SBC Summit: Room in sports betting for “people who think differently”

May 9, 2024 7:37 AM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
May 9, 2024 7:37 AM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports

When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was repealed in 2018, there was a rush to gain market share. DraftKings and FanDuel, by virtue of the name recognition the companies had established through their daily fantasy presence, quickly emerged as the most popular sports-betting sites.

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But is there still room for new or emerging operators? That was the question a panel of experts pondered Wednesday during the SBC Summit North America session “Late to the Game: Which Second Movers Will Win a Saturated Gaming Market?” at the Meadowland Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult for new entrants coming into the market,” said Betsson Managing Director for North America Marina Bogard. “Legislation has slowed down a bit, especially since we’re in a cycle at this point in time.”

Bogard added that there is a glimmer of opportunity for new operators who can differentiate themselves from current sportsbook operators, but it will be necessary to offer igaming in addition to sports betting.

“Going forward, if anybody’s going to have a chance to compete in this category, there needs to be a fundamentally differentiated approach to the user experience,” said Betr CEO Joey Levy. To achieve differentiation, Betr tries to build a simple, intuitive, product experience that even casual fans can easily access.
IGT President of Sports Betting Joe Asher believes that there are opportunities for a second wave of movers to come in and garner market share, comparing sports betting to what happened in the automotive industry. Where once Ford and General Motors dominated car manufacturing, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, and most recently Tesla have proven there’s room for new ideas and innovation.

“It happens in other industries, so I don’t see why this industry would necessarily be different,” Asher said. “Those of us who have some gray hair and have been around the industry sort of think of sports betting as 11-to-10, then FanDuel comes along with same-game parlays that become quite popular.

“A lot of people growing up especially in states like California and Texas are on Prize Picks or Underdog or some other gambling site and betting on individual players. My generation tends to bet on teams. Clearly, there’s room for people who are thinking differently to become significant in the industry.”

Panelists also discussed how the concept of market share isn’t the lone signifier of success. Eric Hession, Caesars co-president of sports and online gaming, stated his company’s market-share goal is 10%, which would result in “great business.” He compared what Caesars is trying to accomplish to Ferrari, the Italian automaker with a minuscule market share in the U.S., but a world-class brand.

“This industry has been so focused on market share,” Hession said. “By market share, it’s GGR market share, which isn’t real market share in terms of net gaming revenue after your promos. We all know that casinos can create whatever market share you like by boosting up your promos. The focus on market share, we think, is misguided. You have two of the three profitable companies from an EBITDA perspective sitting up here and our market share summed up probably doesn’t even equal the third-place operator.”

Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz also seemed to think market share isn’t the most important factor for his sports-betting operation. More significant for Rush Street is wallet share.

“We try to generate the highest revenue per user in the industry by making sure that those who play with us spend a large amount of their gambling budget with us,” Schwartz said. “It’s not about the share of GGR, which again is a very unclear method to use, but more about how we engage users, how we retain those customers, so they want to spend a higher portion of their budget with us.”

Rege Behe is lead contributor to CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at rbehe@cdcgaming.com. Please follow @RegeBehe_exPTR on Twitter.