Landmark years in betting and gaming don’t come much bigger than 2019, the first full calendar year following the repeal of PASPA—a regulatory development which has opened up unprecedented opportunities in sports betting for all manner of organizations. The U.S. landscape is taking on a defined shape, with multiple states establishing regulations and plenty of promising signs from legislators in others. 

However, while regulation has been efficiently rolled out in a number of states, there have of course been frustrations and examples of it being done less effectively in states including Oregon.

The tribal community holds the cards to how sports wagering can expand through lobbying efforts and compact negotiations. As sensible regulatory frameworks are established, the right insight from trusted partners can lead to significant growth to the bottom-line not just in sports betting, but across the entire casino floor. 

Tribes are seizing the opportunities sports betting unlocks. Tribal groups including New York-based Seneca Gaming Corporation have launched sports betting at their properties, while others such as Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment have signed agreements and lined up sports betting launches in anticipation of the passage of regulation.

Selecting the right route to market for the business is a crucial aspect which tribes must manage. In general, two routes are open, the first being a partnership with a B2C brand, handing over day-to-day management of the sportsbook to an operator and providing that company with access to the casino’s user database and the brand-building opportunities that come with the task.

For those tribes that believe in the strength of their brand and want ownership of the sports betting value chain, partnering with a B2B provider capable of providing all-important regulatory certainty and swift, hassle-free deployment can be the first step on the road to sports betting success. This has been the case for Seneca Gaming Corporation, which launched sports betting in all three of its New York properties in December 2019, just weeks after partnering with Kambi.

It is important to emphasize that no one option for launching sports betting is right or wrong, although there is some evidence in individual states which indicates that going B2B with Kambi and utilizing your own brand database, or a top B2C partner utilizing Kambi, can consistently drive higher revenues than other options. No tribal community is the same, and the only certainty is that the most important aspect will be planning strategically for sports wagering and considering partners who are both experienced at working with tribes and operate with the highest levels of integrity.

 

ENHANCING THE FLOOR

An engaging on-property sportsbook, with a well-managed blend of over-the-counter and kiosk services, can help to draw in a younger clientele and future-proof growth by promoting higher levels of engagement not just in sports betting, but across gaming and hospitality as well by bringing more customers through the doors of the property by broadening its range of products and services.

This is especially the case when rolling out sports betting with an accomplished B2B supplier, as opposed to handing over its database and responsibility for the day-to-day running of the sportsbook to a third party.

Taking control of the sportsbook with a B2B partner empowers the casino with a full 360-degree view of casino and sportsbook customers—enabling it to see how they intersect and how to most efficiently drive cross-sell between the two verticals.

These property-wide business boosts are already being experienced by Kambi partner Penn National Gaming, finding that sports betting has already significantly benefitted casino revenues at its properties—especially in table gameplay. By way of example, Penn National Gaming recently reported that at its Indiana-based Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg, table volumes rose by approx. 20 percent in Q4 2019 following the launch of sports betting.

B2B providers in this scenario must ensure that the process is as consultative as possible, building on the individual requirements of each tribal partner and learning what’s needed through ongoing dialogue and genuine partnership. No aspect of a tribal casino’s offering is a bolt-on, and for those with trust and confidence in their own brand, sports betting need not be either.

 

SAFELY BRINGING IN NEW PLAYERS

Aligning a high-quality mobile product with the on-property offering can also deliver significant uplift. A casino’s players will naturally find their way to mobile and online sports wagering as regulation allows, and developing a mobile and online sports offer consistent with the tribe’s established brand is the best way to beat the competition to the punch and develop even greater brand loyalty. Particularly now, in light of COVID-19, tribes and legislators are looking at diversifying risk around land-based reliance and seeking online revenue opportunities driven by their databases to protect overall tribal revenues. 

Furthermore, with the ongoing importance of social distancing, Kambi’s Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) technology allows for a contactless betting experience which can be conducted in a safe and engaging manner. As casinos start to encourage the greater use of mobile on-premises, BYOD means players can view markets and lines on or off-property, building their betslips remotely to create a QR code which can be scanned at the counter. 
Of all over-the-counter bets placed at Kambi partners’ casinos, between 20-40 percent use BYOD—underlining the potential that a joined up omni-channel strategy can unlock—and we anticipate engagement with the product will continue to grow. 

Tribes considering whether to advocate for online regulation alongside land-based sports betting could look to Seneca Gaming Corporation’s strategy.