In this very interesting interview, Maria Arnidou (Fantasy Sports Interactive) describes why her company has been a pioneer in expanding in the fantasy sports vertical. In addition, she highlights the successful agreements with OPAP in Greece and Hollywoodbets in South Africa.
Beyond the world health crisis caused by the Coronavirus, what opportunities do you think this situation offers for companies like yours, with a wide range of content for the online gaming segment?
The global health crisis and human tragedy that has hit all countries are unfortunately, undeniable. Thankfully, technology has equipped us with means to keep on working and interacting via live communication, teleconferences and remote work tools, guaranteeing business continuity. In terms of content, like many peer companies of the sports gaming industry, Fantasy Sports Interactive is currently being halted by the sports events postponements. However, at FSI, we feel that this unprecedented situation has opened up a window to pursue innovation, giving us the opportunity to bring forward important parts of our product roadmap. We use this time of lockdown to actively improve our fantasy sports betting offerings, with our team working around the clock on updates and new releases that, once launched, will be able to increase customer engagement and acquisition.
Which type of remote betting you consider will grow the most this year and why?
Online casinos have already shown a significant expansion, which is only natural considering the established popularity of both traditional slots and roulette games, as well as of the casino gaming products. Virtual sports can only replace real matches to an extent, acting as substitute basis for offering betting markets through simulation. Regarding eSports, they already have an established following, which is very specific, traditionally gaming-driven and in many ways different in demographics than sports bettors and punters, so we don’t see their audience increasing considerably.
What are the latest products launched by your company? How did they perform so far in the markets in which you are present? What future do you imagine for the online sector once the pandemic has been overcome?
FSI has been the first company to go beyond classic fantasy sports, by developing and offering fantasy sports betting concepts since the early 2010s. The last couple of years, based on an idea of our own and following constructive feedback from our partners, we have been developing a world-first Fixed-Odds-Fantasy betting suite. Our Fixed-Odds-Fantasy innovation essentially combines fantasy gaming with betting odds, forming the next generation of fantasy sports offerings. We first introduced Fixed-Odds-Fantasy at ICE London 2019 and we successfully launched a pilot in September 2019 with OPAP, the largest operator in Greece and WLA member, marking the first time fantasy sports are offered in retail, globally, across OPAP’s 4,000 betting shops. Results have been very positive as we observed a 300% increase in stakes between October 2019 and January 2020, while OPAP has decided to expand the existing offering by adding more sports, leagues and betting markets for the next sports season. This will be accompanied by a marketing campaign to further educate the Greek audience about fantasy sports betting. Also, right before the postponement of sports events due to the COVID-19 crisis, we had just launched with Hollywoodbets, South Africa’s most popular online operator, in partnership with Betting Entertainment Technologies. We intend to continue once the sports events resume, alongside a significant marketing campaign. Overall, our valuable partnerships and the solid team we have in place make us optimistic about the future. We feel that the online sector, albeit significantly affected, will bounce back more mature and better prepared than before, featuring more versatile yet targeted products.