Unibet Sees New Jersey, Pennsylvania As The Foundation To Bigger US Sports Betting Plans

When it comes to the American sports betting market, Unibet NJ is just getting its feet wet.

Sunday only marked the two-month anniversary of the NJ sports betting launch via partner Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Plus, the popular product from the Kindred Group debuted in neighboring Pennsylvania this week as planned.

Unlike NJ, where Unibet Casino launched months before the sportsbook, PA customers saw a full rollout this week with a massive library of 140 games (the New Jersey app has 290).

The European-based company is following a formula that seems to be working for many operators: launch in New Jersey and take things from there.

Arnas Janickas, head of marketing, USA at Kindred Group, sat down with NJ Gambling Sites last week to discuss how things are going.

When the topic of New Jersey came up, Janickas said it was the “obvious entry” into the US market.

Having “great regulations” and a “customer base that understands the product” also helps.

Unibet + NJ sports betting field

Unibet has joined a crowded field of 17 mobile sports betting operators. Trying to catch market leaders FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook or William Hill NJ (Caesars NJ) is not in the plans.

Those apps have been up and running since the start of the 2018 football season. Plus, they have established brands on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Unibet does not fear the competition.

The bookmaker has been playing this game for 20-plus years in Europe and Australia. While the regulations and betting markets may be different, the business remains the same.

“It’s a very competitive market, but we have been around for a while. We can fight those battles,” said Janickas.

He did note that FanDuel has been impressive with how quickly the company has been able to roll out in different states.

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But customers are curious

So, gaining a significant market share is going to take some time.

When the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement releases October numbers on Thursday, it will be the first full month that includes Unibet as a casino and sportsbook operator. (The NJDGE does not provide a breakdown by operator.)

Janickas and his team are not expecting any dramatic increases to happen overnight. He did say hard work, customer service, offering exclusive casino games and prop bets are some things that will help build the brand.

Of course, many Garden State customers may be looking to take the Eagles +3.5 points against the New England Patriots on Sunday. And just maybe those same players wager on the Seattle Seahawks game the following week.

“We see that the users are curious,” said Janickas. “It’s ensuring that (the) first experience is positive and the user is interested in turning that into (a) more consistent business.

“Part of what we bring from Europe is understanding that it’s not one transaction that you are concerned about. It’s not that first deposit that you are looking for. You are looking to build a relationship, and we have to manage that relationship.” 

Partnerships with the Eagles + NJ Devils

One easy way of attracting customers is signing deals with pro sports teams and/or leagues. Having brand awareness inside of stadiums and arenas helps market the product to thousands of potential customers.

To that end, Unibet announced a multi-year marketing deal with the New Jersey Devils in September.

And more recently, the company became the first online casino partner of the Eagles. Users of the Unibet app will notice the promo ad with the words “official partner of the Philadelphia Eagles” in all caps.

NFL rules, however, restrict the deal from including the sportsbook. Customers, however, do have access to a shared wallet, and therefore, access to NJ sports betting odds.

Now that Unibet is going through its Pennsylvania soft launch as of Tuesday, signing with the Eagles could end up being beneficial across state lines.

And that’s with the two state-specific apps being completely separate.

While more and more teams and leagues are signing deals with sportsbook and casino operators, Janickas said they are not something that defines the industry.

“For us, being close to the fans is important, and sports teams provide that,” he said. “… We don’t see [sponsorships] as a crucial part. It helps build that initial trust, I think, especially for a brand like Unibet entering the market.”

Unibet, New Jersey and beyond

Since the summer launch of its casino product, Unibet has slowly but surely been evaluating US betting trends.

Janickas said users are playing multiple products, whether it be slots, table games or sports.

Right now, the short-term focus is on building a market share and partnerships. Long term, going live in NJ and PA is setting the foundation for much bigger plans in future states.

Janickas said Kindred is having “conversations with every state” and moving forward “depends on many factors.”

Potential market access, partners, competition, taxes and product availability all play a part in the how and when of Unibet’s overall US plan.

But first things first. “The next step is (to) continue growing the brand,” said Janickas.

“With us entering the US market, we truly became a global brand with Europe and Australia. And now we want to continue building it.”

About the Author

Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.