Tom Waterhouse Explores Crypto Wagering Innovation

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In his recent column, Tom Waterhouse from Waterhouse VC delves into the burgeoning opportunity of crypto wagering and how operators can distinguish themselves in an intensely competitive landscape.

Waterhouse underscores the quote by Steve Jobs, stating, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.” He highlights that the wagering industry has historically led innovation in areas such as user experience (UX), marketing strategies, and payment solutions. Crypto operators, like Sportsbet.io and Stake.com, are exemplars in this space, boasting UX comparable to traditional fiat-based platforms such as FanDuel and DraftKings while pioneering advancements in marketing and payments.

Unprecedented Turnover and Market Impact

As of May 2022, Sportsbet.io reported a staggering turnover of US$2.7 billion per month, a figure that likely continues to grow. For context, in 2023, Australia’s largest operator averaged US$1 billion in monthly turnover, commanding approximately 45% of the national market share.

The Power of Micro-Influencers

Waterhouse notes the dominance of crypto wagering giants like Stake, which leverage influencer marketing through high-profile collaborations, including partnerships with celebrities like Drake. In contrast, emerging platforms such as Shuffle.com target micro-influencers with smaller yet fiercely dedicated followings of 1,000 to 10,000 engaged fans. This strategy proves cost-effective, as these influencers often yield higher returns per dollar spent compared to influencers with larger, less engaged audiences.

Shuffle: A New Player in Crypto Wagering

Launched in 2023, Shuffle has rapidly carved out a niche in the crypto wagering sector, facilitating over US$6 billion in bets to date. Led by Noah Dummett, whose expertise stems from roles in high-growth crypto exchanges like Bitmex, Shuffle aims to rival the scale and profitability of its exchange predecessors.

Strategic Growth and Marketing Initiatives

Shuffle’s approach includes strategic partnerships with Tier 1 sports teams and mainstream celebrities, akin to industry leaders like Stake. However, it initially focuses on securing high-return advertising deals before pursuing larger-scale endorsements. This meticulous strategy ensures optimal conversion rates for every marketing dollar spent.

Enhancing User Experience and Retention

Critical to Shuffle’s success is its commitment to user engagement and retention. The platform features a custom-built UI and proprietary games designed for speed and seamless navigation. Notably, Shuffle’s casino games boast industry-leading Return to Player (RTP) rates, with house games at 99% and slots at 97%.

The Role of B2B Suppliers in Innovation

Waterhouse VC emphasizes the importance of B2B suppliers in driving innovation within the wagering industry. By investing in these suppliers rather than direct-to-consumer operators, Waterhouse VC believes in fostering differentiation through superior product offerings and enhanced user experiences.

Market Penetration and Localization Strategies

New entrants in the wagering market can maximize success by focusing on niche markets devoid of dominant players, as demonstrated by Shuffle’s early success in Japan. Waterhouse advises leveraging local expertise and cultural alignment to optimize marketing strategies in diverse regions, such as newly regulated markets like Brazil.

Companies like Shuffle, Stake, and Sportsbet.io exemplify how innovation in product differentiation, marketing strategies, and user experience can propel rapid growth in the competitive wagering industry. By staying agile and attuned to market dynamics, these operators continue to shape the future of crypto wagering.

Source: “Waterhouse VC: Crypto wagering”, iGaming Business, June 18, 2024.

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