In the latest edition of the SBC Leaders podcast, SBC’s Global Relationship Director Kelly Kehn spoke to Jesper Svensson, CEO of Betsson Group.

Speaking about the impact of working from home, Svensson highlighted the importance of a strong workplace culture – something which he stated was integral to Betsson’s success during the pandemic, although he enthusiastically welcomed the gradual return to offices.

“It is a challenge to maintain a sense of workplace culture when everyone is working from home, but we have done a lot of different activities to keep that going,” he said. “In most countries, we have kept our offices open for those who wanted to come in when possible. 

“I would say we’ve done relatively well from that point of view, but I am looking forward to getting back into the office and really being able to get a grip on those elements of workplace culture again.”  

Discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the betting and gaming industry, Svensson reflected on how the global crisis has made the sector ‘push forward’ to embrace increasing digitisation, while Bettson has continued to expand internationally.

He continued: “2020 was a challenging year in many ways. But if you look at it from a business point of view, we are at the forefront of digitalisation so we have to push forward. Over the last year at Betsson, we have placed a lot of focus on making sure we have the right people in place – we have worked a lot on the leadership and workplace culture side of things. 

“When we transitioned to remote working, things were still progressing. I would attribute our success over the last year to the people we have at the company.

“In addition to this, we have made significant improvements to our products in the last few years. That is now starting to have an effect. In 2020, we also expanded – we went into new markets. We’re not holding back. 

“I would say our success is down to a combination of those three things, but the number one definitely has to be the talented people we have on our team.”

In October of last year, Betsson significantly reduced its UK market presence after announcing that all active brands and licences will be transferred to its Rizk ( domain. 

When asked about Betsson’s UK activities, Svensson identified growth in other markets such as Latin America in addition to difficulties with operational costs and efficiency as reasons behind the company’s corporate strategy to focus elsewhere.

He remarked: “We were never really a big player in the UK market, but we had many brands over several platforms, and operational costs for that were efficient enough and were not big enough in order to keep that running so we had to make a more focused effort into this. 

“At the same time, we saw great opportunities in other countries. So I would say both of those sides had an impact on that decision. Now it’s much more streamlined, it’s easier to manage and it’s more cost efficient.”

Moving on to highlight the operator’s regional success, Svensson discussed Betsson’s expansion of its Latin American activities, such as securing the naming rights arrangement with Peru’s Liga 1 top-flight football tournament and acquiring a 70% stake in Colombian brand ColBet.

“We are focusing a lot on Latin America and we see great opportunities there,” he began.

“There’s a very solid growth in this region and it’s expected to be for many years to come, and we recently got the licence in Argentina, so we’re moving forward as well. 

“These are big markets. Brazil is a massive country with great potential, but even countries like Peru, Colombia, so forth, you see really strong growth in those countries. We have been in the region for quite some time, so in some countries we had a head start and we’re really trying to now speed those things up and keep our position over there.”

When quizzed by Kehn about the potential of sportsbook operations in the region, Svensson added: “They love sports, football is – you could say all over the world – in Latin such a passion, and we see great interest in sports. Football is one, two and three over there, probably even four and five as well. That’s why we did the deal in Peru with the football league because that gives us really good exposure.”

Click here to watch episode one of the SBC Leaders Podcast starring FanDuel CEO Matt King, who discussed the operator’s approach to finding success in the US market.

Jesper Svensson: Workplace culture, digitalisation and international expansion