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Americans love football. Americans also love to bet on football. According to the American Gaming Association, commercial sports betting revenue hit $4.33B in 2021, a 180% increase from the previous year. As the most popular sports league in America, the NFL is a key driver in these historic numbers, with an estimated 1 in 4 Americans betting on SuperBowl LVII. In the first half of 2022, revenue totaled over $3M. So, it is easy to say that sports betting is more popular than ever. 

Technology innovations for sports betting have traditionally focused on backend systems and integrations, enabling more diverse lines and increasing the speed to change a line’s odds. In 2018, the passage of PASPA quickly ignited even higher levels of investment in digital innovation. Now, thanks to this technology, you have everything you need to place a bet sitting in your pocket or your purse. 

However, brick and mortar sportsbooks have historically been overlooked when casinos have made guest experience enhancements. Except for the size and quality of the TVs, most brick and mortar sportsbooks continued to offer the same first come, first serve couches and private viewing booths with little change over the last few decades. 

Enter Sportsbook 2.0

With a new influx of capital investment and the return of in-person gatherings, casino operators are now reimagining the sports bettor’s game watching experience. While mobile betting is easy and convenient, it does not compare to the high energy, excitement and allure of betting on and watching a game in person, especially within destination resort casinos and “eatertainment” sportsbooks that are purpose-built to entertain. With the growth trajectory of both mobile and in-person sports betting still climbing rapidly, many sportsbook operators have taken cues from other resort management team members, who have seen great success in modernizing and monetizing the pool, dayclub, and nightclub experiences.

Over the past few months, many sportsbook operators have been renovating their physical spaces, developing creative programming, and expanding their in-venue offerings, while also gearing up for the upcoming 2022-2023 NFL season. These operators see sportsbooks as a dominant economic force that should be leveraged and optimized. In many instances, they are the only assets that ties the virtual brand to physical locations. 

Physical sportsbooks are a key outlet to creatively deliver on a casino’s brand promise. Plus, mobile sports bettors still want a great place to watch a game. When the digital and physical experiences are connected, sportsbooks have the opportunity to drive incremental visitation, incremental share of wallet, and long-term loyalty. But, to do so, sportsbooks need to deliver a quality experience on-par with the rest of the resort.

Working Your Way to A Sportsbook 2.0 Status

It is not typical for sportsbook operators to be hyper-focused on designing and driving in-venue or in-game experiences. Doing so challenges operators daily to program entertainment, create promotions, and develop unique offerings and immersive experiences. Although, the sportsbook operators who are elevating their in-venue experiences will be the first to tell you that not only are sports bettors attracted to these offerings, but they are also willing to pay for them. Thankfully, technology has also come a long way over the past 2-3 years and is now enabling these operators to do things they’ve never been able to do before. They are using creative and innovative strategies to convert their standard seating options, such as barstools, sofas, or tables, into revenue-generating inventory sold online and in-advance of games. 

Here are some best play-by-play practices that will get your sportsbook to Sportsbook 2.0 status:

Leverage the Hype

Announce your event schedule in tandem with the announcement of the NFL season, starting with the first pre-season games and ending with large Super Bowl parties.

Sell The Right Experience

Choose the right experience to promote your most valuable assets. Offer plush lounge style sofas in prime viewing locations to drive advance sales, showcase your private rooms in which guests can host their 20 closest friends, or add special bleacher style seating to handle extra demand during big games. With interactive 3D maps, sports bettors can choose the exact locations of their seats, sofas, or private tables, just like they would if they were purchasing tickets to watch the game inside the stadium. Or optimize utilization by dayparting reservations, offering a single table to multiple parties – one for each game played that day.

Collect The Right Payment

Take advantage of modern reservation types and payment options on your digital channels to allow your sports bettors to research and shop your experiences in advance. You can post inquiry forms, offer free reservations, collect a deposit, require a minimum food & beverage spend, or charge full payment in advance. Choose the payment type that best suits your sportsbooks’ needs.

Yield Your Prices

Leverage yielding capabilities for your inventory to ensure your prices match your demand. If a certain game becomes more popular, your prices can automatically increase as inventory starts to sell out. 

Exclusive Experiences For Your Top Customers

Reward your top sports bettors with exclusive access to your best seats or private events. Give them fast-passes or a dedicated betting line for last minute and in-game bets. 

Include Packages and Add-ons 

Get creative. Build packages to highlight your unique offerings or let your guests curate their own experiences with add-ons. Offer extravagant celebrity-chef designed, dueling city themed packages or offer the traditional bucket of beer with a bucket of wings pre-ordered at time of the initial reservation. The sky’s the limit.

Have Fun

Have fun alongside your fans. Host your own fantasy football league and curate events for the league. Instead of simply selling a private viewing room, call it a private fan cave or owners’ box.

Stay Flexible

Be ready for a quick change in demand. Since team standings can change from one game to the next, flexibility is key. Quick reactions to mid-season changes can drive significant increases in revenue and bring customers back for next week’s game.

Sportsbook 2.0 is here to stay. Sports betting will continue to grow and the 2022-2023 NFL season will undoubtedly be another record breaking year of epic proportions. But, is your sportsbook ready for football?

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