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“The value of free-to-play and fantasy sports games in converting sports fans to bettors is key in the US market”

“the-value-of-free-to-play-and-fantasy-sports-games-in-converting-sports-fans-to-bettors-is-key-in-the-us-market”

In November last year, Minneapolis-based online technology company SharpLink Gaming teamed up with AR-centered sports fan platform Quintar to deliver an AR solution that combines live sporting events with real-time sports betting, resulting in an “immersive, personalized” betting experience. Described as “highly disruptive” for the industry, the product offers sports betting to fans in a new way, which can interact with dynamic AR content on the field.

In an exclusive interview with Yogonet, SharpLink’s CEO and Founder Rob Phythian discusses the key features behind the game-changing innovation, plus sports betting moving towards more personalized and exciting experiences. Moreover, the executive talks initial results of the partnership thus far, and new plans going forward.

Phythian also reflects on the results SharpLink’s C4 sports betting conversion technology, which aims to convert sports fans into bettors by serving them personalized offers, has brought to its clients so far.

The CEO also further analyzes the role fantasy sports play in the US market: “Leveraging our modern technology to convert US fans that are fantasy sports-centric will be what clearly differentiates SharpLink in the industry,” he says.

SharpLink has partnered with AR-centered sports fan platform Quintar on a new “immersive, personalized” sports betting experience. What led to this agreement and what does the company expect from it in terms of financial impact and growth opportunities? What role is SharpLink’s C4 sports betting conversion solution set to play in this new product?

Betting is a very one-dimensional activity at the moment. Our expertise is in creating new experiences for fans that keep them coming back for additional entertainment. This partnership is exciting from a business perspective, but, more importantly, it’s exciting for fans of sports and betting.

Quintar’s augmented reality technology is a natural extension for SharpLink’s C4 sports betting conversion technology. Our development team is working with Quintar’s team to create a fully turnkey solution that will allow sports bettors to participate in live sports events via AR, check game data, compare betting lines, socialize with friends and place bets with multiple sportsbook operators.

So instead of a bettor simply making a bet on their phone, they can have a fully immersive AR experience of watching the game or match while having in-play opportunities to make strategic bets on the sporting event they’re watching. This is truly game-changing innovation at its finest and will result in SharpLink and Quintar delivering sports fans with an unprecedented and interactive game day experience.

The product is set to give AR a prominent role, which the company has described as potentially “highly disruptive” for the sports betting industry. Does SharpLink find its clients interested in offering these new technologies to its customers? What opportunities does AR offer to the sports betting industry? 

Our clients are always looking for “what’s next.” Any technology that creates a new opportunity for our clients to engage their customers in a new and exciting way, they’re willing to explore.

When should we expect the new product to go live and what are SharpLink’s expectations in terms of adoption for the near future? What are the technological advances presented by this new solution and how can company partners benefit from them? 

Based on collaborative testing we completed with Quintar and the PGA Tour earlier this year, we believe we are heading towards something big. Moving forward, our goal is to work with Quintar to gamify various PGA Tour tournaments by geo-locating users; offering free-to-play games for users in non-gambling states; and delivering real-betting offers for users that are in licensed states.

Our first gamification test was completed this past August and September for golf fans attending the PGA Tour’s three FedExCup Playoff events – the Northern Trust, BMW Championship and the TOUR Championship. We teamed with Quintar to design, engineer and produce the mobile app for iPhone users, using the PGA Tour’s first-ever immersive AR experience coupled with a live interactive, free-to-play gaming experience.

Fans at each event simply needed to point their iPhone to any location, be it tee box or green, and they immediately interacted with the action. The app’s live and fan-controlled replay experience featured AR tee-shot trails with apex indicator; distance to pin measurements; ball and player indicator cards; and interactive 3D models of the greens showing topography so that fans could spin around each shot to see different angles and discern challenges with putts or sand and water traps.

More specifically, our interactive game focused on a “closest to the pin” offer for par 3’s. If the golfer chosen by the game player was within five feet of the hole, there was a much higher payout than 20 feet. If it was over 20 feet from the pin, they did not win.

This is truly game-changing innovation at its finest and will result in SharpLink and Quintar delivering sports fans with an unprecedented, interactive, game day experience when engaging with and betting on their favorite sports, teams and players across the world of sports. We look forward to sharing more details about new customer opportunities with Quintar as they roll out.

SharpLink’s C4 sports betting conversion technology aims to convert sports fans into bettors by serving them personalized offers. It has recently been integrated by clients, including SportsHub and NASCAR. What has client reception to this product been like so far and how has it impacted their conversion rates?

In a one-year internal study conducted in collaboration with SportsHub property NFC High Stakes, SharpLink compared standard banner ad performance against C4 integration performance, finding that personalized betting offers served by the C4 engine resulted in 59.31% user engagement versus only 8.86% for banner ads. Moreover, when comparing ultimate conversion rates, SharpLink’s C4 technology outperformed banner ads by over 300%.

For the past ten years, we have been creating free-to-play games for NASCAR and in February 2021, we deployed our C4 engine on NASCAR.com. These games allow NASCAR fans to interact with the league on a deeper level, as well as provide these users with the ability to acclimate to the emerging US sports betting industry. In states where sports betting has been legalized, the C4 conversion results for NASCAR have been phenomenal.

During the past season, thousands of NASCAR users interacted with our integrated betslip technology. Essentially the betslip is placed on the media partners site like a shopping cart widget. Users can pick and choose their bets and bet combinations prior to clicking to go to the sportsbook website. When they complete ‘shopping,’  the user simply clicks “submit” and we will transfer all of their bets to BetMGM and repopulate the BetMGM betslip so the user doesn’t have to recreate their bets. 

More than 16% of engaged users added bets to the betslip with more than 4% being submitted to BetMGM by NASCAR users. When we added our first iteration of our Bet Recommendation technology, it resulted in a 32% rise in betslip adds and a 192% increase in betslips submitted. We then tested a second iteration of our Bet Recommendation technology, which showed an increase of 67% in betslip interactions.

The solutions have been developed specifically for the US online sports betting industry. What potential does the company see in the market and the way it is developing? How does the company plan to further extend its presence within it and what should we expect in terms of partnerships and new markets?

The value of free-to-play and fantasy sports games in acclimating and ultimately converting sports fans to sports bettors is key in the U.S. market. Americans have had few venues in which to enjoy legal sports betting until 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that prohibited states from allowing gambling on sports.

Prior to that ruling, more than 56 million Americans embraced fantasy gaming as an alternative to sports betting. We feel this is a critically important market to target in the early days and our fantasy gaming heritage puts us in a great position to help educate and convert these players into sports bettors through our AI-enabled C4 solution.

So, ultimately, leveraging our modern technology to convert US fans that are fantasy sports-centric will be what clearly differentiates SharpLink in the industry.

Check out the replay of SharpLink Gaming’s panel discussion at SBC Summit North America, held last week at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The panel features a who’s who of industry experts, including SharpLink’s CEO Rob Phythian. $SBET https://t.co/xt3a9mwVrZ

— SharpLink Gaming (@SharpLinkGaming) December 8, 2021

You have recently served as a panelist at SBC Summit North America. What did you speak about during the panel and what was your experience like? The session discussed how to build sustainable revenue through technological innovation. How does the company approach this within its own strategies?

Our experience at the SBC North American Summit in December was extremely positive and we’re excited to participate in more panels and discussions in the future. Our panel titled, “Building Sustainable Revenue Through Technological Innovation” was extremely popular given the caliber of panelists including Matthew Hold from US Integrity, Peter Scott from Warner Media and Sara Slane from Slane Advisory.

Every company in the sports betting industry is looking for new and innovative ways to build revenue. Our panel went well beyond the industry talking point of user acquisition through promotions, to discuss the strategies of customized experiences for customers, fundamentally changing the way people place bets.

SharpLink began trading on Nasdaq in July of last year. How do you assess the first months of trading as a public company and what opportunities has this unlocked for the business?

We went public as a means to more readily access the capital markets and create long-term value creation and wealth for our current shareholders and prospective new investors. Having access to growth capital is allowing us to accelerate our growth and technology development efforts; and a strong cash position is enabling us to have the flexibility to pursue and win opportunities to grow through strategic acquisitions on a timely basis.

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