Australia, a wealthy nation with an established betting market and vibrant sports scene, is a great place for operators to establish a foothold.
Rivalry CEO Steven Salz was not surprised by this opinion. He explained why Rivalry has been so interested in Oceania’s sunny shores from his Ontario headquarters.
Australia is a country where sports are very popular. The country is known for its passions in Aussie rules football and cricket as well as codes and rugby. As this World Cup demonstrated, soccer can also be enjoyed.
Rivalary does not offer a traditional sportsbook. SBC was previously informed by Salz that esports was the bread and butter of the company and it has a loyal following in Australia.
Salz noted that the esports industry in Hong Kong is much more established than other English-speaking countries and it is close to the Asian League of Legends scene.
The launch was ideal because there was so much overlap between Australia, us, and the other markets. On a general note, Australians make great team members! We found them to be very friendly .”.
Rivalry is based in Canada but has already built a following in Australia through its online marketing strategy which includes partnerships with Twitch influencers, and an emphasis on taping into the passion of its team for internet culture and gaming.
Salz said that Australia has a fair regulatory system. The language is simple to comprehend and the English is spoken well. This helped us to get started as there was already a decent Australian audience across our channels.
We had many Australians engaging in the content via our site, but they couldn’t register as we didn’t have a license, so it made sense to launch.
External observers who have been paying attention to Australia’s betting scene in recent times would be able to see that this sector has come under increasing scrutiny despite the regulatory stability.
While politicians have expressed concern about loot boxes found in video games and a committee of parliament is investigating the issue, a review into the impact on society by this industry is ongoing.
Rivalry has not found this to be a concern. Salz explained that they are confident in their responsible gambling strategy and transparent marketing strategy. This is based on the company’s experience in Ontario, its first market.
The CEO of the company said that when Ontario launched, some people worried about advertising. They hadn’t seen this kind of gambling in their lives before and were not used to it being right in front of them.
We are not in these channels, and avoid direct marketing. Some affiliates of operators have had difficulty marketing in Ontario due to the inability to speak about bonuses or promotions. Affiliates find it difficult to distinguish features.
This is what we avoided because if all you do is offer bonuses or promotions, then what are you really doing? How big is your company? Our strategy has a lot of charm. It is more casual about who we want to contact and how they are going to acquire .”
Rivalry has remained ‘aboveboard’ with its marketing strategy and avoided the “marketing mistakes” that could have resulted in other Australian operators being placed in serious regulatory trouble.
Rivalry, an Isle of Man licensed firm since its inception in 2018, made its international debut in April 2022 in Ontario and launched in Australia in July.
How do Canadian and Australian markets compare? Rivalry sees the Canadian and Australian markets as having a similar sports-oriented fandom. Salz acknowledged that Australia may have more influence, however, neither market has the same number of followers that certain countries in South America, Southeast Asia or Europe.
We knew from the beginning that Australia’s fandom is smaller than in other countries and would need to be nurtured and grown over time. The product in Australia is quite different to our Rest of World product. This is the biggest challenge.
Although our Isle of Man products and Canada’s are similar, Ontario has a slightly more restrictive marketing policy. However, bonuses and promotions in Ontario may be a bit less generous. In Australia however, online gambling is not available. This is a challenging task because we must operate and maintain .”.
Salz stated that Rivalry will ‘keep up’ with its Canadian operations and consider further international expansion. However, it also acknowledges the favorable market conditions for European esports.
While Rivalry expressed its interest in European gambling markets, the CEO explained that it intends to “build up some speed first”, focusing its efforts on its existing markets.
He stated that he was happy to keep up with the pace and find the strength in our markets. However, there are some European countries we believe have an esports culture and a large esports audience that could align with us.
We’re not really doing anything, but we are just waiting to see what 2023 looks like, and where the different markets go.
Canada: Where are we going?
SBC also got some insight from Salz about developments in Rivalry’s Canadian home market. The newly-regulated Ontario betting market has attracted international attention.
According to the CEO, Canada’s largest province was a ‘one-of-the best markets per capita worldwide’ since its gray market days.
Ontario decided to adopt a new approach to launch. Grey market operators can switch to the regulated side, while other markets say ‘if your license is not valid, you’re out.’ Firms have to apply again.
Ontario wanted to create a competitive market and encourage people to participate in the regulatory system. There were many pre-existing players in the market, so there was little room to grow.
We have been patient in our spending decisions and allowed other license holders to compete for shares.
We’ve witnessed people pay too much for customer acquisition through their promotions and bonuses, and, as I have said, we don’t participate in that game.
Rivalry Canada’s outlook, like Australia’s, will be heavily focused on esports. As the Q3 trading update from last month showed, Rivalry has seen a ‘decent increase’ month-to-month.
Salz stated that although Ontario may be a “nascent” esports marketplace, Rivalry plans to practice patience and ‘build it’s business more carefully than swinging for fences.
He concluded that We will continue to implement our strategy in areas where we have an advantage, even though it is a niche market.
Please click to see part 1 in SBC’s interview of Steven Salz. This is a breakdown of the Rivalry’s marketing strategy and business model.