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It seems US national identity is a major force igniting the strategy of many sportsbook operators as well-known London-based operator Betfred continue their latest stateside move.
Betfred USA Sports has emerged domestically as one of the newer faces seeking attention as the company launched an operation into Pennsylvania just in time for the NBA season tip-off along with the NCAA college football bowls and NFL playoffs.
The longtime British bookmaker will be affixed to Pennsylvania with the Wind Creek Bethlehem, PA casino. The company had its first real-money test operation on December 22, clearing requirements to go live the following day.
The approval comes on the heels of the significant competition in the Keystone State with major player BetMGM also launching operation recently to become the 11th operator into the market. Betfred brings the total to a dozen sportsbooks and makes PA along with New Jersey one of the most competitive new legalized sports wagering states in the US.
Betfred among DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, and all others have been restricted to online operation only in PA due to government-mandated COVID-19 order. That is currently scheduled to be lifted on January 4 to open all retail onsite locations in the state including Wind Creek Bethlehem.
Based in the UK, Betfred has been a European powerhouse originating in 1967 by founder Fred Done. It has been told the company was started with money he wagered upon England to win the 1966 World Cup. Since then, the company has steadily grown into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Betfred took in £13.5 billion (about $15 billion) in wagering handle in 2018 and £10bn (equivalent to $11 billion US dollars) in 2019.
Based in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania makes its third US state following the entry into Colorado and Iowa. Betfred is licensed in four states.
Mark Stebbings, Betfred Managing Director offered this comment when the company began operations in April 2020:
The entire team is energized by the opportunity to bring the totality of our experience and technology to the diverse and innovative US sports wagering
As a strategy versus creating its own Betfred website and app in Pennsylvania, the sportsbook is piggybacking off the existing play.windcreekcasino.com site and app the casino created in July for its online casino games. The site provides a toggling option between accessing the online casino or sportsbook. It also offers a promotions tab that advertises a 100% welcome match for the first deposit of up to $400.
Betfred USA Sports COO Bryan Bennett mentioned his goal was to be operational digitally in Pennsylvania by year’s end, and he was glad last week to have met that. He also added:
Sooner is always better. We would have liked to be out earlier in the football season, but these things take time. It works out nicely now, given the start of the NBA season and all of the sports going on, starting a new year with the Super Bowl only a month away and March Madness soon after that. Those big events were really the impetus.
As the second-largest casino in the state in terms of revenue, Betfred hopes foremost to attract its regular casino customers who also have an interest in sports betting, whether they are already signed up with other online sites.
On the iGaming side, guests physically located anywhere in Pennsylvania can place sports wagers via the Wind Creek Casino online platforms, with this online launch following last month’s grand opening of the Wind Creek Bethlehem physical sportsbook. All sporting events and wagering options available at the sportsbook can be accessed from anywhere through standard web browsers or the native mobile app,
Ken Rohman, Chief Marketing Officer of Wind Creek Hospitality, commented on the new association with Betfred:
Launching the online sportsbook provides a dynamic element to our online gaming experience that enables our guests to engage with us and play from anywhere they like while in PA without requiring any travelling. We are proud to add online sports betting to the Wind Creek Casino online portfolio and close out 2020 with yet another offering for our valued guests.
The major question accompanying Betfred’s arrival into Pennsylvania asks how it will affect the overall marketplace.
While many other US states announced increases in sports wagering handle in November, PA reported a surprising 6.4% drop compared to the previous month. Not alarming, but still a decrease from a record $528.8 million in October to $491.4 million in November.
Many factors were involved including the effects of COVID-19. It will be interesting to see if a plateau has been reached and how the impetus of new experienced sportsbook operators into the PA market including Betfred and BetMGM will have on continuing results.
It is expected that Betfred will have plans to launch operations in other US states in 2021 as well.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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