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The emergent US sports betting market is still in its formative phase, with new markets and operators appearing on a daily basis. It’s too early to tell how the market will shake out and who the key players will be, but one company is already establishing itself as a force: Kambi.
Kambi sprang into being just five years ago as a Unibet (since rebranded as Kindred Group) spinoff. In that time, Kambi has proven its mettle.
In the US, Kambi has partnered with some of the biggest names in gaming: DraftKings Sportsbook, Rush Street Gaming, and Greenwood Gaming. Kambi’s retail and online sportsbooks have also been first to launch. That’s been a big advantage in these new markets.
The company can lay claim to five retail sportsbooks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the top producing online sportsbook in New Jersey, DraftKings Sportsbook.
But these early successes are only the beginning for Kambi.
“We’ve been successful so far, but we’re still very ambitious,” Max Bichsel, Kambi US director, told Legal Sports Report at the ICE conference in London.
“We’ve been able to penetrate the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets, but now we need to focus on some of these other states that have significant populations and reputable operators that Kambi can partner with,” Bichsel added.
According to Bichsel, the biggest hurdle for Kambi in the US is waiting to get into markets.
“Legislation in the US typically moves fairly slowly,” Bichsel said. “We want legislation to happen as quickly as possible, because every day that goes by is a day lost, and results in more players in the black market.”
Bichsel was quick to add that legislation and regulation need to be sensible, unlike the monopolistic, anti-competitive approach Washington, DC settled on. Bichsel believes these single-operator, closed markets will only serve to keep players in the black market.
In the markets where Kambi is active, the company is working on improving its product offerings.
That includes integrating a recently acquired virtual sports platform, and unveiling its betbuilder product, pending regulatory approval. Kambi’s betbuilder is a cutting-edge, in-game parlay product for pre-game and live betting that supports the increasingly popular cash-out option.
At least one of Kambi’s existing partners, Rush Street Gaming, offers a nexus to a couple of key states: New York and Illinois. Bichsel also said the company is exploring partnerships with commercial and tribal casinos across the US.
“We want to be in every state. We want to work with the top operators in each market. Someone who understands the market and understands the value of sports betting, not just someone who sees it as an amenity to offer on the property.”
During the company’s latest earnings call, Kambi CEO Kristian Nylén spoke of the company’s early successes and future plans for the US market.
“Having demonstrated our online and retail capability, Kambi is well positioned to replicate our early US success in additional states and continue to set the standard globally,” Nylen said.
How will Kambi realize these lofty goals?
Bichsel highlighted Kambi’s clearly defined, but flexible role in the supplier-operator partnership as one of the key differentiators between itself and other sportsbook suppliers:
“We’re able to execute on a very high level both online and retail, and can advise the operator and walk them through what a proper rollout looks like. That includes employee training, financial reporting, placement of kiosks, and handling crowds.
“One of the main benefits of working with Kambi is the empowerment we give operators. We offer a very flexible service. We do the trading and the risk management, but we do this in conjunction with the operators. And they can tweak the margins and tweak the lines, and select different features.”
Kambi is content to be a sports betting platform and supplier. It doesn’t want to be an omnichannel gaming company or the forward-facing brand.
“We stay in our lane,” Bichsel said. “We’re not interested in getting involved in any other verticals at the moment. We’re not in the consolidation business. We strictly want to be the best sportsbook supplier on the planet.”
When it comes to selecting a forward-facing brand, Kambi is in the unique position of providing partners with two distinct options:
As Bichsel said, “We want to do what’s in the best interest of the operator. In some of these markets the brand name of the property is stronger than any brand or any other business in the region.”
When it’s not, Kambi’s partners can choose door number two, and simply airdrop in the readymade, proven DraftKings Sportsbook into their property.