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Time to do Betr

This week The Closing Line by +More Media offered up its two cents on the possible US betting industry disruptor, Betr.

In an article published on Monday, US gambling sector expert Dustin Gouker set out why he thinks “Betr isn’t taking over the US sports betting landscape, and it probably never will.”

Why he spent his time writing about an operator “that accounts for approximately zero percent of the US sports betting market by share,” Gouker wasn’t sure, he said, but the resulting read is well worth a few minutes of anyone’s time.

The Jake Paul-fronted company “seems to be a bit of a media and industry darling, despite its underwhelming launch this year,” he wrote.

“But for the life of me, I am not sure why anyone is excited about Betr, at least from a gambling perspective.”

Gouker points out that in the two states where its operations are currently live – Ohio and Massachusetts – Betr ranks 18th out of 18 and eighth out of eight, respectively, by the amount it has handled in bets since launch.

“You can say ‘slow burn’ and ‘we just got started’ and ‘we’re still working on product’ all you want,” Gouker writes.

“I am pretty sure given the same tech platform, I could launch a sportsbook tomorrow and get more users and handle and revenue just by going to Ohio and trying to sign people up at bars or promoting it from my Twitter handle.”

The problem with that reality, he adds, is that Betr’s whole shtick is based around its unparalleled strength when it comes to customer acquisition. 

Gouker dives much deeper into the issue than can be reflected here, so readers are encouraged to check out the full article in all its glory.

Betr vs. ESPN

Careful not to be outdone when it comes to criticising others in the industry, Betr co-founder Joey Levy took to Medium later in the week to offer up his view about the soon-to-launch ESPN Bet.

In his post, Levy set out to demonstrate the “juxtaposition between the recently announced partnership between Penn and ESPN, and our approach at Betr.”

“I expect ESPN Bet to be a formidable competitor,” Levy said in a note sent to colleagues earlier in the week. 

“It would be naive to suggest otherwise. The ESPN brand is synonymous with sports in America, and ESPN’s portfolio of sports media rights is unmatched. 

“Additionally, Penn Entertainment is well capitalised, has a capable management team, has expansive market access through their regional casino business, and now controls their own product and technology through their acquisition of The Score.”

So far, so positive. But Levy does not stop there and instead goes on to suggest that “there are some nuances and execution challenges that should be considered” around the deal.

He goes on to describe differences in Penn and Betr’s strategies when it comes to combining the worlds of sports media and betting.

Penn’s lack of differentiation in its Barstool Sportsbook product comes under fire, for example, while the firm’s customer acquisition and retention strategies are also put under the microscope.

The operator’s existing product, which is likely to serve as the basis for the eventual launch of ESPN Bet, “is still the same legacy sportsbook everyone else has – a glorified spreadsheet of moneylines, point spreads, and over/unders that are uninterpretable to the sports fan who has never bet on sports before,” Levy writes.

He rounds off the piece by contrasting Penn’s strategies with his own, setting out precisely how his business aims to position itself as “the brand in this category for the 21-34 year old demographic.”

As for which company will come to be more successful in the end, only time will tell.

Walters’ Life at Risk

On to a piece from Vanity Fair, now, which this week released an interview with gambling legend Bill Walters, who now “wants to teach you to beat the house.”

Walters “has long had sports gambling advice to give,” the article begins, having worked for decades in Las Vegas with the Computer Group, “a celebrated network of algorithmically minded sports gamblers.”

ESPN previously named Walters “the world’s most successful sports bettor,” before he was sent to prison on charges of insider trading in 2017.

The timing of his imprisonment came, incidentally, just shortly before a wave of legalised sports betting began to take hold across the US, Vanity Fair points out.

As a result, “by the time he was released, a new, emboldened audience for his life’s work had emerged.”

Sports betting had by this point become a major fixture in the US sports industry and culture.

That reality was part of the reason behind Walters’ decision to publish his memoir, Gambler: Secrets From a Life at Risk, which was published on Tuesday this week.

The book is not just about gambling, however, and provides autobiographical insights into Walters’ life more generally, including the tragedy of his daughter’s death by suicide, which took place while he remained in prison.

Vanity Fair’s interview with the cult figure offers up a wide-ranging read covering topics from Wall Street to the legalisation of sports betting in the US, via police raids on Walters’ home and just about everything in between.

For those still unsure whether Walters’ memoir is worth their time, this interview provides a good place to start.

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