In an interview with SBC Americas, PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken outlines his vision of the new and emerging sports betting world Stateside.
SBC Americas: Can you give us some background in terms of the set-up of your new US office, staffing and how much are you looking forward to getting started?
Johnny Aitken: Our flagship PointsBet US office is located on the Hudson River, with a view of the Financial District and Lower Manhattan. It’s a tech hub with a start-up vibe, including a huge trading TV wall and a modern open floor plan. Our focus was to hire A+ talent in the US to compliment the select group of Australian team members that have moved to New Jersey, and we’ve gone from only one full-time employee in August 2018 to a team of 40 people by December 2018. We plan on continuing this momentum in 2019, and are aiming to grow to over 100 staff based stateside. We’re continuing to hire in all areas of business, especially around tech, product and customer insights. Getting live and taking big bets is what we are here to do, bookmaking has been my world since a young boy and to take legal action on US soil is a dream come true.
SBCA: Do you have any special ideas for the launch?
JA: Our brand will very different in a largely vanilla market. PointsBet will be the premium sportsbook in the space that embodies our ‘Stay Sharp’ philosophy. This is evident in several areas, the first of which is our PointsBetting bet style (on top of all traditional bet types we also have) and are the only ones that have this feature. We also take pride in our one-of-a-kind rewards program, and promise we’ll have the back of the player, through Early Payout Offers, Bad Beat Payouts, Parlay Insurance, and other features. In addition to this, we’ll offer our “No Juice” promotion for all NFL playoff games, where players get +100 odds for all NFL SpreadLines three hours before kick-off.
SBCA: Can you describe what the ‘journey’ has been like preparing for the US launch? Specifically were there any major hurdles and how did you overcome them?
JA: Understanding and transitioning from Australian business practices to the US has been a learning curve, but it’s a challenge we’ve embraced as we built our successful business here from the ground up. PointsBet is the only company operating in New Jersey to date that uses its own tech platform, as opposed to other third-party vendors. This allows us to iterate and innovate faster, and be a sportsbook operator with different options in a sea of sameness. We’ve passed the robust testing conducted by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and received licensing, which is already a huge indication towards the credibility of our brand.
SBCA: What can PointsBet’s new customers expect from your products and services?
JA: Our new customers can expect thousands of unique markets not offered worldwide on NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAAM, NCAAF, Golf, MMA & EPL. Our platform is the quickest and easiest way to bet – users can find an event and bet within seconds. We pride ourselves on our competitive prices and have the highest betting limits in the industry. Additionally, we stand behind the Cash Out mechanism for all pre-match bets and have built a robust “Always On” rewards program. Our highly personalized offers are tailored to your sports betting preferences, not only blanket offers. We love engaging with our customers every day through actionable video content shared on PointsBet’s blog regarding NBA, NFL and popular upcoming events. We also offer educational content throughout the site to learn more about traditional markets and our signature bet type – PointsBetting.
SBCA: How does your experience of the Australian betting market translate to the nascent legal sports betting market in the US?
JA: Our experience in the Australian market translates through the trading expertise we have acquired with handling big volume and not panicking when big bets/results go against us. We take a long-term view with our trading performance; you can’t expect to win every game or day. We have built compelling marketing offers from unique sign-up promotions, and retained our loyalty to our customers through our rewards program and personalized account management. Our customer service continues to be fan-first with a human touch.
SBCA: What is your longer term view of the US market and how do you think PointsBet will fit into the picture?
JA: The US market has immense growth potential for PointsBet, with the combined areas of New Jersey and New York alone being bigger population-wise than the whole of Australia. Controlling your own destiny technology wise will be key, from controlling profit margins to being at the forefront of rolling out cutting edge client experience and product. State legislators when implementing tax rates need to be respectful to the challenges ahead for regulated operators who are competing with non-taxed, illegal offshore operators that can offer aggressive prices, credit betting and so on. The US also has a competitive media landscape with multi-state roll-outs to come as more states legalize sports betting.