Betting on Sports America 2019 is officially in the books and it turned out to be a first class event for sports betting fans in the United States. Today, Ryan Knuppel talks with the founder and CEO of SBC Gaming, Rasmus Sojmark, about the event from his perspective. This recording was just a few days after the event and the first podcast interview Rasmus did following #bosamerica — this is one you won’t want to miss.
Intro: 00:12 This is crazy..
Ryan Knuppel: 00:13 Everywhere you turn it’s the same old sports, talk the same headlines, the same news and the same boring information. This podcast is here to change all of that. We bring you hot sports takes, winning sports betting strategy and picks, reliable gaming industry news and breaking interviews with some of the biggest names in sports business. My name is Ryan Knuppel welcome to the Knup Sports Show.
Ryan Knuppel: 00:34 Hey what’s up everybody, welcome to episode number 49 of the Knup Sports Show. My name is Ryan Knuppel, I’m your host here of this show thank you for joining me, I really appreciate it tuning in to this show. We have a very special show in store today. I just got back from probably my favorite conference of all time. The best conference I’ve ever been to, and it was the betting on sports America 2019 conference, that took place the Meadowlands, New Jersey.
Ryan Knuppel: 00:59 I spent a week out there, brought my wife and we went to the event. Spent three or four days at the event and another three, four days in New York, Manhattan on a little vacation. Today the CEO and founder of SBC Gaming, the guy responsible for putting on this entire event, Rasmus Sojmark. He’s with me, he joined me, he was kind enough to sit down with me and talk all about the event. I was going to talk about it myself. I was going to go through and just talk about my experience with the event. But I figured who better than to have on than the man himself, the man responsible for putting this on.
Ryan Knuppel: 01:35 So many people enjoyed it. I talked to hundreds and hundreds of people at this event. I think there was almost a couple thousand at the event. But I talked to many people and they all had the same feedback, the same responses from these events. Just talking about how first class it was, and how well put on it was and they did everything at a very high level. I’m excited for you to listen to this, I’m excited for you to hear what Rasmus has to say. He’s a great guy. SBC is a great team of people I got to meet and hang out with a lot of them there at this event this weekend.
Ryan Knuppel: 02:07 Over the next month or two you are going to hear from me a lot about this event. A lot of things that I learned, a lot of people that I talked to. I’m going to connect with them on this show and we are going to talk about different things that they’re into in this industry. Because the sports betting industry is really popping, really growing in the United States and I want to use this show as a platform to bring people on and really just tell their story, tell their side of what’s going on in the sports betting industry, and who better to start with than Rasmus.
Ryan Knuppel: 02:35 I’m excited, without further a due lets jump right into today’s interview. All right. Today we have a special guest on this show. Today I’m joined by Rasmus Sojmark. Rasmus is the CEO and founder of SBC Gaming. Rasmus, you’re with me today?
Rasmus Sojmark: 02:49 I am Ryan. Thanks for having me man.
Ryan Knuppel: 02:51 Absolutely. I’m so honored and privileged that you’re joining me on the show here. We just all got back from your awesome new events, Betting on Sports America 2019, it was held at the Meadowlands expo and conference center in New Jersey. Man what an even that was. I did attend and had a good time, it was a pleasure meeting you. Man, how’re you feeling after that big event?
Rasmus Sojmark: 03:15 I think you just said it there man. No more for me to say well said, just recovered now. There was a lot of organizing the sport events, then you execute during the three, four days and just hope that everyone is enjoying the events. And I think we had some incredible feedback. The response was great. I think this is one of the best event we’ve done in a long time and that’s very important when you have it as the first one in a new big market, that’s the US.
Rasmus Sojmark: 03:51 I think it went really well, and I mean there’re several factors when you look into an event. First of all, you want to have a conference working well. People are there to learn something and be educated and hear what our latest news in the industry are. In the conference and the panels were pretty much outstanding. I think a lot of key information was discussed and also shared with the audience, and I think that’s key. And I think we did that very well at least that’s what I keep hearing from everyone that’s been attending.
Rasmus Sojmark: 04:25 They all were very positive about this part, so I think that was a hit and I think as well, I think everything on speaker did an incredible job and that can be a bit tough when you have almost 200 speakers on the program. It’s hard to manage, you need to coordinate between all of them and that takes a lot of efforts. I think their participation, their engagement in the lead up to the event was great.
Rasmus Sojmark: 04:55 Just a quick personal thank you to all the speakers. I think you guys helped make this event a superb one. Thank you. Ryan just ask me a question if you want to talk.
Ryan Knuppel: 05:09 Sure. Sure. I mean, I want to chime in on the speakers. Every speaker that I went to, every session, every track that I went into was absolutely amazing. The only complaint I would have is I didn’t get to go to enough of them. I mean they were so many of them, which is a good complaint by the way. It’s a good problem to have.
Rasmus Sojmark: 05:26 Don’t worry man. Listen, the good thing is we video all of it. Right? So what we need to do is of course, is we need to have load for all of the material, and then what we all do is release every single panel with video for everyone that attended the event.
Ryan Knuppel: 05:40 Perfect.
Rasmus Sojmark: 05:40 So you can go back and you can have a look at the ones you missed on that day. But I agree, three conference rooms running at the same time can be difficult.
Ryan Knuppel: 05:48 Too many choices I was so conflicted at times. I’m like, I want to go here and here and here. But it was awesome, it was a great time guys did a good job.
Rasmus Sojmark: 05:59 At least it was fairly connective when in the venue as well. I mean, it wasn’t too complicated to move to so many conference rooms. Because that is an issue when you say it like that. You want to go from one room to another, between sessions and you only have no more than five minutes, you need to be quick.
Ryan Knuppel: 06:18 Sure. Sure. Let’s talk about the venue for a second. I thought the venue was outstanding. I had actually never been to the Meadowlands area there in New Jersey. What drew you to that spot? And was that always your plan to be at the Meadowlands or what drew you to that venue?
Rasmus Sojmark: 06:33 We did a lot of research initially. We were thinking about doing in New York in Manhattan. But it’s quite big, and we thought okay maybe wait and just find one that is big but not as big and we had to look around. There’s not a lot of venues in New York to be honest. We also took a look at New Jersey thinking that it could be smart to find a way to combine the two of them. I mean, New Jersey is where it’s all happening at them moment, but of course people coming all for this also love to see a bit of Manhattan.
Rasmus Sojmark: 07:05 So how can you say combine those two. We went to the area we’re talking about here and they have quite a few good options. There was the Meadowlands race track, the was MetLife stadium the home of Giants and Jets. And we weren’t having a look at the stadium as well. But could be a bit complicated which calls spending some times with what venues you can use. So we ended up saying Meadowlands seems to be a good choice. But a lot of hotels nearby make it very, very convenient for people staying. Exit the hotel when you’re there.
Rasmus Sojmark: 07:37 It also gives us quite a bit of space like 51,000 square feet. Which means that we can create conference rooms and we create enough space for people to sit down and network talk and of course for the exhibitors and the sponsors to display their products in a nice setting as well. So it ended up being that choice but at the same within that choice is set, it’s very important to mention that we could combine those two, Manhattan and New Jersey.
Rasmus Sojmark: 08:00 When you are in Meadowlands area, you literally only have around 50 minutes drive to Manhattan you are straight up at Times Square. There can be a lot of traffic so you need to factor that in. And I think that was on of the things we were worried about that there could be enough traffic so when we were moving people from after the conference and exhibition, to the evening event in Manhattan there would be a bit of a drive. But I think all of that actually worked really well. I’m personally surprised and I think Meadowlands proved to be an excellent venue for us.
Ryan Knuppel: 08:34 Yeah. I think it did. It seemed like the perfect balance between the Manhattan experience and then a little disconnect from that over in New Jersey and yeah. Let’s shift over and talk about these … you mentioned the after parties, the evening events. Man, myself I’ve never personally been to an SBC event so this was my first one. And let me say right out the front, you guys do it right. I mean your events, your party, your venues, the food, the drinks, just the whole vibe of the parties was absolutely amazing.
Ryan Knuppel: 09:10 Is it always like that or was this one different because it was a little more buzz around the United States and some of those places you picked were just amazing. I mean, talk to me a little bit about the parties, and what you thought the vibe of those was.
Rasmus Sojmark: 09:23 I think to be honest, it’s a recurrence event. We tend to look at what creates a holistic, like a complete delegate experience. I mean, ultimate big events and we want it to be a big event, I mean, not too big just an amount of people so attending and of course we look to grow that next year. I think it’s important to just see what can you do to shine people together. Not everyone wants to go to the evening events, and they create their own dinners and their own small gatherings for the clients and customers and soon to be customers et cetera.
Rasmus Sojmark: 10:00 So I think when we look at the evening we sort of try to think okay, what can we put together here that people want to attend. We keep people together, not just during the day time but also the evening. Because you’re right when you were saying for this one, I mean it wasn’t different from one of our events, but I think this one was just so important to keep people together.
Rasmus Sojmark: 10:20 You have a whole new market opening up, so much opportunity so why not go that extra mile to make sure that we busy, very busy during the day. And we know that from experience, because we put on three conference rooms, 200 speakers, we have a Ryan running around want to attend all the sections. And if you’re doing that, you can’t network, you can’t talk to people, you can’t do business, you can’t go and meet the services and see the products and stuff. Really that can be much of an issue because of course I need to create some action for everyone there. Because also response from exhibitors is a big part of supporting the event.
Rasmus Sojmark: 10:58 What we then try and do is to make sure that the ones you didn’t meet during the daytime, you’ll certainly have a chance to meet during the evening when we have free evening events going on during this event. And I think that is just the key here. That by going in and creating that environment for you to know that, oh yeah, I’ll sit in the conference, I’ll suck up all this information in all these sessions and take that back, but also know that I will have time because SBC organized this thing in the evening where there will be full house.
Rasmus Sojmark: 11:31 And we had 750 people, that’s a 40, 40 cap. And that was a pre registration. Hey, that was before the main conference and exhibitions part. That was unheard of. I was like Ryan to be honest, I was thinking, okay man there’s maybe have 300, 400 people there.
Ryan Knuppel: 11:47 Yeah.
Rasmus Sojmark: 11:48 The company will do well. Because truth to be told, the venues we picked weren’t the cheapest ones. We want to create some nice really surroundings when you’re there like people want to come to a great event. So the 40/40 Club on a Tuesday, that’s NBA players, you had NHL and this is a sports event people of sports, they want to watch the sports. How do you combine it so Ryan doesn’t run off to go to another sports bar to watch this. But everyone else is at another bar, networking the event so we combine the two taking the best Jay-Z sports bar. I think everyone just wanted to come and see the and then realized shit sorry my language … there’s all the networking here this is a great setting.
Rasmus Sojmark: 12:29 And from there on we took the other direction on Wednesday. We actually brought everyone to the Meadowlands race track and they have a very nice roof top bar, a bit well independent but we also booked the downstairs one in case it was bad weather we could have taken everyone one down to the lounge. And also people got to see the first and real retail sports in New Jersey.
Ryan Knuppel: 12:52 Right.
Rasmus Sojmark: 12:52 Then you saw an amazing looking sports book in the Meadowlands the racing entertainment setting there at the race track. I think that was another element added into the whole experience here. And the weather was great so people just loved that like being on the roof top back drop was Manhattan, you had the MetLife stadium there you could see, you see the race track, there was drinks, there was barbecue and people continued doing their business that they didn’t finish doing that very day in the daytime.
Rasmus Sojmark: 13:25 On the first day of course, to add another element into making it really a key evening for people, we had the hall of fame next to [inaudible 00:13:32] network the Sky room In Manhattan. Now I’ll say to you Ryan I mean, I went to New York a couple of times, seven hours, pouring down with rain, walking around and that was the day we chose to view the roof top bars in all of New York, just to find the best venue [inaudible 00:13:50]. And that was difficult when it’s raining. The good thing there was Sky room had this thing that you close off the roof of it, so in case it was raining you still have that feel of the roof top fun and it was raining that day.
Ryan Knuppel: 14:00 Right.
Rasmus Sojmark: 14:01 Really had it open so that was a good choice. And at the same time you had like Dennis Drazin, Art Manteris, and Chris Christie coming for the hall of fame. Personally this is why I love these men, I had the good opportunity here to be the one that presented the hall of fame award for former Governor Chris Christie.
Rasmus Sojmark: 14:22 That was a proud moment, I mean he’s an interesting man for the sports industry. Being up there getting that choice. That’s a lot that comes with sometimes organizing an event. Normally, I would have someone else doing it like one of our sponsors or something like that, but on this case it was also a new event it was nice first to see or to show ourselves. People maybe understood it a little bit, who’s behind this event. When you come back and realize it was a successful event so yeah. All things I think it was great for the combination there with daytime and strong evening events.
Ryan Knuppel: 15:01 I agree and there’s nothing much else I can say there. You said it all, I was going to repeat much of what you said about the venues. Absolutely gorgeous venues with some great views. Great people, great food, I mean all around just a great experience. Just once again thank you for putting that on and thank you for I mean, SBC definitely didn’t skimp out on those events. They treated people well. And that was the other thing your stuff and everybody around the event was very accommodating to everyone and just super engaging with people which is always good to hear.
Ryan Knuppel: 15:34 Overall great event. Anything else about this event you wanted to talk about here or are you won out already?
Rasmus Sojmark: 15:42 No I can continue. What I think you just mentioned. One thing of course is very important is you have a good team. I think we actually had 25 staff and colleagues over there so we wanted to make sure we had a very strong understanding of the events we do and we could execute on them. Obviously we had good support from local staff as well that we brought in. And I think they did a very good job so of course a big thank you to my team as well. It’s almost impossible organizing all these elements takes a lot of effort.
Rasmus Sojmark: 16:16 And I think maybe lucky if you had [inaudible 00:16:18], it wasn’t that easy but we did a lot of pre planning, we did a lot of execution of tasks between team members and they were in charge of this and that. And I think all in all it went well. Because me Ryan as well coming to New Jersey and Manhattan to present an event, it’s just not me working and making sure the event works. I also need to talk to you, build my network and make sure people get to know us better, because we need to put a face to the name for a lot of people.
Rasmus Sojmark: 16:47 There was a lot of people that couldn’t execute on their work so it was very good work for the staff here where others they were running around trying to network and talk and make sure people knew who the actual SBC people were for future events. I would say as well next to that there were some really good highlights on the conference side. I mean we had the New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy [inaudible 00:17:08] that was packed. You had the national media there, you probably had 400 people in there. I think there were sitting about 300 if you were standing in the back. He was very direct and saying New Jersey was to overtake Nevada and you have to come. That was quite interesting and all that means there will be more interesting events in New Jersey.
Rasmus Sojmark: 17:31 Added to this, I think we had hall of fame Morten Andersen NFL hall of fame and the most kept player in the NFL. Giving a very cool and funny key note on the second there. But first I think there was some good [inaudible 00:17:44] there on stage. Walking around that floor I actually set him on [inaudible 00:17:49] key note. You have guy like [inaudible 00:17:52]. I mean patriot. So me being a patriot’s fun I meet a three time super bowl winner there shaking my hand and taking pictures.
Rasmus Sojmark: 18:02 That’s cool and he was great so Brian Westbrook, the former Eagles running back. Ryan Howard there from the Phillies. They were doing a talk on the states as well which had received very good feedback. Then you also heard from the sportsmen inside [inaudible 00:18:17] with Christian Steward and John Katovich that could pen well on the CEO panel which I went into and it was packed.
Rasmus Sojmark: 18:25 Loved the discussions between those guys and see what they had to say. There were some interesting questions from the audience as well. I think New Jersey is the land of opportunity of course because that was the follow up from what Phil Marcus said. You have David Rebuck the former senator Lesniak, and even pressing up the hardrock discussing New Jersey as an all. I think that was a really good panel. You had sponsorship panel with MGM Nelson’s board and then Shell and Texas Rangers, very good panel as well.
Rasmus Sojmark: 18:51 And then I think to finish it off, the very last panel to the event. Normally you and I would be out drinking a beer, but then you went into the room and it was packed. Probably because you had good people there addressing the media landscape and how that would deal with the sports betting in the US. And you had John from thescore, Patrick from the action network [inaudible 00:19:11], David Preslek from NBC. And I think those are all good names so I think that helps when you attract people in because they want to settle in.
Rasmus Sojmark: 19:18 But also it’s very interesting of course because the media in the US seems to be very embracing towards the sports betting. And know that there’s massive opportunity here but how does this work? I think all of this just came together somehow actually with events. I think those are actually the key highlights next to of course all of the experiences you and I had at the evening events and the rest. Yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: 19:39 Yeah. It really did. Man, I could talk about this all day long. I mean, there’s so much that happened at this event that we can touch base on. But I know for the sake of time I want to let you go and I want to keep moving on here. What’s next for SBC both in the United State and outside of the United States? What are the other events do you guys have planned and what can we look forward to because I know a lot of people listen to this, a lot of people in the industry listen to this podcast and I’ve been advocating some of your events. What can I be looking forward to over the next few months or year or years?
Rasmus Sojmark: 20:12 Yeah I mean. I think we’re looking at betting sports America at 2020 would be, all this would be on the 28th to 30 of April. For now, I think we set on the Meadowlands exposition center again. Mark your dates your calendars for the [inaudible 00:20:32] next year. And I think we we’re trying to do with this is of course take back all the feedback we receive and try and work out how can we improve on this. How do we do like a year after follow-up to discuss the key thing that was addressed and how it’s been compressed and hopefully [inaudible 00:20:48].
Rasmus Sojmark: 20:48 What we also want to do is try and work harder. I think we had a good representation from the sports industry [inaudible 00:20:54]. But we want to bring more of them in. There was also the NFL draft fell on the same dates I think that might be the case next year. We definitely take this back and then we’ll deliver really stronger next year. And we want to grow it a bit not too big but of course you want to do more and get some more people into the commercial side.
Rasmus Sojmark: 21:16 I think the commercial side will be more and more important as the industry grows. Because you need to look at the right product, the right opportunities, the right third party products. You need to create the ultimate and user experience. Also the side of integrity compliance and all these things, you need to make sure that the US industry is becoming a very solid and well executed part of the interest into the sports betting side.
Rasmus Sojmark: 21:47 Because there’s a lot of mistakes and issues that we learn from setting open markets so try and address these, get the right products, right people, speak to the right stake holders and make sure that is all there next year. Which I think it was this year, but certainly work hard to make it even better next year. That’s the US events and of course for everyone that feels they are still hungry for sports betting information, I would like to say that our biggest event the one we’ve been running for several years, is taking place in London on the 17th to 20th of September at one of the big conference centers.
Rasmus Sojmark: 22:24 Normally there, we have around three and a half thousand senior expected attendance and we presenting no less Ryan this time the 300 speakers. It’s also good exhibition part with relevant sports betting products we’re talking about 140ish exhibitors. Absolutely there’s so much information there and added to the evening events. For the ones that love a great networking event in the evening and also at the same time as we get in [inaudible 00:22:53] sports American here.
Rasmus Sojmark: 22:55 You can get a bit of the local feel and experience the view of UK because we’ve booked the natural history museum which is an outstanding venue. We’ve booked that for one of the evenings. There’ll be another European hall of fame. Those evening events will give you the same feel of the same opportunities to network and do business in the evening. Yeah. Anyone that feels from say the US side that can make the trips, you absolutely make the trip and we already have someone to speak from the US side of course represented.
Rasmus Sojmark: 23:26 We talking about drafting, [inaudible 00:23:28] to promote to attend some of the panels which we usually do. I think certainly I will recommend this for the US audience because there is a lot of learning to do as well. There’s a lot of different things discussed that might be a bit still ahead of what the US market is. But those are important learnings to take back. This event is very relevant and I will highly recommend anyone interested can always touch base with me.
Ryan Knuppel: 23:51 Sounds like a good excuse to hit the London.
Rasmus Sojmark: 23:53 Yeah. Absolutely man. Definitely you’re welcome my friend. Absolutely.
Ryan Knuppel: 23:57 Sounds great. Well, I appreciate you joining me Rasmus. I absolutely do I know you’re a busy man and you’re won out, we both are. My voice is actually a little scratchy still. Man I was just all that talking and loud events. I mean it was a great event. I appreciate you joining me. Any last words for the audience before we go here?
Rasmus Sojmark: 24:16 Well, I think it’s been a great week. Last week of course in New Jersey and New York and I think I’m very pleased to see that we got so great feedback. Even one of my good friends the president of online gaming called Churchill Downs, who’s also a good US company, said it was the best event he ever attended. I think we keep getting this kind of feedback, so I’ll leave you to just talk in a bit more. And then from this event and we will talk next year and I think yourself and people I met last week have been incredibly supportive. So Ryan thanks to you and all my friends and happy to invite you all here as my guest if you can make it in September and thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Ryan Knuppel: 25:07 Absolutely. All right. Nothing much else I can say besides great event. I invite everyone whose listening to this, make sure you put in on your calendar. You said April 28th to 30th of next year 2020. I’ll be there again. That’s the US one and then September 17th through 20th in London.
Rasmus Sojmark: 25:24 Definitely man.
Ryan Knuppel: 25:25 Awesome. All right Rasmus well you get some rest, you get back on your feet now that you’re back home and I certainly appreciate you joining me on this show. And if there’s anything I can ever do for you, you don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Rasmus Sojmark: 25:38 Like wise my friend. And appreciate the time and the opportunity here yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: 25:42 All right. You take care and have a great day.
Rasmus Sojmark: 25:43 Take care.
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