USA: Leveraging Growth Through Major Sports Events, with Daniel Kustelski, CEO, Chalkline

With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner, we spoke with Daniel Kustelski, CEO and Co-Founder of leading independent platform, Chalkine, to hear his thoughts on major sports events, how to cut through the noise and acquisition & retention of players.

What opportunities do major sports events such as the Kentucky Derby present betting operators and media companies when it comes to player acquisition?

“The Kentucky Derby presents a huge opportunity for gambling brands and media companies to acquire first time or casual bettors. Events like it transcend sports and garner the attention of the masses. As with the Super Bowl and March Madness, the Kentucky Derby draws in a much wider audience than would normally engage with other racing events throughout the year.

“By offering the option to bet on the Derby or any other big event – whether freeplay or real money – the fan experience is taken to the next level as they become more invested in the action taking place simply because they have backed their favourite team, horse, etc, to win.

“Freeplay is a great way of offering the option to bet on a big sport event, especially in these early days of legal online betting in the USA where the majority of consumers have never placed a wager before so are unsure about how the process works.

“It boils down to engagement, education and entertainment.”

With so much noise being made around such events, how can operators/media companies cut through this to engage potential punters?

“Operators typically need to just ride the wave of popularity and promote the event. They will want to drive awareness through creative and targeted marketing but also through word of mouth with existing players recommending their brand to friends.

“That is why offering a simple user experience – especially to first-time bettors – will be key. This includes signing up, making a deposit and the steps taken to place a wager on the big event in question

“Operators offer markets and odds on a large number of sports so designing the UX to quickly guide players to the odds on the major sports event in question is crucial.

“To stand out from their rivals, operators should also run special bonuses as well as additional props and unique betting opportunities that others will not. For example, we are powering the Twin Spires Kentucky Derby $1,000,000 Freeplay Challenge for the third year in a row.

“This sees players answer 15 questions about the event and if they guess them all correctly, they are in with the chance of winning $1,000,000.”

Do these events present any opportunities for operators outside of regulated states? If so, what and how can they leverage them?

“In states where betting isn’t legal, offering freeplay contests around these events is a great way to engage, educate and acclimate players to sports betting – whether that state ultimately legalises the activity or not.

“Freeplay also allows operators and media companies to protect their databases while engaging with their audience in a way they have not done so before. Any time a brand can engage with players around their passion points and interests, it builds more equity and loyalty.”

With acquisition costs hitting $1,000 in the US market already, how can operators and media companies retain players after an event such as the Kentucky Derby?

“Big events are a great way to re-engage decayed players and rejuvenate segments of an operator’s database. Once the player re-joins and engages, it’s important to put them in the correct cultivation flow to progress the customer journey.

“Data such as event wagered on, deposit size, bet size, frequency, etc will give an operator good indicators about how to build on the initial engagement and long after the major sporting event has ended, helping them maximise ROI and player lifetime value.

“This approach should be applied to both new customers and existing players.”

Can operators and media companies learn anything from how European brands approach major sports events? Or is a different approach required in the US?

“It’s a similar approach on both sides of the pond; leveraging the opportunity of a major sporting event to garner new customers is universal and the same fundamentals work.

“That being said, there are some subtle differences. Consumers in the US tend to really enjoy the prop markets that are less popular in Europe. With the data-driven US sports fan, props around big events are typically hyped by the media and add a uniquely North American flavour.”



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