Ties that last

Software firm Oribis has a one-on-one relationship with MacauSlot and is playing the long game in terms of expansion The restriction of Macauslot’s gaming activity to soccer and NBA basketball could be one reason behind its recently announced decrease in turnover. As a result, Sociedade de Loterias e Apostas Mútuas de Macau (Macauslot) – has previously stated that it intends to approach the government to propose a license for betting on other sports. “It would be a relatively straightforward process to expand their online offering across other sports”, observes David Loveday, chief executive officer of Orbis, the software provider for Macauslot. “When working with long-established customers such as Macauslot, the integration process for Orbis software is actually quite fast. The OpenBet platform is, as the name suggests, entirely open. It allows seamless integration with third parties and the addition of add-on applications; it is robust, scalable and flexible,” he says. On whether the government should license more sports betting operators, Orbis’ CEO is cautious: “Macauslot is a strategic partner who we value and would always consult if the situation changes in Macau.” Unlicensed bookies Illegal bookmaking might also be behind some of the problems Macauslot has been having, even though, for Loveday, it is common to all legal operators and developers. “Orbis has a strong track record in compliance and our software cannot be used to involve players from anywhere other than tier 1 jurisdictions [developed betting markets regulated by law],” he says. Being free to do as they wish and working in a different tax regime, unlicensed bookies might be attracting more clients in the short-term. However, in terms of long-term strategy, they are exposed to more risk mainly because, as more and more legitimate operators (part-Government licensees) enter the market, the clear benefits of trading in legal websites far outstrip any minor price improvements that may be offered. Partnership with Macauslot Macauslot is mainly owned by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM). Founded in 1989, it started off as the first government-franchised company offering the sale of instant winning lottery tickets on passenger ferries running between Hong Kong and Macau. In 1998, the company was authorised to develop soccer betting, becoming the first government-franchised company in Asia to operate a sports betting business. Four years later a government-franchise for basketball betting followed. Orbis has been the software provider for Macauslot for 10 years. “Orbis has integrated our world-leading OpenBet platform into the Macauslot system, allowing access to third parties and various applications through the pioneering open platform,” Loveday explains. It works side by side with the Macau Government using very strict guidelines and levels of approval for all betting-related businesses. “We build and tailor our software according to specifications provided to us by Macauslot. Those specifications include key functionality that is required or necessary to satisfy the conditions of operating under a Macau license,” Loveday outlines. The Orbis CEO says the the fundamentals of sports betting in Macau are very similar to those in the west. Therefore, according to Loveday, Asian software is concerned with quality and the types of bets. Nevertheless, he says the types of bets in Macau are very different from the ones in the United Kingdom, and are rooted in Asian handicap betting. Mainland chance The online gaming sector seems to be eager to join the mainland market, but up to this point, it is impossible. “Like other businesses in this sector, we are keen to work with the mainland, but legally and in an approved way. “It would be a natural extension for our solid operations currently in place and we would be well positioned to take advantage,” he says. According to the CEO, the most probable route for expansion may come via government-regulated, existing institutions. Let us not forget that gambling is still illegal in China, although welfare and sports lotteries are allowed, but under very particular circumstances. Loveday says: “By continuing to work very closely with Macauslot and respecting the laws and wishes of the government, we can present new jurisdictions with a clean slate and proven integrity.” In addition to Macau, the company also operates in Australia. “Orbis is keen to enter new legalised areas and offer the same world-leading OpenBet platform used by the world’s largest betting operators, to new potential partners in all tier 1 jurisdictions.”