Better Collective – iGaming Voice by Yeva
In a recent interview with AffPapa, the Head of Strategic Events at Better Collective, Shona ODonnell, shared her insights on the importance of various iGaming events for industry firms and talked about the company’s sustainability, diversity, and player safety efforts.
Yeva: Better Collective strives to become the leading digital sports media group. Could you open up the brackets a little, what does the company do? What is the backstory?
Originally incorporated in 2004, Better Collective is now one of the leading digital media groups in the sports industry with the stated aim of making sports entertainment more engaging and fun.
Via its online communities and sports media, Better Collective provides top-quality content, data insights, betting tips, and educational tools for enthusiastic sports fans around the world The group believes that its transparent, data-driven, and fair approach is just what seasoned and new sports participants need in order to engage more immersively with their favorite sports.
Yeva: How knowledgeable is the player today, Shona? How does Better Collective help players in making educated and safe bets?
Better Collective operates in regulated markets with licensed sportsbooks and plays an important role in channeling users to the right sportsbooks. In the online marketplace, users will be met with a multitude of offers, some of which are outside the regulated markets which means that user protection measures may not be in place and marketing practices non-compliant. Better Collective’s objective is to work with partners who proactively address safer gambling and the group’s position in the value chain, it aims to educate its users while pointing them towards legal sportsbooks.
We can educate sports fans, e.g., by making sure that they know the legal gambling age, of possible adverse effects of gambling, and prevention. We offer safer gambling resources on our websites, as well as a Betting Academy to educate users.
Yeva: Tell us about Better Collective’s sustainability program. What is its mission?
For our users, our long-term commitment is to promote safer gambling through education. Ultimately, the focus on safer gambling and being a responsible business is what grants Better Collective its social license to operate. As a digital sports media group, we derive a significant part of our revenue.
We want to ensure that our users are better suited to navigate the iGaming world by visiting a Better Collective website before registering an account with a sportsbook. We focus on the teaching of strategies and the presentation of insightful information and data to make our users more confident in their betting.
As Better Collective is not a sportsbook, we rely on our partnering sportsbooks to scan for user behavior and take action when a sports fan shows signs of at-risk or problem gambling behavior. We strongly believe that the long-term sustainability and growth of the sports betting industry is dependent on responsible operations. Evidently, this is not achieved by a single business, but rather by a collective effort across the industry.
Mindway AI – one of Better Collective’s subsidiaries – plays an increasingly important role in the iGaming ecosystem supporting sportsbooks on a global scale to create safer iGaming experiences. This supports Better Collective’s ambition to make betting safer: while we can’t control what sportsbooks do, we support them by holding them to high standards during the user acquisition process and by providing them with a chance to set the bar higher and take initiative in developing sustainable gaming through Mindway AI tools and software. That way, Better Collective is extending its influence in the value chain rather than focusing only on its own areas.
Yeva: Better Collective is always involved in various iGaming events. What benefits do events offer in the industry?
Events provide a great opportunity to meet with new and potential partners in person. This is particularly important when we are looking at new markets where our brand might not be so well known as established iGaming markets. Live events allow us to meet with lots of partners in one place, helping us to be more time efficient, and hopefully less environmentally impactful. In addition to this, they provide a fantastic opportunity for learning and development, both in terms of conference sessions and being able to see new products and innovations. Covid forced us to become better at remote working and we did, but in my experience, nothing measures up to a live event and being able to meet in person, develop a greater understanding of partners as people and create relationships that go beyond simply business.
Yeva: How have iGaming events changed over the course of the years? Do you see any trends in the industry towards more exclusive, smaller-scale events?
On the whole, I don’t think the events themselves have changed significantly. I do think we are seeing a lot more events for the industry and that presents challenges for the industry as a whole, it simply isn’t possible to attend them all. Now that I’m on the other side I think it would be great for all those on the events side to spend some time on the client side to fully understand the challenges.
I do think as new markets legislate we are seeing more market-specific events taking place.
What I am seeing is more niche networking events taking place within the bigger shows making it easier to connect with the right people. Last year, we ran a small partner’s event with some other affiliates, inviting partners we all work with and allowing them to maximize their time and this worked really well for us all.
Yeva: The topic of women’s positions and roles in the iGaming industry is “frequently” discussed at conferences. Do you see more and more women rising to executive roles in iGaming? How important is industry diversity?
I don’t think it is discussed frequently. I think it is rarely covered. There might on a rare occasion be a single panel, but nowhere near enough. If you look at any conference speakers list it is largely white, middle-aged, middle-class men.
As an industry, we need to work on diversity across all underrepresented groups, not just women.
How can we meet the needs of a diverse audience without a diverse workforce? Diverse businesses outperform their competitors by an average of 35%, they foster more innovation and enable better decision-making. Yes, there are more (but still not many) women in C-level roles, 13% based on figures from the latest All In Diversity reporting, but at the same time we are seeing more Gen Z females leaving the sector, if we don’t show them there is a place for them here then we won’t have women to fill these roles moving forward. Research shows that diversity in business both attracts and retains Gen Z, in fact for over 75% of them it’s a non-negotiable. And that is going to be a significant problem for the industry from 2026 new EU legislation will require public companies with over 250 employees or €50M in revenue to have 40% female board representation. This will impact a huge number of employers in our sector.
Yeva: Take us behind the scenes of the team; what’s it like to work at Better Collective?
When I was looking for a role it was really important to me that the company aligned with my values and Better Collective really did.
I have never worked in a company that has had so much sustained, rapid growth. That means it’s very exciting and also challenging because things can change quickly. This year it means we added five new events to those we attend, all in Latam, which is really challenging my Spanish right now.
Because my role is global I get to have lots of teams in lots of different offices and I am very grateful for that. At Better Collective people are one of our key assets and I consider myself very lucky to get to work with such talented and passionate people.
Yeva: As someone who has been in the industry for a while, what advice would you provide to those looking to expand their affiliate businesses?
Think about where your expertise lies and that of your team and how you can expand on that. Look at new markets and create opportunities here with operators who may have no experience in the affiliate space, offer your expertise to help them grow their business and audiences.
Can you work with existing partners in new markets or on other products, allowing you to increase your revenue share by generating more NDC?
Utilize all of the channels to market, younger audiences overwhelmingly use SoMe for making purchase decisions. Create great, engaging content that builds trust.
Yeva: You’re quite passionate about iGaming, Shona; how did you get into it? What is it that drew you to the industry?
Honestly, it was totally by accident. I had not long moved to London and was head of marketing for a b2b sports media company, and iGaming Business was a small growing part of that business and at that time mostly focussed on publishing with two small events. I moved over to work on that side of the business and my role quickly grew to incorporate pretty much everything. I went on to grow and create some incredible events, and I just really loved the industry. It was fun, creative and innovative and full of incredible people. It’s changed a lot since then but I’m still here and I still love it.
Company: Better Collective
Interviewee: Shona ODonnell