This week we read about BlueBet entering the Iowa online sports betting market through a partnership with Dubuque Racing Association and will, subject to licensing approvals, go live with its online app as part of its plan to develop a precense in the U.S.
Bill Richmond, CEO, took the time out of his busy schedule to chat with USBettingReport.com about BlueBet’s future plans.
For those who are unfamiliar with the BlueBet brand, what can you tell us about your sports betting offering and how you differ from the sportsbooks already operating in the U.S. markets?
Richmond. Bluebet has been operating in Australia for just under six years and recently listed on the Australian stock exchange. We have a hugely experienced team who have worked across the Australian sports betting and gaming industry. We have always had a strong digital focus with a mobile-first strategy to ensure punters get the best sports betting experience, no matter where they are.
We have tremendous experience betting on U.S. sports, with the NBA and NFL among the most popular sports in Australia and amongst our highest turnover sports. We also have a very strong history with betting in horse and greyhound racing in Australia which we think could be an exciting element of the U.S. opportunity.
Which markets will you focus on and where do you think you will have the most chance of gaining some market share?
Richmond. Bluebet is currently in the process of applying for our first U.S. licenses. We have a very clear two-stage strategy for the U.S. where we plan to leverage our years of experience and expertise in both running profitable sportsbooks and building industry-leading technology platforms.
We will initially be focusing on a handful of selected states such as Iowa, Colorado, and Virginia which would be the initial markets we entered subject to licensing. We then have a very clear strategy where we would look to partner with existing U.S.-based enterprises where we both could benefit from our expertise and technology and their brand and customer data.
How is the Australian market different from the American market? What do you think the local books are getting right and where is there room for improvement?
Richmond. The Australian market is a lot more mature market than the U.S. market, with online sports wagering being in our market for well over 20 years. The U.S. and U.S. sports punters are probably behind from a mass-market perspective given the levels of exposure that we have had here in Australia. The sophisticated punters in the U.S. obviously exist and the mass market aspect will catch very quickly now with more and more states allowing online sports betting.
The focus for Bluebet, and I imagine all sports betting companies, will be to create a product that is easy to use and be loved by the recreational consumer. Product is everything in this industry, your apps and website are not only the engine of your business but also your shop front, so it is the thing everyone will be focusing on as at the end of the day the company with the best product will be the biggest winner in the U.S.
In a recent interview, you mentioned that as part of your go-to-market strategy you will be forming joint ventures with mid-tier casinos in smaller states. Will you be setting up new teams to operate locally or run the operations from Australia?
Richmond. We will certainly be setting up U.S. teams to complement our strong existing Australian team. We feel it is very important to understand the local market and the local customer and it would be arrogant of us to think we can do that from the other side of the world.
We will have a strong trading team in the U.S. to produce increased localized betting content that will appeal to local punters. We will also have a localized team in product, digital, marketing, and IT to make the product we produce and are selling is what the punters are actually after.
We will also have a strong U.S.-based sales team who will look to push our Sportsbook as a solution product to potential partners once we are up in running in the initial states.
Social betting and in-play betting are important for the younger generation of U.S. bettors, according to a recent survey. How will BlueBet accommodate the needs of the Millennial sports bettor in the U.S.?
Richmond. This is certainly a very big part of our focus for our entry to the U.S. In-play betting will end up being the majority of sports betting in the U.S. so having that product perfect is a major focus.
We certainly account for the fact that millennial punters are obviously more tech-savvy but at the same time, we want to develop a product that is easy to use and isn’t intimidating for punters as they migrate online. Providing punters with information about what they are betting on is also very important so customers can do all their research and get form and tips without having to leave the page whether that be on NBA, E-Sports, or an overseas league they may be less familiar with.
Finally, what else can you tell me about the growth plans for BlueBet in the coming years?
Richmond. Our long-term vision is certainly around our Sportsbook as a Solution product. We have years of experience running profitable sportsbooks and building innovative technology platforms. We feel this model could prove very popular within the U.S. and it allows organizations with strong brands and data to start up a profitable sportsbook from day one without having to go through years of development and have a vastly experienced team run it and manage it all for them. They would have the huge bonus of not only getting the experience that our team can provide but also have part ownership of the asset we can build together. We have seen this model work for a couple of the big players in the U.S. and we think it is a model that can appeal to lots of organizations whether they be smaller to mid-tier casino groups, sporting organizations, or media organizations.