Over the last three years, no single B2B sports betting supplier has enabled more sportsbook go-lives than IGT. Whether it was with massive B2C brands, multi-state casino operators or with regional gaming venues, the firm continues to prove its ability to excel in complex regulatory environments and enable diverse business models that support its customers’ short, mid and long-term sports betting goals.
IGT’s Vik Shrestha, Senior Director PlaySports Business Development, is constantly meeting with gaming operators across the US and illuminating how the IGT PlaySports team and technology can help operators of all sizes build their new sports betting business. SBC had an opportunity to chat with Shrestha and learn more about the PlaySports customer journey and how the company can successfully support such a diverse set of customers with equally diverse business models and player bases.
Educate first, sell later
“IGT’s first step when approaching operators, most of which are existing IGT customers from our gaming and lottery business, is educating, not selling,” said Shrestha. “Our primary goal is to provide perspective on how to select the ideal sports betting partners and ensure that they can support a sports betting business that will drive long-term profitability.”
He went on to explain that this educational process often starts well before state regulation is defined. IGT’s decades of experience as a global supplier give the PlaySports team regulatory insight which ultimately helps customers understand the impact that various sports betting regulations and legislative models may have in the market.
In addition to meeting with individual operators to educate them on options and offerings, Shrestha frequently presents to mixed audiences at industry events and to regulators at educational sessions.
Bespoke business models
From there, IGT and the PlaySports team move on to what they call the business modeling and operational guidance stage. This is when the PlaySports commercial team helps its customers understand the size of their sports betting opportunity and the various line items that comprise a sportsbook P&L.
This information is supplemented by the PlaySports Operations team, which provides guidance on building a new sports betting operation from the ground up and understanding important subjects such as house rules.
“We recognize that launching a sports betting enterprise is a complex endeavor. The skill and expertise of IGT’s regulatory compliance and operations teams have played integral roles in driving growth for our customers and enabling them to be first-to-market in multiple states,” added Shrestha.
Go-live preparations and first bets
Once an operator concludes that IGT is its ideal sports betting technology and service provider, the PlaySports training team starts developing a tailored training program that familiarizes users with terms, technology and troubleshooting, and can later be used as an off-the-shelf resource for all things PlaySports.
This successful and widely used program is called IGT Sports Betting Academy. All of this hard work is completed well before a sportsbook starts accepting wagers.
Said Shrestha: “Given the rapid expansion of sports betting in the US and the limited pool of sports betting industry professionals, our IGT Sports Betting Academy is an important tool for all of our customers in developing world-class sports betting talent.
“Our training is not limited to pre go-live; we provide on-going training to ensure our customers can hire and train new staff as the business continues to expand. We want our customers to open their sportsbooks with confidence.”
Each customer launch takes a significant amount of teamwork and precise coordination across the entire IGT PlaySports global organization which spans the US, UK, and Serbia. According to Shrestha, IGT’s highly skilled Belgrade-based development team is responsible for the final configuration and installation of the system, is the core of the organization, and has made sports betting a reality for so many operators across the US.
“It’s incredibly rewarding when our customers get the green light to start accepting bets after many months of hard work and preparation. Everyone involved takes a significant amount of pride in these milestone moments,” shared Shrestha.
In it for the long haul
“The final stage of our customers’ PlaySports journey is an enduring one,” noted Shrestha. “Our skilled operations team works around the clock ensuring that our customers have input on their business when needed, adopt best practices, and leverage the latest system upgrades and features to ultimately offer a better product to end-users.”
No matter what the business model, and no matter the phase in the customer journey, it’s clear that IGT is committed to delivering the best possible service and technology to its customers and their players.