Sun | Dec 16, 2018

SVL to take Jamaican horse racing to Guyana in iBet roll-out

Published:Friday | December 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Ann Dawn Young Sang, president & CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited.
The first iBet Supreme location in Georgetown, Guyana, is set to open between December 8 and16, 2018.
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Jamaica's lottery company, Supreme Ventures Limited, SVL, has converted the Satro building in Georgetown, Guyana, into space for its video-gaming operation, which debuts in that market next week.

The company is licensed to offer sport-themed gaming, and the marquee of the first iBet shop to be operated under two new subsidiaries - Supreme Ventures Guyana Holdings Inc and Supreme Ventures Enterprise Inc - is already emblazoned on the building.

More shops are to be rolled out in 2019 as part of the retail network that SVL aims to build out in Guyana, a market in which SVL is also looking to generate business for its newly acquired horse racing operation, Caymanas Park.

"To date, we have invested a little under $100 million in the start-up of the business, including the purchase of the iconic Satro building on Croal Street in Georgetown, which will house a state-of-the-art gaming lounge space," SVL Chief Executive Officer Ann-Dawn Young Sang told the Financial Gleaner on Tuesday.

Satro will house a betting lounge on the first floor, which will host the horse racing punters and a bar; the second floor will be outfitted with "next-generation gaming machines"; while the third floor of the three-storey structure will house the company's administrative offices.

Although Supreme Ventures has partnerships in various Caribbean markets for its Super Lotto game, Guyana is its first operational foray outside of Jamaica. Guyana is itself a South American country, but it identifies geopolitically as Caribbean, has membership in Caricom, and is home to the regional trading bloc's secretariat.

Young Sang says SVL is now "perfectly positioned" to expand beyond its home base, given the status of the Caribbean gaming market and economic developments in the region, particularly Guyana, where large reserves of oil have been discovered.

"We looked closely at underserved or underdeveloped gaming markets across the region, and identified those that would provide significant growth opportunities," said the gaming and lottery boss.

"A careful analysis of the English-speaking Caribbean showed that Guyana was an excellent prospect, based on their economic indicators such as GDP growth and the imminent start of oil production in the country, which will drive significant economic activity."

Supreme Ventures' offering in Guyana will include bets on horse racing in Jamaica, where SVL now owns the sole horse racing track, which it acquired less than two years ago, in March 2017, from the Jamaican Government.

"We will be bringing Jamaican racing from the historic Caymanas Park to the Guyanese market, as well as American racing from legendary tracks like Belmont Park, Saratoga and others," said Young Sang. British racing will be included early next year.

The company has entered into a broadcast agreement with SportsMax that Young Sang expects will "elevate" the broadcast quality of the televised races at Caymanas Park to international standards.

Supreme Ventures will also be introducing pool betting to Guyana, which, Young Sang says, provides better payout options for punters who are currently serviced by traditional bookmakers offering fixed odds.

"This opens up the market to a much larger pool of betting on races in Jamaica and the US - the bigger the pool the bigger the payout on winnings," the CEO said.

According to worldcasinosindex.com, gambling in Guyana is a relatively small industry, where there are only two casinos in operation, plus a gaming company called Guyana Lottery Company, which is Canadian owned and offers games such as Lucky 3, Lotto Supa 6, and Daily Millions.

Supreme Ventures was formed in 1995 and is the Caribbean's first provider of a mega-millions multijurisdictional lottery game, called Super Lotto, which is available in eight countries. It is the dominant gaming operation in Jamaica with annual revenues of $56 billion, and Young Sang says the company similarly aims to take pole position in any market it enters, including Guyana.

"We will start in Georgetown with the superstore, which we will follow with smaller scale gaming lounge operations. Our intent is to launch these smaller operations in and around Georgetown and its environs in 2019, followed by a more extended foray into the rural areas across the country going into 2020," she said.

Supreme Ventures Guyana and Supreme Ventures Enterprise will both be chaired by Walter Scott, an attorney and former chairman of both Jamaica's Betting Gaming & Lotteries Commission and the Casino Gaming Commission. The other directors for both companies are Young Sang, Ansell Howell and Dennis Chung, while Dwaine Roger Yearwood will be company secretary.

SVL has also selected Stephen Summers as General Manager of Supreme Ventures Enterprise to run the operations in Guyana. Summers has a 20-year track record in sales and marketing, the gaming company said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com