Delivering quality at pace in the US
Q&A with Max Meltzer, Chief Commercial Officer at Kambi Group.
How has Kambi performed in the US to date – are you happy with your progress?
Things couldn’t have started much better for Kambi in the post-PASPA US and we are very happy with the progress made so far. I say ‘so far’ as it’s still early days and we are only active in one state, New Jersey, but we are dominating that market with a rough estimate of 70% online share and we’ve launched with three of our customers, while some of our competitors are struggling to get their customers online. Crucially, our customers are happy with their progress. DraftKings is on record as being ahead of all internal projections and Rush Street Interactive’s SugarHouse sportsbook has been growing quite quickly. Naturally we are applying for multiple licenses in other states and see 2019 as an exciting year for us there. With every passing month, the Kambi brand representing quality and speed to market is resonating deeper in the US.
You mentioned your c.70% market share, what did you make of the recent DGE numbers for September?
New Jersey’s September figures showed Kambi-powered sportsbooks were leading the market. DraftKings was way out in front of any competitors. The dominance of DraftKings these initial months does not surprise me and is a testament to a clear strategy they held of building on our technology to create an excellent UX and doing everything in their power to be first. They have been on record as saying this was a key reason to partner with Kambi. They of course have a fantastic database of hugely relevant customers already in place for the cross-sell. What it underlines is the importance of time to market and a great product – two things we were able to provide them with. It’s a similar story with SugarHouse which sits in third, ahead of the likes of Caesars and MGM, which is a fantastic achievement and again the sign of a product finding favour with the players of New Jersey. Tellingly, both DraftKings and SugarHouse grew significantly in September despite facing increased competition when compared to August.
You have also launched 888sport – how do you ensure your customers don’t end up looking the same?
Firstly, yes, 888sport launched halfway through the month and is still waiting for Apple to rubberstamp its iOS app, which will hopefully happen soon. In terms of not looking the same, Kambi empowers operators with the ability to differentiate like no other supplier can – if you look at the three operators we have in New Jersey, they all look vastly different from one another. Firstly, we have the most sophisticated set of open APIs which enable our operators to innovate on top of the Kambi platform – for instance, DraftKings built 95% of its frontend itself, ensuring it had a sportsbook which matched the look and feel of its DFS site. However, even without taking so much ownership, operators can still differentiate through our flexible frontend and widget system. We also have a powerful price differentiate tool, so operators don’t just look different, they can offer different prices and execute their own strategies. As an example, SugarHouse is leveraging our price differentiation tool to go a little more aggressive on NFL money, spread and points lines, which has proven to be effective as it competes against brands that are perhaps a little more synonymous with sports betting or have a land-based presence in the state.
The US traditionally favours pre-game betting to in-game, is that what you’ve been seeing in New Jersey.
Yes, that’s a fair statement but we are certainly seeing players try out in-game betting along with having their pre-game bet. A key reason why pre-game is preferred is often because customers haven’t had access to high quality in-game betting; it’s not through a lack of interest as much as availability, relevance of in-game markets and initial education. Kambi’s in-game offering is market leading but it will understandably take time for players to get used to the quality of offer and opportunity for an in-game wager. Take NFL as an example, where we offer in-game markets that no other operator in New Jersey is offering. These unique markets are the subject of one in every three in-game bets so there’s no doubt in my mind that should operators offer a high-quality in-game product, the players will wager in-game. In-game betting will undoubtedly become an integral part of the betting experience therefore only operators offering a thrilling experience will succeed in the long-term.
You’ve launched online but we’ve yet to see retail – why is that?
That’s a good question with the simple answer being that it’s not yet been requested by our customers, but it’s just a matter of time. In New Jersey, our operators have taken online skins only, but we are ready meet on-property sportsbook demands whenever and wherever they require. We’ve taken a look at what’s currently being offered in New Jersey and I’m confident we have the best suite of land-based products, offering the same quality and flexibility of our online product. From self-service betting kiosks, to bring-your-own-device technology and over the counter betting, Kambi-powered customers will have the most advanced land-based sportsbook around, and one which is optimised for omni-channel, should they wish.