As the most recent sports betting entrant into Indiana, Unibet is hoping it timed its arrival at just the right moment.
Owned by the Kindred Group, which has its headquarters based in Malta, Unibet was the eighth mobile sports betting platform to be approved in the state of Indiana, entering the fray in late July. Unibet, which originated in Sweden in 1997, is operating through the Horseshoe Hammond — which can lay claim to being the top retail sportsbook performer in the Hoosier State.
Yet there are challenges for Unibet, the biggest being the eventual sale of Horseshoe Hammond. It is one of three Eldorado Properties in the state earmarked to be sold by the end of the year as one of the conditions set by the Indiana Gaming Commission for its approval of the $17 billion nationwide merger with Caesars.
Additionally, Indiana has quickly achieved the status as one of the more mature sports betting markets since its September 2019 launch through both regulation and remote registration, and that means Unibet is facing strong competition to gain market share. In the two days it was active upon its July 30 launch, Unibet generated $9,893 in handle according to the IGC’s monthly sports betting revenue report.
The following is a question and answer done via email, with Unibet’s answers provided in their entirety from General Manager USA Manuel Stan at the Kindred Group.
On Midwest scouting, landing at Horseshoe Hammond
Q: Prior to becoming a second mobile skin at Horseshoe Hammond, how long had Unibet been looking for an entry point into the Midwest portion of the U.S., and what made both Indiana and Horseshoe — on their individual and collective merits — an attractive landing spot?
A: While a few states in the Midwest region have recently regulated sports betting (i.e. Iowa, Illinois – both requiring in-person registration for a period), Indiana is without a doubt the state that regulated in the most efficient way, allowing a level playing field that will minimize the black market and offering customers a variety of legal options to choose from. Indiana was the obvious first step in the Midwest, and similarly Caesars Entertainment was a top choice for partnering with as one of the world’s most renowned casino-entertainment providers with a great geographical footprint, particularly in the Midwest region.
On the robust mobile sports wagering market in Indiana
Q: Given the crowded field in terms of mobile sports gaming operators in Indiana, what challenges does Unibet see in carving out a place for itself in Indiana both in an ideal setting in which sports continue to return online in an expected timeline and one where potential sports offerings are again disrupted due to the effects of COVID-19?
A: Indiana is a competitive market and that benefits customers who will have a variety of legal operators to choose from. That being said, I don’t think Indiana is an overcrowded market – we are one of the first operators to enter the market in its first year, and we think we can gain market share by offering a better experience to the Indiana customers.
On competing in Northwest Indiana and Chicago
Q: With the eventual expansion of gaming that includes a downtown casino in Chicago as well as expansion in Northwest Indiana, does Unibet have any concern of over-saturation in that geographical area that could potentially affect mobile sports wagering?
A: While from the retail perspective the addition of new casinos may have an impact on market shares, we don’t think that will have a significant impact on the mobile wagering.
Q: Given Horseshoe’s proximity to Chicago and the state of Illinois’ expansion into sports betting, does Unibet have a plan in place to continue courting that market given that Illinois has reverted to in-person registration for mobile sports betting after a brief period it did not due to Executive Order?
A: The re-introduction of the in-person registration is a massive downside for the customers in Illinois, and Indiana will clearly benefit from that, similarly with how New Jersey benefits from New York customers. For the short term, we are in a good position to benefit from the incoming Illinois traffic, until the requirement will be lifted in March 2022 or, hopefully for Illinois customers, earlier.
On experience of being one of multiple mobile skins
Q: Unibet has experience being one of multiple mobile wagering skins for a casino in New Jersey. Given Unibet and Caesars’ online at Horseshoe making it the only casino in Indiana with a similar status, what practices and lessons are transferable from New Jersey, and what practices may not be best ones for Indiana?
A: This is Unibet’s third launch in the United States (after New Jersey via Hard Rock and Pennsylvania via Mohegan Sun) and the aim is clearly to replicate the positive learnings from the other states. The key lesson that we learned in the other states as well as the global markets where we have operated for 20+ years is that customer experience should sit at the core of everything we are doing.
On looking down the road
Q: While revenue estimates are both challenging and somewhat difficult to assess given the market as part of the post-COVID world, is there a mobile market share threshold/goal for sports wagering at Unibet? And if so, what kind of timeline has been established to achieve that goal? Where does Unibet see the Indiana sports betting market in 12, 36, and 60 months?
A: We cannot disclose any targets, however we can say that we aim to be a top player in every market we enter. This is however a marathon, not a sprint.