JD Duarte talks about the next steps for Betcris


Sports betting has taken a hard hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, and companies like Betcris have had to adapt, or get crushed. Thankfully though, alternatives in sports betting, and new verticals, have kept them afloat, and CEO JD Duarte joined our Becky Liggero Fontana on the heels of the SBC Digital Summit to discuss what they are doing to bring in new revenue, and evolve their company.

The biggest problem from this crisis has been just a huge drop off in business overall. “Basically it’s a large portion of our customer base basically went to sleep,” Duarte said. “I believe they’re definitely thinking about other things, you know, health wise especially. As far as those who have either remained active or who came back, they’re betting on what’s available right now, which is like you said, Table Tennis just has been a godsend basically. And then, esports and the sports simulations have been also quite popular lately, and then there has been some crossover to the other verticals, like casino, horses.”

There is now a light at the end of the tunnel though. “We hope that as more leagues begin to return, I believe the Bundesliga is about to come back in ten days’ time, then more of our customers come back because football is definitely you know the main course,” he said. “American sports is a big important part of the diet as well and that’s really completely stopped at the time. Every little thing helps, and the surprises we’ve had with Table Tennis, I believe that a lot of operators are reporting the same behavior, especially since we have the streaming on it that has been actually a good, a pleasant surprise with our customers.”

Liggero Fontana asked Duarte to break down where Betcris’ customers were focusing their betting. “Betcris is really, really, really, I mean, a sports betting company,” he said. “Casino for us, it’s a complimentary product, I mean we don’t even dedicate a lot of attention to it, or we’re not at least, now things have changing, of course. But I can tell you that before the pandemic, we were 90 percent. I guess our bottom line is 90 percent sports, and then the rest was comprised of the other products, and now that is obviously changing, as you know casino products are available 24/7, and sports is really on the low right now. We expect actually after this pandemic to have a little bit more of diversification on those other products. As we also include some new content, we’re adding virtual sports, we’re adding live dealer which we didn’t have before, so that you know going forward, I mean, we already have this in our portfolio.”

It’s hard to talk about this pandemic without discussing how this has forced everyone into rethinking the way they work, their strategy going forward, and making a few prognostications. “I don’t think it’s going to last ‘til the end of the year, things are going to be progressing, things change, the situation changes every week, it’s very fluid,” Duarte guessed. “So for operators to make a decision on, you know, changing their strategy completely, 180 degrees, I would think that’s a mistake. I think this is, you know a couple years from now we’re probably going to look back on this and say, ‘Oh yeah, that was a tough time,’ but things are going to go back to a new normal, I guess. Changing the complete focus is a mistake, adding more products, you know it’s good, diversifying the portfolio is good, maybe you get to now maybe speak to a new audience as well.”

On the positive side, Duarte predicted that this could open up new opportunities. “The expected results are going to be changing, they’re not going to be the same, but I believe that the approach is actually, there’s even a reason to want to enter in more markets now than before as you know we focus more on a digital approach where there’s not that much of a land-based effort,” he said. “That’s why it’s probably going to be more difficult now, it’s anything that has to do with land-based, it’s going to become more of a challenge.”

Betcris should be in a great position to jump on those opportunities, as the company was ready to move into this work from home reality early. “We were able to confirm that our team doesn’t have to be all together under one roof, physically, in order to produce results,” he said. “We’ve been working at home for seven weeks, we were actually quite early, even before the country dictated measures, we had already sent the people home. And just the fact that number one we had implemented agile work methods before, I mean for two years we’ve been using agile methodology, everything is based on objectives, there’s visibility, transparency, there’s communication events happening that could translate quite well to video chats and whatnot.”

Finally, as the company is now working on a new office in Costa Rica, Duarte predicted that they might be in the perfect stage of planning to adapt that new space for the new normal. “As the office, I think it’s still going to be a great office and potentially, it might be even nicer now because we have the opportunity to adjust the actual design of it to what might be, I guess, the new trend in in office design where if you have less people working at the same time, you have the workspaces, are designed to work in a different way, we will have more of like a co-working feeling inside the office, not you know the traditional long tables with computers.”