“2021 was a true gamechanger for us” – exclusive interview with Head of Amelco USA, Brandon Walker, on innovation in the US

By | February 7, 2022


The US market is experiencing unprecedented levels of investment, and Amelco is at the forefront of this exciting period of growth. Brandon Walker, Head of Amelco USA, gives us some insight into the opportunities that are presenting themselves and how his company is set to capitalize.

As we near four years since the repeal of PASPA, just how far has the US market come towards taking the crown as the world’s most exciting hub for online betting and iGaming?

There has been massive growth in the US – it is the area where we are seeing the most hype and the most investment, at present. This isn’t to say that the rest of the world isn’t also performing well – iGaming and sports betting is thriving internationally. The past 18 months has really showcased the industry’s flare for innovation, it’s been an impressive demonstration of what’s been possible, and this is what has fuelled so much growth. The cream always rises to the top and while major players will take the market share, this gives space for the younger firms to carve out their niche. One of the most exciting aspects of the US situation is that it varies state by state – it’s been thrilling to flex our muscles by tailoring our offering to each state. Naturally, many things are the same but it’s a great challenge to establish a unique presence in each particular territory.

Talk us through Amelco’s expansion across the US – what’s been key for you so far?

Last year saw an unprecedented level of growth for Amelco – we took on some really big tier one clients. We rolled out across some major states, including Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Iowa, and Wyoming. During this period of growth, what has really set us apart is our platform – it’s the most comprehensive omni-channel offering on the market, providing a single app that can be used across multiple states. 2021’s been a true gamechanger for us and has really sets us apart.

With 2021 marking a record number of states coming online for the first time, which states do you believe have proven key to the US market’s growth?

New Jersey takes the crown – this state has been the frontrunner for a while. Pennsylvania is another, as well as Michigan. The main reason these states have thrived is that they have found a way to effectively offer iGaming alongside sports betting, which certainly benefits growth. It allows players to twin their favourite sports with that Vegas experience from their homes, and this really complements the sportsbook.

How much do you see online casino expanding in tandem with sports betting? How much do US player habits differ from their European counterparts?

Regulation is the key factor – it will be slower in terms of uptake than sports but it’s only a matter of time for most states to add the casino experience to the sports betting offering. It makes no sense not to. Effectively, we’re at a tipping point for adoption as more and more start to offer it – further states will join the fold sooner or later. Of course, lobbying from the land-based sector plays its part, this will ultimately become more mainstream alongside sports betting, as the US heritage and love for the casino experience makes it an inevitability.

Looking at markets, the US is very heavy on singles bets and parlays will have much more uptake in the US as the ‘bet low, win high’ experience appeals to the recreational punter. For example, laying a 10-dollar bet on who’s going to win out of five games is based purely on emotion and love for their team, and this passion for the sport adds that extra dynamic to their entertainment. From our data, we’re seeing that’s how the majority of US sports fans get into betting – it’s part of the cultural fabric and offers a big win. When it comes to casino, poker still remains a growth opportunity and has seen something of an uptick but it’s still niche. Live dealer games are massively popular and will continue to be – of course, slots from an iGaming perspective are always going to be dominant given the land-based heritage they are associated with. After all, the US is and always be the true home of casino.

How key is a full-service platform to differentiating tier one suppliers to those who simply offer sportsbook?

It makes a massive difference, with a platform, you’ve got one full ecosystem managed by one software provider. The benefits are numerous – a full-service platform reduces risk and offers one full system working cohesively, which can work multiple tech and platforms. Additionally, it is much more cost efficient – using multiple suppliers to run one operation/app is always going to cost more.

Where has Amelco got its eye on for the year ahead? How much potential do you see in New York state now that it’s issued its first licences?

There are a handful of states that we have identified as being particularly ripe with potential; we’ve got our eye on California – we’ve got plenty of confidence in that being massive, so we are going to devote plenty of focus to that. Maryland is another, and Arkansas will be live soon enough. Arkansas especially as plenty of potential for online, with only three to four land-based casinos: while I can’t say too much just yet, Amelco will be the first to go live there, and that is testament to the leading position we’ve created for ourselves stateside.

Last but not least, with March Madness and the US Super Bowl fast approaching, what predictions can you share with our readers for betting activity?

There are so many states now online that 2022’s major spring events have got every potential to be the biggest ever in both engagement and turnover. The number of additional states that will eventually add to that means year-on-year growth is effectively inevitable every year for the foreseeable future! Parlays will continue to be a huge growth space, and this year’s Super Bowl, which will inevitably centre around Tom Brady, is sure to be a monumental event. I’m sure there will be plenty of predictions around that, as Brady’s former team, the Patriots, are set to play against his current one, the Buccaneers.

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