Focus on IGT PlaySports: Working with tribal casinos to boost sports betting operations

December 2, 2022 8:00 AM
  • John G. Brokopp, CDC Gaming Reports
December 2, 2022 8:00 AM
  • John G. Brokopp, CDC Gaming Reports

When the United States Supreme Court struck down PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) in May of 2018 to pave the way for states to legalize gambling on sports, the frontier that was opened created a multitude of opportunities.

Commercial casino properties and tribal jurisdictions in many states suddenly found themselves interested in sports book operations and learning more about the technological platforms and solutions required to participate in the new sports betting sector.

It has taken less than five years for legal sports betting in markets across the nation to grow into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. At the forefront of the B2B charge is the IGT PlaySports platform, the driving force behind successful operations at more than 80 gaming venues, many of which are tribal casinos.

Joe Asher, the former CEO of William Hill US, was appointed IGT President of Sports Betting in October of 2021. He possesses a wealth of executive and managerial experience in the sports betting sector.

With Asher’s leadership and IGT’s trusted reputation among tribes throughout the country, IGT PlaySports is uniquely positioned and qualified to help tribes scale their sports betting operations and localize their offers.

“Many tribes already had existing relationships with us from our land-based gaming business,” Asher said. “When tribes started looking at viable options to offer sports betting, it was only natural that they would partner with us on this as well.

“Our turnkey PlaySports solution is very easy to implement and that was quickly recognized by tribal leaders. Given our expertise, we are able to drive results, navigate complex regulatory challenges and deliver on tribes’ speed-to-market goals. We deliver our world-class technology to them and train them how to use it, as well as provide advice on everything from the betting aspects of a sports book all the way to the restaurant menu in a sports book restaurant. IGT’s focus on partnering with our customers every step of the way to drive their sports book success offers the very important element of trust.”

IGT’s reputation and global leadership in the gaming industry quickly made PlaySports the market leader in the United States for B2B sports betting technology.

The depth of experience the company possesses includes more than a decade of sports betting solutions in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. When America was ready, IGT was ready to support commercial gaming operators, tribal casinos and lotteries.

In 2020, IGT made a major move to expand its PlaySports technology to meet increasing demands in the U.S. sports betting market by launching its own full-service trading team based in Las Vegas.

This division was designed to provide 24-hour, seven days a week, expert odds making with localized pricing for pre-game and in-play bets, continuous monitoring and optimization, and on-call expertise in every aspect of day-to-day sportsbook operations.

PlaySports customers in turn benefit not from a “cookie cutter” strategy, but rather from personalized attention tailor made to the needs of different regional markets.

“If you’re the sports book operator in Green Bay, Wisconsin, what do you do about the Packers?” Asher said. “The Packers are popular there and people are going to bet on them every week. That’s where IGT PlaySports comes in, knowing how to manage the situation from a sports book liability perspective.”

When sports betting was legalized, there was already an existing demographic, though these people were betting through illegal channels. Therefore, sportsbook operators looked to convert the existing customer base to bet legally.

“Additionally, sports book operators benefit from an entirely new demographic of customers,” Asher said. “People see sports betting commercials on television when they’re watching various sporting events, or they’ll see an advertisement online or in their social media feed. Conversation about sports betting is a regular component of sports broadcasts and on sports talk radio. This creates further interest among new players who then choose to give it a try.”

The efficiency and convenience of the sports book technology that PlaySports delivers to properties also plays a key role in expanding audiences, who are then able to have a complete gaming, entertainment, and hospitality experience.

“The sports books are great additions to tribal casinos and create very nice amenities for the tribes we work with,” Asher continued. “They drive additional guests into the properties. For example, in the state of Washington, business has been pretty brisk this year with the Mariners doing so well and the Seahawks playing better than expected. This type of excitement drives people to visit casinos and bet on sports.”

Reaching out to IGT for PlaySports makes sense to operators on many levels. The technology and support it offers to tribes, retail, and online sports books, no matter what size, in any jurisdiction in which sports betting is legal, will bring fully integrated technology backed by one of the most trusted names in gaming.

“PlaySports is a proven solution,” Asher said. “Operators know we’re going to get our product approved and licensed by the local regulator. The system has demonstrated it drives results, and we’ve had great success through word of mouth and due diligence.”

With a solid foundation, IGT PlaySports is constantly building for the future as new opportunities develop and existing relationships expand.

“The sports betting market continues to grow state by state,” Asher said. “Ohio will be going live the first of January. It will be a big state for us because the law allows for kiosks in sports bars and we have over 600 kiosks deployed in the U.S. today”

IGT has more than 80 sportsbooks in 27 jurisdictions with a proven system that is widely used. Included in this list is the number one operator in the business, FanDuel, which uses IGT PlaySports system for all of its retail business across the country and online business in Ontario. Looking toward 2023, IGT PlaySports is well positioned and ready to maximize further opportunities built on the proven success it has had thus far.

John G. Brokopp is a veteran of 50 years of professional journalist experience in the horse racing and gaming industries