Comment, Sports Betting

New Jersey Sports Books – How are they doing on retail?

Had an interesting and fascinating Monday on a New Jersey sports betting tour with Gideon Bierer from Partis. We tried to cover as many casinos and tracks in NJ in one day to review the offers. We didn’t manage them all but made it to Freehold, Monmouth Park, Resorts AC, Hard Rock, Ocean, Golden Nugget, Harrahs, and Borgata. I will head to Meadowlands later this week and report back.

The offerings varied from old school racebooks to modern sports lounges with many a work in progress. The sports lounge concept is developing nicely with Ocean and Golden Nugget particularly showing a good use of space making them enjoyable places to watch sport.

What was most noticeable across them all though was the lack of good 24/7 product with many having no or limited inplay and no live sport when we visited. At the time the European online operators had 80+ live events. Making a sportsbook a destination with 24/7 live sport is essential to attracting consumers.

None of the books had a real omni-channel offering which surprised me. I would hope this is just temporary due to the rush to get live but this is a real missed opportunity to capture consumers for the longer term. Lots of the casinos are also doing a good job of integrating sports content throughout their properties with many places to watch so pushing omni-channel seems a natural step that must happen next.

The evolution of digital signage is a step in the right direction. Most of the books are dropping the awful long list of futures lit up by piercing LEDs. Instead there are interactive and contextual odds screens that are pleasing to look at.

Golden Nugget’s offering was particularly well done with a good looking sports lounge, a great OTC experience, and very popular SSBTs. At the other end of the scale the Borgata’s old school offering must do better. I assume things there will change with the help of GVC.

NJ Mobile Apps

Also took advantage of being in NJ to play on many of the online offerings. I will save the findings of that research for another day. It is safe to say while some are the fun interactive experiences we expect in Europe, some are extremely lacking and badly thought out.

What is very apparent is that the post-PASPA landscape is leading to an evolution of sports betting and will be interesting to see how the newer digital-first operators make an impact on the market. Fan engagement is key and retail is a great way to engage and acquire customers but the retail book must be a 24/7 live sports destination to maximise this opportunity.

Will be fun to see how other properties in other states learn from wave 1. Although after spending almost 5 hours in NY/NJ traffic am not sure if Gideon will be up for another road trip (big thanks to him for enabling the adventure!).

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