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Wynn Interactive is wagering that it can attract US consumers with its social iGaming and sports betting apps, WynnBet, WynnSlots and BetBull.
To advance that goal, the company is seeking an influx of cash via an IPO, having gone public by way of a merger with special acquisitions company Austerlitz Acquisition Corporation I. The IPO values WynnBet at $3.2 billion and will raise $640 million in new capital.
That investment will allow WynnBet to integrate more functionality into its application from BetBull, its UK-based social network news feed-centric sports betting app.
Wynn Interactive told investors on Monday – the same day it announced the IPO – that adding in BetBull’s technology will help it succeed in attracting and retaining US online gamblers. After all, that’s what BetBull’s been able to do in the UK. The investor presentation from the operator, which is primarily owned by Wynn Resorts, states:
“Wynn Interactive is adapting BetBull’s successful product for the North American market.”
That faith in the reconfigured WynnBet app’s customer acquisition ability is also why Wynn Interactive will launch a “broad-based, national marketing and branding campaign, including investment in mass media and partnerships,” according to the IPO announcement.
Investing major marketing dollars into its brand will bring Wynn Interactive into a trend the Big Three (FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM) helped start.
Why Wynn Resorts put its money on BetBull
In October 2020, Wynn Resorts invested $80 million in BetBull and merged with the UK company to create Wynn Interactive. The luxury retail casino and hotel brand retained a 71% interest in the operator. BetBull’s investors kept 29%.
Wynn Resorts still sees the same value in the product that it did at the time, according to Monday’s presentation.
Wynn Resorts married its luxury gaming brand’s user experience with BetBull’s social media sports betting technology in a way that will speak to the American mass market via a reformulated WynnBet app. The investor presentation further states this in a graphic of four mobile screens, leading with one showing a social media news feed:
“[This is a] live core feed where users can place a single game or parlay bet, follow other users and participate in social parlay bets.”
For BetBull, this feature is essential. From 2017 to 2020, about 92% of online sports bettors used the social functionality. Those who made a social sports bet were three times more likely to keep using the app than those who hadn’t done so.
Once WynnBet integrates this social tech, its bettors will be able to see what their friends are betting on. They’ll also get to enjoy the advice of gambling influencers and post their own updates.
How WynnBet continues to defy expectations
Unlike BetMGM, WynnBet didn’t immediately jump at the chance to join the US online gambling market, touting its luxury brand bona fides and suggesting to its retail casino loyalty program members that they check out the app.
MGM was an early adopter of online gambling, though the BetMGM brand is more recent. It was one of the first entries to the US online gambling market, in New Jersey in 2013, under the BorgataCasino brand. It launched a new PlayMGM brand when sports betting became legal in 2018, which then changed to BetMGM once it struck its partnership with Entain (then GVC).
Conversely, WynnBet waited all the way until August 2020 to enter the New Jersey market, and did so with no fanfare. It did tell its more than 13 million Wynn Rewards Program members about the app, however. Even so, being so late to the game, it made almost no impact in that already-crowded market.
That stumble in New Jersey may be why WynnBet launched right away in January 2021 in Michigan, right alongside BetMGM.
After all, gambling industry insiders are watching Michigan’s iGaming and online sports betting performance so closely that Caesars Entertainment CEO Thomas R. Reeg even cited BetMGM’s performance there as giving him confidence his company’s decision to expand in the online space by rebranding William Hill.
If he’d been watching Wynn Interactive specifically, he would’ve noticed its revenue of $42 million in January more than double to $103 million in March, without much additional investment in the brand.
Indeed, Wynn Resorts spokesman Eric Kreller declined to comment Tuesday on whether one of WynnBet’s priorities in 2021 was reducing customer acquisition costs. It’s apparent that they will rise now.
Wynn Interactive’s windfall will elevate the brand into rarified air
In its investor presentation, Wynn Interactive curiously positioned itself midway between BetMGM and Rush Street Interactive in a list of competitors. Hypothesizing that Wynn was positioning itself with retail casino-linked brands would’ve made sense from looking at just those names. But doing so means it would make more sense for Wynn Interactive to expect its data (e.g. enrollment in the Wynn Rewards Program) and legacy brand reputation to carry most of the weight for acquiring customers.
That’s what Wynn Interactive did in the past, but it isn’t where the presentation shows it’s headed. Instead, Wynn Interactive is going hard after the mass market with this upcoming brand campaign. That’s more like the marketing approach of a newer, lesser-known brand.
Nonetheless, that list of competitors didn’t include market leader FanDuel or that operator’s primary owner, Flutter. Wynn did, however, group itself with online-only brand DraftKings. Even the Australian bookmaker PointsBet made it onto the chart.
The reason for these comparisons could be that Wynn Interactive, like DraftKings, is working to keep its tech and innovations in-house. Perhaps it’s because DraftKings notified users on Tuesday night that its daily fantasy sports offerings now have “innovative social networking features.”
Or maybe Wynn Interactive is just continuing with the strategy of keeping everyone guessing.