UK-Facing BetBull Latest Social Sports Betting App To Fall Short

Written By Brad Allen on June 23, 2022
Betbull

Wynn Interactive is closing down its UK-facing sportsbook app BetBull to focus on its US sports betting business.

BetBull announced Monday it had stopped taking new customers and would cease operations from July 3.

Who is BetBull?

Wynn acquired a controlling stake in BetBull back in 2020, making the company the foundation of its new Wynn Interactive business. Wynn invested $80 million into the joint venture, owning a 71% stake.

The former BetBull owners held the remaining 29% of a partnership that dates back to 2018.

BetBull described itself as a social sports betting community. Essentially, customers could find and place bets alongside friends or groups, then cheer on the bets in a chat room.

Great engagement, but …

Former Wynn CEO Matt Maddox said Wynn initially partnered with BetBull because it wanted to prioritize product. Indeed, much of the Wynn Bet front-end is built on BetBull tech.

Here is how Maddux described BetBull when Wynn acquired its majority stake:

The engagement they had with their customers was quite extraordinary. And therefore, their (key performance indicators) were really, really good. So when you see your friend making a bet, it will pop up on your phone. Do you want to follow your friend? It’s very parlay-heavy.”

Not enough scale

Maddox said acquisition costs and player values were “quite attractive” compared to industry standards.

However, the relatively low stakes and small scale of BetBull meant it never made money. BetBull was making a significant loss in the UK market, sources said.

Those funds and resources will now be diverted to the WynnBET brand in the US.

Wynn was one of the first US sportsbooks to pull back from marketing and turn its focus towards profitability. It said last month that strategy was already paying dividends. 

Social experiment over?

More broadly, the failure of another social betting concept could have implications for the US market.

The list of social betting attempts that have fallen flat in the UK includes: 

This time, it’s different

Of course, a handful of US sportsbooks are still dabbling in social betting, most notably DraftKings.

DraftKings’ social platform features a Twitter-style feed where users can post bets and try to build a following. 

The company also recently launched Bet Groups, where groups of friends can follow or fade each other’s bets with a click. DraftKings said the number of customers that used its social features grew 67% between Q3 and Q4 2021. However, it did not provide an update in Q1 2022.

‘Time capsule’ in UK

In fact, CEO Jason Robins was asked at a recent investor conference why the social betting concept never took off in the UK:

“Obviously, there’s a lot to be learned from watching the UK. You almost get a time capsule and go back and see how the story plays out. Great to have it.

“I think it’s also important to remember that the UK developed in a different time. You didn’t have social media in the same way you do now when the UK was first moving online. Social media didn’t really get huge until the last 15 years or so, and that was a good five, six years in.

“So I think just part of the strategy early on there was not to invest in those areas. I haven’t really seen any one of the major players in the UK try to do it and it not work. It’s almost just like it never really got attention.”

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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