IN-DEPTH 26 September 2018
How US casinos can avoid being a sportsbook flop
By Gambling Insider
The recent PASPA repeal has presented US bricks and mortar casinos with an attractive opportunity. Max Meltzer, Kambi Group’s Chief Commercial Officer, wonders whether or not they will make the most of it (Extracted from July-August edition of Gambling Insider magazine)
The date 14 May 2018 will go down in gambling folklore as the triumphant day sports wagering was re-introduced to the US. The 27-year-long federal prohibition, known as PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), was finally confined to history following the US Supreme Court’s widely-anticipated judgment.
Both in the lead up to and immediately after the verdict, sports betting operators and suppliers in Europe have been eagerly planning their market entry. The same is also true of those on the other side of the pond, with major US brands keen to make the most of the newly presented business opportunity, with many hopeful of having something to offer from ‘day one’.
In the coming months and years, I believe we’ll see sports betting offered by companies of all shapes and sizes, from DFS operators to racetracks, and media companies to lotteries. However, with the potential for online sports betting being a slow burner, at least from a regulatory perspective, land-based casinos could be first in line to profit from the expansion of single-game wagering beyond Nevada.
This land-based opportunity was just one of the reasons why we recently decided to partner with Rush Street Interactive. Part of the Rush Street Gaming Group, which owns four major bricks and mortar casinos and an online casino brand, Rush Street Interactive will receive Kambi’s full online and retail products where logistically and legally possible.
MAKING A MARK
Other drivers were Rush Street’s customer-focused approach and dedication to innovation. Rush Street understands that if it is to succeed in what will quickly become an ultra-competitive sports betting industry, it will have to make sports betting part of the overall Rush Street experience. It must take what’s made them successful in casino and adapt for the sports betting vertical.
In order to do so, they realized they needed a sportsbook platform with the flexibility to mould and build upon, one that gave them the capacity to remain agile and satisfy what could be a rapidly evolving and maturing customer base. As such, they’ll be using the Kambi technology and uniquely open-APIs to develop and offer a product tailored to their specific audience. It also gives them ability to pivot into a full service B2B provider in other states, with Kambi providing the sportsbook.
I believe if casinos are to succeed in what will quickly become an ultra-competitive US sports betting industry, they’ll have to ensure they have the ability, like Rush Street, to offer their customers new and exciting products. Experiences that will increase brand loyalty and keep players out of the clutches of the growing number of competitors.
These experiences could be anything from augmented reality bonus hunts within the casino premises (think PokemonGo) to dedicated apps for particular sports, leagues and/or players, to the conversion of sports wagering into casino or gamification-style products, to freemium games to either act as a bridge into real-money sports betting or to build a customer base in states that have yet to regulate the activity but plan to do so.
We’ve seen these, and other innovations, activated across our customer base to great effect, giving each operator another USP to differentiate in clustered markets. The only limitation to this approach is imagination but I’m confident, over time, we’ll see the US sports betting market gravitate away from the traditional European-style sportsbook experience as innovation takes hold.
So now the Supreme Court has presented US casinos and others with the opportunity post-PASPA, it down to operators to grasp it through the selection of the partners that can provide the freedom to innovate, remain agile and become a market leader in sport betting.