Adapting throughout challenging times

Ebbe Groes, EveryMatrix founder and Group CEO, reflects on how the firm has adapted its service provision to meet the needs of its consumers.

EGR Intel (EGR): The past year has forced sportsbooks to swiftly adapt to the challenging market conditions. How did OddsMatrix managed to keep its position during this time?

Ebbe Groes (EG): The biggest challenge of Covid-19 was the consequential halting of live sport. Our response was to invest massively in esports and this has turned out to be a positive move with a long-lasting impact. Since the return of live sporting events, when some may have expected esports betting to gradually fall away in popularity, it has instead maintained its strong position within the OddsMatrix Sportsbook.

Take FIFA, for example. Today, it occupies a place in the top-five best-performing sports on our platform. It is easy to see the attraction of FIFA and NBA2k as betting propositions, as they mimic regular sports but at a much faster pace. What is particularly interesting is that sporting simulations within esports are consistently out-performing virtual sports in online betting. We have high-quality streaming for almost all esports events we carry markets for, so the user experience is different from regular sports like football or tennis when the availability of streams is more sporadic, or virtual sports where the human element is lacking.

In adapting quickly to the huge changes in the market, not only in offering new betting markets but also by restructuring our entire sportsbook, we have managed to align our business with the demands faced by the modern operator.

EGR: Let’s talk data (which is why we are here, after all). The judging panel said it was “easy to understand [your] dominance in many areas” in naming you Sports Data Supplier of the year. How did you gain such an advantage in the areas they are referring to?

EG: Firstly, it was fantastic to get this win against some very tough competition within the category of Sports Data Supplier. It is also positive in that it matches up with a strong focus we are placing on this area. We have recently released a completely new website for our OddsMatrix Sports Data Feed product, which explains exactly what we can do for operators.

When major projects are up and running it can be very difficult for some companies to change direction quickly. When you have a company that can develop fresh technology on the go, as we have, then your in-built agility gives you an advantage when dealing with major disruptions in the market. We were able to pivot to esports more quickly than some of our competitors for this reason. In times of turbulence, sometimes the up-and-coming company has a better chance against the incumbent.

EGR: Data needs of operators are continually evolving. What improvements have you made since re-writing the architecture of the sportsbook and what impact have these changes made?

EG: The sportsbook architecture we have today is quite different to that we had 10 years ago. In completely redesigning the platform, the biggest change we implemented was to modularise the entire structure. We ended up with one module for odds creation and another for settlement, to give just two examples.

The new architecture also means that any changes that we make to our sportsbook automatically goes out to our feed clients too. This happens without us having to undertake any sort of development work at all. For example, when we significantly upped our esports offering, it automatically improved the feed product.

The new architecture also means there is a separate feed for settlement. A lot of work goes into this, as it means collecting results from around the world, 24/7, from multiple sources, and translating those results in real-time into winning and losing bets.

EGR: What impact are new short-form sports having on the sports betting industry and how can these opportunities help bring in a younger audience?

EG: The task of capturing a new audience is very interesting. Some sites are trying to do this, but it is proving difficult to find the right formula. In my view, it is important to start from scratch and rethink things completely. Many operators cannot do this within their existing websites and have to put out a sub-brand, in a similar way to specialised poker and bingo sites. You need to become relevant to any sub-culture to gain its interest, and this applies to esports as well.

There is no simple solution, and the industry is still finding its feet in this regard. As a B2B provider, we interface with many different operators, each with their own needs and demands. This provides us with valuable insights on what is needed in a modern sportsbook. Every time you implement a feature for one client, multiple other clients get it at the same time, for the benefit of all. You could describe it as the wisdom of a crowd. We are on a journey towards picking up new audiences, but it will not happen overnight.

EGR: How can added functionality at no extra cost, for example the ability to tweak odds and cash-out margin, benefit operators?

EG: If you look at the modern-day sportsbook, there is a schism among operators: are you going to sit on your own tech and own all of it, or are you going to use a third-party?

One of the main reason’s operators want to own their tech is that they need to be able to control the user experience and make sure that it differs from everyone else on the market. As a provider, our job is to make sure that operators can enjoy the same flexibility when using our software as they could if they owned it outright.

This is where the benefit of odds tweaking and customisation comes in. If you look at two EveryMatrix clients and compare them side by side, even an expert eye would not have a clue they were both working with us.

It is tempting for those who have in the past run a successful B2C sportsbook to offer it around to various clients with minimal changes other than a fresh colour scheme. We don’t start from a B2C premise. Instead, we hand over control to our partners to set their own odds, should they for example choose to offer the best price in the market for a Premier League match one weekend as part of a promotion. We can also do the same with pay-outs where we can, for example, monitor all competitor odds to make sure a client is offering the best margin for the end user.

Flexibility sits at the core of our platform, and this enables operators to easily stand out in the marketplace.

EGR: Finally, looking towards the United States some big operators have brought sports betting technology in-house. As states continue to roll out legal sports betting, how much of the overall market remains open to a provider like yourselves?

EG: We have a team already assembled in Miami and we see the U.S. as containing great potential for a provider that can offer the flexibility and competitive advantages mentioned above.

Nothing is ever simple when entering new markets and of course, there are adjustments to make within a sportsbook going from a European audience to a U.S. audience. However, these changes pale when placed next to the changes that Covid-19 brought about. With esports, we had to suddenly acquire all sorts of background information that was needed on the front-end of the sportsbook, such as team logos and pre-game stats. The planned, gradual transition to catering for a U.S.-based audience is not quite on the same level.

With the Sports Data Supplier award in the bag and given our growing presence in the U.S., it’s clear that there are plenty of good things happening at EveryMatrix, and we’re looking forward to sharing them in the years to come.

Ebbe Groes, EveryMatrix CEO, is a quick-thinking entrepreneur with a successful track record in launching online ventures. Ebbe founded the company in 2008, and since then he grew the business from a start-up to an established company, catering to several Tier-one casino and sports betting operators in the iGaming industry. EveryMatrix is a private company currently employing over 650 staff across its nine offices in Europe, America, and Asia.

The original version of this interview was published in EGR B2B Winners Report 2021 on 25 August 2021.

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