Bally’s in no rush to compete with FanDuel as it seeks to provide simplified betting UX for recreational player base

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Bally’s has no immediate plans to compete with US market leaders like FanDuel and BetMGM as it pursues an entirely different breed of US sports bettor, according to CEO Lee Fenton.

Speaking during a Jefferies investor presentation last week, Fenton said Bally’s was “not in an insane hurry” to grab US betting market share because it was following a different strategy to many of its land-based and digital rivals.

“I am not coming out the gate to be fully competitive with FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars,” said Fenton. “Our focus is going to be on that recreational customer. We are going after the customers that we think will be at the heartland of our app.”

That app is Bally’s 2.0, which is currently being built in-house. The first iteration of the app is live in Colorado and Iowa, while the operator is targeting beta launches of 2.0 in Indiana, Virginia and Arizona ahead of a full launch during H1 2022.

US operators are currently wagering a costly marketing war to attract fully fledged sports bettors. This means that profit is still a long way off for many businesses in the space, including DraftKings, which boasts a market cap of $12.5bn.

DraftKings reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of $313.6m in Q3, compared to revenue of $212.8m, while nine-month losses are in excess of half a billion.

Bally’s 2.0 is being designed to target and educate a recreational player base that is not comfortable or familiar with betting, all as part of a wider goal to grow the Total Addressable Market (TAM) in North America to its full potential.

“We are not after VIPs or big whales or the costs of pursuing those,” said Fenton. “We want to unlock the next progression of TAM, which means tapping into the recreational base.”

Fenton hopes Bally’s 2.0 will be more intuitive, more curated and easier to navigate than many of the sports betting apps that are already live in the US.

“This is so we can open up the market to more recreational players and provide a long-life experience – not at heavy wager levels, but at lower wagering levels, to make the product or sports event they are watching more engaging, more enjoyable and more fun,” said Fenton.

Fenton, who was CEO of Gamesys until the business combined with Bally’s in October, said the unique make-up of the company has given it a different perspective in the US.

The £2bn merger between the two firms mashed together a digital, UK-centric gaming powerhouse with a primarily land-based US casino giant.

“We are as big in the digital side as we are in the retail side which is interesting,” said Fenton. “It changes the dynamic a bit in the boardroom and around the management table. We will make different decisions [to our competitors] going forward.”

One of those differences is Bally’s’ decision to focus on simplicity. Sports betting, while creating a hell of a buzz, is still brand new in the US.

While many operators reduced their time to market in the US by tweaking sports betting templates based on the betting experience in mature territories like Europe, Bally’s is prepared to play the long game with a patient and localised approach to product.

“The dilemma in the US is that you have some quite sophisticated applications of European heritage, or Australian heritage, and they are overlaying US sports,” said Fenton.

“Even DraftKings’ app has lifted a lot from UK learnings. But you must remember, the UK is a 20-year mature market – and the US isn’t.

“You have early adopters who were probably on unregulated [betting] apps outside of the US historically, but the next evolution and growth of TAM in the US is people who aren’t familiar with those apps or their complexity.

“A degree of simplification will actually help grow and develop the market to its full potential. We will be more focused on that than competing with FanDuel,” he concluded.

About the author

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Jake Evans

Jake Evans is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and sports betting industry since 2017. He is the managing editor of iGaming NEXT and has previously worked in both content and data for EGR, Stats Perform and Football Radar.

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