The evolution of the esports sector into a beast of immense economic and cultural significance has been remarkable, and the opportunities for the regulated betting industry to capitalise are equally significant. The growth potential of esports betting can no longer be ignored by forward-thinking operators, and having partners with the depth of data and strength of technology to help unlock the opportunities it brings will be a vital step on the path to long-term success.
Recognising the scale of the opportunity, Kambi acquired Abios in 2021, marrying esports DNA and passion with an expertise in crafting engaging sports betting experiences. Kambi’s COO, Erik Lögdberg, expands on the rationale behind the agreement and the opportunities it will unlock for Abios, Kambi and their partners.
What is your assessment of the demand for esports betting?
Esports is growing and here to stay, and what was once a more niche pastime now has its feet planted firmly in the mainstream, with esports competitions filling stadiums and drawing millions of viewers from all over the globe. It has an unquestionable appeal and a burgeoning, receptive international audience. The scale of the esports betting opportunity is unquestionably vast. I don’t believe any company in the betting industry has truly cracked it yet in terms of product and user experience, but with the broad consensus that the scale of the market is set to double over the next five years there can be no doubt that having a top quality esports offering is going to be an increasingly core component for any best-in-breed sportsbook.
Why did Kambi choose Abios? What is it about the company which stood out?
Abios is a global leader in the provision of esports data, odds and visualisation services. It is a fantastic business, with cutting-edge products powered by an excellent team of people who all have a passion for what they do. The depth of esports knowledge which runs throughout the company is impressive, and they have been working with several partners on the Kambi network such as Kindred Group and LeoVegas now for a number of years, so we knew them and their people very well prior to the acquisition.
There was no question that it represented a great cultural fit. Not only was Abios an obvious choice from a cultural perspective, but there are also significant synergies on a product and technical level. Their expertise in the games and tournaments, esports bettors and esports data combined with Kambi’s prowess in trading and sports betting has the potential to unlock an exceptional esports betting prospect for our partners, and we are excited about delivering on that potential.
Can you expand on why now was the time to take such an important step for Kambi’s esports offering?
Esports is by no means a new vertical for Kambi. We have been developing our esports capabilities over a number of years, building a product which fits seamlessly into Kambi’s established offering on more traditional sports. Although the esports betting market remains immature, it is a part of the offering that is continuing to grow, and we understood that building on our existing capabilities would help us to capitalise on the potential for healthy long-term growth that esports betting is already displaying.
The structure of aspects in the value chain and data is not there yet in the same way it is for sports like football, basketball and tennis, but the white space is undoubtedly there to be owned by an organisation with the right technology and team in place. There is real potential for esports to become an important revenue stream, particularly as the in-game offering is developed. Although there is still some distance to travel with regard to getting the in-game experience spot on, I do think this will ultimately be a key point of differentiation between an excellent esports betting offer and a more serviceable one. The critical factors here are the quality and speed of the data and building the right architecture around this data from a trading and UX perspective, so that the end user has everything they need to place the bets they want to.
From a strategic perspective, acquiring products and services that are complementary to our existing offering is a crucial area of focus for Kambi, and with esports primed to become an ever more significant aspect of a marketleading sportsbook offering this was the ideal time to seize the opportunities that the combination of Kambi and Abios can unlock.
How has the integration of the two businesses been proceeding? And what are the long-term ambitions for this?
As I’ve mentioned, the two businesses have complementary strengths. Kambi’s trading, risk and algorithmic expertise from more than a decade of experience in sports betting combines well with the skills and experience that Abios bring to the table, with a depth and breadth of esports knowledge and data management capability few can match. One goal we have is to integrate the two operations and technologies into a betting and trading product. While Kambi has been trading a wide range of esports events for a number of years, the quality and automation we can bring to that process in concert with Abios is extensive, and we are well underway with this process.
Abios also delivers content outside of the betting industry, to organisations like Microsoft and the media company Upday, which is something that we see continuing. It was great to welcome the Abios team into Kambi’s Stockholm office in March 2022 – I’m pleased to have them firmly on board and working in close proximity with the wider Kambi team. All the same, the team at Abios have forged an excellent reputation as a best-in-breed provider in the esports and betting sectors, and organisationally they will continue as one company
What we want to establish is a structure under which both companies can leverage the advantages and core competencies brought by the other, without placing any limitations on either’s progress. The months since the acquisition have seen great headway with the integration on both a technical and cultural level, and I’m enthused by the potential we see to build on this throughout the coming months and years.
Download Kambi and Abio’s white paper on esports to learn more about the current state and future potential of the esports betting industry, with interviews with Abios and Unibet.