BOSA Digital: Partnerships find many ways to connect with fans Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports · December 3, 2020 at 2:17 pm Even though legal sportsbooks are booming throughout the United States, Cillian Barry says they face a transition in the next few years and need help from partners. Fans of sports will evolve into fans of betting on sports, predicted the managing director of SportCaller, a Dublin-based company that provides free-to-play sports games for operators and media in 35 countries. “The (partners) who do well will be those that understand what the sports fan is looking for and actually engage with them, have a bit of fun,” Barry said. “Sport is intended as entertainment.” Barry spoke Wednesday at a panel discussion titled “Activation – Making the Most of Partnerships” at the Betting on Sports America Digital conference. Also on the panel were: Geoff Reiss, general manager of Yahoo Sports Erica Kosemund, senior corporate director of marketing for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Catherine Carlson, senior vice president of revenue and strategy for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles Kyle Wachtel, head of partnerships at BetMGM, the resort company’s online and land-based sports betting division in the United States Wayne Kimmel, managing partner of SeventySix Capital, a sports-tech venture capital firm, moderated. The panelists represent companies that have been active in sports partnerships in varying degrees in the 30 months since sports betting became legal in states outside Nevada. Yahoo Sports and BetMGM already have a partnership agreement. Reiss said the plan is to provide the Yahoo Sports audience, estimated at 60 million monthly users, with a seamless integration to BetMGM. Wachtel said that in addition to Yahoo Sports, BetMGM partners with Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants; on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers became its fifth NFL gaming partner. Although Oklahoma has not legalized sports betting and neighboring Texas has no legal gaming at all, Kosemund said Choctaw has clubs and lounges inside sports facilities in Dallas and Arlington, Texas, where sportsbooks might be added if the laws change. Carlson said the Philadelphia Eagles have partnership agreements with Unibet, Fox Bet, and DraftKings. Carlson said the Eagles’ three partners all want new customers but each is looking for something different. Fox Bet is focused on content, including weekly digital “Eagles Edge” shows and a members-only stadium area with a media sports desk, unique views of player arrivals and postgame news conferences, and the “ultimate fan cave” with wall-to-wall screens and sports-betting information. Unibet was looking for brand awareness and began its partnership as the Eagles’ official online casino. When sports were shut down by the pandemic, that expanded into Eagles blackjack and development of an Eagles slot game that will be released soon, she said. The DraftKings partnership began first with fantasy sports but now includes a DraftKings private club space on the field level and social-media livestreams of team practices. Wachtel said BetMGM looks for partners willing to “commit to trial and error together.” “We can’t be afraid to break new ground. Even among our team and league partners, not everyone is as comfortable pushing boundaries. … We still need to be careful and consider it with our partnerships. No operators have unlimited resources, even if it might seem as such for some of the deals that have been announced.” Reiss said Yahoo Sports has seen more-than-expected demand for sports-betting content. “(Sports betting) is becoming an absolutely mainstream, fundamental way of how we consume sports,” he added. Kosemund said, “Everyone’s getting on the rocket ship” of sports betting and predicted it will increase the excitement of casino gaming as well. Barry said securing a sports-betting partnership is not enough, because “the hard work come after.” “What (partners) need to do is see how they can actually add value,” he said.