HomeFinanceExclusive: The State Of US Sports Betting Sponsorship

Exclusive: The State Of US Sports Betting Sponsorship

Exclusive: The State Of US Sports Betting Sponsorship

With states across the US continuing to legalise sports betting and the changes to the market introducing new opportunities for betting sponsorship across US sport, PlayUp chief marketing officer, Kevin Smith, spoke to Ministry of Sport about the challenges in the market.

PlayUp recently began their second season as a gaming partner for the New Jersey Devils in the NHL, after originally launching as an Australian betting platform before expanding into the US with the rise of sports betting.

Speaking about the partnership with the Devils, Smith said it is a chance for PlayUp to cement itself in the newly competitive US market.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with the New Jersey Devils, and there’s a couple components that stood out to us as a challenger brand in the US,” Smith told Ministry of Sport.

“In this stage of our brand entry into the US, we have to align ourselves with key partners that give us that brand credibility and brand standing as we look to grow in the US market.

“The Devils certainly provide us that ability as an NHL franchise, they bring instant credibility with that, and they certainly have a loyal fan base and a lot of history in winning championships…

“In terms of the partnership, a lot of the elements are considered standard in the partnership and sponsorship arena, we get our logo on the ice, on the dashboard, the lower bowl of the arena and within the LED system, and those are great things and certainly have value for us, but there’s two things that stood out for us that made it a very attractive deal.

“One is we do have exclusivity in the category, we’re not the only gaming partner they have as most teams in the US are experiencing rapid growth in the space, but we are the only one in the space that can activate within the arena.

“Part of that is we have a dedicated space within the Prudential Centre, we call it the PlayUp Lounge and it is obviously branded with our logo, but there’s also numerous monitors and TVs; it’s designed to be very interactive.

“We also have the ability to bring in great messaging around live odds, both for the Devils and the NHL, but also for other sporting events that may be happening that evening on game night,” he said.

Discussing the experience PlayUp has in Australia, Smith said the use of digital will prove critical in the US.

“One thing we’ve learned in Australia is having a really high touch customer service approach and giving VIPs a truly unique experience really sets us apart from the competition and we have a really strong blueprint for that based on what we’ve done in Australia,” Smith said.

“We will look to replicate that, and this is one way right out of the gate that we can interact with fans in person and really get to know them and show them the approach we look to have.

“The other piece that really stood out to us was we have the rights and the branding around their content studio.

“So one thing the Devils are really good at, and a lot of professional sports teams are coming around to this, but I have to give the Devils and their team props for really being on the forefront for this in terms of the content they’re creating in-house.

“They’re not necessarily relying on the league or their broadcast partners, they’re producing shows on a regular basis and livestream a pre-game show before every game, which is branded the PlayUp Show, and any other content they produce is produced out of the PlayUp Content Studio.

“For us as a challenger brand and one looking to cut through the clutter, traditional media are over-saturated with our competitor brands, so this is a way through the digital channel, where our specialty and expertise is,” he said.

Speaking broadly about the growth in the US market and the opportunity for sports betting companies like PlayUp to succeed, Smith said: “We feel really strongly about the blueprint laid in front of us from what was built in Australia around that high touch customer service angle, the competitive odds and the things the bettors really look for.”

“We also know the markets are completely different in a lot of ways, there’s certainly some nuances there we can take advantage of, but also look at handle, in Australia, depending on who the operator is, it’s 70-80% horse racing, where in the US overall handle is less than 2%.

“That alone creates some challenges.

“We’re pretty bullish on what lies ahead for the horse racing industry in the US, but that’s a long-term play, that’s not going to happen overnight.

“If you look at the way bettors bet in the US versus Australia, not just what they bet on, but how they bet, and you look at what’s been done in infrastructure with bars, restaurants, and pubs as you guys affectionately call them, there’s a lot of learnings there we can gather, and it’s a far more mature market as well.

“We look at the UK and Australia both as markets of what can we learn from, with the UK specifically in-game betting is 60-70% of the handle.

“Now that’s in-game betting basically on soccer, so what sports in the US lend itself to in-game betting, as soccer doesn’t have the immense popularity it does in the US as other parts of the world, although that’s growing, but what elements can we take from Australia, from the UK, and then also what can we do to be different here in the US.

“Obviously, the industry here is four years old, at least the regulated industry, we know it’s been going on far longer than that, but there’s lots of things we can learn from what’s been done recently, but it’s really important for us to be different,” Smith told Ministry of Sport.

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