David Bretnitz: “2021 presented a great deal of opportunity for the sports betting industry”

David Bretnitz, Senior Director of Sales, U.S., at Kambi.
David Bretnitz, Senior Director of Sales, U.S., at Kambi.

David Bretnitz, Senior Director of Sales, U.S., at Kambi, granted an exclusive interview to Focus Gaming News to talk about the growth of the sports betting market in the United States and the company’s upcoming challenges, including its launch in New York.

Exclusive interview.- David Bretnitz, Senior Director of Sales, U.S., at Kambi, shared with Focus Gaming News the highlights of 2021, the next markets to explore and how the company is preparing for its launch in New York.

2021 was a much more complete year for sports after curtailed seasons in 2020. How will it be remembered among sportsbooks?

This year presented a great deal of opportunity for the sports betting industry, with the majority of high-profile sports back in full swing and multiple jurisdictions launching new regulations. Kambi enjoyed an impressive period of commercial growth, launching in several US states with partners including Churchill Downs and Rush Street Interactive, as well as going live with Casino Magic in Argentina, BetCity in the Netherlands and Island Luck in The Bahamas. Our team also experienced great success with several new tribal partnerships including Desert Diamond Casinos in Arizona and Soaring Eagle in Michigan.  We underlined this with a revenue uplift of 80 per cent year-on-year for the nine months to September 2021.

A key development, with a particular focus on the US market, was the rapid growth we saw in the popularity of combination betting, which is why we worked so hard to roll out our Game Parlay product in time for the new American football season in September. It’s been a huge success for us in 2021 with more than 40 per cent of NFL bettors placing a Game Parlay wager throughout the season, and it will only continue to grow as we expand our product with more offers that can be combined across multiple leagues and sports.

It was a huge year for sports betting in the US. How has progress there compared with your own expectations?

A number of new states established regulatory frameworks for sports betting in 2021, at a rate which has given many sportsbooks real challenges when it comes to keeping the pace. This is amplified by particular intricacies on a state-to-state basis when it comes to retail and online betting, alongside differentiation in tax rates and whether certain events are permitted to be offered, such as college sports and esports.

Kambi is well equipped for these differences and has an unmatched track record of market-firsts in the US due to the strength of our compliance capabilities, processing the first legal wagers in states including New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Furthermore, we are able to swiftly pivot our technology to meet any local requirements while still providing the premium sportsbook our partners need to outperform the market.

How’s Kambi preparing for New York?

We feel very prepared as we approach the launch date in New York with our partner, Rush Street Interactive. Launching quickly with new partners, in new states and in full compliance with all local requirements is a particular strength of Kambi’s, underlined by our having facilitated approximately one partner launch per week in Q3 2021. We are faced with some new challenges when it comes to New York, in particular the tax rate that the licence to operate in the state carries, but we have an adept and hugely experienced technical and compliance teams working on it who will make this as smooth a process as possible.

What are the most important things to consider as US markets start to mature?

We saw operators begin to consider a scale-back on marketing due to the cost of customer acquisition, and it’s certainly true that the battle to both attract players and retain them is a fierce one. However, while marketing will remain an important tool for operators, ultimately the winners and losers in the US market will be decided by the quality of the sportsbook product.  

Operating a best-in-class, high-performance sportsbook at scale is a huge challenge on a structural and technical level – to say nothing of the need to develop new product innovations and the latest functionality players expect – but those that succeed long-term will be those that have a high-performance sportsbook that is able to retain customers and reduces the need for expensive reactivation efforts.

With the continual development of Kambi’s core platform, we’ve been able to integrate products such as Game Parlay and instant betting into our existing platform, without the need to bolt on third-party products in a disjointed manner. We’ve seen engagement with these products grow as they become more and more popular amongst bettors, and we’ll continue to expand these offerings into other sports in 2022 and beyond.

What are your hopes for 2022? Do you have an eye on other markets?

Ever-more US states introducing regulation is something we hope and expect to continue to see at a steady rate in the upcoming year. There are still a lot of potential-rich markets that will offer a massive opportunity for our partners, and we look forward to bringing Kambi’s award-winning sportsbook to players in such states as and when they regulate.

We also look forward to the prospects the regulated Canadian market holds for operators in 2022. Ontario will be a huge first step for operating in Canada and will be another huge market for our operators. With a total of nine professional sports teams in the province, we know that there are a lot of passionate fans who will bring that same passion to sports betting once it is officially live. 

“Ontario will be a huge first step for operating in Canada and will be another huge market for our operators.”

David Bretnitz, Senior Director of Sales, U.S., at Kambi.
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