SBC Leaders - The people behind betting and gaming's biggest brands

SBC Media

SBC Leaders Podcast is a series of interviews with CEOs and decision makers at some of the betting and gaming industry's biggest, best and most innovative companies. SBC's Kelly Kehn is the host who asks the questions.

Joanna Lambert of Yahoo! Sports - US Sports Betting, Diversity and Inclusion
Nov 12 2021
Joanna Lambert of Yahoo! Sports - US Sports Betting, Diversity and Inclusion
The latest episode of the SBC Leaders Podcast just dropped, and features Joanna Lambert, President and General Manager, Consumer, at Yahoo. Joanna spearheaded the Yahoo sportsbook and fantasy sports portfolio, and has extensive experience in FinTech and senior executive roles at some huge brand names. The two had a fascinating chat about Yahoo’s sportsbook and fantasy offerings, the US sports betting market, diversity, being passionate about your work, and the resilience, creativity and inspirational nature of her team. Joanna also tells Kelly about her career-defining moments, personal heroes and role models, and all about what’s coming next for Yahoo!0:18 - Intro1:42 - Yahoo sportsbook live in 11 states, plans to go into more. What does Joanne see happening in the next 6 months? How does the BetMGM partnership benefit fans and players? 3:19 - Joanna’s history in the world of FinTech, who brought her over to sports betting? Excited by the strides Yahoo have made. The combination of great and trusted content, and high-quality products. Yahoo functioning as the top of the funnel, can drive players towards products and offerings. 6:00 - What does Joanna think about sports betting? How does it differ from the worlds of tech and finance? Product development is a similar process, always bring the customer to the centre. More casual players coming into the space, meaning more opportunity to serve customers. 7:20 - Diversity, how diverse are sports in general? And how important is diversity at Yahoo? Joanna’s passion for diversity, pride that Yahoo is number 1 for African-Americans, LatinX and Women. Importance of making sure the voices in your team are reflected. Yahoo is an incredible platform for story telling and Yahoo take this seriously. 10:45 - Yahoo looking to open up the sportsbook offering to a wider audience than the traditional male audience. Yahoo looking at what kind of talent they can bring in, to enable them to attract new audiences. Focusing on non-traditional media such as TikTok, Club House etc. to attract the younger audience.12:52 - Do you have to be a sports fan to run a sports company? Joanna’s belief that you have to be passionate about what you’re working for. Joanna’s interest in connecting people with their passions. 13:46 - Does Joanna have her own personal hero? Loves watching people innovate, inspiration coming from her own network, her own staff. Every day heroes. Taking inspiration from an intern at Yahoo to move towards TikTok, as an example. 15:15 - Does Joanna have a role model when it comes to making her own life decisions? Taking inspiration from current/former colleagues and bosses. The importance of sponsorship and help when it comes to leadership and growth. 16:30 - What does Joanna see as career defining moments? Relatively early in her career, telling her boss she was bored, wanted more responsibility and would be willing to move anywhere in the world for the right opportunity.19:07 - What brought Joanna to Yahoo? A persistent recruiter and seeing the scale of the opportunity at Yahoo. Starting at Yahoo Finance and moving on from there. 20:30 - What has surprised Joanna the most? The resilience of the team over the last 2 years, and how creative people can be when their backs are against the wall. 22:20 - What’s next? Continuing on the strategy of providing the 360 degrees service. Moving from being a small department in a huge business, to being a standalone business. Yahoo going to continue to evolve in the space. 23:15 - Outro
SBC Leaders - Peter-Paul de Goeij: The Dutch Market, Personal Heroes, and Leadership
Oct 7 2021
SBC Leaders - Peter-Paul de Goeij: The Dutch Market, Personal Heroes, and Leadership
The latest episode of the SBC Leaders podcast just dropped, and sees SBC Global Relationships Director Kelly Kehn sit down with Peter-Paul de Goeij, the managing director of NOGA, the Netherlands Online Gambling Association. The two had a chat in the lead-up to the newly regulated Dutch market’s go-live date, and discussed the market, the potential it has, and what NOGA will be keeping an eye on. Kelly and Peter Paul also discuss advertising, including NOGA’s Advertising Volume Control, and why they want to avoid a gambling advertising ban. The two also spoke about affiliation, how affiliates can receive their rubber stamp, and why operators will be more careful about which affiliates they work with. Finally, Kelly gets Peter Paul’s thoughts on leadership, his role as a leader, how he got involved with NOGA, and his heroes and inspirations.1:52 - The dutch market, 28 initial licenses, is this the right number of licenses? Is there room for growth? Don't know how many applications went in after the 15th of april, don't know whether all 28 applicants made it through.3:10 - Fair competition, is this something NOGA have worked on? Important to have a level playing field for the operators, so that they all have the same starting position. Peter Paul speaks about the 33-month cooling off period for those operators that have violated the criteria of targeting Dutch customers online prior to October 1st. NOGA decided to look at the future, not at the past, and are upbeat about the markets potential 6:00 - Advertising, important to migrate players away from illegal/unlicensed operators to legal/licensed ones. Concerned due to precedence in other markets, for example Sweden. Operators can't be moderate in advertising if competitors are not. Want operators/advertisers/broadcasters to meet and agree on guidelines and keeping things reigned in. Advertising Volume Control to keep it under control. Don't want to ban it. 9:40 - Affiliates, NOGA really paying attention to affiliation. Only the operator is responsible for advertising under their license, meaning operators will be liable if something goes wrong with their affiliates. Affiliates will be able to receive a stamp of approval as a responsible affiliate. 11:55 - Peter Paul’s thoughts on leadership, adjusting to the gambling and lottery industries, being brought in by the NOGA board to take them to the next level and turn them into a real trade organisation. Didn't consider himself to be a leader and still has a hard time accepting that. Tries to show the best way and not take himself too seriously. Bring people together and build bridges, build connections where they don't yet exist. 15:15 - What can the Netherlands achieve in the wider world of gambling? Being so late at regulation, meaning they had time to look at other markets, see what didn't work, come up with ideas. Importance of taking consumer protection to the next level. Has to be ingrained into your business as an operator. There will be no gambling operator given a license in the Netherlands that doesn't take problem gambling seriously. 17:25 - Peter Paul’s thoughts on whether you have to love sports to work in the betting industry. Maybe not necessary that you like to gamble, important to think that if you want to gamble, it should be possible. 19:56 - Do you have a hero? Who have you looked for as inspiration? Peter Paul's mother is one of his greatest heroes, hugely influenced by Barack Obama's speaking skills and ability to communicate. 21:20 - What surprises has Peter Paul seen? Importance of trying not to get carried away with worry and doubt.22:12 - What Peter Paul expected October 1st to look like. Has to be vigilant, make sure everything is working the way it intended. Working closely with the regulators and operators, keeping a close eye on the consumers, hope to see an increase in consumer trust. 25:15 - Outro
Sacha Dragic: "You can't just optimise profit without giving back to society"
Aug 24 2021
Sacha Dragic: "You can't just optimise profit without giving back to society"
The latest episode of SBC Leaders features Sacha Dragic, Founder & Executive Chairman of Superbet, one of the leading operators in Romania, who have since expanded to Poland and Belgium. Sacha sits down for a chat with SBC Managing Director Andy McCarron, and the two discussed innovation, using acquisition as a means to grow and expand, how to spot the next tech innovations, and how gambling companies can change the perception of the industry. 00:07 - Intro00:58 - The formation of Superbet, moving beyond their initial goals to just ‘survive’, becoming an important player in Romania and then learning to adapt to the digital world. 02:23 - The high quality leadership team at Superbet, especially at management and c-level, What skills are needed for building out the management team? Importance of taking care to look for exactly what you need in new hires, and what can take you to the next level. 05:46 - Ralph Topping (former William Hill CEO) joining and helping out, how his experience and advice convinced Sacha to speed up his expansion and growth plans. From wanting to expand in the region within 5-7 years, to looking to become an international operator.07:45 - Using investment as an acquisition tool, what's the ethos in looking for acquisitions to expand? Sacha told Andy that 2-3 years ago the idea of acquiring another operator would have seemed impossible. New influences within the Superbet leadership team changed his philosophy on this. 10:40 - How difficult is it to maintain company culture all the way down the ladder? Bureaucracy tends to build itself when you hire more people, the importance of keeping their ethos in mind during the hiring process, and removing bureaucracy to help lubricate innovation12:07 - importance of being fair as a bookmaker, and being perceived to be fair. How does Sacha make sure that the customers respect Superbet, and trust them? Sacha believes the market is the decider. Players won't bet there if they don't respect and trust it.14:13 - Moving into new markets, what differences do they notice in customers from different locations? Superbet adapting their product to the new markets, learning about the market, learning what not to do.15:55 - Poland, Romania, now Belgium, what markets are they looking for long term? Sacha's plan is to look at any market where it's legal, more Western europe, Central & South America, North America, Africa, and much more. Open to any regulated market.17:15 - What is the perception of the industry? ANd what can the industry do to balance out the negative perceptions. It’s easy for politicians to score points by going against betting, Sacha believes they’re underestimating how much money it brings in to the budget. But also it’s important to know a brand can't simply optimise for profit without giving back to society, they need to invest heavily in RG/CSR.20:44 - What is your approach to innovation? How do you identify which new technologies can make a difference? Importance of looking not only at your customers now, but also your future customers and future potential customers. How you can build a mindset where people are always looking at what they can do next, Superbet looking at blockchain/esports and other new verticals. Wanting to become a company that takes a wider approach23:25 - What do we as an industry do well on the tech innovation front? The value of looking around not only at other gaming companies, but also innovation elsewhere in the world such as Netflix etc.
Paris Smith - E-Sports, Innovation and the Pinnacle Passion
Jul 19 2021
Paris Smith - E-Sports, Innovation and the Pinnacle Passion
Episode 7 of the SBC Leaders podcast features Paris Smith, CEO of Pinnacle, the iconic sports betting operator, a position she’s been in since 2006! Paris and Kelly get into Paris’ early career, how she got into sports betting and whether she always had ambitions to become a CEO (Spoiler - always wanted to be in charge!). Paris gives her thoughts on company culture, building a team of hard-workers that want to produce rather than just show up, and tells Kelly all about what they call the ‘Pinnacle Passion’.Paris speaks about the importance of caring about people, knowing your team and being able to take a step back and let the experts do what they know needs to be done, and learning that you don’t always need to make the final decision! Paris also gives some sage advice to anyone with aspirations of achieving a senior leadership role within the industry. Kelly also picks Paris’ brains on Pinnacle’s innovative e-sports offering, what it was like being in the e-sports betting game in its burgeoning days, and why the two worlds haven’t necessarily totally meshed together yet. Diversity is also a topic of discussion, with Paris being one of a few female CEOs in gaming, and one of the most long-standing, as well as assembling a gender-balanced and ethnicity-balanced senior leadership team. Kelly asks Paris to outline some of the benefits of having such diversity at the table, and the insight it allows Pinnacle to tap into. Finally, Kelly asks Paris about her daughter who recently graduated, whether she’d like to see her join Pinnacle, and what Paris hopes she’s imparted onto her daughter in terms of leadership. 00:12 - Intro00:37 - Introduction to Paris and Pinnacle Sports01:32 - Pinnacle’s history, Paris’ experiences at Pinnacle, what she’s learned during her time as CEO, how the industry has changed and where it’s going next 02:39 - E-sports, Pinnacle’s innovation in trading e-sports in 2010, and the importance of stepping back and letting the experts in her team take the lead on things within their expertise. How Paris reacted the first time she heard the idea of trading on e-sports, and a trip to Berlin that made the whole thing click.04:55 - Why have the esports and iGaming industries not fully meshed yet, do gamers and e-sports players understand sports betting? 07:54 - Challenges of running a multinational company, how they were compounded during the pandemic and the importance of localisation and local viewpoints when you operate in a market.09:26 - Remote working, whether it’s made Paris more available or less available, how she manages her day-to-day.11:06 - Diversity, Paris’ position as one of the only female CEOs in the industry, a gender and ethnicity balanced senior leadership team and the benefits that brings. 14:22 - Paris’ daughter, whether Paris would like to see her join her in the workplace, what she hopes to have imparted onto her in terms of leadership and what she’s learned from her, and from motherhood that she’s been able to bring into the boardroom.16:56 - Did Paris always want to become a CEO? How Paris got started in the industry and her first betting job. 19:16 - Advice to people who want to be a CEO and have aspirations to lead in this industry, importance of being true to yourself and listening to people, allow others to make decisions20:35 - Do you have to love sports to be a CEO of a betting company? Paris' sports fandom, and finding the time to watch sports.
Lenin Castillo - Innovation, Company DNA and getting to know your market and customers
Jun 28 2021
Lenin Castillo - Innovation, Company DNA and getting to know your market and customers
Episode 6 of the SBC Leaders podcast sees Kelly Kehn sit down for a fascinating conversation with Lenin Castillo, Chief Operating Officer of Logrand Entertainment Group, one of the oldest and most established casino and betting brands in Mexico. With a portfolio of land-based and online casinos, as well as their recent venture into sports betting with Strendus (considered one of the most disruptive sports betting brands in Latin America), Lenin gives us an interesting look under the hood of one of the biggest players in the Mexican market. Lenin also gets into his history, the lessons he’s learned and the tricks he’s brought with him from the other industries he’s worked in, and describes the challenges he’s encountered operating in the industry, and launching a new revenue stream. Kelly also gets Lenin’s thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on the industry, how Logrand pivoted towards other verticals, and gets his thoughts on innovation and company culture. 00:15 - Kelly's intro, intro to Lenin's career1:27 - The pandemic, how it's affected the industry, what are expectations for growth in Mexico as competitions open back up, focusing on other verticals not just sports betting, the impact of the pandemic on the land-based industry and how they managed being closed for almost a year, importance of knowing your customers and being able to give them what they wanted03:16 - Most popular sports aside from soccer, influence of the US and the popularity of the US Sports04:33 - Gaps in the market that Logrand are trying to fill, focus on local/national/regional sports leagues, sponsoring local teams and events06:20 - Explosion of the Latam market, competing with international operators and local competitors, the advantages Logrand have by knowing their customers, being established in the market how the land-based and online arms work together 09:00 - Launching strendus, the challenges in launching a brand new revenue stream, the thought process behind launching time spent doing strategic planning, being patient, planning and creating the right team11:14 - Surprises Lenin found along the way, the importance of being agile and being able to react13:08 - Moments that have defined Lenin's career, Lenin's experience in other industries, lessons learned from the building, banking and clothing industries that have stood him in good stead for his betting career the ability to think outside the box and analyse things differently, innovating, taking ideas from other industries and adapting them14:46 - What has surprised Lenin about his role, surprises in the gaming industry, combining different factors, the statistical and entertainment side of the product being able to innovate, and put your ideas into practice16:26 - Lenin's thoughts on Leadership, advice to leaders and aspiring leaders in the industry, the importance of knowing your market and your customers, the culture of Logrand the company's DNA and philosophies that everyone believes in18:16 - What's next for Logrand and what we can expect in the future, Logrand winning the customer service award against big banking and insurance companies among others, keeping going with this strategy      20:36 - Outro
John Levy: Infusing betting and media is a ‘winning combination’
Jun 7 2021
John Levy: Infusing betting and media is a ‘winning combination’
In the latest episode of the SBC Leaders podcast, SBC’s Global Relationships Director Kelly Kehn sits down in conversation with John Levy, CEO of theScore, one of the most consistently disruptive and fast-growing companies in both sports media and sports betting. Levy talks about the early days of mobile tech, and the leap that theScore took from TV to mobile-only, the difficulties of competing against huge entities like ESPN, TSN and Rogers and the similarities between how theScore built their brand on-screen and off. Levy gets into the forthcoming legalisation of sports betting in Canada and tells Kelly how nothing will change in the way that they present and operate their product. Kehn spoke to Levy about his family, his pride related to his sons working for him by choice after forging their own paths elsewhere first, and how theScore runs as a family operation - with or without blood relations. Levy also talks about what leadership qualities he hopes to impart on his own children. Following their recent listing on NASDAQ, Kelly also asked theScore CEO to identify the moments - both good and bad - that defined his career and how he found out the importance of building resilience during difficult times. Levy spoke about the biggest surprises that he’s found since becoming a CEO, similarities between life and business philosophy and regretting that quote on CNBC.Finally, Levy teased what might be next for theScore and tells us how he believes there’s another round of disruption on the way in the way people consume sports media. 00:15 - Intro00:40 - Intro to theScore, why they’re a media-first company rather than sports betting-first03:25 - Mobile technology, how theScore initially disrupted sports media in Canada, their initial moves into mobile technology, taking the plunge to be mobile-only, and not being scared to compete against big players. 11:00 - Legalised sports betting in Canada, how theScore will present their product to the Canadian customer, the legal and lobbying process involved, and the incredible value of the Canadian market16:20 - John’s family, including 3 sons that work for him, how theScore retains family values in the way it operates, what John hopes to impart onto his children in terms of leadership, the importance of showing respect in the workplace22:30 - Moments that defined John’s career, putting on his big boy pants, listing theScore publicly on NASDAQ, painful experiences in business and the importance of learning from them, and building resiliency24:55 - Biggest surprises as a CEO28:10 His interview with CNBC, what’s next from theScore, disruption in sports content consumptionFor more from John, check out SBC Digital North America, this Wednesday and Thursday (06/09 - 06/10). Register for FREE here.
Maarja Pärt: "Owning up to my own mistakes is an important part of being an effective leader"
May 24 2021
Maarja Pärt: "Owning up to my own mistakes is an important part of being an effective leader"
Episode 4 of SBC Leaders is here! Our Global Relationships Director, Kelly Kehn, sits down with Maarja Pärt, CEO of leading crypto gaming firm The Coingaming Group, and gets her thoughts on growing with and beyond cryptocurrencies, creating and maintaining company culture, and what she’s learned since becoming one of the industry’s only female CEOs, and succeeding her mentor, Tim Heath in the role. Maarja tells Kelly about her ‘Unicorn Farm’ and the role it plays in cultivating Coingaming’s famous culture of innovation, and gives some great insight on the leadership role of a CEO, including the importance of owning up to her own mistakes, learning from difficult situations in the past, and how your perspective changes when you realise the buck stops with you.Time Stamps: 00:15 - Intro01:45 - Coingaming’s growth and the growth of crypto04:45 - Coingaming’s culture of innovation, and the unicorn farm!11:25 - How Maarja keeps track of regulatory changes in crypto and igaming15:30 - Maarja tells Kelly about some of the challenging experiences that have shaped her time as CEO18:45 - Thoughts on leadership in the role of a CEO21:50 - What it’s like being a female CEO in iGaming, thoughts on Maarja’s journey from CS agent to CEO27:30 - What’s next for Coingaming? 29:20 - OutroSBC Leaders is a membership of global top tier operators and operator associations formed with a mission to bring the industry's best together in order to share ideas, collaborate on major issues, push innovation, and elevate the overall image of our industry through the promotion of its achievements.