BetRegal came to mind yesterday with the news that the Canadian Football League is taking over operations of the Montreal Alouettes, the storied franchise in search of new ownership. The CFL is overseeing a sales process.
BetRegal has a multi-year partnership with the CFL as the league’s Official Sport Gaming Partner, signed in 2021.
But BetRegal has yet to complete their registration with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which would be followed by an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario, before they can go live.
They are licensed and operating in Mexico and Ireland.
BetRegal also has separate sponsorship deals with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Alouettes have a partnership with BET99.net.
We caught up with BetRegal’s head of marketing Aly Lalani to get an update on where things sit with BetRegal, as another CFL season starts to come into focus.
Q: Can you update us on where things sit with BetRegal’s Ontario application?
Our AGCO application is active and pending, as we’ve now completed all the additional Eligibility and Compliance requirements requested prior to approval. Admittedly, the lengthy process of finalizing our Ontario license has been challenging, but we remain fully committed to Ontario as a market.
We anticipate a final decision shortly, which will allow us to build upon the great relationships we’ve already established with key partners in Ontario.
Upon registrar approval, we expect to be back in the Ontario market with a bigger presence and eager to bring a truly Canadian sports betting solution to Ontario.
Q: Tell us about how operations have been going for BetRegal in Mexico and Ireland? What has gone well there, and what have been the challenges?
BetRegal Mexico launched a short few months ago and we are in the midst of our launch marketing campaign with the aim of growing our player registrations and accounts.
In Mexico, we’re looking to penetrate what we would consider a reasonably mature gambling market, with some of the larger operators in the Western hemisphere vying for market share.
As a new entrant to the market, developing a level of credibility is of premium importance. We need to make sure that the average Mexican sports fan is aware of BetRegal’s presence in the marketplace.
To help us achieve a level of credibility and brand awareness, BetRegal has developed relationships with some of the most recognizable faces in Mexico sports television.
Of course, football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Mexico. To help us communicate our football offering to our intended users, BetRegal has partnered with Mexican soccer specialist and anchor for ESPN Latino David Faitelson.
David represents BetRegal as a brand ambassador, helping to communicate key messages to our Mexican audience.
U.S.-facing sports are immensely popular in Mexico. For our U.S. sports, BetRegal has also partnered with Jose Pablo Coello, an NFL anchor on Fox Sports Latino. Both our brand ambassadors in the Mexican market have proven to be very valuable as we enter this competitive market. The expectation is that BetRegal will continue to build out a portfolio of brand ambassadors and partners as we grow our market share.
In Ireland, BetRegal have just committed to another two years as the front-of-jersey sponsor for Dundalk FC, which competes in the Irish Premier League.
Working with the folks at Dundalk FC has been an absolute dream for us an organization. It’s truly a team that is very much run with a community spirit. The fanbase is genuinely passionate and their love for football (soccer) at large is undeniable.
There’s such an emotional connection between the fans and the long-storied history of the franchise and that’s why BetRegal has made it a priority to authentically integrate as part of their community.
We’ve held numerous charitable-type activations with Dundalk FC, where the focus is always aligned with those of the team and their community.
Having that as a pillar of our working relationship and the way we do business has created credibility with the fans and we see that reflected in our interactions with the players, team management, and fans. Working with a local boutique digital agency, we’ve secured a sponsorship deal with SkySports TV, as the sponsor of their daily evening sports wrap-up segment. That partnership enables us to significantly widen our reach in Ireland, including commercial spots on Sky Sports TV.
Q: What other jurisdictions does BR operate in?
Our core markets right now are Canada, Ireland and Mexico. In Europe, we work with our software partners at Aspire Global on a sub-operator licensing model, which grants us a Malta Gaming License, allowing our organization access to certain European markets. BetRegal is also proudly operating a retail betting presence in Costa Rica.
Looking a little further down the road, our expectations are to formally launch in the Dominican Republic by the end of 2023.
Q: What are some of the components of the BetRegal programs in Mexico and Ireland that you would apply to the Ontario market, once licensed?
BetRegal has been successful with a few elements in Mexico and Ireland that we plan to apply to our home market, in Ontario.
We definitely want to focus on community, as illustrated through our relationship with Dundalk FC in Ireland. We want to focus our efforts on the fact that Ontario and Canada are home for us and being involved at the community level is very important. That ‘s why our relationship with the CFL and our community MVP program is so important.
At the core, we want to ensure that our marketing and brand efforts are anchored on the fact that we are the home team.
Our CEO is Canadian. He grew up playing for the Ryerson Rams hockey team and he was a Ticats fan growing up and still is.
All members of our executive management team are proud Canadians, bringing with them decades of gaming experience. So we’re not just visiting; we’re going to be unapologetically community-minded.
Another lesson we’ll be taking into the Ontario market will be education.
We feel strongly that the successful sports-betting brands will be the ones that interact with their users and build up a relationship that helps inform current and future users complex on sports-betting concepts and terminology. We want education of the customer to be our differentiator. While other sportsbooks concentrate on avid users, we’ll be active in reaching out to casual users who have the desire and capacity to become more regular customers. We think that’s a growth strategy that’s being ignored by the competition.
We also want to have fun. We have the luxury of working in quite possibly one of the coolest verticals in the world and we don’t want to lose sight of that.
Creating activations, contests, events (live, virtual, or digital) that get the messages across about education and our authentic Canadian roots will be important to us. Sport unites people and BetRegal wants to bring people together, especially fans of Canadian teams and leagues. To do that will require investing in the relationship with our potential and current customers long term.
We never want to be transactional — the ‘bet here, bet now, bet today, bet tomorrow’ — type of brand. We want to highlight the fun and value of the sport itself, then accentuate how gaming can add to that fan experience.
Another important element here is that we own our own software. We don’t license it like most other operators. We’re in full control of our product priorities and that allows us a level of flexibility others don’t have to create a customized market-specific product.
In Ireland and Mexico, we rely on our boots on the ground to understand and localize the market. In Ontario and in Canada, we are the boots on the ground, because we all grew up and still are Canadian sports fans.
Finally, the AGCO application process in Ontario has allowed us to get a sense of what other operators are doing in the marketplace — what’s working and what needs fixing. Generally speaking, many operators seem to be following the same playbook in terms of generating brand awareness and prospecting for customers. Anyone who regularly watches live sports in Ontario can speak to the overwhelming amount of gambling ads sports fans are subject to.
At the core, we’re sports fans and we want to be the brand that builds up, not destroys, the fan experience.
Q: Can you comment on the growth of the Ontario market? What are one or two of the storylines that really stand out for you in Ontario so far? Has anything surprised you about Ontario?
It was exciting to get a view of the Q3 iGaming Ontario key metrics that were released a few weeks ago. That report certainly showed significant growth in terms of gross gaming revenue (GGR) versus the two previous quarters.
Of course, we need to analyze those results with caution, given the wide array of sports properties and competition taking place during Q3 (including a very exciting World Cup at an unusual time of year).
One of the main storylines that stands out from my perspective is the massive amount of marketing costs that certain operators are undertaking to seemingly just acquire market share, without the concern of profitability. The various teams, leagues, players, venues, and broadcasters seem to be the ones “winning” in terms of generating revenue, not necessarily the operators.
I think it will be interesting to see what happens as brands move further into the business lifecycle of operating in Ontario, as opposed to just concerning themselves with the current race for market share.
At last glance, 70+ operators were vying for a piece of the pie. Will consolidation take place? We might very well be entering a phase where the larger brands will look to acquire smaller operators in an effort to accelerate the acquisition of market share.