Future of sports betting: Technology, branding and SPACs


As more and more states begin to open up to legalized sports betting, building a strong brand awareness is key to gaining a greater portion of the market share explained Richard Schwartz, President of Rush Street Gaming.

Speaking as part of ‘The Future of Sports Betting’ panel, Schwartz drew upon Rush Street’s experience of launching in newly regulated states.

While advising listeners that increasing market spending and carefully deploying this is a fundamental part of growing a brand, Schwartz explained that the ‘first-mover advantage’ is integral when it comes to brand loyalty and awareness.

He said: “First-mover advantage is critical. If you can get into a market early, you tend to find the early adapter players, long-term players as well as awareness at a very early stage – avoiding the brands competing for recognition. If you can enter a market early with a high quality experience, players will remember your customer service, and they will place trust in your product.

“Those things make a huge difference to players. When someone else then enters the market and they try their product, they have context in which to evaluate your site. Being first is critical in terms of capturing market share. A big part of that is having your own technology.”

Schwartz was joined on the panel by Andrew Zarnett, Managing Director of Jefferies LLC and David Isaacson, VP of Spectrum Gaming Capital. The session was moderated by Lloyd Danzig, Founder of Sharp Alpha Advisors.

Technology was a key focus for Isaacson, who highlighted that the US gaming industry has witnessed exponential growth in digital and tech brands in recent years.

He predicted that brands which have effectively integrated numerous digital elements will benefit when it comes to maintaining customer loyalty, and that the growth in technology use will only continue.

He added: “As someone who follows this industry very closely, one thing I noticed is that brands are differentiating themselves in the public markets. So you have brands like DraftKings which started with DFS, they then rolled out sports betting to their 10 million-strong customer base. Then they layered in igaming. All of a sudden, these digital gaming elements were built on each other. They have a strong database of players. The brand value is then driving customer loyalty and customer stickiness.

“The thinking is that the digital elements of brands like Penn, Barstool, Golden Nugget will now become more valuable going forward. We’re seeing a growth in everything tech and everything digital. People are using tech more. What is interesting to me going forward is the gaming companies which have embedded digital companies that have not yet been unlocked via a SPAC.”

SPACs were put on the map, according to Zarnett, following the DraftKings deal in late December 2019. He explained that such a deal is continuing to be a viable option for numerous gaming companies, and its popularity could continue as the market grows.

He said: “I think the reality is, SPACs are no longer seen as a secondary choice to an IPO. They’re actually viewed as a primary choice. There’s a lot of benefits of going to SPAC, you can negotiate with one buyer, you don’t have to negotiate with multiple investors. You get to look at forwarded data which is prohibited on the IPO. Clearly the DraftKings SPAC which was done late December began the awareness of SPAC in the gaming industry, and it seems to be that they are proving to be very successful right now.”





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