Australian-based PointsBet faced a challenge in late 2018 when it launched its mobile sports betting product in New Jersey, almost seven months after rivals FanDuel and DraftKings of daily fantasy sports fame.
But a bigger task will await PointsBet in online casino gaming, when the company launches its product not seven months, but seven years, after the earliest launchers of the product in the state.
Twin River recently announced that PointsBet will be its partner in the new offering once it completes its acquisition of Bally’s Atlantic City casino with approval from state regulators either late this year or early next year.
Where even to begin to try to start competing in the online casino gaming space in New Jersey?
PointsBet Vice President Ron Shell acknowledged to NJ Online Gambling that the atmosphere is “super competitive,” with 33 legal online casino sites already up and running with approval from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. There are 10 websites associated with Borgata alone.
PointsBet’s initial marketing strategy
“Our focus will be on ‘cross sell,’ looking at people who play casino elsewhere but bet [sports] with us,” Shell said. “Those customers won’t have to pause to do both.”
The concept is known as a “shared wallet,” where existing PointsBet sports gamblers will find that the same app will allow them to easily toggle over to online casino games.
“Our core strength is sports betting, but online casino can fill a gap of down time for the customer,” Shell said. “Longterm, there is marketing to do, and ultimately we want people to share their experience with friends.”
“PointsBet will be a great addition to our growing partnerships with innovative leaders around the world,” George Papanier, President and CEO of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, said in a statement.
Bally’s previously has been a partner with adjacent Boardwalk casino Caesars — each under the Caesars Entertainment umbrella at the time — both with a brick-and-mortar sportsbook and with online casino gaming products. A recent merger of Caesars and Eldorado brings Tropicana into the “new Caesars” along with holdover Harrah’s, while the sale of Bally’s assuaged potential regulatory roadblocks if the new company owned four of the nine Atlantic City casinos.
At least $100 million is scheduled to go toward Bally’s Casino Hotel room renovations as well as upgrades to the slots floor and convention space and the addition of a full-service spa.
As for PointsBet, it also has late 2020 or early 2021 as its timetable to launch online casino gaming in newcomer Michigan, where regulations are in the process of being finalized.
“In that case, we expect to start with everybody else, which is a great opportunity,” Shell said. “And it fits our Midwest strategy in general.”
Speaking of which, PointsBet just two weeks ago announced a unique partnership with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, gaining both a presence on the franchise’s digital platforms as well as signage on the edge of the team’s basketball court called “the apron,” the area of out-of-bounds space between the baseline and the team bench.
PointsBet launched its mobile sportsbook in Indiana in March, four months after going live in Iowa in its first U.S. foray beyond New Jersey. The Catfish Bend Casino in Iowa also features a PointsBet sportsbook.
A third Midwestern “I” state — Illinois — is on the horizon for PointsBet after it recently received a temporary operating permit.
As for partnerships, last month the Detroit Tigers announced a deal with PointsBet that is the first of its kind for a Major League Baseball team. That deal includes signage at the Tigers’ Comerica Park on the scoreboard and on the right-field wall.
On Tuesday morning, just 48 hours or so before the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs begin, the Tour announced a longterm deal with PointsBet.
“PointsBet has made a substantial commitment to golf through a deep and robust product offering and an emphasis on live, in-play betting, both of which will translate into greater audience development and fan engagement for the PGA Tour,” said PGA Tour Senior Vice President of Media and Gaming Norb Gambuzza.
PointsBet said it offers five times as many bet types for PGA Tour events compared to the industry average, with more than half of its handle coming from in-play betting.
The Denver deals
Perhaps the biggest of PointsBet’s new partnerships — also announced this month — is a deal with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment that makes PointsBet the exclusive gaming and sports betting partners of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche as well as the Pepsi Center.
The deal has particular significance for PointsBet because earlier this year it moved its main U.S. corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Denver, which Shell said “offers excellent access to young tech talent.”
PointsBet is is far from being finished expanding in the U.S., with at least preliminary partnerships in place in New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, and Louisiana.
Shell and colleagues such as PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken have been taking on new U.S. locales even as they adjust to life half a world away from their Australian roots.
How do American and Aussie sports bettors differ?
“In Australia, nearly all of the major sporting events take place on weekends,” Shell said. “Here there is so much happening from Monday to Thursday, too.”
As for the New Jersey market in particular, Shell said that there is much more interest in pro sports compared to college sports, versus what PointsBet sees in the Indiana market, for example.
“We need to tailor our marketing accordingly,” Shell said.