SG Digital will power the Oneida Indian Nation’s three new sportsbooks in New York when sports wagering is officially authorized in the state. SBC caught up with Todd Saunders, Vice-President for Innovation at Oneida Nation Enterprises, and Steve Schrier, Chief Commercial Officer at SG Digital, to find out more…
SBC: Great to catch up with you, Todd. First of all, why has the Oneida Indian Nation tribe chosen to launch its proposed sportsbook facilities in the Empire State under the Caesars brand?
Todd Saunders (Oneida Nation): If the Oneida Indian Nation is going to enter a market, we always set out to be the absolute best – everything from the quality of our facilities and level of guest service are evidence of that.
We take the same care in choosing strategic partners, particularly with marketing alliances where the brand image and standards have to be consistent with our standards. Caesars is the gold standard, and we’re very excited to have formed this strategic alliance with a world-class organization.
SBC: What was the key driving factor in choosing SG Digital as the sportsbook supplier?
TS: We had recently converted our Casino Management System (CMS) to Scientific Games’ platform, which was a strategic business decision separate and apart from sportsbook operations. Scientific Game’s outstanding CMS system and functionality have allowed us to continue to improve our operations and provide excellent service and first-class gaming experience for our guests.
The partnership we formed with Scientific Games, and the support and service we receive from them, made selecting SG Digital a natural progression for expanding on the industry-leading solution for sportsbook.
SBC: What is the long-term strategy for these partnerships? Might this extend to the tribe’s other territories?
TS: The partnerships already are expanding to all of our gaming operations as we look to develop sportsbooks at Turning Stone Resort Casino, Point Place Casino and Yellow Brick Road Casino. If the Oneida Indian Nation expands gaming and sportsbook operations even further, it would likely be most efficient to leverage the systems and partnerships already in place.
SBC: How does ‘The Lounge with Caesars Sports’ speak to customers in a better way than for example the Turning Stone sportsbook?
TS: Turning Stone and the Oneida Indian Nation have established award-winning operations, and a very powerful brand. With that said, Caesars is a true iconic brand in gaming and hospitality, known around the world. It is the pinnacle of the industry, and a pioneer in gaming and sports betting.
With its expertise in oddsmaking, and the visibility through Caesars’ Total Rewards loyalty program with nearly 60 million members, the brand association with Turning Stone elevates “The Lounge with Caesars Sports” in a powerful way, having a multiplier effect for the partnership.
SBC: What would the tribe’s approach be if online and mobile sports betting was authorized in New York? Have you prepared for such an eventuality?
TS: The Oneida Indian Nation is both prepared and excited by the prospects for mobile sports betting. We will be actively engaged in the process of developing a world-class sports betting platform, and hope to be among the first-to-market when it is authorized in New York.
SBC: Thank you for joining us, Steve. Can you explain to us how SG Digital technology will help the tribe to deliver sports betting success?
Steve Schrier (SG Digital): Our sportsbook product suite is a great fit for the Oneida Nation, and we think it will set a high bar for sports betting in the U.S. market. The AGA’s predictions put New York among the top states in terms of sports betting revenue upon legalization, and we have the technology and services to help Oneida ride the wave and even lead the region-instability and volume of bets placed.
We also have our rich history of North American betting expertise, particularly through our Don Best managed trading services group. One of our most valuable tools is the modular nature of our platform. As a partner, Oneida is transparent and open about what their needs are, and we have listened to their requirements to propose the right sportsbook solutions to help them meet and even exceed their goals.
It’s about being ready for channels as opportunities arise. The mobile offering can be one of the biggest market opportunities, and we’ll be working on making the most out of it for Oneida Nation. If online casinos open up, we will seek to provide them with a seamless, single wallet experience to offer their customers this product through cross-sell, too.
With a full range of sports betting tools at their disposal, plus the combined expertise of Scientific Games and the Oneida Nation, we’re gearing up for a big win in New York.
SBC: Do you think in-venue sports betting will follow the Vegas model with a big focus on providing the right entertainment experience?
SS: That’s definitely a large aspect of the vast sports betting landscape, and I think the idea of immersive entertainment is here to stay as the U.S. market gains more traction. The sports industry is one of the biggest cultural touchstones in the United States, and sports betting products will reflect that.
We see sports betting as an extension of an already massive industry that will bring new bettors into the fold, while upping the game for seasoned punters. I think we’ll see wide-scale innovation ripple throughout the industry as operators and suppliers build relationships founded on the “newer, bigger, better, faster” mantra.
As we build on the successful model that Vegas and other regulated markets have established, new technologies will continue to emerge and make sports betting an unparalleled experience. Ultimately, success will be reflective of the players’ engagement with the sports betting experience and that remains our primary focus.
SBC: How can SG Digital find the right balance between OTC and self-service terminal betting in New York State?
SS: We’ll work closely with Oneida to strike the perfect balance of betting methods. Player data and feedback will be crucial during this process; I say ‘process’ because it’ll be an ongoing project where we evaluate the information at hand and make decisions as a team with Oneida on how to tweak the experience to ensure it’s just right for every type of player.
The U.S. market may be untrodden ground, but our track record of creating the world’s best betting experiences for players will help us, in partnership with Oneida, bring their sports betting offer to the next level.