U.S. Online Bosses Seek Ways To Expand Their Brands

May 19, 2023
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Top executives for the leading U.S. sports-betting and iGaming operators insist that maximizing their brands to attract different types of players remains a persistent challenge.

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Top executives for the leading U.S. sports-betting and iGaming operators insist that maximizing their brands to attract different types of players remains a persistent challenge.

FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM have soared to the top of the U.S. sports-betting market, powered in part by strong brand names cultivated through a combination of heavy marketing spend and preexisting customer loyalty from established casino or fantasy-sports operations.

To date, BetMGM has performed stronger in online casino gaming than in sports betting, hovering between first and second in overall U.S. online casino market share, while sitting a more distant third in national sports-betting share.

“The fact is that we are BetMGM and have a tradition in iGaming,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of the U.S. joint venture of Entain and Las Vegas-based casino giant MGM Resorts.

“That sort of association … hasn’t prevented us from really making an impact in sports and sports players choosing us,” said Greenblatt. “And now our forever challenge will be to improve the experience in sports betting to keep our players with us.”

FanDuel has been the consistent market leader in sports betting for much of the last four years, but the Flutter-owned brand has yet to find quite the same success in iGaming, where it trails BetMGM and chief rival DraftKings in key states such as New Jersey and Michigan.

FanDuel president Christian Genetski acknowledged the strength of the sports-centric FanDuel brand when it relates to online casino remains “an open question” for the company.

“What we found is as we improve our products and we improve our user experience, if the products are compelling, then the brand will work,” Genetski said.

“We probably approach it differently where the cross-sell from a very large sports database is an advantage for us and we’re going to lean into that advantage and we’re going to try to maximize that cross-sell.

“But I think we recognize we need to have a casino-first player strategy that works for us,” he added.

“We’re not going to have the benefit of an MGM Rewards database and the land-based casino association, so we’ve got to come at that a little bit differently, but it’s a focus area and I think in speaking to our users and then getting that feedback we feel good that we’re going to get there.”

Rush Street Interactive, on the other hand, has catered more toward the casino player, with CEO Richard Schwartz citing company research that shows a casino-only player generates more than five times as much revenue as a sportsbook-only player, while a cross-sold player active in both verticals generates 14 times as much revenue as a sports bettor.

Another key differentiator from the more sportsbook-led brands is that a majority of Rush Street’s players on its BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse online casinos are women.

“A lot of our competitors will have a lot more men playing casino because they have a larger bend toward sports conversion,” Schwartz said.

“We do the same conversion everyone else does, we don’t have the same volume as [FanDuel or BetMGM] on the sportsbook side, so we focus on the audience that is different, which is, let’s say, the female slot player that is a very large demographic that our brands resonate well with and our product resonates with them as well.

Schwartz added that “the challenge is when you try to speak to all these audiences in a focused way, it gets challenging because the products, the demographics are very different, and the user experiences have to be very different.”

Each of the three executives spoke during a panel discussion on the U.S. online casino market during last week’s SBC Summit North America.

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