Elevating the casino floor

Max Meltzer speaks with iGB on how introducing sports betting to the product mix can elevate the entire casino floor.


Max Meltzer is Chief Commercial Officer at Kambi. Having joined the company in 2016 with responsibility for managing its global sales and partner management functions, he has played a key role in a period of significant commercial growth.

As land-based gaming begins to make a comeback in the US, the focus now shifts from recovery back to growth and on finding new ways to engage customers, increase ROI and enhance the customer experience.

The challenges of a post-Covid world for commercial and tribal casinos of course do not end there though, having to adopt a phased approach to re-opening their doors with the additional issue of social distancing restrictions to contend with.

Sportsbook provider Kambi’s omnichannel approach has however allowed it to continue to collect data around user trends during the shutdown and to help land-based stakeholders to innovate their offering and return to growth.

“Bringing a new product vertical to the casino floor, particularly one with dynamics across both margins and player engagement that separate it from traditional casino verticals like slots and table games is understandably not a light undertaking”, says the company’s CCO Max Meltzer.

However, Meltzer adds that sports betting should not be underestimated for its capacity to drive revenue across the entire casino ecosystem, referencing a partner success story to highlight its potential.

“Kambi partner Penn National Gaming has found that on-property customers who engage with both casino and sports betting generate five times more value than those who engage with casino only. Furthermore, it has seen revenues from table games rise significantly since the introduction of sports betting.”

Broader horizons

One of the most notable benefits of sports betting, according to Meltzer, is that it appeals to a broad range of demographics.

Appealing to different generations and bringing these into the casino also draws attention to other casino amenities and increases ROI across the board, with the potential to align engagement strategies with upcoming sports events.

“As we transition to a new normal the coming months promise to be particularly exciting ones for sport and sports betting, with several events such as the UEFA European Championships and the Olympics having been postponed to 2021.

“In addition to this, the forthcoming NFL season will offer huge excitement for football fans, with the most recent Super Bowl driving the highest bet volumes in Kambi’s history.”

A stronger brand

Meltzer points out that tribal operators have two primary options when deploying sports betting. The first one being a partnership with a B2C brand and the second teaming up with a B2B provider.

While each operator has different needs which may be better met by either option, a B2B partnership allows operators to harness the strength of their own brand. With the B2C route, the day-to-day handling of the sportsbook would fall to the B2C operator, along with the brand and database building opportunities that go with this given that the sportsbook would not carry the casino’s own brand.

For those operators looking to increase brand awareness, the B2B route offers the chance to maximise the sports betting opportunity for customers and be actively involved in the process.

The other consideration is on the regulatory side, where B2B providers like Kambi - which recently launched four partners on day one of online regulation in Michigan -can ensure that this is being handled efficiently and with accuracy.

“Taking control of the sportsbook with a B2B partner empowers the casino with a full 360-degree view of casino and sportsbook customers – enabling them to see how they intersect and how to most effectively drive cross-sell between the two verticals.”

Meltzer explains how Kambi’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) technology has helped operators to conduct sports betting in a “safe and contactless manner” during the pandemic.  Although not originally intended as a Covid precaution, the technology allows a safe experience for players as they can view lines and build bets from anywhere, before placing them at a counter or Kambi kiosk by simply scanning a QR code.”

Expanding on this, Meltzer outlines how a B2B partner can help tribal operators capture a greater share of wallet through mobile sports betting.

“A tribal casino’s customer-base will naturally find their way to mobile sports betting as regulation allows”, he says. “Developing a mobile and online offer consistent with the tribe’s established brand, in partnership with a B2B provider, is the best way to beat the competition to the punch and develop even greater brand loyalty, extending into a vertical that resonates with new and existing players.”

Richer insights

Another advantage for tribal casinos teaming up with a B2B supplier is the growing pool of data-driven insights it would be able to draw upon.

“The success Kambi delivers is anchored in our ability to leverage our network data from a global player base, creating network advantages that increase as each new partner is added and existing partners grow.”

“For example, a greater volume of data will lead to a more accurate understanding of player behavioural habits, aiding Kambi in providing a more frictionless and intuitive user experience.”

Meltzer also emphasises that Native American gaming operators would not be launching sports betting from a standing start with Kambi.

“They are not competing alone, but with the benefit of our 20 years of trading experience and actionable analytics from our deep network data behind them – a partnership with Kambi offering a platform on which they can thrive.”

Looking to the future, Kambi plans to continue providing partners with the combination of technical and regulatory expertise to succeed together with that crucial competitive edge.

Having introduced their system for remote launches during the pandemic, which sees land-based partners launch sports betting without the need for a member of the Kambi team on-site, there are a number of exciting opportunities for operators to gain commercial momentum.

“While not necessarily our preference, remote launches have proved a crucial factor in helping us to maintain commercial momentum for both our business and our partners, while further underlining the adaptability of our technology.”