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Rebecca Liggero

Rebecca  Liggero

Rebecca Liggero loves meeting new people and traveling – perfect qualities for someone who has won friends and influenced people in the worldwide online gaming community.

After graduating from Bates College with a degree in psychology, Rebecca spent four years in Washington, DC, working in relationship management, dreaming all the while about someday making it big in online gaming. After turning down an opportunity to live in New Zealand, she moved back to Boston and signed on as Senior Account Manager for Casino City – the beginning of a dream come true!

Rebecca’s work on behalf of Casino City (and later for the GPWA as well) took her to trade shows and conferences everywhere – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Montreal, London, Las Vegas, Macau and many other ports of call – and along the way she began chronicling her incredible around-the-clock adventures in a wildly entertaining and industry-savvy weekly column that quickly became – and still remains – must reading for everyone who is anyone in online gaming. Following almost three years with the Casino City team, Rebecca spent a few months at Everest Affiliates where she was the Brand Manager of the affiliate program. While working on “the other side,” she realized that she truly missed her weekly column and the affiliate side of the business and decided to return to the Casino City family.

One and a half years later, Rebecca resigned from Casino City and joined industry icon Calvin Ayre to serve as the Bodog Global Brand Ambassador and the head on-site reporter for the online gambling industry tablog, CalvinAyre.com. In her new capacity, Rebecca continues to travel the world, and when asked where she is based, her response is usually "on an airplane."

Contact Rebecca at rebecca@liggero.net. Be careful, though – she might quote you.

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Bodog.com's journey towards global expansion: Bodog Europe's Keith McDonnell explains it all while enjoying some Antiguan sea, sun and a little rum punch

23 Jul 2009

By Rebecca Liggero

Antigua with Keith and Calvin

Antigua with Keith and Calvin

As I learned during my recent visit to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group in Kahnawake, Bodog.com is back and ready to step into the spotlight once again. To further my ongoing Bodog education, I was provided with the opportunity to join the BodogBrand.com licensing group and Bodog Europe executive team in Antigua to learn more about the Bodog Brand's global expansion and affiliate system plans. After hours of discussion, it become apparent that the bottom line and ultimate goals are really pretty simple- brand recognition and service across the globe, presence throughout all channels, and providing a spectacular experience for every single customer including players, affiliates and industry professionals. So how are they going to do it?

Keith McDonnell from the eyes of a diver

Keith McDonnell from the eyes of a diver




Keith McDonnell can certainly tell you.

During my trip to Antigua, I found myself gravitating towards Keith, the friendly, sharp, nice looking guy with a great accent. And no, that's not the rum punch talking. I'm serious! With seven years of online gambling experience prior to his licensing the Bodog brand from BodogBrand.com and taking the lead at Bodog Europe, Keith came into his position equipped with a vast understanding of the UK market, a focus on affiliates, and how to facilitate long term revenue increases for affiliates. It's not a surprise that a personality like this heads up the Bodog Europe business, recently secured the rights to Canada, and will soon be launching www.bodog.ca. It is also not a surprise that an American like me mistook his Irish accent for English. "Shame on you, Becky! I am Irish!" he sarcastically scolded as we sailed back from our SubCat Antigua submarine dive along the coral reefs of Antigua and Barbuda. Hey, at least I was close...geographically speaking, of course.

Interviewing Keith McDonnell

Interviewing Keith McDonnell

Interview with Keith McDonnell, Managing Director of Bodog Europe

Where were you born? What did you study in school? How did you become involved in the online gambling world?

KMc: I was born in Dublin, Ireland and got a degree in Business & Legal Studies from University College, Dublin. Having spent 4 years in the financial services sector, I decided to seek out a career within an industry that held a lot of natural interest for me – sports and gambling was a natural choice.

What was it about the Bodog brand that attracted you to this opportunity? Tell us how it all happened.

KMc: I had long been an admirer of the Bodog brand, their marketing and the exceptional customer service provided. Having spent four successful and enjoyable years at the UK Tote, I felt it was time to start considering future challenges. As soon as I became aware that Bodog was looking for a European licensee to take their brand into the UK and beyond, the rest is history.

Beautiful Antigua

Beautiful Antigua

It is our understanding that the Bodog brand is currently working on a global expansion. Where are you in this process? Who are your main competitors in this marketplace?

KMc: Bodog Europe is one of a number of Bodog brand licensees around the globe – the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group has the exclusive rights to the brand in the US, and Haydock Entertainment is the brand licensee in Asia. That's just the igaming licensees. Bodog Europe's brand license agreement is limited, territorially, to Europe and Canada. Our goal to make the Bodog brand a success story within these regions, with Europe – and specifically the UK - being a very sustained focus for us right now. Currently, our main competitors fall into two categories, what I call the "bricks .n. mortar" brigade – Ladbrokes, William Hill etc and the "new breed", Stan James, bet365, Paddy Power. With gambling being a major form of entertainment, I don't think it will be too long before we add some mass market entertainment brands to the second category.

Keith and I at Jolly Harbor's Castaways

Keith and I at Jolly Harbor's Castaways




What are some of the main challenges you have faced or expect to face in the future as Bodog continues its global expansion?

KMc: I know the BodogBrand.com licensing group have significant plans for the brand, and many of the opportunities I'm told are outside of the igaming space. From Bodog Europe's igaming perspective, though, Europe is an extremely competitive market and there are a lot of inconsistencies from a regulatory stand point from one EU member state to another, and those regulatory developments are something we monitor very carefully. From a market penetration point of view, our challenge is clearly to establish a solid foothold in the markets we can serve best, and then to continuously evaluate key product areas and territories that we feel will give us most opportunities while ensuring regulatory compliance. However, with the crack team we've assembled, and the dynamic culture of the Bodog Europe business generally, one of our competitive advantages is our capacity to react extremely quickly to new opportunities as they emerge.

Antiguan sunset

Antiguan sunset

What is your role within Bodog.co.uk? How does Bodog.co.uk fit into the bigger Bodog Brand picture?

KMc: I am Managing Director of Bodog Europe and as such have ultimate responsibility for the entire Bodog Europe business. We're currently operating Bodog.co.uk as our domain from which Europe is serviced, though as we start to introduce new languages or enter new markets we expect additional sites under the Bodog Europe umbrella. We will ensure the right people get access to the right sites through geo-IP location technology.

How do the igaming brand licenses help promote each other? What does this mean for affiliates?

KMc: Of course, the brand licensees all share a common asset – the Bodog brand itself – and we're all required to adhere to certain brand standards that promote and ensure a consistent global brand. Also, all of the brand licensees have acquired the right to advertise www.bodog.com as their portal domain, which means that this is the URL that is marketed and anyone, anywhere on Earth, can type this into a browser and be directed to the correct brand licensee site, depending on their location. As one of the brand licensees, what this means is that any marketing done locally will benefit other licensees if those activities have potential for global exposure, either through the internet or international broadcasting.

How does this benefit affiliates? All of the brand licensees have already agreed that the objective will be to ensure that an affiliate that develops a relationship with any of the brand licensees will have the opportunity to benefit from all brand licensee affiliate programmes. So, if I have a relationship with Affiliate X in the UK, but she identifies a customer that is, for example, in Haydock's territory, then that affiliate partner will have the opportunity to be compensated under Haydock's programme. The primary concern is the customer gets the website and products that is most likely to appeal to them. Once this happens, the affiliate will be compensated based on the terms associated with that website. Again, we will ensure this happens through geo-IP location technology although some affiliates will be able to reinforce this by also having their own geo-targeted ad serving.

Keith and I enjoying dinner at La Bussolas

Keith and I enjoying dinner at La Bussolas

Tell us more about the new geogargeting system that Bodog is putting into place. How will it work? How will it help affiliates? How will it help players?

KMc: The ultimate objective of the geo-targeting is ultimately about the customer experience, and is designed to ensure that a customer finds the product offering that is best tailored to them and finds it with an absolute minimum of effort. By tracking the IP address from which a customer accesses the www.bodog.com domain, we will ensure they are directed to the most appropriate brand licensee site. This selection criteria is based on the sporting interests of their country along with other product synergies, as well as the brand licensee territory restrictions (I couldn't take a customer from Asia, for example). From an affiliate point of view, helping the customer find the site that offers exactly what they're looking for will inevitably lead to higher conversion rates, improve retention, and ultimately, increase long-term revenue, which in turn will result in increased payment terms for them.

Make no mistake: everything – absolutely everything – follows from a well-serviced and delighted customer. This is our fundamental, driving ethic and any of our competitors that don't believe this had better step back because we're about to eat their lunch.

More beautiful Antigua

More beautiful Antigua

Bodog is the only brand that has a presence across all channels. How important is this to affiliates and players?

KMc: The simple fact is that Bodog is the only truly global igaming brand under which poker, casino and sportsbetting channels are offered. We also know the benefit of cross selling channels and using specific channels to acquire certain types of customers. This has been a core part of the Bodog success story over the years and is why Bodog is a market leader in its appeal to affiliates.

Bodog Europe's office in Antigua

Bodog Europe's office in Antigua

Where are you located, and are there plans to open up a UK office? If so, where?

KMc: I'm based in the UK but spend a lot of my time in our European operation in Antigua, from which the operation is actually managed. From a business development perspective, many of Bodog Europe's partners are in London and so I spend a lot of my time there also. At this point there are no plans to open an office in the UK as our operation is headquartered in Antigua – and its always very nice to grab a bit of sun and sea while I'm out there.

The Bodog poker network has plans to open up to non-Bodog branded sites in the future. Can you tell us more about these plans?

KMc: At this point, the existing brand licensees have collectively identified a few key new features to the existing poker offering that are really going to take it to the next level and we're aligned on a development path that's extremely exciting. We're all very excited about these developments and we know for a fact that our customers are going to be tremendously pleased with these critical improvements. We know that the BodogBrand.com licensing enterprise is also evaluating a potential arrangement that would see the poker technology evolve to the point where it was network-ready, and both existing brand licensees and third party licensees would be able to avail themselves of the network and increase liquidity. There are some very forward-thinking discussions happening regarding ensuring the sanctity of licensee databases, as well as rakeback, so I think a Bodog-branded network of this kind would see a great deal of interest very, very quickly. There is still a great deal work to be done but I would anticipate quite a lot of interest from the market should Bodog elect to go the network route.

Keith and I enjoying Antiguan nightlife

Keith and I enjoying Antiguan nightlife

When will Bodog begin accepting Canadian players and under which licensee? What will be your involvement with this process?

KMc: Canadian players will be able to access a Canada-specific product suite from www.bodog.ca starting in the Fall of this year. I aggressively renegotiated the Bodog Europe brand license agreement to acquire the rights to the Canadian market earlier this year and I would expect the Canadian market – extremely technologically literate, sports lovers and a very significant poker base – to be a huge success story in 2009 and 2010. The products will be offered pursuant to the Antiguan gaming licenses.

Enjoying a night out in Antigua

Enjoying a night out in Antigua

There are quite a few big igaming conferences coming up. What kind of presence will Bodog Europe have at such events?

KMc: We will be looking to attend all major conferences to spread the word about Bodog Europe's exciting future developments. I'll personally be speaking this September at both the affiliate conference in Budapest, where I'll be joined by members of our affiliate team, and EiG in Copenhagen.

View from Antigua Subcat submarine dive

View from Antigua Subcat submarine dive

"Work hard, play hard" is a famous Bodog slogan. How do you work hard and play hard?

KMc: It's a famous slogan, but never has it been more true. Those who are successful at Bodog manage to combine the two very effectively. Quite often the divide is blurred, quite literally, but in some ways that's what makes it so special. You never quite switch off from business but you never quite switch off from having fun. It's certainly a unique factor to the Bodog experience and one I've thoroughly enjoyed since joining the brand licensee family.

Keith enjoying a submarine dive

Keith enjoying a submarine dive

Tell us about your experiences in Antigua, home of the UK licensee headquarters. What is the office like? What do you do for fun? What is the nightlife like? Is it really as quiet as we hear?

KMc: Antigua really is spectacular. Tell me another office location where you can get up early in the morning, go wake-boarding, snorkeling & sub-marine diving, all before having a healthy beach breakfast and being in the office by 9am? The nightlife is great, and there are plenty of beach bars and clubs to enjoy the local rum cocktails in but for me Antigua is all about the beach and sea life and those early sunny mornings.

We've heard rumors that you are a fantastic wake boarder. Are these rumors true? Can you walk us thorough your very first wake boarding experience?

KMc: ha ha...no comment. Lets just say since my first "effort" I've been practicing at home on an ironing board lying flat on the ground. I can just about balance on that now so will give the real thing another go very soon.

 
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