The sports betting industry is looking for a way to not only survive this COVID-19 pandemic, but to thrive coming out of it. Thanks to industry leaders like Pinnacle, great solutions in esports are already there to help with the task. Our Becky Liggero Fontana caught up with Paris Smith, CEO of Pinnacle, to better understand how the market is moving, and what keeps Pinnacle at the front of the pack.
All eyes have been on esports since live sports went dormant, and Liggero Fontana began the interview by asking how the vertical was doing from a B2B and B2C perspective. “From the B2B perspective, it’s been phenomenal,” Smith said. “The growth, the amount of interest that we’ve had, I don’t know if it’s because when you have all the sports coming in and you’ve got a provider, you don’t put as much interest or as much focus on it. But people are saying, ‘Hi we need to make money on esports, who do we talk to?’ And we’re getting that literally daily. So Pinnacle Solution, which also has a stand at SBC, they have been thriving. They’re doing a really great job, and at the same time we’re constantly improving the product. Going back to your question, the basic numbers are like 50% growth in the number of players for B2B and B2C, as well as 40% volume growth, increases in the number of bets, which might be systemic from the situation. People have more time, we’re all at home trying to figure out how to fill the gaps. You know, it is a positive story.”
Thankfully, this growth comes from a healthy mix of existing esports bettors, as well as newcomers to the space. “I think the current esports players are playing more and we’re getting a lot of new players as well,” Smith said. “The interesting thing is the crossover, and I think, you know, even going from a U.S. centric company to a global company, you don’t just get American betters, for example, to start betting on football. You have to have interest in the sports before you start playing it. In the panel, they talked about influencers getting that interest piqued from a non esport centric player, but I think the crossover’s always a bit more minimal I think that people expect. You can’t just force somebody to start watching esports and understanding esports. Watching it’s fun, but to truly understand how it works, I think that’s another level.”
Smith cautioned that most of the growth the industry is seeing is not from cross over players, who might grow esports as a product long term, but the team is working on changing that. “Like I said, when you’ve got this experience, you can either you know run and put your head in the sand or go, ‘Okay, here’s an opportunity,’” she said. “And the team has said this is an opportunity, and they’ve looked at the quality of the product, the breadth of the product, increasing their capabilities on integrity. You know, we’re working diligently on that right now to make sure that when we do come out of this on the other side, we’re stronger and better than ever.”
Smith credits much of the success Pinnacle has had to her talented team, and noted that even in these times of social isolation, everyone is doing their part. But they’re ultimate success or failure depends on the quality of the product, and the team knows that. “From the esport specific perspective, I think it’s really about putting out what the players need, and now having the time to focus on that, and not having the day-to-day crisis, if you will, come up and take us off of that focus,” she said. “So we’re able to put everybody that we need to on getting that view of that product up and running, as I mentioned in the panel. We’ve always focused on the product itself, not the experience. Now we’re really focused our product team, and we have a customer experience manager who’s looking at it in a different way than Pinnacle is historically used to looking at it.”