As sports betting continues to grow across the US, Scout Gaming’s Chief Commercial Officer, Araz Heydariyehzadeh, tells SBC Americas how fantasy sportsbooks can stand out and if they can compete with traditional sportsbooks as more states regulate.
SBC: Back in September, Scout Gaming partnered with software systems company eFanGage which included a Free To Play (F2P) fantasy sports software solution. How has this partnership gone so far?
AH: It has progressed very well, and we are working closely with eFanGage and its highly experienced management team at SCCG Management to develop and deploy groundbreaking solutions to capitalize on opportunities that have become available to a wide range of US businesses due to market changes and regulatory conditions. This is primarily within the sports entertainment, land-based casino, and online betting industries.
It’s an exciting space that allows for tremendous innovation and creativity that can be used to build products with very specific user acquisition and retention goals in mind.
SBC: There are already some well-established operators in the fantasy sports industry in the US. How does a sportsbook in this vertical stand out against the competition?
AH: The US sportsbook market is still relatively young, with its emergence facilitated and accelerated by a rapidly developing regulatory landscape. As a result, end-users in the market have so far preferred more casual, intuitive forms of betting such as player props. This is why we have seen a number of businesses experience incredible growth as a result of being able to satisfy the demands of that particular audience.
However, as the market matures players will likely seek out more varied, differentiated, and perhaps even more sophisticated products which provide better value and higher engagement. If a traditional sportsbook wants to stand out it may be that it needs to satisfy these needs but also find a way to service and educate the influx of casual users that begin to have access to, and interest in, betting products.
SBC: What states are you looking to enter in the US? Are there any particular markets you have an interest in?
AH: A lot of businesses entering the US for real money gambling primarily base their strategy on the regulatory environment with some states that have simpler or cheaper licensing requirements often favored over others. Of course, that’s only part of the story. Competitive and demographic factors then get taken into account and a lot of businesses come to the same conclusion and end up in the same states where competition is very high.
Scout Gaming Group’s B2B products allow our partners to deploy real money games in states where fantasy products can already be provided to users, or in the case of sportsbook, where the partner has the required licenses.
Our free to play fantasy games (which are usually not subject to gambling license requirements) then allow sports and entertainment businesses to engage users and develop large audiences in pre-regulated states with a view to monetizing those audiences with real money fantasy or other sportsbook products in a responsible way when regulation and licensing in that specific state has been clarified.
SBC: What expectations do you have for the fantasy sports market in the US in 2022? Can it compete with traditional sportsbooks as more states regulate sports betting?
AH: Absolutely! In a lot of states, it was fantasy that originally lead the way for attracting users who were interested in real money betting of some form. From this, two massive businesses emerged in the form of FanDuel and DraftKings, both of which have also rolled-out sports betting and cross-sold their fantasy players to real money wagering.
Fantasy sports is a huge, prime-time form of entertainment in the US. It is woven through the entire sports entertainment business in all sorts of fascinating ways and it’s a massive part of the sports entertainment culture. Because of this, products based around fantasy sports are always going to be popular and as regulation continues to roll-out across the US it will only help drive the growth of fantasy sports betting further.
SBC: Last year, Scout Gaming also agreed to a partnership with a billiards league, the Masters Cup Series. What other leagues or sports are you interested in partnering with?
AH: The in-house platform Scout’s Fantasy games are built on is designed to offer maximum flexibility when it comes to prototyping, deploying, and iterating game formats. We also have our own StatsCenter which allows us to collect data and provide fantasy games for practically any sport or verifiable event. This has allowed us to produce bespoke games for singing contests, cross country skiing, esports, and even local five-a-side soccer leagues. If the event is verifiable and our team can collect the data, then we can build creative, customized fantasy games around it very quickly.
Whilst a majority of our most popular games are based around soccer, NFL, NBA, MLB, golf, and so on, we really want to partner with major media organizations, official leagues, and sports entertainment businesses who want something unique and engaging for their users or those trying to reach new audiences.