Amid looming consolidation across Western European betting markets, Portugal stands out as a fresh market for online sportsbook competition. SBC taps into the expertise of Tiago Pereira, market lead for LeBull.pt, who cites bright prospects for new challengers in the Portuguese arena.
Tiago Pereira – LeBull.pt
SBC: Hi Tiago, thanks for this interview. Having worked for Betano and Entain, you are a seasoned executive of the Portuguese gambling marketplace. Why have you chosen to join new market challenger LeBull.pt?
Tiago Pereira: Thank you as well for this opportunity. I must admit that in our industry, and especially in regulated markets, there is nothing more challenging and satisfying than launching a new brand in an established marketplace with some heavy hitters.
This is the current challenge at LeBull.pt, finding our own space in the market, creating a new path and giving players a new direction to embrace.
We truly believe LeBull.pt can fill a void in the market, as a more dynamic, brave and user focused gambling website in the Portuguese regulated market.
SBC: What makes Portugal an attractive market for a new challenger brand such as LeBull.pt?
TP: Portugal, besides being a relatively small regulated market, still has some untapped potential. We believe there is still market share for a new up and coming brand that speaks a more direct, bold language to its users.
Portugal still hasn’t reached what is considered full market maturity, there is still room to grow until we are at the same level of market maturity of other European countries.
While most of the focus in these last years has fallen on either the US and Brazilian market, Portugal is always a challenging first entry to a brand, if you can find your space in a market like Portugal you can succeed in any market… And how can you not love an underdog!
SBC: Though attractive Portugal has a number of reputable online brands. How will LeBull compete in Portugal to take market share from established players?
TP: This is always a challenge in a highly regulated market with a very specific rule set like Portugal. In reality, in terms of product and promotions you really can’t offer anything outside of what the regulation permits, there are limitations to offer, markets and promotions that we are able to offer to customers.
The limitation on odds and casino offer is also well known, limited by taxation and limited casino offer (no live casino regulation as of yet).
But LeBull.pt main focus is to innovate in services provided to our customers, such as great customer support, quick payments and a very direct marketing approach, that will be our target in Portugal, in order to find our space in this competitive market.
SBC: How will LeBull meet the localisation challenges of a changing and consumer complex market such as Portugal?
TP: As a startup and while being a relatively small company, at LeBull.pt we have a very driven team, from backend to frontend developers all throughout europe to our operations and marketing team located in Lisbon, everyone is focused on bringing the best user experience to our clients.
We have that startup mentality and hunger, and know that we have the capabilities to go toe to toe with any competitor in the market.
Our team is also composed of elements that have been working in gambling and the Portuguese market since conception, so the knowledge is there, and the will is there, we just need to keep working and adapting to this complex market.
SBC: From a global perspective, is Portugal really an ‘organic bridge’ to Brazil’s soon-to-launched federal online gambling marketplace?
TP: From one side, the most obvious, it could be considered as we speak the same language, culturally in traditions and values we are very similar as well, with a huge focus on futebol especially national championships.
The split becomes more significant when you look at market size and characteristics.
Portugal is a relatively small country, with a population lower than a big Brazilian city like São Paulo. In terms of economics, Portugal is also very uniform from north to south, being very middle-class focused with 2 big cities in Lisbon and Porto, while Brazil is so much more diverse, with a huge rift from upper to lower classes and divided by states. Marketing to a huge country like Brazil is a huge challenge, in this way Brazil is more similar to the US market than it’s european counter part.
I would say that there are more differences than similarities in reality between the Portuguese and Brazilian markets, and comingo into Brazil only considering Portuguese language localization is a huge mistake that many companies have made in the past.
SBC: How do you see the Portuguese marketing evolving in the coming years. Can it generate the same competition as the more established markets of Western Europe?
TP: I do believe Portugal hasn’t shown its true potential just yet. Right now we are at a turning point where we are beginning to see people shy away from the offline betting tradition and move on to online gaming. Online payments has shown a huge jump in the last couple of years with the widespread use of credit cards and MBWay (cell phone payments).
I do believe we need to revisit the regulation and allow more sports and game types, open up new verticals like Virtuals and Live Casino in order to be competitive with the offer given by operators in other regulated markets.
SBC: Finally why should all stakeholders be paying attention fo LeBull developments in 2023 and beyond?
TP: There is a certain magic and power when you have a small, focused team and at LeBull.pt we are building just that.
LeBull.pt has that startup culture and hunger that is now uncommon in our industry, every brand is part of a bigger conglomerate with very specific rules and ways of doing things that can sometimes bottleneck organic growth.
At LeBull.pt we are flexible, we have the will and means to adapt to any new circumstances the market might throw at us, this flexibility and adaptability is our great strength.
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