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Why US operators must improve their marketing tech

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Paddy Casey, co-founder at leading product development and digital marketing supplier The Unit, chats to Gaming Americas about the importance of modernising the US product experience now sports-betting markets have settled

The challenges presented to US-facing sports-betting operators have changed considerably since markets began to open up following the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018. The idea of exponentially high marketing spends is not so prominent in 2023, and the battleground is transitioning towards a fight for existing customers.

One of the key issues affecting operators is they have been forced to make redundancies in their tech teams. While it is still crucial to develop rapid-fire landing pages/products to meet the demand of sports events, marketing departments rarely received the support they needed for fast digital campaigns from the internal tech teams in the first place, and this issue has now been exacerbated.

When mobile sports betting began to open up in the US, the apps were based on European sportsbooks. This can be an adequate market-entry strategy, but it doesn’t necessarily work in the long-term. When William Hill US first launched as the second mobile sports betting app in New Jersey after DraftKings, the advertising agency behind the campaign had been briefed for three months on the launch. When the app was finally developed and presented to them, the overall reaction was: “Is that it?” They felt it was going to be a new, ground-breaking Silicon-Valley-style piece of new technology, but it was essentially the same William Hill app adapted for US bettors.

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Launching based off European models was all the operators could think to do, but that was not necessarily right for the US audience. Now, everyone in the market has to think harder about maximising performance. There are many things you have to do to attract new sign-ups, and the idea of a strong design and the ability to make changes is paramount now, which it wasn’t in 2018.

Following FanDuel’s lead

With a 50% market share as of the end of 2022, FanDuel is the clear market leader in US sports betting, but what is key to remember is it is not necessarily run in the same vein as most other US-facing operators. Given it is owned by Flutter Entertainment, the same parent company that manages Paddy Power and Betfair, it can be guided with more of a European mindset.

FanDuel’s app wasn’t particularly stronger than that of any other operator, but it has taken the lead with product and marketing innovation. Specific products were marketed similarly to how they had been by Paddy Power. While Paddy Power’s advertising is, of course, associated with comedy and at times controversy, it is always focusing on a product release or something that particularly stands out in the mobile app; FanDuel replicated that very astutely. While all the other operators were enforcing generic messages about how enjoyable sports betting can be, FanDuel was actually mentioning products like single-game parlays, and this approach was always likely to be successful.

There is still one thing FanDuel, like all US operators, can improve on, and that’s marketing tech. Tracking marketing spend and player behaviour are still quite new concepts, even with various US markets now being close to five years’ old. We have heard examples of affiliates in the US who can’t work with certain operators because they are convinced the player tracking is so far behind where it needs to be that the operator can’t even track which players have been sent to it by the affiliate. In the early days of regulated US markets, some teams were so naïve in this area they were literally guessing click-through rates.

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Working around the problem

In sports betting, there is often one C-level executive whose needs are never prioritised within the product roadmap by the operator, and that’s the chief marketing officer. As soon as someone pipes up about what they need to promote March Madness, for example, the usual response is: “We don’t have time for that.”

That is why it is vital to utilise the expertise of teams who are experienced in sports betting and able to take this matter off an operator’s to-do list. It requires a team who can spend time addressing the player behaviour issues mentioned above, while also building out designs and all the core digital marketing that takes place within the sports product. When operators are able to use resources that can help make their marketing experience better, this will undoubtedly give them an edge in competitive markets.

US consumers are becoming more educated. Their loyalty will be closely matched to the product experience and engagement. With state launches now slowing down with regards to sports betting, operators will now, and should now, focus on product improvements.

Paddy and The Unit’s senior team will be on site at SBC Summit North America this week at the Meadowlands, New Jersey

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NorthStar Gaming Reports First Quarter 2024 Results

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NorthStar Gaming Holdings Inc. released its financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2024. All dollar figures are quoted in Canadian dollars.

“In the first quarter we continued our pattern of strong year-over-year growth, highlighted by record total wagers. Our premium customer experience and growing brand awareness are propelling higher player retention, strengthened loyalty and increased player values. These positive trends enable us to spend our marketing dollars more efficiently, contributing to improved operating leverage as the business scales,” Michael Moskowitz, Chair and CEO of NorthStar, said.

Financial highlights for the first quarter ended March 31, 2024:

  • Revenue, including managed services fees, net of bonuses, promotional costs and free bets, was $5.9 million in Q1 2024, an increase of 63% over $3.6 million in Q1 2023.
  • Total Wagers1 at Northstarbets.ca were $218.0 million in Q1 2024, an increase of 56% compared to $140.2 million in Q1 2023.
  • Gross Gaming Revenue at NorthStarbets.ca was $7.0 million in Q1 2024, an increase of 59% over $4.4 million in Q1 2023.
  • Gross Margin was $2.2 million in Q1 2024, an increase of 91% over $1.2 million in Q1 2023, and represented approximately 37% of revenue compared to 32% of revenue in Q1 2023.

Recent Operating Highlights:

  • Notable year-over-year improvements in key performance indicators (KPIs) included a 42% increase in active players, a 9% decline in cost per acquisition of a customer (CPA), and a 54% increase in estimated 12-month player values.
  • Renewed the strategic marketing agreement with Playtech Software Limited, which will contribute services valued at up to $4 million through to October 31, 2024, designed to accelerate player acquisition in Ontario.
  • Secured $3 million of short-term financing to fund the Company’s continued growth through an unsecured promissory note to Playtech plc dated April 25, 2024 repayable in one year, or earlier upon completion by the Company of additional financing transactions.
  • Recently celebrated the second anniversary of the NorthStar Bets platform, which launched in Ontario on May 9, 2022. Northstarbets.ca has generated more than $1 billion in total wagers1 in its first two years of operations.
  • Ongoing roll-out of enhancements to the Company’s “Sports Insights 2.0” content vertical, an initiative announced in February 2024, with recent additions including player injury reports from industry leader RotoWire and a revised content strategy placing a greater emphasis on casino.
  • Launched the VIP Elite program to help secure the loyalty and satisfaction of our most active players.
  • Introduced branded studios for select live dealer games, prominently showcasing the NorthStar Bets brand and reinforcing the Company’s positioning as a premium offering.
  • Continued to strengthen the Casino vertical, which has surpassed 650 games covering all major categories and curated from leading vendors worldwide.

“March was the strongest month of Q1, and we have maintained that momentum into the second quarter. Our team is making regular improvements to our service offering, such as the recent launch of a VIP Elite strategy aimed at the most active players who drive a meaningful share of our results. We have some exciting demand creation activities planned for the coming months along with further innovations to our platform and content. We remain focused on unlocking value for our stakeholders and are excited about the opportunities ahead of us in 2024,” Mr. Moskowitz said.

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Swintt games approved for release in Ontario

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In-demand software provider receives AGCO approval to operate in the regulated province, bringing full suite of games to Canadian players for the very first time

Swintt, the EGR award-winning software provider famed for its classically-themed Premium releases and state-of-the-art Select slots, has announced it has received permission to operate in Ontario, meaning its full suite of games will now available to AGCO-licensed platforms.

Having unveiled ambitious plans to expand into further regulated markets at the start of 2024, Swintt’s portfolio is now certified in eleven countries including Malta, Germany and the Netherlands, but this latest approval represents the company’s maiden entry into North America.

This means that not only will Ontarian players now be able to enjoy popular SwinttGames releases like the fan favourite slot Aloha Spirit XtraLockTM, but also newer upcoming games from Elysium Studios – Driven by Swintt.

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The product of Swintt’s acquisition of Elysium Studios earlier this year, the collaboration has resulted in a new line-up of releases being added to the software provider’s roster, with these games combing immersive themes and features with the very latest in slot design and graphics.

Tipsy Charms, the first game in the Elysium Studios – Driven by Swintt line-up, has already launched to great effect – and with the Mesopotamian-themed adventure, Law of Gilgamesh, scheduled for May 30th, there’s plenty for Ontarian players to look forward to in the coming weeks.

With all this and more on the horizon for the province in the second half of 2024, everyone at Swintt is excited about entering the regulated Canadian market for the first time and the company has high hopes that the approval will further underline its credentials as a leading global provider.

David Mann, Chief Executive Officer at Swintt, said: “Swintt is delighted to have received AGCO approval for its games in Ontario and we’re very excited to now have the chance to take this new and dynamic market by storm. Being certified to launch in Ontario is definitely a huge step for the company that will enable us to showcase our brand to new audiences on the global stage.”

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Rivalry to Report First Quarter 2024 Results on May 30

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Rivalry Corp. (the “Company” or “Rivalry”) (TSXV: RVLY) (OTCQX: RVLCF) (FSE: 9VK), the leading sportsbook and iGaming operator for Gen Z, today announced details of its planned release of first quarter 2024 financial results.

The Company expects to file its Q1 2024 results the morning of Thursday, May 30, 2024 prior to the commencement of TSXV trading. Management plans to host an investor conference call that same day at 10:00 am EDT to discuss the results.

Conference Call Details
Timing: Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 10:00 am EDT
Dial-in: 1-800-717-1738 (toll free) or (+1) 289-514-5100 (local or international calls)
Webcast: A live webcast can be accessed from the Events section of the Company’s website at rivalrycorp.com
A replay of the webcast will be archived on the Company’s website for one year.

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