Betbull may not be operational in the US, but its forthcoming closure does indicate something about Wynn’s priorities in the online gaming space.
Earlier this week, the European betting site known for its unique communal betting experience, announced it will no longer be taking deposits as of June 24 and will be ceasing operations as of July 3.
Originally launched in 2015, Betbull operated in Europe but appeared to be headed for a US launch thanks to its ongoing relationship with Wynn. The two groups initially partnered in 2018 shortly after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Wynn acquired a minority stake in the business with the intent of starting a joint venture together.
Then, in late 2020, Wynn infused an additional $80 million into the joint venture, which would now be known as Wynn Interactive. Wynn owned 71% of the venture, while previous Betbull shareholders owned the other 29%.
WynnBET, the company’s US-facing online betting app first launched in New Jersey in July 2020, followed by Colorado in November of that year. Since then, the app went live in seven more states, including New York. Along the way, the site signed notable spokespeople like Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Affleck, who directed a lavish commercial for the app as well.
However, earlier this year, Wynn’s Vice President and Treasurer Steven Zahn told the Nevada Gaming Control Board that the company was essentially tired of spending in the US.
“We cut back on media spending. We cut back on performance marketing. And we shifted the business model to more of an affiliate-based customer-acquisition model, given, in our opinion, the irrational cost of acquisitions metrics out there in the industry,” Zahn explained.
Wynn Resorts’ performance in Macau is also causing problems for the company, as the tourist destination has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Just last week, the parent company issued a loan for $500 million to help keep the Wynn Macau property afloat.
During this time, Wynn Chairman Matthew Maddox stepped down from his post at the end of January 2022. Maddox had been with the company 20 years, including his Chairman stint from 2018-2022. Maddox’s appointment came at another difficult time for the company, as it was in the wake of Steve Wynn’s resignation amidst his sexual misconduct scandal. The company’s CFO Craig Billings stepped in as CEO for both Wynn and Wynn Interactive this past February.
While Wynn Interactive pumps the brakes on sports betting, it is investing further into the online casino business, including a newly launched partnership with Livespins.
Wynn stock shares soared when the partnership with Betbull began in 2018, hitting as high as $190 a share, but the tides have turned over the past four years. At time of writing, Wynn stock shares were valued at $53.40.