Transatlantic tricks of the trade: Branch’s Reed Kuhn examines betting

Much of the global betting industry’s focus over the past year has been on US developments, but Europe still has ample ‘greenfield space’ ripe for revenue cultivation.

Having established itself in North America’s big tech space from its Silicon Valley headquarters, has now looked to new avenues for success. 

Looking ahead, as the company’s Director of Business Strategy, Reed Kuhn, noted, has identified sports betting as one key area for growth. 

These ambitions will build on the firm’s experience and expertise in US tech, which has seen partnerships with heavy hitters such as Amazon, Uber, Twitter and Spotify, as well as Kuhn’s own ‘complicated’ professional history with wagering.

“When we looked at all the things that we have learned, we realised that those same tricks could be applied to the sports betting apps and saw a massive opportunity,” he explained.

“In the US we skipped the retail process and went straight into native apps. Most active gamblers in the US now use a native app, but that’s not the case in Europe. 

“We’ve seen a gap to take people from mobile web or desktop into an app, which is going to be a completely different arrangement, because the app is the digital interface between your business and the end user.”

It is clear that there is substantial crossover between the European and North American betting industries, as evidenced by the presence of operators such as bet365 and Betfred and suppliers such as Kambi and Bettor Collective in the latter. 

Meanwhile, looking from west to east, Australia-based but US-focused PointsBet has looked to Europe as a tech base, setting up an office in Dublin to support the development of its stateside business.

However, Kuhn outlined that on technology, Old World operators could learn from the emerging New World players, particularly regarding app development in a region where sportsbooks have been largely confined to casinos, and as a result has been lacking the high-street retail facilities familiar to European customers.

“The leaders in the industry right now are app-first, and they’ve leapfrogged the transition from traditional retail to the web,” he said, sharing his view on the main difference between the European and North American betting scenes.

“That’s what the biggest difference is. When you require someone to open an account and download an app, you now have a connection that you didn’t have before. 

“You can send an email or a push notification and bring them right into the app, you can even do peer-to-peer sharing right between apps. In the US they learn those strategies from big tech and that’s the defining difference between the markets.” 

Whilst the European sector may be more established, if Kuhn’s assessment is to be believed it could certainly benefit from looking to the tech-driven approach of North America, where the offices of Silicon Valley now appear just as vital as the casinos of Las Vegas.

This does not mean that it is all smooth sailing in the transatlantic betting and gaming scene, however, as more and more firms – both domestic and international, operators and suppliers – seek to capitalise on the burgeoning post-PASPA sector. 

The market has rapidly become ‘hyper competitive’ as projections for revenue reach the billions over the next few years, Kuhn observed, and a lot of apps and platforms have a ‘leaky funnel in their engagement cycle’, which is causing users to leave. 

After sitting down with Kuhn, it became apparent that there are lessons both the European and North American betting sectors can learn from one another, but the common denominator throughout remained the dominance and vitality of technology in the global industry.

Reid Kuhn spoke to SBC during Betting on Sports Europe (BOSE) earlier this year. SBC’s next major event will be the SBC Summit Barcelona, taking place from 20-22 September at the Fira Barcelona Montjuïc.

Innovation will be a core focus of the event, which will see 6,000 delegates enjoy a 12-track conference covering all industry developments, topics and disruptions, featuring 200 companies showcasing their latest innovations, and a programme of spectacular evening networking events. 

Visit the SBC Summit Barcelona website to book your All-Access Pass for the early bird price of €350.

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