In-Play, In-Game, In-The-Future
Legal Sports Report

888: US Sports Bettors Don’t Use In-Play Betting Like Others But Soon Will

888

888’s latest trading update presentation set out the company’s route to growth in the US market. One area where they see real opportunity is in-game sports betting.

888 Holdings is active right across the globe and it has six years’ experience in the regulated US market. With gaming operations since 2013 in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, it has the most experience of any of the operators in the US legal sports betting market.

The company’s SVP Head of Commercial Development, Yaniv Sherman, believes this gives the company a data edge on the competition.

In-game betting provides a runway for growth

He showed investors this graph, which indicated how much “runway” there still is for the sports betting market:

The first columns of the graph show that US sports bettors are doing a lot less in-game betting than their global peers.

Half of US sports bettors are taking part in in-play betting compared to 63% of the global customer base. The number is even higher in developed markets such as the UK.

Sherman suggested part of this is because of US players’ experience with illegal offshore sites:

“Most of them have played on illegal sites which cannot offer in-game activities and there’s a different preference that we want to cater to. There’s more runway there because we know that in-play and mobile in general is a great equivocator in terms of volatility over time.”

888 expects US sports bettors to adopt more in-play betting as the market evolves.

US player profile different from Europe, changing

To reinforce his point, Sherman explained that the US bettor is not the same as their other global players. Moreover, the customer profile of US players is changing rapidly:

“I can pretty much vouch that the American player or consumer will look completely different in two, three, or four years’ time and different from the European one. And we want to adjust our product for that.”

Part of that profile change will be a shift to more in-play betting.

Interestingly, the graph shows that US sports bettors use the mobile app just as much as the rest of 888’s global customers.

Where they use mobile less is for online casino and poker. This is another potential area of growth.

Tapping offshore players in the legal market

Sherman made a particular comparison with the offshore sites that implies the legal state-regulated market has an advantage:

“I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a completely different product experience. When you are going after recreational players, that’s an untapped market from our perspective.”

He pointed out that of $150 billion wagered annually on sports betting, only 4% of that went through the legal market.

The clear implication: Over time, these customers can be attracted to the state-regulated sites. In-game betting will be one of the big draws.

How to spread the word?

One of the problems often cited by operators is that of getting the message out that sports betting is legal.

To that end, Sherman was excited by the prospects for advertising on Google. Last week, Google put its AdWords system into beta test for New Jersey gambling.

Until now, Google declined to allow its AdWords to be bought to promote any gambling.

The beta test is only for NJ sports betting. It is limited to only operators on the Division of Gaming Enforcement official list and is only for sports betting.

“It’s another development, and for us, it means this is good news,” Sherman told investors. “We are online animals; we are online DNA. This creates a competitive edge and it broadens the marketing pie for us to choose from …”

With AdWords available, 888 and the other online operators can expand their marketing reach. They might get their message to potential recreational players who wouldn’t otherwise see sports betting advertising.

Target 2025 for 888

888 gave investors a look at its expectations for the US in 2025. Even its “bear case” scenario looks bullish:

The states in blue are states that 888 expects will legalize gambling by 2025, but doesn’t include in its financial forecast.

The table on the left shows that on even a conservative projection, the US will be the world’s second-largest gambling market. If the blue states pass laws, the US will easily pass the UK to take the top slot.

888 doesn’t plan to be in all of these states. It will look at the taxes, regulations and market potential, and select those markets where it can make the biggest impact and get the best return on investment.

Joss Wood
- Joss Wood, a former editor of Poker Industry Pro, has long focused on regulated online gambling issues and in particular the international market. For LegalSportsReport.com, Joss turns his attention primarily to regulated sports betting markets.With a degree in English from the University of Birmingham as well as a master’s degree in organisational development from the University of Manchester, Joss’s career has taken him from the British Army into the world of business and finance. For seven years he played poker professionally.
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