Conquering the Great White North- Bede Gaming

EGR North America speaks to Alex Butcher, Managing Director of Bede Gaming, on the potential that its deal with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has to offer as the business looks to make its mark in Canada

The OLG deal marks Bede’s first step into the North American and lottery markets, with OLG the fourth biggest lottery in the world catering to 13 million Canadians in the largest province of Canada. Managing director of the supplier, Alex Butcher hails the deal as a huge opportunity for the relatively small company.

“The potential is huge. By delivering a broader product portfolio we think it could be a great contract for Bede long-term if we can achieve the growth that we believe the market is capable of” Butcher tells EGR North America.

EGR NA: Congratulations on securing a deal with the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) to provide their technology platform. How did you manage to win them over?

Alex Butcher (AB): It was a competitive tender. With OLG being a crown corporation, they run an open procurement process, which is monitored for fairness. The RFP was on the Ontario government website and anyone could tender for it. The process was fairly intense, more involved than any other pitch or commercial process we’ve been through. To begin with, we needed to submit a 1200 page bid, complete with all pricing upfront. We went through an intensive technical working session on site in Toronto with OLG. This was followed by a number of negotiation sessions.

EGR NA: What enticed you to apply for such a major deal, particularly as lottery and North America have previously been outside of your remit?

AB: In a single deal we are breaking into North America and the lottery market, so we’re obviously delighted by that. We have been targeting lotteries for some time. One of the things that is quite unique about Bede is we’ve only taken bets in regulated markets and we’ve got a very clean ownership structure and we think that places us very well in both the North American market as a whole but also when it comes to lotteries as there tends to be an enhanced level of scrutiny. In addition to this, we believe that our product set and company culture will enable a significant level of disruption for the lottery sector.

EGR NA: Will you be looking for more deals in North America?

AB: Absolutely. We now have Toronto as a base of operations, and we’ve got a few staff out there. We’ve been active with OLG for a few months, so we’ve had quite a lot of our staff including myself and other members of the exec travelling back and forth fairly frequently. Bede Canada is a new subsidiary of Bede – it’s already hired its first Canadian employees, and we will add a few more in coming months.

EGR NA: How are you adapting your technology offering to cater to OLG’s needs?

AB: OLG will supply all of our core Bede Hub player platform product, customised for the Ontario regulators environment. This will provide OLG with a significant number of new product verticals over their existing solution, including sportsbook. On top of this, there will be a significant iLottery build, as we add advanced digital lottery features such as subscriptions and group play. The end result will be a best in class digital lottery experience for players.

EGR NA: Will you be providing OLG’s omni-channel technology as well?

AB: Ultimately the player platform will be the central part of OLG’s omni-channel strategy, integrating all products and channels. A full blown omni-channel integration isn’t in scope for go live, as we’ll be focussing on a competitive digital offering initially. That said, many of the discussions we’re having during project discovery are taking into account the future implications of OLG’s ambitious omni-channel strategy. They’ve got some really great ideas about how to build a best of breed on omni-channel solution.

EGR NA: What’s the roadmap for now, considering you will be implementing the technology in 2020?

AB: We’re absolutely looking to build on this and we’d love to see another lottery win and North American win in years to come, although our priority for now is setting up the OLG implementation project for success.  Outside of lottery, we’re working hard to meet the ambitious growth ambitions of our existing customers, and going above and beyond the emerging compliance landscape in Europe, creating a rich set of responsible gambling tools for all of our customers.

EGR NA: What are the regulatory constraints that come with working with a monopoly operator?

AB: OLG is a crown corporation, and it has a sole regulator, AGCO. We’ve had to forge our own relationship with the regulator. In some ways it’s similar to the UK government regulator, the UKGC, as they exist to regulate the market but uniquely, their only gambling firm being regulated is OLG, which creates an intense level of scrutiny. The AGCO has a reasonably tough regulatory stance but there is overlap with a lot of what we’ve already built for the UK, Maltese and Spanish markets.

EGR NA: How will you adapt your offering to cater to the Canadian customer?

AB: At the moment there is not a lot of gaming content specific to the Canadian context, so we think there is a great opportunity to work with our content supplier partners on developing more appropriate titles. Bede also has our own table games such as blackjack and roulette, and we’ll be looking at how to customise those to give a more Canadian, and perhaps even more Ontarian feel. We’ll also be working closely with the chosen sportsbook provider to see how we can customise that offering to the right local market with the right offers and the right pricing.

EGR NA: Does OLG currently have a sportsbook product?

AB: There is currently no digital sportsbook offering at present, which we believe presents a significant opportunity for growing OLG’s revenues. OLG are running a competitive tender process for a sportsbook provider at the moment, although Bede won’t have any influence on that choice, due to the rules that ensure fairness of the process.

Bede Gaming | Canada | Lotteries | ONtario Lottery & Gaming Corporation