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Bet365 has begun making real progress in certain US markets, according to the latest edition of the US Sports Betting Market Monitor from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG).

The report includes several key data points and analysis from the US sports betting market, including state-by-state growth of betting handle and GGR, and the proportion of app downloads attributable to each operator in the market.

Below, iGaming NEXT sets out some of the key talking points from the June edition of the report, using data up to May 2023.

Sweet Carolina

First though, to North Carolina. As the state continues to edge towards the introduction of a regulated online sports betting market, EKG offered up its analysis of the potential opportunities for operators there.

The market will be a welcoming one to most operators, it suggested, with up to 14 licences set to be made available.

EKG expects all licences to be claimed, it said, as more applicants are expected to throw their hats in the ring than there are licences available.

EKG’s reading of the state’s selection process criteria suggests applicants partnering with one of North Carolina’s professional sports facilities or teams, or with one of the state’s two tribal gaming operators, are likely to be preferred candidates.

The state’s relatively reasonable $1m upfront licensing fee, $1m renewal fee (payable every five years) and 18% tax on GGR are likely to make for a “competitive, sustainable market,” EKG said, “whose early share distribution could easily resemble that of Ohio.”

Competition among national operators will be bolstered by the fact that North Carolina currently has no “local hero” operator brands, the report suggested, providing an especially attractive opportunity for lesser-known US operators such as PointsBet and bet365.

Further, operators are expected to benefit from North Carolina’s well-balanced sports market, featuring a combination of professional and high-performing college teams, combined with an unrestricted betting menu which will not limit betting events such as college sports or bet types such as in-play.

One final factor playing into operators’ hands in North Carolina is the cross-sell potential with customers in neighbouring South Carolina.

More than 1 million adult residents of South Carolina live in counties that share a border with North Carolina, expanding the state’s TAM from North Carolina’s 8.2 million adult residents to a total 9.2 million.

State-by-state handle growth

This report sets out the growth in online sports betting handle on a state-by-state basis, with data from the trailing 12 months compared against the prior 12 months.

Arkansas was a huge outlier in the statistics, with year-on-year handle growth of more than 700% driven by the legalisation of online sports betting in March 2022.

Prior to that, sports betting had only been available in-person at three of the state’s casino venues.

For the rest of the states listed, year-on-year growth between around 15% and 35% was the norm, though notably several more mature states saw drops in their online sports betting handle.

New Jersey was the biggest loser in that regard, with total handle falling 11% year-on-year.

Nevada, Iowa, Indiana and West Virginia also saw reductions in their handle year-on-year, however, as they dropped by 10.3%, 5.7%, 1.4% and 1.3%, respectively.

Besides Arkansas, the fastest growing states by handle included Oregon, up 45.8%, Washington DC, up 35.6%, Wyoming, up 32.8%, and Louisiana, up 29.7%.

Growth was decidedly lacklustre in states such as New York, with growth of 5.8%, and Michigan, which saw an increase of just 0.8% in its yearly handle. Pennsylvania also disappointed with growth of 3%.

State-by-state GGR growth

Of course, while handle is sometimes seen as a “vanity metric” in the industry, what really counts for operators is GGR.

A breakdown of GGR growth on a state-by-state basis – again comparing the trailing 12-month period to the previous 12 months – tells a rather different story to the growth in handle.

While handle has even reduced year-on-year in several states, GGR was up healthily across the board.

In New Jersey, for example, despite an 11% dip in handle, GGR, was up 11.8%, as the revenue collected by betting operators continues to grow in ever-maturing markets.

Other states showed an even healthier turnaround, as operators’ costs continue to reduce post-launch, helping deliver a larger proportion of betting handle as actual revenue.

In Oregon, for example, GGR grew by 86.3%, while New Hampshire saw growth of 74.7%.

Other standout performers included Wyoming and Louisiana, which both delivered GGR growth over 60%, alongside Illinois, Iowa and Connecticut, which all delivered growth over 50%.

With the exception of New Jersey, Washington DC, Nevada and Michigan, all states where year-on-year comparisons were possible delivered GGR growth of over 30%.

Turnaround for bet365?

One key metric used by EKG is the number of app downloads achieved by each active operator in the US.

That data is considered “a useful directional indicator of customer acquisition trends” in the online sports betting market, EKG said, and is “broadly reflective” of GGR share distribution.

While FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM’s share of app downloads has remained fairly consistent over the reporting period – with the three brands together accounting for upwards of 70% of downloads – one brand in particular stands out in this report.

Although its growth looks small next to the market leaders, a clear trend can be seen in the emergence of bet365 in the US.

Starting from almost nothing in January 2022, the brand’s share of app downloads now places it as the fifth most popular app in the report, after the top three market leaders and Caesars Sportsbook.

That places the brand comfortably ahead of the likes of Barstool Sportsbook, PointsBet and FOX Bet, and positions it well for further growth into the future.

Growth in the number of bet365 downloads was likely down to the brand’s launches in Virginia and Ohio, EKG pointed out, with the brand capturing as much as 7% of GGR share in Ohio since launch.

That may sound like a small proportion, but with the vast majority of licensed brands capturing under 1% of market share nationally, the figure places bet365 in good stead to become a realistic challenger to the leading operators.

The report also pointed out that in EKG’s proprietary app testing, bet365’s offering regularly ranks around fourth place, ahead of competitors including Barstool and Caesars.

That is likely to have a material impact for the business going forward, it said, especially as promotional spend and bonus-driven user acquisition begin to slow down in markets such as Ohio.

EKG’s monthly report provides a digest of news and data points, including forecasts, for the emerging market for regulated sports betting in the United States. Please contact managing director Chris Krafcik for more information.

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