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Kevin Smith

Q & A: Michael Lobel, BettingCorp Ltd.

16 August 2001

BettingCorp Ltd. is launching a new betting site in conjunction with the start of the 2001-2002 English Premiership, which begins action this weekend. The new site,, features a pool competition in which players forecast home win, away win or draw for 14 matches. The player who correctly predicts all 14 results wins the jackpot, which increases as more people join the pool. IGN got an exclusive interview with Michael Lobel, CEO of Betting Corp UK Ltd., and discussed the concept of Totopools and what the company has in store for the new site.

IGN: Kickoff for Match Day 1 is less than a week away. How hard has it been to promote the new site, and relatively new concept, to bettors?

Michael Lobel: It has been surprisingly easy to promote Major players like ,,,, and others have understood the earning potential of the concept and we have jointly developed high visibility promotional programs and co-branding concepts, with revenue sharing models.

IGN: The concept behind TotoPools sounds interesting, do you know of any other site that offers this format?

ML: The game is a simple one where you need to pick 14 out of 14 win, lose or draw results on UK Premier League matches and on European Championship matches. There is no such game available on new media on an international basis where people can use their know-how and skill and stake a little to win big. A simple concept with a clear business model is always easy to promote.

IGN: What kind of initial response have you gotten from punters and the general public?

ML: We have received an incredible response from users and also from the press. Users understand the concept; most say they play it in the office. With the ability to register and play as a group, either offices or families can also play.

The press understands that it's a proven concept--Toto is played across Europe and Latin America--and see the void in the U.K. market (where the game is not played at all) and in the worldwide market where U.K. football is seen live each week. Both situations create a fantastic opportunity.

IGN: Once the season gets started will you guys do any other cross promotional efforts with other sites?

ML: There is no cross promotion despite the fact that BettingCorp Ltd runs other proprietary gaming and betting sites like and an online casino. The only cross promotion exists with TotoPools SMS service and IVR service.

IGN: If the site is successful, has there been any talk of spreading this system to other sports or leagues, namely NFL games in America?

ML: There are plans to take the format to other sports including American football. However BettingCorp Ltd continues its strict policy of not offering its betting and gaming products to Americans until legislation and regulation on both federal and state levels allows it.

IGN: Surely it hasn't been all smooth sailing as you take this new venture on, what kind of challenges have you faced in getting the site functional?

ML: The challenges in developing the site have been mainly in licensing aspects and in the back-end where the aspiration was to create a very elaborate and all encompassing tool which covers all aspects of an efficient back office.

The back office goal was achieved, offering all reporting and analysis tools necessary for real time accounting, marketing and online support functions.

Licensing in the U.K. was a long procedure which also involves very stringent reporting and auditing requirements which had to be put in place and built into the back office to satisfy the authorities.

An additional aspect involving the fixture and data rights has been a challenge as well with the changing rules in the U.K. and these rights becoming rather expensive.

IGN: Do you see niche betting platforms like this, that target a particular league and a particular betting method, could become a bigger segment of the online gaming market in the future?

ML: BettingCorp Ltd concentrates its activities in the soft betting / gaming market where the line between entertainment and betting / gaming narrows and which appeals to masses.

In that light BettingCorp develops proprietary platforms including, other pool betting and gaming products and person to person betting where the users do not bet against us or against the house rather against each other.

BettingCorp's online casino will also be introduced with a patent pending technology reflecting BettingCorp's vision and proprietary concepts.

BettingCorp Ltd believes that the betting and gambling market will evolve into two separate markets; one being the soft betting/gaming market, the other being the hardcore betting and gambling market. The sportsbooks and spread betting products cater to the latter market.

IGN: As television rights and popularity of the Premiership get more global do you think demand for this type of betting could increase too?

ML: BettingCorp's technologies are developed with two criteria in mind.

The first being internationalization, the second being adaptation of products and games to local tastes.

TotoPools is an international game played everywhere on local games, but until today football lovers in Europe or Far East or Latin America, all of whom see the Premiership live, couldn't play a TotoPools style game, now they can.

We have already seen a few days into our soft launch that people from the UK, Australia, Thailand, and even Sudan have deposited money and played the game.

We believe that "if you like football you will love TotoPools".

IGN: Is there a target number of subscribers you hope to get by the end of the season?

ML: We don't count subscribers, only real players who have played the game. That is those players who have sent a coupon, which is also the basis of our revenue sharing deals.

We are aiming at 50,000 players in a matter of weeks and 200,000 by the end of the season.

IGN: Wow, that is a lot of players in a short amount of time. How many do you have to have playing every week in order to make the venture into a moneymaker?

ML: Based on the deals that we have concluded we can be profitable very quickly. Our aim is not just to be profitable but to develop TotoPools into a worldwide brand where the jackpots can reach the millions.

We see this product as one that could compete with the national lotteries and state run toto operators worldwide.

IGN: You obviously have some big plans for this system then. Will you explore other delivery systems to achieve those lofty goals?

ML: We are launching with an SMS solution and an IVR solution.

UK Vodafone subscribers who do not feel comfortable providing credit card details or do not want to register can send their coupons using SMS and their Vodafone account will be billed directly.

Similarly other U.K. mobile subscribers will be able to send coupons using an IVR solution. These services will be extended to other handhelds like Palm Pilots.

BettingCorp is also currently negotiating its entry into the iTV arena with international operators, where we see our products as compelling entertainment with killer applications.

Q & A: Michael Lobel, BettingCorp Ltd. is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith