G2E Las Vegas is one of the largest gambling conferences in the world, and the 2019 expo was no different, particularly given the roll-out of legal online sports betting across the USA.
It proved to be a profoundly insightful and educational event, and we had the chance to meet with stakeholders across the industry from operators to suppliers and affiliates.
We learned a lot, but the key takeaway for us was that online sportsbook operators are not overly focused on using bonuses to acquire players and instead are using other incentives.
This is different from established markets such as the UK where bonuses and welcome packages can make the difference between whether a player signs up or not.
So, what are US sportsbook operators using to stand out from their rivals and sign up players in this early yet highly critical phase of the market?
One of the most common tactics is to offer predictor-type games and competitions with large jackpot prizes. To participate, punters must sign up with the sportsbook brand.
This has proved to be highly effective to date and comes from the free to play culture that has existed in America for decades because of the restrictive gambling laws in place.
Americans really do take their sport seriously, and the persona of the superfan is very much real – the status of being a player or team’s biggest fan carries a lot of prestige.
You just have to look at the popularity of daily fantasy sports prior to the PASPA repeal to see just how engaged US sports fans are and how involved they like to be with the minutia of a game.
Predictor games with big jackpots tap into the competitive psyche of sports fans while also providing them with the chance to win a large cash prize, simply for signing up with a book.
Take FoxBet Super6 for example which is based on its SkyBet Super6 equivalent where the player is required to correctly predict the scores of 6 football games for a chance to win $250,000 each week.
Of course, operators using predictor games with jackpots to incentivise players to sing up to their brand over others need to ensure the prize is significant and eye-catching.
To that end, they also need to consider whether they want to swallow the cost of the jackpot prize as part of their marketing or acquisition budgets or look to insure the jackpot via a company such a RISQ.
Given that prizes need to run into hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to really interest players, the insurance route is the one usually taken.
But there are still a few things that operators need to consider.
Insurance pricing is per entry with the price derived from the complexity of the competition.
If operators want to offer a realistic sports predictor game with a large jackpot the cost per entry is going to go up in price.
The best approach is for the operator to set a budget and then work with RISQ in conjunction with their free to play game partner to conceptualise the game.
This makes sure that it is within budget, has a realistic jackpot prize and provides a competition that ultimately engages players, and encourages them to sign up and take part.
It is a difficult recipe to get right. We provide A-rated insurance for up to $10 million on sports prediction games, but the operator needs to make sure players have a realistic chance of winning it.
By working with free to play game partners and RISQ it is possible to cook up a competition and prize that scores highly with players.
These are incredibly exciting times for sports betting in America, and it is great to see operators being innovative and creative when it comes to how they acquire and retain players.
And if G2E taught us anything, it is that US sportsbook brands are thinking outside of the box as opposed to European operators who are still flogging the dead bonus horse.
This is absolutely the right approach and will see those that take it hit the jackpot as the market continues to grow and mature.