The ever expanding U.S. market offers a bounty of opportunity for the gambling industry, but the key is getting in with the right product at the right time. Yaniv Sherman, head of commercial development at 888 Holdings, joined CalvinAyre.com’s Becky Liggero to discuss his company’s strategy to grab American market share.
To dive into the new U.S. market, a comprehensive plan is necessary, with some priorities, but a lot of big pieces to consider. “Our focus right now is on several levels and mainly around, naturally, regulation and compliance,” Sherman told us, “but more importantly about the players and the product, and getting the most consistent technology out there.”
After the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), there’s been an explosion of activity in the United States, and Sherman noted that it takes a lot of work to stay at the head of the emerging pack. “Everything is very intensive, but we have a unique view of the market place being in it for so long, through three regulations,” he said. “It is a longer term process and we understand that. The U.S. in 2018 is by far the most highly advanced online market in the world. Not just talking about gaming, I’m talking about consumer and ecommerce activities and products.”
Now with Pennsylvania opening up to sports betting, 888 has another big opportunity to capitalize. “Naturally if we can offer all three products on the same tech stack, which is definitely a competitive advantage,” Sherman said of the new region. “It’s a tax and fee structure that we need to take into consideration but we’re going to work through that. And I think again, unlike the local incumbents and brands, we have a cross-state agenda. So we’re looking at Pennsylvania, hopefully we’re looking at additional states that will come across, and we just want to make sure that we’re consistent at that.”
Those new states, which could pass their sports betting bills in the very near future, provide both an opportunity and a challenge for a company, in that they have to grow at the speed these new markets demand. “The good thing about this, alongside smaller states, but the good thing about it for the first time since 2013, we have a choice,” Sherman said. “So we can decide what’s the best approach, where you want to go, and we just want to maintain the scalability. Because we’re using the same technology, the same marketing capabilities for the partners and ourselves, we just want to be able to scale efficiently.”
888 isn’t only about sports betting of course, and Sherman was keen to remind us that they launched a new poker client not that long ago. “That was a unique moment in our history because we connected to three states once New Jersey joined,” he said. He continued:
“We saw an immediate uptake with a very successful WSOP event. We were happy that Caesars really came across with a strong proposition. Naturally we’re looking for Pennsylvania to join that compact. They need to get a few processes going in that, they got their plate full, but we’re in constant contact with them, whatever we need to provide.”
An important thing Sherman noted is that operators aren’t just competing against each other in this ever expanding market, they’re also competing against other entertainment products for attention.
“We’re not just competing against other gaming products, we’re also competing for share of wallet and share of mobile. People have only so many apps on their phone, we just want to make sure ours is entertaining and of high quality so they opt for us.”