Can you think of a better combination than having dinner with your friends and bet on your favorite team at the same time? Well, that’s exactly the type of experience the team behind ExPat want to create with their upcoming sports betting/restaurant concept launching in Western Market in Washington D.C. next year.
Founders Tim Ma, Jonas Singer, and Ben Sislen are told Washington City Paper that the experience will be similar to dining at Lauriol Plaza and that customers will “be looking at their phones, but they might be placing a bet.”.
We were intrigued by this idea and wanted to learn more, so we connected with Ben Sislen to ask him a few quick questions about ExPat and their vision.
Can you explain the idea behind ExPat?
Sislen. ExPat is fully integrating sports gambling into the traditional social bar experience. We have updated our current hospitality model to take advantage of legalized sports gambling. What this means is that we are creating stellar sports bars where gambling will be easy, available, and social.
Our bet has always been that people will continue to consume sports entertainment in bars, with friends. If sports betting is going to be as prevalent as we know it will be, then we want to have our betting product available to everyone who is gathering to watch sports.
How did you come up with the idea? And do you think others will follow in your footsteps in sports bars across the country where betting is legal?
Sislen. Soon after PASPA was overturned I started receiving calls from people familiar with what D.C. was likely to pass. Those first discussions were primarily focused on bringing sports gambling into my current spaces. I looked at my current spaces and realized that the opportunity was much bigger than bolting on a gambling product to an existing bar. If we were going to do this correctly, we needed to envision the bar with the gambling product at the forefront. I formed my team and we spent the next 2 years working towards understanding the sports gambling business.
Yes, others will follow in our footsteps. Truth is that it will be difficult for people new to bar/restaurant operations. We have seen a lot of outsiders come in and try and open spaces. Most of them are not successful.
Where are you currently with the license application in D.C.? Are you also planning to launch in other states?
Sislen. D.C. has done a tremendous job letting local businesses into sports gambling. I don’t want to get too in the weeds with D.C.-specific regulatory jargon but I currently have our CBE which gives us favorable status in D.C. We have also created a Joint Venture with another D.C. business, SWX Technologies, who is going to work with us to create our sports betting app. Once that JV has been certified (will happen this month) we will have our application out and hopefully taking bets by the first quarter of 2022.
What technology and odds integration are you planning to use for the mobile app?
Sislen. We will be using Don Best, but we will also have our own proprietary trading algorithms.
What other plans do you have for the future? What’s your end goal with ExPat?
Sislen. I like to keep most plans close to our chest but what I can tell you is that we are going to have a unique product that realizes the potential of sports betting in bars at a time when sports bars and betting are going to be really active and exciting. We expect to scale, expand, and offer a more compelling product than our competitors in multiple jurisdictions.
We are raising money right now to move as quickly as possible towards that goal.
If you are interested in getting in touch with Ben and the ExPat team, contact us here.