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Exclusive Interview: Jonathan Power, Founder and MD of Voxbet



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European Gaming talks to Jonathan Power, Founder and MD of Voxbet, about the company’s rise to prominence in the sports betting space and making waves in genuine innovation with its latest betting microphone for sportsbooks.

What was your industry background before you started Voxbet as Onionsack in 2006?

My background was in fintech. My co-founders and I had a background in modernising banking tech for the big UK and Irish banks in the 1990s. We did that until the mid-2000s, and I was always very keen to have my own gig. I wanted to enable something that would enable people to conduct value transactions by text message. This was before the smartphone, but we built a platform that could prove it was you who sent the message. We came up with a number of applications for that technology, but the target was fintech and person-to-person payments.

What I knew from my experience with fintech was that the banks won’t touch anything that hasn’t been proven in another industry. We did a few things. We had person-to-person payments, share trading, we offered the buying of concert tickets, but we chose sports betting. You could make a bet by writing what you would write on a betting slip and sending it in a text message. We would read the text message and know who you are. If it was a high-value transaction, we would prove it was you that sent it by calling you back and taking a print of your voice.

I took a punt that the betting industry would try something like that. I went to a trade show in November, and we went live with the Tote in the UK the following June. It was a time when you could get things done. I never left the industry, and even though I say I’m from a fintech background, I’m actually more from a sports betting background now, in terms of years served.

Did yourself and your partners know much about the sports betting space going into it?

I did as a punter, but I didn’t know who to talk to. I took a stand at a trade show and we did well out of it. From there, we did deals with William Hill and Paddy Power, so we built a nice little business out of that. Smartphones then made text betting quite niche quite quickly, but people who bet with us via text in 2006 still do that with us now. We made a massive pivot (in branding terms, more so than technologically) to move into voice betting about a year-and-a-half ago, and we’ve been Voxbet ever since.

With text betting, what would a supplier offer as opposed to an operator saying “text us on this number”?

We would have read the message and understood it. Everybody is uniquely identifiable by their phone number, so we would know it was you, we would know you had the device in your hand, and what it is you wanted. There was about an 80% chance we could read the message and place the bet automatically, before sending you back confirmation, and there was about a 20% chance we wouldn’t understand it with 100% certainty; in which case we needed a call centre agent to bring some human intelligence to the interaction. That’s the platform which is up and running and it’s still used in a number of places, but it’s not what we’re presenting to everyone now. Everything now is all about voice.

When it came to the voice tech, what did your research tell you about what was missing in that space and were many other suppliers offering it at the time?

There were two things we noticed. The first is that tens of billions of dollars are being spent on voice by big tech companies. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and IBM all have massive products in the voice space and have spent tens of billions acquiring companies in that space. They have made a huge bet on the future of interacting digitally being voice.

The other factor is an awareness that there’s so much content on the sports betting side now. When sports betting sites first went online, it was more or less taking the shop coupon and putting it on a web page; it was that simple. When Google launched in 1997, there were two million websites in the world; there are now two billion. One sports betting site now offers more than two million things you can bet on, but there was still a way of navigating things before Google entered the scene, where you would go through layers and layers of menus. That’s a poor user experience and it’s not an experience for people other than existing gamblers who have had no choice but to use that system. Young people won’t use it like that. If Spotify was laid out the way a sports betting site is laid out, nobody would use it; it would be unusable. People are used to getting what they want everywhere else online.

This wasn’t something sports betting suppliers had tried before, and it actually turned out to be much more difficult than we expected. We thought we could plug into the existing engines like Google and IBM. They work really well to about 90%, but then they apply artificial intelligence which can change what a customer is saying to something that they didn’t say. Sporting parlance is quite unique. If I said to Google that I wanted a £20 treble on Liverpool, Leeds and Coventry, it will say you want £20 travel to those places! That’s actually a benign example and there are some brand-damaging examples. It’s not the sort of thing you could launch with the kind of mistakes those engines can make, so we’ve had to adapt to that and come up with something specific to sport.

How did you go about creating the technology that could iron out those issues you mention?

We knew an awful lot about sports betting language from our text betting days. We started out on the assumption that if you could understand a bet which is expressed in words, you could understand a spoken bet. But as I say, it did turn out to be more of a challenge than we thought it would be.

The way we have fixed that problem is by creating a dictionary where the only thing that dictionary understands is sporting terms, and we recompile that dictionary every hour, based on which events are on. We’re working on the assumption you won’t bet on something today that starts in a week’s time, and the universe of what you’re trying to understand becomes too complex if you look too far ahead. I’d say 99% of our traffic is for events happening soon. If it’s not accessible by voice, it’s still accessible the old way. You can make the problem much smaller if you say people are betting in this space right now, and then you recompile the language to be relevant to sports betting in this moment. If you keep recompiling it, it will then be phenomenally fast and accurate.

Does this work just as well then if I want to bet on a complex Betbuilder as much as a single match?

It’s working on racing at the moment, and it will do anything up to the most complicated place bot in one hit. You can say ‘£5, place bot,’ and call out all your horses. The target is to eventually include Betbuilders. Once we can do that on horse racing, we will know we can do it on other sports as well.

So how many sports can it work for right now and what sports are you planning to expand to?

In English, the rollout will be in three phases. The first is for horse racing, which is ready to go. The second is for football, which we’re working on, and the third phase is everything else.

How significant could this be for operators, in terms of the percentage of bets that could be placed this way?

That’s something we will begin to understand after we launch. We’re working on an integration in Asia, and in the UK, it will launch before Cheltenham. We don’t know yet, but what we do know from our text betting metrics is that the people who want the easiest way of betting are the people who bet a lot. The average user of a betting app might bet 12-15 times per month. The average user of text betting in France for example bets 160 times per month. Simplicity appeals to those who interact a lot with sportsbooks, and they’re very important customers who are currently poorly served by having to do a lot of digging.

Are you particularly looking at younger demographics within the serious bettor demographic?

We’re after two key demographics. The first is more important in value terms rather than volume terms, so for those who know what they want, we want to give them an easier journey. The second cohort is younger people who engage digitally with their voice every day already. They use interfaces like Spotify and TikTok, and have never had to navigate something like a sportsbook, so that’s a key market for us as well.

Would I need to be logged into the app to use the voice technology?

The intention with our bet mic is that you’re inside the app. We give operators a widget that they can put on their homepage. You press and hold the microphone, say what you want and let go. That then brings you to the betslip.

How compatible would that be then with something like Alexa?

Alexa won’t work for this. It was something we looked into. We did demos on it and it looked impressive when it worked, but the problem at the moment is that Amazon will translate what a customer said to Alexa, and it just gives you the transcript. Amazon has to do that without any context of what you said, so it’s actually phenomenally impressive that it comes even close, but most of the time, it doesn’t come close enough. You can get it to work, but it doesn’t work at a high enough level of accuracy. At the moment, I would say ours will work 99% of the time and produce exactly what you said. It becomes much simpler when you have context, but that means you can’t use tools like Siri and Alexa, because they work without context.

How challenging will it be to get across to people that this is a different way to bet from what people are used to? How will you change people’s mindset and make this the first thing they think to do with a betting app?

People of my age learn from younger people. I see my children do something and then I start doing it. It’s partially going to be down to operators to get it across to their customers that there’s an easier way of doing things. When you see a microphone, you tend to know what it’s for. If you see a microphone on the homepage of a sportsbook, you will wonder if you can just speak your bet.

The likes of Waterhouse VC  have invested in your business. What has that investment been used for specifically and are you still looking for further investment?

Industry heavyweights open doors and their evangelism is transformative to us as a company, because people really listen to them. We use the word ‘ubiquity’ 10 times a day, and that’s our target. We know that when the right innovation hits the industry, everybody wants it. That’s what happened with in-play betting, cashout and in-game multiples, and we think this is in the same category. Those investors can change this from being a niche product which a few people think is cool to something that will become ubiquitous. We’re not looking for further investment. We have a trading business with our text betting, and that’s something we will look at, but not right now.

What is their equity in the business?                                                        

A lot of deals like that these days are structured with underlying options. They’ve bought a small piece but they’ve got an option for a bigger piece. I’d advise any innovator to look at offering industry evangelists deals that are structured like that, because it means they’re not penalised for the value they create. They can buy more at the same value as when they joined the business, even when it’s worth significantly more. All of them have put their own money in.

Does their collective ownership come to around 10% or less than that?

I’d say collectively it’s around 10%, but they have options to go nearer to 20-25%.

What do you think really needs to improve in the area of voice technology and how will you take it on a level?

I think the big tech in this space is amazing and I wouldn’t want to be seen to be in any way critical of it, but they’re working without any context. If you use Google’s voice dictation, it’s phenomenally accurate, but it is having to do that without context. You’ve got so many things happening in a sportsbook, and even if you want to ask about events in the next three hours, it’s too much to ask Google to understand that model, because there’s too many terms.

I think the big tech engines aren’t sufficiently adaptable to customer-facing scenarios in a B2B sense, but the business knows the context. I could be at an insurance company, and I know when someone sends me a voicenote over WhatsApp, they’re going to be talking about making a claim or wanting a renewal. The amount of language that’s relevant in that scenario is a very small fraction of what they’re able to understand, but because they’re open to understanding everything, they get more wrong. I think the ability to configure their platforms for a very narrow context is what makes us different.

How many operators have you partnered with and how many will you go live with at Cheltenham?

We have one media company which we will go live with, and they work with 10 UK bookmakers, so there will be bets placed with this at up to 10 major UK bookmakers.

Going forward, which markets will you focus on?

English is a priority. Everybody wants to focus on the US, but for us, we are also focusing on the Chinese language. We’ve got our platform working for the Asian market, so if we can do that, we can do anything. English will be the priority, but our biggest customer is PMU in French, which is easy for us to do. We’re undecided but we will take the opportunities where they come. A new language requirement will take about a month for us to get it working.

Do you have a target for the number of sites you want to be live with in the next few years?

We want to be live on at least 100 sites in three years and want to be on almost every site within five years.

How will the technology evolve over the next few years to allow that to happen?

The voice technology that’s out there is good enough. It will really depend on whether operators want to offer a chat-style user interface, where a customer can say: ‘I want to bet and I fancy Liverpool to beat Spurs tonight. What will the price be if put 20 quid on that?’ That’s not our approach. We just want customers to say: ‘£20, Liverpool to win.’

The whole area of what’s happening with ChatGPT and AI could change what user experiences people want and how they want to engage. I think people want to engage with technology as though it’s technology and want to engage with people naturally. It would be sad if people wanted to engage with technology as though it’s a person, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

George Miller (Gyorgy Molnar) started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Expanse Studios Forges Super Prospective Media Partnership with



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In its latest stride toward expanding its digital footprint, Expanse Studios has entered into an exciting media partnership with, a trusted and Canada’s most renowned online resource dedicated to guiding local slot enthusiasts.

A Canadian Authority on Slots, with over a decade of presence, has become a cornerstone for Canadian players seeking insightful slot reviews and a chance to play online slots for free. The site distinguishes itself with contributions from notable gambling experts. The website stands out as the authentic go-to site for Canadian players, offering unbiased reviews and gaming insights.

A Series of Exciting Collaborations

This partnership with Expanse Studios is a continuation of Expanse’s streak of significant alliances in the gaming world, underscoring a shared commitment to providing top-notch gaming experiences. has already showcased Expanse Studios’ innovative slots, including “Wild Icy Fruits” and “Clown Fever Deluxe”, with in-depth reviews that players have found invaluable.

“We are thrilled to partner with and bring our slot games into the spotlight for Canadian players,” said Damjan Stamenkovic, CEO of Expanse Studios. “’s expertise and authoritative voice in the Canadian market make them the perfect platform to showcase our exciting gaming portfolio and ongoing expansion onto Americas.”

“It is with great excitement that we welcome this new collaboration with Expanse Studios. They have produced some super exciting online slots games, and slot players in Canada will now have the opportunity to read our Expanse game reviews and find how to play these exciting slots when they visit our site” said Gayle Mitchell, one of the leading online casino experts at OnlineSlotsCanada. was established over 10 years ago to help Canadian slots players choose the best online slots and casinos. They offer detailed slot reviews and allow players the opportunity to play online slots games for free before committing to play for real money. Their team of expertise include Gayle Mitchell who is a seasoned gambling author and writer in Canada and also John Grochowski, who has been one of the world’s most prolific casino writers since launching a weekly Gaming column in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1994.

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NRM Group restructures and rebrands as Boomerang Digital



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Andrew Ludlow, who has served as Managing Director of NRM Group since 2012 has completed a far-reaching strategic rebrand of the business culminating in the launch of Boomerang Digital.

The product of a 12-month business review Boomerang Digital brings NRM, ISD and Big Deal games into a single entity and in the process provides a frictionless touchpoint for customers across the totality of its technology-driven product range.

Expanding on the strategy Boomerang Digital co-founder and Chief Executive Andrew Ludlow said: “We are taking the NRM heritage totalling close to 30-years of ground-breaking thinking to create a platform from which to launch the next important phase of the Group’s development under the new Boomerang Digital brand.”

He added: “Because Boomerang Digital is a single entity offering a range of solutions it means that customers can now talk to us much more holistically about their requirement for end-to-end solutions. Under Boomerang we can ensure that the technology ecosystem is appropriate and streamlined.”

Confirming that there will be no job losses as a result of the restructure Andrew Ludlow stated: “To grow the business, we need the right calibre people and we will continue to recruit the additional talent that we require. I am delighted to say that Chris Wrigley will be moving to the newly created post of COO with Wayne Forster becoming Director of Product, membership and mobile.”

Boomerang Digital’s first industry appearance will be as part of the Bingo Hub at the EAG Expo (16-18 January, ExCeL London) and Ludlow confirmed the importance of the event. He stated: “We’ve got lots to talk about, lots to share and lots of exciting plans for the future. In order to meet the entertainment and engagement demands of tech-savvy consumers our customers have evolved and so have we. It’s a really exciting time and the team cannot wait to bring the Boomerang Digital vision to life. EAG can’t come quickly enough!”


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BOS rejects the government’s proposal to raise the gambling tax



Reading Time: 8 minutes

The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) today submits its advisory statement to the Ministry of Finance on the memorandum “Increased gambling tax”.

The memorandum proposes an increase in gambling tax from 18% to 22%, to apply from 1 July 2024. BOS rejects the proposal.

– The government can hardly time its proposal to raise the gambling tax to a worse time. We are in a situation where fewer and fewer players choose to play on the safe licensed market, and more and more on the unregulated, unlicensed gambling market. That the government proposes to raise the tax for licensed gambling is the best Christmas present you can think of – to the unregulated and unlicensed gambling market, says Gustaf Hoffstedt.

The memorandum in English can be found below:

Referral statement Fi2023/02665, Increased gambling tax

About BOS
The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) is here issuing its opinion on
the memorandum “Increased gambling tax”, in which it is proposed that the excise tax
on gambling be increased from 18 to 22 percent as of July 1, 2024.
BOS represents twenty gambling companies that operate on the Swedish gambling
market.1 This makes us the largest trade association in Sweden within our industry. All
members have a license/permit issued by Spelinspektionen.

BOS recommendation

BOS rejects the proposal to raise the gambling tax.
Our motives for the rejection
The goal of the gambling market, as described by the government, “is a healthy and
safe gambling market under public control”. In addition, according to the government,
revenues for the common good must be protected, the negative consequences of
gambling must be reduced, gambling for money must be covered by strong consumer
protection and cannot be misused for criminal activities.
BOS believes that the proposal for a tax increase is in conflict with all of the government’s stated goals for the gambling market. It is connected with the fact that the implementation of a tax increase on gambling will lead to a reduced channelization to the
Swedish regulated gambling market, something that is also expressed by several other
reference bodies, including the Swedish Gambling Authority.

In contrast, the un-licensed and not infrequently illegal gambling market in Sweden will gain market share
if the proposal to raise the gambling tax is implemented.

It is connected with the fact that a tax increase on licensed gambling further
strengthens the competitiveness of unlicensed gambling in Sweden, which
correspondingly increases in attractiveness when Swedish gambling consumers have
to make decisions about where their gambling will take place. A product subject to
high tax is less attractive than a comparable product subject to low or no tax.
The concept of channelization refers to what proportion of Swedes’ gambling takes
place on the licensed market designated by the state, and what proportion takes place
on the unlicensed market in Sweden. Ideally, all gambling should take place on the
licensed market, but in practice this is impossible to achieve, especially when it comes
to online gambling, which by its very nature is cross-border. Sweden’s unofficial
channelization target has therefore been set at 90 percent. In other words, it is
acceptable (but not desirable) with a leakage to the unlicensed gambling market of no
more than 10 percent. If the leakage becomes greater than that, the goals of the
gambling policy are considered to be unachievable.
Unfortunately, Sweden’s channelization target must now be described as “unofficial”,
with reference to the fact that the government seems to have distanced itself from the
target in recent years. What was initially a clearly defined goal from both the government and the Riksdag, at least in the political debate, has in recent years rather been referred to as an expectation, assessment or forecast.
To the extent that a government and Riksdag decision is needed to establish Sweden’s
90 percent target, we strongly recommend that the government take this initiative,
and thus not distance itself from this gambling policy goal by calling it something other
than a goal or objective (for example assessment). It is in the government’s own
interest that there is a channelization goal and any way to distance oneself from this
harms the government and the legitimacy of the licensing system, and what is worse
harms Sweden’s gambling consumers.
The reason why the government should under no circumstances undermine the goal of
at least 90 percent channelization is that a high ditto is a basic prerequisite for all other
goals of gambling policy. A high channelization goal is a goal to reach all other goals.
These other goals can be summarized as:
– That consumer protection is strong
– That unhealthy gambling is kept to the lowest possible level
– That crime is pushed back
– That the state receives good tax revenue from gambling
– That the licensed gambling companies have good profitability and good conditions
– That the licensing system has high legitimacy
The government states as a motive for raising the tax that “[t]he current tax rate of 18
percent has applied since the Swedish gambling market was reregulated in 2019. The
gambling market has since stabilized, and channelization has increased significantly.”
It is a claim and a description of reality that we dare to say that the government is
quite alone. In the memorandum, the government presents no more recent figures
than those presented by the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Swe: Statskontoret), which originate from 2021, in a report on the gambling market.
It is unfortunate that the state has not produced more recent data than this, and it is
unfortunate that the government has not taken on board new data presented by
actors other than the state. BOS was able to show half a year ago that the
channelization in March 2023 was 77 percent for all competitive gambling (that is, all
gambling not protected by monopoly).
It is a channelization that testifies that the Swedish licensing market is in a very serious situation.
The BOS report also broke down the competitive gambling market into its various
components, such as sports betting and online casino. The gambling vertical online
casino, along with online poker, showed the very weakest channelization at 72 percent. That in such a situation there is no room for measures that further damage
channelization – which a tax increase on gambling does – should be obvious.
In addition to BOS’s channelization report, which was carried out by opinion institute
SKOP, the gambling company ATG has had the channelization measured using a
different methodology and presented it in a report. ATG’s measurement mirrors the
BOS report in terms of channelization in general in the gambling market (only 1
percentage point separates the two measurements). On the other hand, the ATG measurement shows an even worse position for the gambling vertical online casino.

Considering ATG’s channelization report, where channelization has fallen dramatically
since the Swedish re-regulation in 2019, it is difficult to even know how to relate to the
government’s claim that “[the] gambling market has since stabilized, and
channelization has increased significantly.” In a later report from ATG, which extends
to Q3 2023, channelization has further fallen to 70 percent channelization for the overall license market and 59 percent channelization for online casino.7
In addition to the above quote from the government testifying that the government
simply lacks a basis for its claim, it demonstrates another, general, shortcoming in the
government’s memorandum: the lack of data, basis, preparation, and analysis.
Examples of the absence of analysis concern the proposal’s impact on the media and
the sports movement. Both of these social actors are major recipients of money from
the gambling industry. A cost increase for the licensed gambling industry of SEK 0.5
billion annually (the increased tax revenue estimated by the government) has to come
from somewhere, and this will by all accounts happen at least in part through reduced
advertising in traditional media and reduced sports sponsorship. The government has
nothing to say about how the media and the sports movement are affected by the government’s proposal. There are no impact analyzes in the government’s memorandum on this.
Through advertisements in, for example, the daily press and sponsorship of sports
teams, awareness of the brands of the licensed betting companies is increased. Such
marketing and sponsorship thus promote the Swedish gambling market, in that
licensed gambling companies are top of mind when the gambling consumer chooses
an operator for its gambling. In addition, of course, the money from the gambling
industry is of great use in the daily recruitment of both sports associations and newsrooms, for their respective important tasks in our democratic society.
The government’s memorandum is not only incomplete in that it does not highlight
and analyze the consequences for important social actors. In addition, the small
approach to analysis that is actually presented in the memorandum seems to be
poorly executed. The government calculates the expected increased tax revenue at
SEK 539 million. There is no calculation for increased costs for the expected increased
gambling addiction, as a consequence of players migrating to unlicensed gambling, in
the analysis. In addition, there is a complete lack of calculations on the extent of lost
tax revenue due to the fact that the tax increase results in reduced channelization, as
well as in general reduced gambling on the license market because the price of
gambling products is raised.
With regard to price sensitivity (price elasticity), the figure -0.5 is used in the memo –
that is, not price sensitive – which is information taken from the inquiry “A reregulated
gambling market”. The information in the inquiry in turn refers to an external report
from 2014 from Great Britain.8 However, the UK document indicates a higher price
elasticity for certain gambling products, including online casino with a figure of -1.5
(high price sensitivity), but this fact – that gambling decreases when the price of
certain gambling products is increased – is completely omitted from the government’s
memorandum. The government’s estimated increase in tax revenues of just over SEK
0.5 billion annually therefore appears to be pure wishful thinking based on incorrect

Optimal tax rate

On behalf of BOS, in 2016 the consulting firm Copenhagen Economics had an optimal
tax level calculated for Swedish conditions, ahead of the Swedish re-regulation in
2019.9 As far as we know, it is the most detailed investigation that has been done based on Swedish conditions, and the report had a noticeable impact on the government’s and the Riksdag’s decision to set the gambling tax at 18 percent gross gaming
Copenhagen’s Economics report presents an optimal range for the state to stay within,
15-20 percent. A tax rate above 20 percent means lost channelization, but also in the
long term reduced tax revenue, in accordance with a classic Laffer curve. There is no
reason to believe that the state can now, compared to the years before the Swedish
reregulation of the gambling market, be able to deviate from the presented tax range
without damaging the license market. On the contrary, today’s critically low
channelization bears witness that the tax in this sensitive situation should under no
circumstances be increased. Instead, the government and the Riksdag should urgently
devote themselves to reforms that strengthen channelization.

Reforms that strengthen channelization

In this context, BOS would like to conclude by raising a finger of warning for the superstition we see when governments – the current one as well as the previous one – propose new repressive measures on the gambling market. Repressive measures aim to
make it difficult for and exclude unlicensed gambling companies from the Swedish
gambling market. Examples of such measures are so-called B2B permits, payment
blocks and bans on promoting unlicensed operators.
We are generally positive about such measures, and we see their complementary task
as absolutely crucial to succeed in maintaining a high channelization. Complementary
in the sense of reinforcing a gambling license market that is fundamentally perceived
as attractive by the player collective. We object, however, to the fact that governments seem to live in the delusion that the attractiveness of the gambling license
market can be worsened (for example, by raising the gambling tax) without this
worsening the channelization, as long as the deterioration is met with repressive
measures to shut out unlicensed gambling. All experience, from Sweden and a number
of jurisdictions where our members operate, shows that this is an incorrect
assumption. In addition, governments tend to mortgage strengthened channelization
through intensified repression already in advance, not infrequently before the
repressive measures have even been put into effect.
Repressive measures strengthen and promote the licensed gambling market when this
is fundamentally perceived as attractive by the player collective. It is the customers
who decide whether the gambling should take place on the licensed market or not. No
countermeasures in the world, at least in the democracies of the Western world, can
stop the outflow of gambling consumers if the consumers do not consider that the
gambling offer they are given on the license market is sufficiently attractive.

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