethard Group’s individual businesses?
Yes, absolutely. The joint venture is aimed primarily at the North American market, but we have also identified opportunities to build on both businesses in other markets around the world. As we are undertaking integrations between our systems anyway, we can help expand Bethard’s B2B business by bolting on Metric Gaming’s sportsbook proposition for their white-label partners.
This is something we will look to do more in the future; for the time being the US market is very much our focus and the focus for the joint venture.
Have you had to boost employee numbers to run Hard Metrics or are you using the current staff across both businesses?
A bit of both to begin with but yes, we are going to be hiring people into the joint venture. To begin with, this will primarily be in two areas – regulatory compliance and sales. For the former, we know we need to work closely with state gaming regulators in order to help our partners get to market smoothly and quickly, and for the latter we will be getting our message out there and talking to as many operators as we can.
What challenges if any have you faced in getting your technology prepared for the US market? How were they overcome?
Our technology is in good shape. The most important thing for us is that both regulators and operators alike have confidence in the technology of the solution being used. For that reason, both Metric and Bethard are going through a GLI technology certification process, GLI-19 and GLI-33. Although not mandatory, that will provide a big ‘trusted’ tick in the box in every state that Hard Metrics aims to enter.
How have you found the licensing process to date?
The licensing requirements are likely to be different in each state until a level of normality within the US market is reached. That said, the underlying process and requirements are proving to be similar. The first two states where Hard Metrics will pursue full regulatory licensing are likely to be New Jersey and Mississippi.
You mentioned earlier that to succeed, operators and platform providers are going to have to continue to improve their products. Are you investing heavily in R&D?
Yes, we are spending a lot of money on taking our platform and service offering to the next level. We have completed a comprehensive build phase to ensure that our technologies deliver a superior customer experience as this is where the real fight is going to be in the US market. This is an area that Metric excels in. The recreational customer experience permeates every aspect of Metric’s sportsbook with bet delays, cash out and real-time reward, all configurable at customer level, creating additional revenue opportunities for operators.
What can we expect from Hard Metrics over the coming months? Do you have a date for when you will launch with your first operator partner?
The coming months will see a hive of activity from both Metric Gaming and Bethard, not least preparing for the launch of our first Hard Metrics customer in Q4 this year. We have signed an operator that will complete an initial launch in Mexico and from there, has ambitious plans to spread to other territories in both North and South America.
Any other thoughts on how the legal US sports betting market will shake out over the coming months?
I think a welcome surprise has been the speed at which a lot of states have started to prepare plans to legalise sports betting. The likely rollout of states looks like being much quicker than first anticipated. This will mean that operators will need to act quicker to take advantage of the US market opening up. We have confidence that we are well placed to provide operators with the speed to market and quality of product that they need.