OpenBet, one of the world’s largest sports betting platforms, sees its tie-up with Endeavor Group Holdings as a key opportunity to capitalize on the growing convergence between sports betting and entertainment.
Endeavor, a global sports and entertainment company and owner of the UFC mixed martial arts company, agreed to buy OpenBet from then Scientific Games last year for $1.2 billion. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.
The combination puts together OpenBet’s sports betting ecosystem with access to sports rights, content and data. The companies said the two are uniquely positioned to “define the future of sports betting entertainment.”
“Endeavor owns UFC and all of the data that comes along with it and we have a leading sports betting engine,” Alan Brown, VP of Commercial Asia Pacific, told AGB in an interview. “I think it’s pretty clear that we’ll be able to develop some exciting products when those two teams get to work together.”
OpenBet boasts more than 75 customers among the top names in the sports betting world, including DraftKings, FanDuel, WynnBet, SkyBet and William Hill. The company processes 46 percent of digital sports bets in the Australian market, 65 percent in the U.K. and 40 percent of the fast-growing U.S. market.
However, it’s a highly competitive field, with new entrants seeking to make their mark, both from the land-based and the online side. Staying ahead will involve harnessing the entertainment value and also seeking to ensure players are getting what they want through increased personalization.
Brown said much of the entertainment value is being driven by in-play betting.
“It’s just hugely more entertaining than placing a bet now on a match that doesn’t start until Saturday. That’s pretty low entertainment value,” says Brown, adding that the feature is available in most markets now, outside of Australia.
OpenBet is also seeking more personalization through SportCast’s BetBuilder product, which allows consumers to build their own bets within a single event across hundreds of markets, with on-demand pricing.
Scientific Games, now known as Light & Wonder, bought SportCast in May last year to add to its sports betting portfolio. It was the pioneer of the BetBuilder product.
“We have these build-your-own, same-game multi-products that we’re driving and bringing that to play with in-play sports betting is likely to be the next big cab off the rank as far as we’re concerned this year,” he said. “We think it’s a big, big improvement and a very popular offering for our customers.”
In terms of geographic expansion, the U.S. is currently presenting the golden opportunities with growth expected to continue apace. The market for legalized sports betting in the U.S. doubled in size in 2021 as Americans wagered more than $52.7 billion throughout the year, according to a report from Morning Consult, a data intelligence company.
OpenBet deployed its mobile sports betting technology in New York with its long-term partner FanDuel in January as the newly regulated market launched. Betfred Sports has opened eight digital kiosks in Arizona powered by OpenBet’s technology, and also entered Louisiana to name but a few of the recent U.S. highlights.
Asia presents more challenges for the company due to the grey nature of most markets, but Brown says there are opportunities.
“In Asia, we have quite a strong pipeline of a mix of smaller, starter operators that we’re speaking to about entering a territory, or migrating to our technology,” he said. The company also works with major monopolies, such as Singapore Pools and TAB New Zealand.
“In Singapore we’re restricted to offering just soccer and Formula One and even these sports are restricted to a limited number of markets, so our focus with Singapore Pools is really on responsible gaming and player protection, which is the most important thing for Singapore Pools and the regulator there.”
OpenBet peak event
Australia continues to be one of the company’s most important markets, with the Melbourne Cup horse race being where the company gets the “peak of all its peaks” in terms of bet volume.
Statistics from the most recent race, showed bets in excess of 65,000 per minute.
However, for most sports in Australia in-play betting through digital channels is not permitted, which Brown says the sports betting industry would like to see changed.
“There’s only so much you can do if you’re placing your bets, even minutes or hours before an event, you really can’t get that entertainment,” he said. “A strong Cashout helps to a degree because it’s kind of the in play equivalent. If you’ve placed your bet, you can kind of follow along and profit on how the match is unfolding with Cashout.
“Without doubt it would be hugely popular amongst a nation of sports fans.”