SharpLink: Personalization will Be the linchpin in betting’s future growth

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Everything in our lives is getting increasingly personal and increasingly specific. Algorithms telling us what to order or what we might want to watch or listen to are everywhere.

That customization is something the sports betting and gambling industry has honed in on as something to drive growth but there aren’t too many organizations putting that customization into action.

Gaming lags behind other industries in customization

One group getting into the fray is SharpLink. The company’s C4 BetSense technology is already being embraced by operators like SB22 and SaharaBets. The tech can utilize information in the operator’s player account management (PAM) system to provide customers with personalized betting suggestions and content.

“Basically, the premise is there’s a connective tissue between the sports enthusiast and fan or bettor and the bookmaker or the game company like us, and that middleware has yet to be developed,” SharpLink Co-Founder and CEO Rob Phythian explained to SBC Americas.

“Gaming is behind Netflix. It’s behind Amazon. It’s behind all the personalization you have in your life. It’s just so transactional, so it’s time for us to invest in the technology.”

Phythian has experience in that field, co-founding SportsData in 2010 before selling it to Sportradar three years later. He has reassembled many members of the SportsData team to work for SharpLink on C4 BetSense.

Integrating into legacy sportsbook tech is a challenge

Those engineers are working hard on developing the product and the algorithms driving the product, but what is really the biggest technical burden is trying to integrate the tech into the legacy tech stacks of sports betting operators.

“One of the reasons we went public was to take that capital that we have, and then recruit the team that can build this enterprise stuff that I’m talking about, and then deploy it. I gotta tell you, working in generative AI and coming up with a system that gets to know you isn’t the hard part. It’s hard, but it’s not as hard as integrating into the tech stacks.”

Phythian pointed to props-style fantasy products like PrizePicks and Underdog and noted that their tech is flexible, new, and less encumbered than some sportsbook operators. That, plus the country’s fantasy-driven interest in betting on player performance is all working in their favor.

Customization could boost betting industry by 20%

If sports betting operators can develop more flexible tech and integrate products that help personalize the betting experience, Phythian believes there could be a substantial boost to the bottom line.

“Once we get to know you, we can serve content and information that allows you to spend more time at the sites, to interact more, not look for third-party sources, and stick around.  Then you’ll transact more. We think that kind of technology has a 20% lift in the business and, if you think the sports betting business is $15 billion…that’s $3 billion of new business every year,” he suggested.

As sportsbooks think less about acquisition and more about how to keep bettors active and engaged on the app, this technology can help address those concerns as well.

“One of the things that bookmakers struggle with is retention and retargeting. They spend a lot of money to get the customers and then they just transact and don’t stick. They come in, transact, watch the game, come back, see if they win or lose, and bet again. They don’t spend time,” Phythian said. “If we can build a page that’s your page that knows your bedding tendencies and knows the teams you like, you’ll spend some time there before you make a bet. You might even spend some time there afterward just to see some of the analysis.”

RG and data privacy remain important factors in sportsbook personalization

Responsible gambling advocates question where the line is on this customization and personalization. It is one thing to keep a user engaged but it is another to keep enticing them with custom bets when they may be trying to stop wagering.

Phythian says that is something that really lies with operators to control and reign in but he believes, as many in the industry have stated, that no operator wants to have a problem gambler as a user.

“In all sincerity, the operator does want to catch that early. That’s not a good customer for them. It’s just not good for business to have that problem gambler that they they’re monitoring and they’re taking action quickly.”

As sportsbooks start gathering, analyzing, and implementing personal data to create these customized experiences, responsible gambling and data privacy are important pieces of the puzzle. So is the development of more flexible tech. There are things to iron out, but personalized betting is not the future, it is the now, and SharpLink is one example of a group that is harnessing its power.