Participating in the Next Generation of Venues panel at this week’s SBC Digital Summit North America, Seth Schorr – CEO of Fifth Street Gaming  told delegates that progressive companies like DraftKings and FanDuel which are “technology companies at their core”, have a dramatic impact on why so much betting is taking place on mobile devices as opposed to the retail environment.

Addressing the Newgioco Group-sponsored panel, he said: “The traditional casino companies in Nevada were not very innovative in sports betting; we had decades to do what DraftKings and FanDuel did in three or four years. I think that’s testament to what they’ve done and I think it’s fantastic.”

He added: “From a brick and mortar perspective, I don’t think that we should look at mobile versus brick and mortar, they’re a symbiotic relationship. I also believe in human nature, people wanting to be with other like-minded sports fans – [it’s an experience] that you don’t get betting at home on your iPad.”

Schorr told delegates that the challenge is how to use mobile technology to enhance the experience at brick and mortar facilities. “Of course people are gonna bet at home, but it’s about how we give people that fully immersive experience,” he said.

Sam Basile, General Manager at GeoComply, echoed these thoughts and said that there is a need and a desire to be able to combine technology on the mobile side, and see what kind of different dynamics can exist and the community that can be built. 

“There is also the elimination of what I consider the intimidation factor, walking up for the first time to place your bet as opposed to taking your time and placing your bet on a mobile phone. That’s another factor that has been eliminated by offering on premise mobile betting,” he stated.

Joining Schorr and Basile on the panel, part of the Land Based track sponsored by IGT, Jonathan Doubilet, Managing Director US at Playtech, explained how, as a technology company, they look at the retail location as a way to leverage that technological expertise.

“There is and there will be an inherent kind of retail customer that, at the end of the day, isn’t a mobile-first kind of customer. Of course they might have a mobile device, but at the end of the day they have different intentions, different reasons for going to a retail sportsbook and, primarily, that is the social factor. There is nothing like using a retail device or being in the company of friends.”

He continued: “With COVID-19 we’re going to have to become more creative going forward in how we approach sports betting. Everything is operating as it would be, obviously with less traffic due to less sports. But ultimately, I think we’re gonna be looking at a different type of ecosystem, but still having those retail in-person values.”

With Stephen Crystal, Founder of SCCG Management as moderator, they also discussed how the current global situation changes how the industry was a few months ago in terms of strategies around leveraging sports betting as a new content area for casinos and bringing it to the digital side.

Schorr commented: “I think 2021 will look a lot more like 2019 than some may think, but I see COVID-19 as a great accelerator. If your business was going bad pre-COVID, this was a nail in the coffin. If a business was solid, if there was demand and money to be made, it’ll be back in 2021.”

He continued: “Utilizing technology in-venue not only helps during a COVID environment, but it also helps from a labor perspective, from a cost perspective, and allows operators to spend their dollars in the right way. For example, a kiosk can absolutely replace a ticket writer and arguably could do a better job in explaining things better, it’s less intimidating. What it can’t replace is the great personality that comes over and maybe encourages you to place that bet, that takes the wager.

“Throughout the hospitality business we can leverage technology in places that are just transactional. Bringing in someone with a great personality, that’s the experience, that’s hospitality. And I think it’s a great balance of using technology and personality that creates an experience that is great for our guest and gets people out of their homes.”

Schorr explained that, as an operator, it’s essential to retain the loyal and quality customers, but it’s equally as important to acquire new ones. “And what’s interesting about North America, outside of Nevada and I guess New Jersey too, is that legal sports betting is being introduced to new markets and on a state-by-state basis, and each state is different. I think we have to focus on new customers and realize that we have to speak their language.”

Basile added: “The retention aspect is absolutely critical, once you got them you have to keep them, and it’s all about the offering and the ease in which they can place the bet when they’re on the property.”

SBC Digital Summit North America is running this week July 14-16. To register or obtain more information visit the event’s official website