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US iGaming: Three predictions for 2024

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Paddy Casey, Co-Founder at sports betting and iGaming developer The Unit, lists what we can expect from US iGaming in the coming year, covering regulation, the battle for market share and the importance of martech.

 

  1. iGaming continues to flex its muscles

Internet gaming continues to generate extraordinary revenue in the states that have legalized and embraced it. In October, for example, Pennsylvania’s iGaming revenue was up 24% month-on-month to $154.8m; a record month for the state where the total equates to a whopping 3x the sports-betting take. Pennsylvania is by no means a standout state, as New Jersey reported a 13% year-on-year increase in iGaming revenue for September, to $166.8million.

Where iGaming is fully regulated (as we’ve seen in the six states where it is live currently, with Rhode Island expected to launch fully in Q1 or early Q2 in 2024), it drives significant revenue for the state and offers a safe and protected environment for entertainment versus offshore, unregulated casinos. As states look to plug holes in the post-pandemic era, we anticipate at least two or three states will legalize igaming in 2024, with Indiana and New York being the obvious contenders to begin that process early in the year.

As has been the case since the birth of online gaming in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there are obvious fears about problem gaming and revenue streams moving away from bricks-and mortar casinos. Legislators will drive tough, and hopefully innovative, legislation to protect land-based casinos while paving the way for iGaming, which should in fact complement the land-based casinos. Players, much like music fans, will demand access to ‘live entertainment’; whether that’s in Madison Square Garden cheering on Billy Joel, or listening to Piano Man at home while watching the NFL.

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The omni-channel experience with iGaming will become more important as BetMGM for example, can deepen its relationship with players through innovations such as its New Jersey Dual Play Roulette, which offers a truly immersive omni-channel experience. Add this to possibilities around loyalty schemes for resort stays, and this will prove super crucial in the CRM and LTV lifecycles.

Aside from the obvious heavyweights, brands which put players first, treat them like the central stakeholder they ought to be, and personalize the user experience through unique and engaging product and gaming content will be the winners.

 

  1. Competition creates cash

This year has been a rollercoaster, in terms of acquisitions and market exits. Kindred recently announced it will be leaving its North American experience behind as quickly as possible. Fanatics can now access every key sports betting state via its PointsBet USA acquisition and Penn Entertainment is planning to shoot for the stars by rebranding its sportsbook as ESPN Bet. Add DraftKings, FanDuel, Bet365 and BetMGM into the ring, and that is one hell of a battle for a share of players’ wallets.

Fanatics and ESPN Bet will most likely use their huge marketing budgets to attract the Gen Z bettors and casual sports fans. Winning the battle to attract, and more importantly retain, this key cohort of players will be significant. Marketing dollars will not be enough; product innovation will be crucial in the attempt to give players the experience they demand. They will demand to be entertained in ways they experience elsewhere.

Outside the ‘big three’ of FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM, in terms of US gaming market share, it will only be companies who continue to evolve and innovate their own offering that can close the gap. The likes of Entain and Angstrom, who are well known and have large wallets, can buy the maturity and experience needed. They can make inroads with the quality of their product and people, as well as via the acquisition of operators and challenger brands (particularly when more states go live with iGaming).

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  1. Marketing tech and needle-like focus on ROI

With the big three effectively owning the sports-betting market and making gains in the iGaming space, the chasing pack will need to innovate with needle-like focus on ROI.

Martech is crucial for success in an industry that is seeing shifts in CPAs and one that has historically not merged fragmented data very well. As there is no real single view of acquiring through to retention, and almost zero real data, technology is holding operators back in the battle to retain Gen Z bettors and give them the experiences they demand; i.e. personalization.

Therefore, a holistic 360-view of customer data which is then deployed across multiple marketing channels is the key to being competitive in this landscape. As biddable platforms rely more and more on AI, it is essential that data which is representative of quality customers is used. As experienced industry veterans know, standard first-time depositor data is not enough. In fact, relying on incomplete customer insights can be detrimental to revenue.

As we all know, customer acquisition is only the starting point. Retention and cross-sell is essential to delivering the return on ad spend required to sustain campaigns in this competitive market.

The front-of-mind game is where the winners and losers will ultimately be determined. There is no personalization without sufficient marketing technology integration. Personalization is a key cog in the retention machine you must be leveraging.

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As a result, a full martech stack is needed to operate an effective marketing department. The gap between the haves and have-nots in this space will widen not just year-on-year, but also month-on-month.

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DAZN Appoints Brice Daumin as CEO of French and Swiss Operations

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DAZN Group, the world’s leading sports streaming service, announced the appointment of Brice Daumin as CEO of its French and Swiss operations. Daumin will oversee DAZN’s growth strategy in France, using his experience and knowledge of the French market garnered over 25 plus years in the French media and telecoms industries.

The move further underlines DAZN’s commitment to France after its launch in August 2023. DAZN brings its French subscribers the best of combat sports including a weekly schedule of top-quality boxing, MMA with the Professional Fighters League and PFL Europe featuring world-class fighters such as Francis Ngannou and Cédric Doumbé, huge PPV boxing line-ups featuring Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, such as “Day of Reckoning”. DAZN also brings its customers top-tier football including Ligue 1 Uber Eats, and the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

DAZN has also delivered a distribution strategy, striking deals with prominent telco and cable operators, to ensure as many French sports fans can access DAZN’s compelling catalogue of premium live sports content, magazine programming, archive and other sports entertainment products. Daumin will report directly to Alice Mascia, whose group responsibilities include her roles as Group Chief Marketing Officer and CEO of DACH.

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Shay Segev, CEO of DAZN Group, said: “DAZN’s global sports offering expanded into France last year and we’re excited to announce that Brice Daumin is joining our team to help us grow in this evolving market. With his extensive in-market experience across our strategic imperatives – customer focus, commercial development, and distribution – Brice will play a key role in our long-term development in France. This is a clear statement of DAZN’s commitment to France and our ambition to continue growing in this exciting sports entertainment market.”

Brice Daumin, CEO of DAZN France, said: “This was an easy decision for me to make. DAZN has already demonstrated its offer right across Europe, with its operations in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Working with the biggest rights holder, in local markets and on a global level, DAZN delivers a fantastic service in a way that works for fans and rights holders. The opportunities for further growth in France are clear, especially when you look at the expanding range of sports entertainment products DAZN is creating – e-commerce, ticketing, social experiences and gaming. The French sports fan is ready for a new experience, one that DAZN will deliver.”

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Alex Pratt

Clarion Gaming Digital Expands North American Reach with Global Gaming Business Acquisition

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iGaming Business (iGB) parent company Clarion Gaming Digital has acquired Global Gaming Business (GGB) as it accelerates its growth strategy across North America.

The purchase includes GGB magazine’s annual publications Casino Style, Tribal Government Gaming and Progressive Products Preview (P3) as well as its online assets including GGB News.

It will extend the digital publishing business’ global reach as the North American market enters a crucial phase, providing clients with access to a significantly bigger audience through its range of marketing services products.

Founded in 2002, GGB is trusted title with a reach beyond sports betting and iGaming into commercial and tribal gaming. It bolsters Clarion Gaming Digital’s ability to provide a comprehensive range of news, analysis and data to every sector of the industry.

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The acquisition is a cornerstone of a wider multimillion pound investment to enhance Clarion Gaming Digital’s data and audience development.

“This is a major milestone for our digital business as we unlock the benefits of our investment,” the Managing Director for Clarion Gaming, Alex Pratt, said. “We are acquiring a business with deep industry heritage and with it the opportunity to build on its solid foundations in the United States.”

The B2B Global Content Director for Clarion Gaming Digital, Robin Harrison, said the acquisition came amid changes to state regulations as well as new land-based and online developments across the United States and Canada.

“We are delighted to seal this deal, which brings in new industry expertise to the team, expands our reach and consolidates our presence in a crucial region,” Harrison said. “We will build an offering that acts as the final word on key industry developments and GGB’s authority and relationships takes us a step closer to that goal.”

“We have had lengthy discussions with Clarion Gaming Digital in recent years and believe it shares our passion and vision for serving our readership in a way that will maintain the quality of the publications for decades to come,” the publisher and Chief Executive Officer for Casino Connection International LLC, the parent of GGB, Roger Gros, said. “As the gaming industry continues to grow in many different ways, our relationship with Clarion will make certain that our pivotal role in the industry remains unchanged and we can continue our important work going forward.”

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Clarion Gaming Digital plans to further accelerate its North American expansion by leveraging unique partnerships on offer through the wider Clarion Events portfolio such as the DigitalPlay Summit at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention over April 10 to 11.

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Aristocrat Leisure Limited

Aristocrat Invests in Kinectify, Appoints Jason Walbridge as Board Member

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Kinectify, a pioneering technology firm spearheading risk management innovation in gaming, has announced an incremental investment by Aristocrat Leisure Limited (Aristocrat).

Aristocrat’s investment in Kinectify is joined by current investors contributing additional capital underscoring confidence in Kinectify. Contributing investors include Acies Investments, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, and the former CEO of Caesars Entertainment, Mark Frissora. Concurrently, gaming executive Jason Walbridge has joined the Kinectify board of directors as Aristocrat’s representative to enhance strategic benefits between Aristocrat and Kinectify.

Walbridge brings extensive global operational experience in both land-based and online gaming markets. For over two decades, he has been a leader in the gaming industry. In 2022, Walbridge commenced an advisory role with Aristocrat, focused particularly on the development of their online real money gaming business, Anaxi.

Prior to his current association with Aristocrat, Walbridge held key executive positions in other established gaming entities. He served as the Chief Operating Officer of NYX Gaming and became Chief Operating Officer of SG Digital following NYX Gaming’s acquisition by Scientific Games (now Light & Wonder). Preceding these two roles, Walbridge spent 18 years with Aristocrat, holding various executive positions across global markets. His deep understanding of industry dynamics, coupled with a proven track record of driving growth and innovation, makes him an invaluable addition to Kinectify’s board.

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Walbridge said: “I am thrilled to work with Kinectify to pioneer innovation in risk management across the gaming ecosystem. I’ve been impressed by Kinectify’s track record so far with its AML and responsible gaming technology, and I’m excited to facilitate deeper collaboration between our companies.”

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