Lloyd Danzig: New technologies will lead to ever-expanding TAM for US betting operators

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Sharp Alpha Advisors managing partner Lloyd Danzig is backing US operators to capitalise on a wave of digital innovation as the lines between sports betting and online entertainment become increasingly blurred. 

Enter the Metaverse

Danzig’s view is based on the continuing expansion of iGaming and sports betting across the US, combined with the entrance of gambling firms into other industries such as NFT marketplaces, crypto crossovers and Metaverse-based entertainment.

“Very clearly, when you look at what DraftKings is trying to do, when you look at new entrants like Fanatics, the total addressable market (TAM) is far greater than just what traditionally has been thought of as far as gaming revenues,” said Danzig, who is a venture capital specialist and former gaming industry head at Drive by DraftKings. 

In addition to changing the way businesses operate, the technological advancement around ‘Web 3.0’ will also have a significant impact on customer experience, Danzig argued, as he outlined his vision of the future.

“What does a more robust entry into the Metaverse look like?” he asked, while on the iGaming NEXT podcast with Pierre Lindh. 

“Could there be an entire DraftKings Metaverse where, if you are plugged into it, you can watch any game from any seat in the house at any stadium in virtual reality? Where you can place bets at more favourable odds? Or maybe you can watch a Zed Run race that looks to you like it’s occurring right next to a Lakers game, because it’s all happening in this kind of virtual space. 

“There could also be some Grand Theft Auto-type functionality where you get into a car and race someone, or accomplish various Metaverse-based tasks for rewards. Maybe this is a play-to-earn Metaverse, where you earn ‘DK Coin’ that can be used to place bets and do whatever else it is that DraftKings ends up offering.”

Regulation, streaming and UX

Regulatory changes will continue to drive growth across the US, Danzig said, by “removing some of the less desirable aspects of the ecosystem”. This could break down barriers to market entry for bigger brands, in particular for companies that have previously been reluctant to invest in the “vice” industry of real money gambling.

The involvement of streaming services, such as Disney’s ESPN Plus, is likely to further broaden the appeal of sports betting within the American population, Danzig argued, not only by offering a trustworthy, recognisable place to make bets, but also by introducing new product innovations designed to make betting easier and more enjoyable for recreational customers.

These brands, according to Danzig, are well positioned to help drive “a good deal of UI and UX innovation,” which will simplify the sometimes-intimidating sports betting experience. Danzig thinks the most successful operators in this space will be the ones that are able to bring betting in line with the social media and online platforms that most people love – Facebook, Instagram, Netflix and Spotify.

On this theme, Bally’s CEO Lee Fenton said his company would take a different approach to rivals including DraftKings by simplifying the sports betting experience and positioning it as a complement to other online entertainment experiences.

Danzig said betting operators should pay attention to the aforementioned Silicon Valley giants, for lessons on how to create “ultra intuitive, ultra simplified, perfectly fine tuned and engineered interfaces with machine learning algorithms that learn your particular user preferences and serve you exactly what you need at the right time.”

Future of gaming will depend on US

With an enlarged TAM and a culture that is clearly ready to embrace sports betting, Danzig believes the sky is the limit for US operators, which are already starting to play catch-up to European counterparts, in his opinion.

Within a few years, the US is almost certain to become the largest gaming market globally. It is likely to be the birthplace of innovation which shapes the future of our industry, driven by the deep pockets of investors all wanting their slice of the pie. 

Danzig concluded that now is the time for new and creative ideas to come to life – and that “we are in the right phase” to overcome any technological, regulatory, or user demand constraints associated with building a new idea.

“So I would just urge any entrepreneurs that are maybe on the sidelines, or have that idea that they’re thinking of moving forward with, now is definitely a great time to do so,” he said.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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