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Andreas Meinrad on building BVGroup

| By Robin Harrison | Reading Time: 7 minutes
BetVictor has been rebranded as BVGroup, reflecting an international, multibrand focus. It's the culmination of almost 10 years of transformation under chief executive Andreas Meinrad.
BVGroup BetVictor brand in office

What was once called Victor Chandler, (briefly) VC Bet, then BetVictor is now BVGroup.

Whatever it’s called, the business has carved out its space in gambling history. Its roots stretch back to 1946 but we can look back 25 years to see its impact on the industry. It was the first operator to relocate to Gibraltar in 1998, effectively kicking off a mass relocation as gambling moved online. 

BVGroup - BetVictor, Heart Bingo, TalkSport Bet, BildBet, Parimatch UK
The rebrand reflects the multibrand nature of the business

However, following a changing of the guard in 2014, when Michael Tabor took ownership and Victor Chandler departed, Andreas Meinrad has been the man at the helm. 

The former Nike and Red Bull executive spent six years as chief commercial officer for Bwin.party before joining BetVictor. He jumped from a business renowned for operating a stable of leading brands, to one that was intrinsically linked to an individual. 

During his tenure that business has changed beyond all recognition, to the point that having BetVictor above the door didn’t make sense. 

“The launch of BVGroup as our new group identity is a testament to the transformation of our business over the past 10 years,” Meinrad explains. “We feel the time is now right to reflect the direction of our business in our corporate identity.”

A business transformed

The company formerly known as Victor Chandler is now a multifaceted business built around a core proprietary technology platform.

It has a global outlook, stretching across the Atlantic into the Americas. It operates a portfolio of seven brands, several of which are high-profile media names.

It’s important to Meinrad that the world outside of BVGroup understands the broader scope of the business and its offering. “But even more importantly, it is key to our internal company culture that we think of ourselves as a business driven by technology and teams that support a very diverse set of brands that target different markets with different strategies,” he says. 

So what has gone into this transformation? For that we have to jump back to November 2014, when Meinrad stepped into the CEO role. 

The 2014 transformation

Back then the main objective was to play to the business’ strengths and resources. That boiled down to a proprietary tech stack and an experienced team. 

“However, we were conscious that we needed to be great in a few core markets, rather than satisfactory in many,” Meinrad recalls. “With this aim, we added a lot of skills, tools and infrastructure that were lacking and improved key systems throughout the business, such as establishing an effective in-house CRM tool and putting an emphasis on BI and analytics to really focus on data.”

BetVictor notepad in team meeting
Meinrad’s team is highly experienced, with many working at BVGroup for more than two decades

Most of that team, he points out, have worked through that period of change and remain with the company today. It’s what he’s most proud of. While the headcount has jumped from 450 to 650, there are a lot of familiar faces in the office. 

“Many of our staff have been with us for over 20 years,” he points out. “This level of loyalty creates confidence and high morale within the business, which in turn attracts more outstanding talent.”

BVGroup’s B2B strategy 

That experienced, long-term team, alongside in-house technology, paved the way for BVGroup to execute its B2B game plan. “This B2B strategy was initially centred around the licensing of our technology to a partner that operates the BetVictor brand in Asian markets and eventually expanded to a number of additional brands,” Meinrad explains. 

That activity proved the platform can support multiple brands at scale and provided the impetus to apply a similar strategy in the UK. Today BetVictor sits alongside the Heart FM bingo site, Parimatch UK and now TalkSport Bet under the operator’s GB licence. 

That media-centric strategy has also been deployed in Germany. In that market BVGroup powers BildBet, the Axel Springer Group’s sportsbook for Europe’s most-read tabloid newspaper. 

“Going forward we’re pursuing similar media brand partnerships in Canada off the back of our recently obtained Ontario licence and in Brazil ahead of expected regulation, while also expanding our TalkSport Bet activity into markets where the media brand has significant exposure and recognition.

“Ultimately, we want BVGroup to be recognised as the best partner for gambling operators to use to take their brand into new markets that they cannot support themselves,” he continues. “And also for media houses to depend on us to build out their betting and gaming monetisation strategy. 

“The history of BetVictor as a successful B2C brand only serves to underpin our ability to deliver on that strategic objective.”

Ripe for disruption

Meinrad believes there’s huge scope for disruption in the B2B sports betting landscape. Other products in the market don’t provide the expertise or the flexibility operators or media brands look for, he says.

BetVictor branding in office
Bvgroup has the means and the know-how to disrupt the b2b betting sector, according to CEO Andreas Meinrad

BVGroup, with decades of B2C experience and its own tech, can slot in. This positions the business as a potential partner for others looking for a route into a new market. The client builds the audience, Meinrad’s team provides the operational and compliance expertise.

“We do not see anyone else in the market providing this type of solution that offers the technical capabilities as well as decades of B2C experience, that we do.”

But it’s not a case of come one, come all. “We take a ‘quality over quantity’ approach to the brands we partner to ensure that each fills a different need in the markets they operate,” he adds. 

Making media brands work in gaming

Taking a selective approach is prudent. Other than Sky Bet, no media brand has managed to establish itself as a top-tier operator. And Meinrad has no interest in sticking a brand on a white label site. “We know this has been done before and rarely leads to significant success,” he says.

Instead Meinrad seeks out a willingness to build around the brand, by bringing its technology into the media environment. This could be through a deep integration, or unique promotional tools tailored for its audience.

And, Meinrad adds, it works. 

BVGroup logo on screen
Thinking of creative ways to engage a media brand’s audience is key to a successful partnership

“Our portfolio of UK brands delivered year-over-year revenue growth in Q1 of over 60%, which was over 10 times the estimated growth of the market as a whole,” he says. “Meaning we are not only growing rapidly but also taking a significant share of the market away from our competitors.”

A focus on safer gambling underpins the approach. BVGroup’s tech provides a single customer view to monitor player behaviour and an AI-driven safer gambling solution for all sites.

“We’re proud to be one of the few operators to achieve the Safer Gambling Standard Certification Advanced Level 3, meaning we’ve been certified by GamCare for adopting a wide range of safer gambling measures that go beyond the social responsibility of our gambling licence.”

New horizons

This approach has been so effective that Meinrad sees media partnerships as a key tenet of its market entry strategy. There’s more to come in this regard. 

But he points out that expansion strategy is less influenced by external factors. As a private company with a single shareholder, there’s no pressure to have a sizeable footprint in every market. Instead, it’s a case of targeting opportunities for short- to medium-term profitable cash generation. 

“For the BetVictor brand, this means that we take a very prudent approach to geographic expansion where we always look to build localised product first and use our data-driven approach to ensure profitable customer acquisition before deploying significant marketing investment towards scale.”

This contrasts with the wider industry, he continues. Following the repeal of PASPA in 2018, regulated gaming is “truly global”. That, however, means there’s huge pressure for “relentless revenue growth” from the US capital markets. 

“This means that the large operators have to not only be present but compete for significant market share in every jurisdiction of reasonable size,” Meinrad explains. “It is very difficult for global operators to properly localise their products in every jurisdiction, which leads them to focus their efforts on overspending for customer acquisition and retention – or in some cases, overspending to acquire the smaller, local brands who have succeeded with a more differentiated offering suited to that market.”

The result? A cookie-cutter industry, where everything looks and feels the same. Big companies acquire smaller and we end up with a “uniform” industry. 

By offering something differentiated in each market, and optimised for the local consumer, Meinrad sees space for BVGroup to continue competing. 

The power of heritage

After all, whether it’s BetVictor, VC Bet or Victor Chandler, he runs a brand with significant heritage. Customers will always view it as a sportsbook first and foremost.

“We think this is a good thing, as the brand resonates well with those serious, knowledgeable customers who want a best-in-class product from a trusted operator,” he says.

The revenue mix is more varied, however. The technology and analytics investments allow for a personalised offering.

Employee with BVGroup bag
Meinrad has taken a business known for its past and positioned it for the future

Meinrad says this has helped the business grow rapidly. When he joined, it was struggling to break even. With the exception of Covid-hit 2020, it’s on a run of record revenue and EBIT numbers year after year. 

He’s approaching a decade in the role. Since 2014, he has built a new business on BetVictor’s foundations.

Previously we remembered its former owner and saw it as a pioneer that moved to Gibraltar first. But under Meinrad’s leadership, the past is a footnote.

There’s the commercialisation of the tech stack, something Betsson is working on. There’s the convergence of media, entertainment and betting, something we’re seeing unfold in the US. He’s bringing a business that could have fallen behind into a new era.

In his eyes, its positioning is simple: “We offer a safe environment for consumers and have built an easy and intuitive interface. As a technology company, we have an established reputation as being a dependable, serious partner to work with and this has become the foundation for our B2B strategy. 

“Simply put, we take every bet, every interaction, and our business, extremely seriously.”

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