GOSSY UKANWOKE, the managing director at Betking, a Nigerian sports and digital entertainment platform, in this interview with BUNMI BAILEY discusses the company’s recent identity re-launch and plans to create impact in Nigeria’s sports betting industry.
Why did you choose to relaunch at this point?
Our brand relaunch is following the launch of our corporate brand, KingMakers, which represents the next stage of our business evolution to become a sports entertainment services provider to our customers beyond just sports betting.
What can your customers and other stakeholders look forward to with this new logo identity?
The relaunch is the first step in a series of enhancements to the BetKing offering in Nigeria that will unfold over the coming months. We will be bringing many new and exciting offerings, products and experiences to our customers and agents. In addition to this, we stay committed to driving CSR initiatives as this remains a core in our purpose as a business – bettering the communities where we find ourselves.
What inspired the new logo?
Our new logo is a representation of our confident, bold, resolute and trusted positioning. It gives us the versatility to do more, be represented well in trade and digital products and above all denote our entertainment positioning.
Give us a brief background on BetKing and the services it provides?
The BetKing brand was launched in Nigeria in February 2018 with the goal of changing the status quo of the gaming industry. We have worked to empower entrepreneurs and give Nigerians opportunities to experience life-changing moments of excitement. Recently, we have been regarded as one of the top sports betting brands in Nigeria.
This has propelled us to grow into the global market. We offer sports and virtual gaming services to customers online and in retail shops. These shops are built by businessmen and women looking to use our platform to build livelihoods for themselves and their families.
How can you evaluate your business growth so far?
In the three years of our existence, we have grown considerably to become one of the top players in our industry in Nigeria. We were able to weather through the challenges of Covid in 2020 and I believe this has made us stronger and more reliable to our customers.
There are many sports betting companies in Nigeria, what kind of services or products will come with the new identity to differentiate you from your competitors in that market?
As a digital and sports entertainment company, we will launch many services and expand our portfolio to encompass products, services and content offerings that go beyond traditional sports betting.
We are now fully in the business of selling exciting experiences and our recent partnership with the African leader in entertainment services – MultiChoice Group – which is the first of its kind in Africa, our customers and stakeholders can expect to get the best of entertainment, sports and gaming.
As the managing director in a fast-paced industry, what has your approach to leadership been?
Learning, unlearning and relearning. When I joined the business in 2019, I came from a completely different sector and this meant that I had a lot to learn and in doing so, I had to have the best people around me to learn from. I take lessons from my previous leadership experiences to listen and make the best decisions guided by the knowledge of the functional leaders in our business.
What are the challenges and opportunities you have experienced and how have you navigated some of these challenges and turned them into opportunities?
I took on this responsibility just in the middle of lockdown and the height of global sports disruptions. This meant that there was limited time to adjust before having to steer the business through the impact of no football and shop closure.
This also presented me and the business the opportunity to launch our first set of initiatives in supporting our agents and a few State governments with Covid-19 support to bring food and other care packages to the general public.
When you commenced, there must have been certain objectives you set, looking back, would you say these goals have been met?
I believe we have done a good job of meeting our set objectives and goals. We are a trusted bookmaker for our customers and punters in Nigeria. We really changed the game with the quality of our brand when we launched and the seriousness with which we have built this business.
We have taken sports betting and invested in the way technology is used to deliver good experiences to customers. We have also helped develop so many business people who use our platform to build their independent businesses as agents.
What would be your suggestions or advice to the government on what can be done in the industry to make it a thriving one?
The government is already taking all the right steps towards better support for the industry. We have just concluded the first National Gaming Conference, which we attended and properly participated in.
It shows that the government is looking to engage with all the stakeholders in the industry to continue on the road to better regulation, support, engagement and punter protection.
What is that one experience with a customer that has shown that your goal of empowerment is hitting the right target?
Interestingly, at a meeting earlier today with a public official where I was discussing our plans to do more CSR initiatives within his constituency, he told me a story of his friend who started out as one of our customers two years ago.
In the last year, he had received significant winnings from his trade that he decided to open up a BetKing shop in his neighbourhood. The first shop he opened did quite well and he has gone ahead to open a second one this year.
This is just one story. I am aware of another customer that started a barbershop from N12million he won from us during the last UEFA Championship in 2020. He was also introduced to an investment/savings company to enable him to build more value from his winning.
There are so many stories like this that touch on the ability of people to actually pause and secure winnings that they have received from us. We encourage customers to Bet Responsibly and to stop when the fun stops and if they win, they should ensure that they invest their winnings to give them more income from their investments.
Now that BetKing is known as a Sports and Digital Entertainment brand, what do you think the next five years will be for the brand?
We are going to go deeper into entertaining our customers, launching more products and verticals that will bring people closer to sports and importantly entertain them.
We have already kicked off this new direction with the launch of SuperPicks which is a free to play predict and win product that gives users the chance to win N50 million weekly and the Most Value Picks TV Show – the first sports betting TV show broadcast in Africa! MVP will entertain viewers across the continent with or without interest in Sports Betting due to the quirky, fun and informative nature of the segments within the show.
You can also see the presenters aren’t only made of core sports personalities. The two products I talked about were launched in partnership with SuperSports – the biggest broadcaster of sports entertainment content on the continent.
We hope to do more around content and entertainment and I believe our newly released TVC shows what we can really do. Our TVC speaks to everyone. It touches on the moments of happiness, excitement and winning that we hope for in our daily lives. It allows you to put yourself in the shoes of our brand ambassador in that TVC as he expresses the joy that comes from having #ThatBetKingFeeling. This feeling can be felt by everyone irrespective of age, interests, gender or understanding of sports.
It really paints a picture of what we will bring our customers. I believe that TVC is probably the best commercial on TV today. In five years, the vision is to be a household name in Africa in gaming, sports and digital entertainment. We want to solidify our position in the market as a leader and give our users the confidence to play with us.
We want to be Where Africa Plays! Our social initiatives will be deepened to bring more resources to communities to improve livelihood, learning and opportunities.
QUOTE: We encourage customers to Bet Responsibly and to stop when the fun stops and if they win, they should ensure that they invest their winnings to give them more income from their investments