14 June, 2022

The American Dream

AffiliateCon spoke to Shmulik Segal of MediaTroopers on the recent launch of mobile sports betting in New York and the role the affiliate will play in the world of US gaming

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about your career history and about Mediatroopers?

I started my gaming career with Playtech in 2004, when the US was still open. I started in account management, moved to products and then worked with Playtika for a while, then with Aspire Global as the Vice President of Product. For the past seven years, I have worked in the performance marketing
industry as an affiliate, sometimes for other companies and now with MediaTroopers.

MediaTroopers is a performance marketing agency, focusing on the US regulated casino and sports market. We are licensed to operate in 18 states at the moment, mainly for sports and casino but also for poker and bingo. We have launched this company alongside the growth of the US gaming industry. When New Jersey and Pennsylvania opened up and we saw how difficult it was for affiliates to get licences, myself and Benjamin Truman joined together to create this company to aim for the American dream. With that, we focus on America and are all the time working on the US, all the time checking regulation and working for the next licence. Recently, we have begun operating in New York and, of course, we are waiting for even more states to regulate. These include: Louisiana, Maryland and Ontario; we are currently considering this as part of the US with the way it operates, and Illinois is going to remove in-person registration in march, and Maryland is coming soon. Overall, we have a lot of activity, all focused on the US casino and regulated sports markets.

In relation to New York, how big do you think this market has the potential to be? And what are some of the reasons for this?

We started operating in New York recently, with Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel and BetRivers, we are also launching with BetMGM. Across the state we are seeing very, very good results, amazing results. We already have operations in New Jersey, a state that we know New Yorkers travel to bet often, according to what we see, New York is going to be huge and affect the rest of the country.

Do you think the launch in New York could have a negative effect on New Jersey?

It might happen but New Jersey is a very different market; they have casino, bingo and poker. The state also has many more operators than New York. With that being said, there will be an effect, for sure, because those who used to travel from New York to New Jersey are unlikely to do that now. Overall, I think that both of them are going to grow.

With sports betting comes the potential for iGaming in New York. does MediaTroopers approach these segments differently? And if so, how?

Yes definitely. Casino customers are not the same as potential sports betting customers. When you are dealing with sports it is much more seasonal; now that we have the playoffs we are putting much more activity towards this. Casino, on the other hand, is more evergreen, you can promote blackjack all year long, you can promote slot machines all year long. The customer base is very different. However, everything is very much early days in the States; the people who are betting now will be different to those betting in three or four years' time. Take Britain for example, everyone knows what betting is and how to bet, the same can’t be said for the US yet.

What is the role of the affiliate in a nascent market like New York?

The role of the affiliate is really to educate the customer, that there is a thing called sports betting and this is a thing you can do at home, without having to travel to Connecticut to do so. They need to understand that this is entertainment, it is fun and is complementary to what they are already doing.

We educate these bettors by producing articles that are delivered through media channels. This allows people to know when they can bet before and during the game. It really is about education more than anything.

Sports betting operators and media companies seem to be converging, with giants like Disney suggesting they want to get in on the action. what’s your take on this from the perspective of an affiliate?

Well, we are not Disney of course, but definitely there is something happening. Yesterday, watching the NFL, there are promotions for MGM and Caesars, and with this someone watching then knows to go and make a bet. They can then go through an affiliate to learn more.

How does an operator go about getting a licence in New York?

Well every state is different, in New York as of now all licence slots are taken and we do not know when this is going to change. So these brands that have been left out will have to compete in other jurisdictions to make their product successful.

I think in the future they will increase the number of operators, I don’t know when. I also think they will see the revenue coming into states like New Jersey and allow iGaming in the state.

What advice would you give to other affiliates trying to break into New York?

Well, in general, you need to have patience, you need licences in the US which is a very big difference when compared to the UK and other countries. You need lawyers and you need to knowthe regulation.

Separately, it is difficult when compared to Europe because people do not understand that they can do this, that they can play mobile. It will take time, so we need patience.

On a final note, we see ourselves as partners of the operators. It is so exciting to see a country as big as the United States getting into this industry and we hope that we will be able to help more and more operators.

I think part of the role of the affiliate is to help dispel the historic distrust of gaming in the US. But I also think this is already happening, you see on TV you can see odds and betting ads, altogether we are dismantling this distrust. This will ultimately be done by offering a good product to the players.

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