Chalkline CEO Daniel Kustelski on Acquisitions, Media and Consumer Behavior in Sports Betting

CEO of the freeplay and real money sports betting game provider talks about player acquisition in the fast-growing US market

Daniel Kustelski, currently CEO of Chalkline, has previously run a sportsbook and an ADW.  He has a clear understanding of how hard it is to build and retain a healthy player database. Daniel shared his perspectives on customer acquisition in “Phase Two” of sports betting in America with Gambling News.

Q: What’s working in acquisition right now, and how will strategies and tactics change over time?

Localization is table stakes to play, and personalization is delivering outsized returns. 

The first phase of “sports betting in the USA” was really about market access and getting products up that worked, period.

What we’re seeing now in phase two, if you will, is a sharper focus on the player. What they like, introducing new products and helping the market mature in a way that’s consistent with other markets. 

What that means from an acquisition perspective: give the players what they want.

Favorite teams, favorite bets, favorite experiences. The books that are “listening” to players are personalizing and starting to get traction.

Q: Do you see demand for acquisition tools coming from established players in the industry?

Absolutely. If there’s something that will help a book get ahead, they’ll do it.

Established players have a lot on their plate, there’s no doubt about it. New states rolling out, technology demands, local regulations and so on. 

That said, new players drive the perceived success of every quarterly report. As long as that number continues to grow, most operators feel they’re ‘directionally correct’.

Q: How has consumer and social behavior shaped the vision for Chalkline?

The past year has driven screen time through the roof, and that’s the biggest trend in consumer behavior. More people consuming more content and more ads. 

For social media, we have seen new channels and new educational opportunities. You can quickly lose a day watching ‘sports betting explainer videos’ on Tik Tok. 

For ad tech, we are seeing new ways to deliver personalized ads and products to a range of consumers. We’ve always been fans of our friends at Fresh8 and their marketing automation platform, and they’ve really taken personalization to the next level. 

Q: With much of the media focus on B2C brands, what is the opportunity for B2B platform plays like Chalkline?

Games-as-a-Service platforms like our BettorGames are offering an additional set of tools to operators and media companies during the customer land grab that’s happening right now.

Having run a book, I can tell you this: innovation is hard when you’re settling bets and managing customer service.

Product calendars take a back seat to the day-to-day responsibilities of managing customers, regulators, etc.

What we see from several of the start-up platform plays, like ourselves, is that we’re filling in important gaps in the ecosystem as the iGaming industry grows out in a number of directions, at a pretty rapid pace. 

Q: How do you see the next several years playing out in the US sports betting market?  

It’s going to be pretty interesting. We are going to see more regulated states and more states offering more gaming products. 

We think you’ll see online casino regulation take off pretty quickly.

Also, on the player side, we’ll see more conversations about responsible gaming, player protections and best practices for player education.

All of this is particularly important and welcome.

Q: Do you foresee new entrants emerging in the US market? 

Absolutely! We often say: “It’s the first quarter of sports betting in America.” 

Look back a year and who saw Bally’s putting together a lot of the pieces of a full iGaming offering? But they’ve done exactly that. 

I think they’re a good example of how quickly a group with capital and a vision can start putting together a plan. And it’s early days. We’ll see more entrants soon. 

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