By Tim Poole
Looking ahead isn’t always easy. I’ve been challenging my dad to English Premier League predictions ever since I can remember. But, as the master consistently schools the student, I haven’t won in weeks.
For the gaming industry, it’s similar. A time of inexorable momentum in the US means there are some things we can say with confidence. The impact of regulation however, making a different kind of mark across Europe, means we can’t always see what’s coming.
But predicting is what our sector is all about at the end of day and, in that spirit, consider this Gambling Insider’s industry betting preview for the year ahead.
Some firms head into 2020 on red-hot form and there’s no denying their year ahead will be a fruitful one. For example, predicting a strong year for DraftKings just feels like cheating right now; it’s almost too easy. Following immense success in fantasy sports, the operator has made a seamless transition to sports betting since 2018 and, along with FanDuel, leads the way in several US sports betting markets.
Adding further strings to its bow, DraftKings also launched New Hampshire sports wagering in December and agreed a market-entry deal in Colorado this January; that’s not even mentioning its landmark achievement of 2019. Having acquired sports betting supplier SBTech and become a public company, DraftKings has truly established itself as one of the biggest players in our field.
Back in the operator sphere, Bet365 looks set for another year of dominance. While Flutter Entertainment has acquired Stars Group, the synergies and results of such a gargantuan merger will not be felt immediately. If anything, the deal clears further space for Bet365 to take up more market share in the short term. Generating revenue of £2.98bn ($3.94bn) for the 12 months ending 31 March 2019, a rise of 10% year-on-year, the operator has left plenty of competitors in its wake. Expect no different in 2020.
Finally, away from companies which deal so heavily in sports betting, Evolution Gaming is certainly a supplier to watch, as it continues to push live casino to new heights. The firm is ambitious yet humble, showing no signs of deterring in its pursuit of both revenue and innovation. In the supplier space, Yggdrasil will also be worth watching, as its Publishing business is being pitched by the provider as the gaming sector’s next major disruptor.
The legacy bets
In the US casino sector, all eyes will be on Caesars Entertainment after last year’s confirmation Eldorado Resorts will purchase the company for $17.3bn. Opinion is split on how the operator will fare; how the new organisation copes with management’s decentralised approach will play a huge factor in determining its early success. My bet is no huge impact in 2020 – just like with Flutter, long-term synergies are the name of the game.
Elsewhere, rival MGM Resorts International has made its intentions clear in the US sports betting market, while its pursuit of an integrated resort license in Japan – namely Osaka – is also sure to be one of 2020’s noteworthy stories. For sports however, it’s unlikely BetMGM will be taking any titles away from DraftKings and FanDuel just yet, especially due to its differing, more patient approach to that vertical.
On the supplier side, you can always rely on Scientific Games and IGT to act as legacy bets. While up-and-coming firms will forever disrupt the gaming space, claiming valuable market share, the big-name providers won’t be going anywhere and are winning new lottery contracts all the time. We’d wager that trend continues in 2020. Speaking of newcomers, however…
The underdogs: Newcomers of the year
Recently launched, Fox Bet is looking to blend Fox’s media reach with products like Sky Bet’s Super 6, as it aims to grab US market share with the help of its sister brands under the new Flutter umbrella. Due to its nature as both a media and gaming firm, Fox Bet is certainly one to watch and could make waves in 2020, despite a reserved start in terms of revenue figures.
While Fox Bet has introduced media kingpin Rupert Murdoch to the gaming sphere in the US, Virgin Bet brings business tycoon Richard Branson to the fore in the UK. Launched in 2019 through Gamesys Group and powered by SBTech, players may well be tempted to trust the Virgin brand when looking for a new sportsbook.
Honorary mentions go to BetConstruct and Kindred Group. While both are not new companies, they will be relatively young names in the US market and should stand a strong chance of enhancing their brands on American soil this year. Pragmatic Play, too, has recently announced it will be a newcomer in the virtual sports vertical. For my money, the supplier will have no problem making early breakthroughs as it adds a fourth category to its multi-product portfolio.
Place your bets, please.