IGT PlaySports: The competitive nature of sports betting benefits all parties

2021 will be a year marked with continued growth and increased player engagement. This was a prediction made by Vik Shrestha (pictured) , IGT PlaySports Senior Director of Business Development, ahead of this week’s SBC Digital North America 2021 as he discussed industry trends, innovation and the burgeoning opportunities within the US market.

He explained that with a number of states mulling over sports betting legislation, IGT remains committed to delivering an ‘awesome player experience’ for all of its players.

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

SBC Digital North America will present a meaningful opportunity to get sports betting industry leaders together, advance the conversation and collect perspectives on the sector’s challenges and opportunities. As much as the PlaySports team and I would like to be connecting with our customers and colleagues in person, SBC has a legacy of facilitating quality virtual events that focus on content and relationships.

I look forward to participating in panel discussions this week that focus on the tribal gaming segment and retail sports betting as a vehicle for driving loyalty, and one of my colleagues will discuss the importance of omnichannel game content in the iGaming space.

IGT has also prepared an interactive virtual booth where active and prospective PlaySports customers can access information about our end-to-end solution and spotlight what’s driving IGT’s leadership as a B2B sports betting supplier.

What are your predictions for the sports betting industry in 2021?

I think 2021 will be a year marked with continued growth and increased player engagement. By now, most commercial enterprises have established their sports betting business strategies, while conversely, many lotteries and tribal casinos have yet to introduce sports betting for any number of reasons.

There is an abundance of legislation on the table that will directly impact these segments of the sector and it’s a customer base that IGT is committed to and experienced in serving. I also believe that we’ll see an influx of new in-play betting experiences and a greater effort from the large B2C brands in experimenting with retail promotions, social games and the like.

What are you promoting at the event?

IGT’s virtual booth will highlight the power and scalability of the PlaySports technology stack. We’ll illuminate how the PlaySports platform can be leveraged to service a range of sportsbook business models and how features such as its integrated PAM benefits operators and players.
Our booth will also include information about our self-service betting technologies as well as in-demand services such as the IGT Sports Betting Academy and our in-house trading advisory services.

What industry innovation do you think will capture the most attention in 2021?

I think advancements in mobile betting and other self-service betting technologies that extend sports betting opportunities to a range of environments will continue as trending topics. I believe retail betting technology will rise in relevance as professional sporting arenas and stadiums across the U.S. introduce retail sports betting.

Media companies, professional teams and B2C sports betting enterprises have all made significant investments in this space. I anticipate a focus on bringing these activations to life through high-performing, self-service technologies such as PlaySports Kiosks and mobile on-premise betting solutions.

Issues impacting tribal gaming operators will also capture the attention of many. There are hundreds of tribal casinos across the U.S. that have yet to solidify their sports betting programs; this is an operator base that is very important to IGT and has been for decades.

Which operator has impressed you the most over the last year?

I have been impressed with the industry as whole and the collective tenacity and resiliency that it has demonstrated over the last year. Even with the absence of professional sports last summer, we found ways to keep sports fans engaged, launch sports betting in Colorado and Illinois for example, and grow sports betting in many other states.

I think the competitive nature of the sports betting market benefits all parties; it inspires everyone to stay nimble and never lose focus on delivering awesome player experiences.

In the last 12 months, has there been a partnership which has stood out for you?

I am particularly excited about some of the commercial agreements that I have seen with the professional sports leagues and B2C providers. I believe these partnerships will help keep retail sports betting relevant in the minds of fans.

I am also happy to see the continued momentum with tribal gaming operators across the industry. Recent legislation in Florida and Connecticut, for example, are huge for advancing the sector as a whole. Both states are home to very sophisticated tribal gaming enterprises with business ventures and influence well beyond their sovereign lands.

Which parts of the agenda have caught your eye?

There are many panel topics that have caught my eye. I believe the SBC team has thoughtfully sourced topics from the industry that are relevant to suppliers and operators and will be a springboard for dynamic conversation and in some cases, spirited debate. I am particularly interested in panels that feature IGT PlaySports customers and those that discuss new market opportunities.

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