Sponsored Guest Column Contributed by Rob Picard, Vice President of Business Development, Rush Street Interactive
Setting up a sportsbook should be an easy play call, right? You grab a sportsbook vendor, put up the odds boards, cut the ribbon, and start taking bets. Simple, right? “Not so fast my friend!” as the great on-air personality from ESPN’s College GameDay, Lee Corso says.
There are many considerations in the process of choosing the right partners or vendors for sports betting including reputation, product quality, land-based experience, turnkey vs. piecemealed approach, looking towards the future and preparing for online – but that is a topic for another day. You’ve done your due diligence, selected a partner, the NIGC has issued a declination letter, contracts are in place, the odds are posted and sports are playing. How are you going to improve the patron experience so it encourages them to visit your property over competing options? At Rush Street Interactive (“RSI”), we have cultivated a blueprint for success that has worked well for the business-to-business supplier relationships we have established with in-casino retail sportsbooks. These successful partnerships have made us #1 in 2020 in all three of the largest populated states to have legalized sports betting (NY, PA & IL), despite the land-based casino properties in NY and PA not being #1 in land-based casino revenues in their respective states. We’re here to share some of the areas we focus on to help our partners create a best-in-class sportsbook customer experience.
Your players want accurate, real-time responses to their questions and dynamic betting needs. Having an extensive customer service team as behind-the-scenes experts that your staff can rely on to deliver timely responses to patrons’ issues and questions is vitally important. For example, if a baseball team’s star pitcher is being evaluated for injury, and that team’s season win total (over/under a certain amount of wins) is taken off-the-board temporarily during the evaluation, as was the case with Justin Verlander during the 2020 season, having experts actively monitor and serve as a resource of information for your staff is invaluable to the customer experience to ensure all questions they ask are answered accurately and in a timely fashion.
Your team’s focus is on building patron relationships and long-term value, and cross-promoting all of your casino’s amenities, including table games, slots, food & beverage, and hospitality to your patrons. Having subject-matter experts supporting you, with a clear and efficient channel of communication to the line level staff at your property, allows your team to focus on the customer while leaving the nuanced technicalities and edge cases to your service provider or partner.
The right mix of technology, and multiple vendors, will fuel your retail sportsbook and keep patrons returning for the experience. Managing all vendor relationships to procure the best over-the-counter terminals, kiosks, digital signage, audio/visual equipment, data feeds, televised sports packages, and all your technology and product needs, at a price-point that leverages scale, can be difficult for land-based casinos looking to enter the space. Collectively, these components, when customized for your specific needs and footprint, will enhance the overall customer experience at your casino. Having now deployed a number of retail sportsbooks of all shapes and sizes with hundreds of point-of-sales terminals in the market, from multi-million dollar sportsbook build-outs with massive video walls to a more modest footprint predominantly serviced by kiosks, the RSI team has learned from each one and refined a world-class product mix from a range of vendors. This has enabled our partners to configure, manage, and operate their own sportsbook with confidence and success. Making the right technology choices early, and updating them with the latest industry innovations, can put your casino on the right path to successful sportsbook operations that will ultimately enhance the entertainment value for your patrons and cross-marketing opportunities.
BEST-IN-CLASS PLAYER EXPERIENCE
When your players receive the support needed to optimize their experience in your sportsbook, this creates more loyal and profitable players for your casino; in turn, increasing spend at table games, slots, and video gaming machines, as well as food and beverage. Here are four examples highlighting how blending operations and technology will make your sportsbook stand out and improve customer experience:
- Kiosk integration with your existing loyalty card program allows tailored bets and rewards to be loaded to a player’s card before they step through your doors.
- Customer profiling identifies VIP players so you can give them the special treatment they deserve.
- Localization of sports betting ensures your customers have access to handpicked bets relevant for your market and the day’s schedule.
- BetBuilder reduces friction by enabling players to build mobile bets in advance of visiting the counter, reducing their wait time and incentivizing them to join the casino database. (This is not mobile sports betting, but a tool that can be added to your existing website or linked in your concierge app, extending the retail sports betting experience through the player’s own mobile device.)
PROMOTING YOUR BOOK
Your experienced marketing teams will undoubtedly have interesting and creative ways to market to your customer base. We have found that working with our partners on a regular basis to coordinate marketing activities and messaging, well in advance of the sports calendar of events, sets the properties up with plenty of sports-centric marketing ammunition to use to attract sports betting patrons. Our experience across multiple markets helps us provide feedback on what works well (and what has not worked) to drive results and increase casino visits.
For example, RSI has been able to leverage our deep sportsbook offering, on especially busy betting days, to identify and prioritize key events from sunup to sundown that incentivize extended visits to your property. Saturday Morning Specials for Premier League soccer or Grand Slam tennis with food and beverage deals bring patrons in early and get them excited to extend their betting to the marquee matchups and hometown favorites in action throughout the day.
An innovative, rotational display on the self-service betting kiosks also allows your marketing team to consistently promote unique offers and special events, as well as cross-sell to other gaming verticals on property.
Whether currently operating, considering, running an RFP or in the early stages of your sportsbook journey, we hope that the insights shared in this article about what has worked well for our land-based casino partners, helps you envision and deliver upon the sportsbook experience worthy of your casino’s brand and reputation.
About Our Sponsor, Rush Street Interactive
Rush Street Interactive is your one-stop sports betting and online gaming partner. Our retail sportsbook partners are leaders in their respective jurisdictions, including being #1 in market share in the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Thanks to the success of our partnerships, proprietary gaming platform and marketing expertise, our brands BetRivers.com and PlaySugarHouse.com have the #1 market share in online casinos in the US. We’re consistently a top four online sportsbook operator in the US. Our social gaming product, which operates on the same platform as our real-money online gaming product, generates average revenue per user per day about three times the industry average. Just as important is the ease and support that we provide to get you up and running, and the long-term support once you are live. We are fortunate enough to include Tribal-owned entities Little River Casino Resort (Michigan) and Coushatta Casino Resort (Louisiana) among our most recent list of amazing partners. We are obsessed with creating a premier player experience, and feel that quality and integrity matter in everything we do as a company. Contact us via www.rushstreetinteractive.com to discuss all your sports betting and online gaming needs.