Sportsbooks in the United States must focus on educating bettors about the availability and benefits of in-play betting for a profitable future, according to Strive Gaming CMO Jamie Shea.

Speaking as a guest on a forthcoming edition of Xtremepush’s podcast series Experts in the Room, the industry leader and former VP of Sportsbook at DraftKings stressed that live betting has so far only reached a fraction of its potential in the country.

That’s despite it being more than five years since the first legal online bets in the US, outside of Nevada, were placed with DraftKings in New Jersey.

Also key to profitability is a concerted push to retain expensively acquired players, Shea argues, with increased personalisation favored above expensive blanket bonusing.

“The education of the player is the best retention tool, as it teaches them how to play,” said Shea, speaking to Xtremepush’s New Business Account Executive and podcast host, Will Hansen.

“A lot of the time, customers just don’t even realise that certain bets exist. One of the things that’s driving me crazy right now in the US industry is in-play. Why is that not bigger? 70 per cent of bets should be in-play, as they are in Europe, because it’s fun and provides instant gratification. 

“I would love to see that happen in the US. We need to educate the players on how it works and where they can find it in an app and that’s where push notifications come in. Brands should be doing all they can to let the customer know that hey, there is this wager available, and it’s a lot of fun.

“Every time that I’ve sat down with people and taught them how it works, they love it, and it becomes their go-to.”

Shea also stressed that US operators’ acquisition budgets need to be more in line with player lifetime values, a trend which is already in motion.

“After the first bet on 1st August 2018, in New Jersey, it was a free-for-all,” she added. “Nobody knew what should be done or how it should be done, just that they wanted as many active customers as possible. And so it was a bonus here, a bonus there.

“Unfortunately, as everybody came to realize, this set the customer up with an expectation that isn’t realistic, because those offers can’t last forever. It also created a lot of promiscuity within the different brands through ‘promo hunters’ and it started to become a race to the bottom. Nobody was profitable.

“Having Strive Gaming and Xtremepush in the US market allows for so much more targeted marketing, so that bonuses aren’t just thrown at everyone. It allows us to look at what resonates with certain player types, as a targeted and measured approach.”

In line with the data-led approach to personalized offerings, Shea also stressed that detecting problematic player behavior is of paramount importance for US-focused platform provider Strive Gaming.

“For me, it’s a very personal topic,” she said. “I grew up with my dad losing his business and that’s because gaming was not regulated. Nobody was texting him and asking him how he was doing back in 1984. One of the great things about having all of this data available is you can look to see, has someone changed their behavior dramatically?

“I’m very cognizant of player interactions with us. Our customer service team is extremely well-trained to notice when certain trigger words, for example, suggest a person might be having a problem. We can’t be their therapist. We can’t know everything they are thinking. But what we can do is provide the right tools to enable people to keep enjoying sports betting and iGaming, in a very responsible manner that isn’t going to affect their lives.”

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