Daniel Kustelski, Co-founder and CEO of Chalkline, offers up a typically direct view of the current state of the US sports betting and igaming sectors, focusing on some of the key opportunities and challenges along the way.
One of the big challenges often cited as facing the growth of the igaming sector in the US is the need for a state by state approach to regulation, legislation and market demand. What’s your take on this and is the issue being unnecessarily magnified?
It is NOT being unnecessarily magnified. It’s THE most important thing. Look at New York and Florida: publicly traded companies hang in the balance on the outcomes here. State-level marketing is critically important.
The European igaming experience has been well documented – market boom, followed by punitive legislation. What lessons has the US learned from that and how will it shape the American approach to igaming?
The US market, collectively, has learned nearly nothing from the European gaming experience. The competitive landscape of the US doesn’t allow for us to “learn” from the European market history…so as a nation, we’ll likely repeat it.
That said: there are a lot of really smart operators in the US that will take European lessons to heart. We know this because we talk to them daily or weekly. It is a process.
We’ve recently listened to debate over where the innovation will come from in the US igaming sector. Will it have a European flavour or can we expect some grassroots innovation or, perhaps, a combination of the two?
It will be a combination of both. We just attended SBC and LOVED the mix of European and US approach that evidenced itself in many ways. There is a great start-up scene here in the US, PLUS lots of smart European operators that are over here mining gold. There will be innovation here, even at the state level.
What technical foundations are required for long-term success? What challenges have been met so far? How are they being overcome?
Operators MUST have state-level marketing tools. We’ve rolled this out for a number of clients, and more ask for it every day. It’s the most important ingredient to long-term US success.
As with the legalization of sports betting, igaming operators will have to convince customers to shift away from the black market suppliers they’re accustomed to. The obvious solution is to throw millions of marketing dollars at the problem. But what else can be done on this front?
Soft sell. Freeplay games that put money in accounts. Freeplay games that incentivize good bettors to play along with them. If you’re an operator, play long ball or get out. Freeplay is part of your long term solution.
And finally, what are the predictions in terms of the monetary size of a mature US igaming sector and what will stakeholders need to think about in serving that market responsibly and sustainably? How do you avoid killing the goose that laid the golden egg?
We listen to Eilers & Krejcik. According to their research: US igaming is a $60bn business by 2025 and growing exponentially. Even if it’s half that, we’re along for the ride.