By Richard Schwartz
The sports betting phenomenon is sweeping across the US. Its popularity continues to grow, thanks in part to forward-thinking legislators and regulators who are providing a legal framework for patrons to place a bet. Sports fans are drawn to this exciting form of gaming as it gives them an opportunity to add a dimension of entertainment while watching sports.
Like many Tribal organizations, you may be contemplating your sports betting strategy. There is no shortage of suppliers out there happy to pitch you. With that being the situation, the question you should ask yourself is, “What should I look for in a trusted partner?” This article intends to help you answer that question.
Reputation of Supplier
Given the complex nature of the services provided, agreements with sports betting providers are often longer term in nature, and those with online gaming providers typically are even longer than for retail environments. With that type of long-term commitment, who you partner with and what their reputation is matters. Questions to consider:
- How are their players treated, with honesty and care?
- How do their current partners perceive them?
- How do regulators perceive them?
- How does the industry perceive them?
- Have they ever worked in unregulated, gray or black markets?
Trustworthiness and integrity are critical attributes to look for when selecting a partner.
Breadth of Product Offerings
All offerings are not created equal. While multiple companies may offer sports betting or online casinos, for example, what is precisely offered can vary greatly. Diving deep into the product offerings and their robustness will help identify the likelihood of success. Players want the widest variety of content available – whether that means more player-friendly site/app features, more sports events, or more in-game bets offered. In today’s ultra-competitive market, it pays to provide quality, wide-ranged offerings from the outset.
Quality of Offerings
Fundamentally, the fewer partners you have involved, the more efficient your operation will become. However, merely being able to offer all business verticals is not enough. It’s the quality that really counts. And if you and your team are not experienced at evaluating quality in these new product area domains, how do you make sure that you put enough weight on quality, for example, over price? You will want to review the prospective partner’s performance in other jurisdictions to gain some clues. Are they excelling in all the markets they’re active in, or are they simply one of many near the bottom of the pack, or are they even live successfully with any operations in the US at all? Do they have a product that resonates with the US market today, and have the capabilities and know-how to ensure they improve in the future? Are they sufficiently stable and well-capitalized to ensure that they’ll remain active and competitive in the US market over the long term? Do they own and control the technology stack, or are they reliant on many third parties for critical functionality, including launch timelines?
Single Partner for a Unified Approach Versus Multiple Partners for a Piecemeal Approach
While retail sports betting (a.k.a. land-based sportsbook) is probably on the top of many of your minds, it is only one of the many business verticals that the industry is focusing on to ensure future readiness. The other business verticals include online sports betting, online casino and social casino. While you may find different suppliers/market access partners for each business vertical, few can offer them all. Even fewer yet will be able to offer them all at an exceptional and truly competitive level. Thinking about this early will allow you to find a partner who can not only meet your current needs, but also meet the needs that you will have in the future when the online and land-based gaming experiences converge.
Land-Based Gaming Heritage and Understanding
While there are similarities between online and retail sportsbooks, there are also many fundamental differences. Finding a partner with a deep understanding of land-based gaming is important. Doing so helps ensure that you and your prospective partner will be speaking the same language and appreciating how important the cross-sell is to drive more visitation to your land-based casino. Experience counts, so finding an online partner with a background in and passion for land-based gaming will be conducive to a smoother and more profitable partnership.
Importance of Unifying Sportsbook with Land-Based Casino Floors
As surprising as it may seem, there are retail sportsbook partners who are not interested in or motivated to drive traffic to other parts of your casino. This is also true when talking about some online sports betting operators who are happy with keeping the patrons on their site/app and not driving new potential guests to your property. These undesirable partner types are looking to optimize their own online gaming revenues, rather than your land-based casino revenues. You want a partner interested in your long-term success. For all areas of your business, not just the ones that they directly benefit from. In addition to increasing engagement with your existing players, sports betting will enable you to expand your reach to a new group that you may have never reached before. Once in your player database, you will have access to cross-sell the gaming and non-gaming amenities at your property.
Use of Social Gaming for Online Player Acquisition and Engagement
Social gaming is a fun way for your patrons to enjoy casino-style games risk-free. It is a great way for you to keep your brand top of mind while your patron is away from your casino (rather than them playing games like Candy Crush). Social gaming can also generate meaningful revenue and drive patrons back to your property more frequently. All of this is without considering the player database and brand building benefits it can lend to future real-money online gaming. Acquiring social gaming players early when there is less competition, and at substantially less expensive rates than most other types of players, is a real bargain. Ensuring that your partner can support your social gaming aspirations is critical. Additionally, choosing a social gaming partner that offers both social gaming and real-money online gaming on the same technology platform is a huge plus, because when the time comes for real-money online gaming, your players can get a consistent gaming experience without having to learn a whole new website. We have found that the lower the friction, the higher the conversion and satisfaction rates are for players.
Commercial Goals: Short-Term Cash Versus Long-Term Revenues
While you likely are focused on longer term success over short-term profitability, revenue potential is likely one of the factors that you are considering when choosing a partner. While some prospective partners will gladly offer large sums of short-term cash, you must consider the long-term opportunity costs of not choosing the partner that may be better suited to help build your business. That is why we think the most important characteristics of a good partner for your Tribal casino are those who can help drive increased property-wide revenue, who can best grow your database and who can offer you the broadest array of land-based and online product offerings so that you are prepared and ready for the future.
Guest Column Contributed by Richard Schwartz, President, 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.