Standing out from the crowd is difficult to do in the gambling industry, but a focus on community, social media and star appeal is working for Roobet, Co-Founder Matt Duea told Issue 27 of SBC Leaders magazine.
When a story involves viral TikTok videos, cryptocurrencies, a world-famous rapper, knockout punches and a gun-toting video game, you might expect it to be a full-on tabloid scandal.
Yet this one is far less salacious. It’s simply the tale of how all those elements have combined to form a stellar player engagement strategy that has made Roobet a favourite casino and sportsbook among Zillennials.
Founded in 2018, but only really pushed as a serious enterprise from mid-2019, crypto-first operator has now taken in excess of 3.6 billion bets and seen its team grow from 10 to 136.
Speaking to SBC Leaders, Roobet’s disarmingly candid Co-Founder Matt Duea admits: “I’ll level with you. We never expected Roobet to really amount to a blip on the radar, if I’m totally frank.”
Much of this success has been driven by a marketing strategy of building a community centred around entertainment, rather than establishing a solely transactional relationship with its players.
Duea says: “The internet’s a weird place to live and it’s all about being quirky and eye-catching. That’s a lot more work than I think people realise.
“We’re a club and we like to create things for our community that our community’s into. If we provide enough value to them, we know that the ones that bet will reward us with loyalty to the brand.”
One of the key elements of that community building has been social media and specifically video content.
This focus has seen Roobet become a huge hit on TikTok, where posts using the brand’s hashtag have been viewed more than 440 million times, making it arguably the gambling industry’s biggest success story on the platform.
A self-effacing Duea says that he “fell into TikTok by happenstance”, rather than targeting it as a key promotional channel.
That may be the case, but Roobet’s approach to the platform is one that established betting and gaming brands – or, in fact, any type of B2C brand – can learn from, because viral moments do not happen by chance.
In short, it’s all about choosing the right age-appropriate creators to partner with and then accepting that they know more about how to engage with an audience on TikTok than a corporate marketing team kicking about ideas in a meeting room does.
“The interesting thing about TikTok is there’s so much content on there now because of the fame of that platform and how it’s grown,” says Duea.
“What Roobet tries to do is work with these creators – influencers, celebrities and athletes – to try to make moments happen. And then capitalise on the excitement of those moments.”
The world’s first Chief Ganjaroo
Perhaps the most famous member of the Roobet community is rap superstar and NFT evangelist Snoop Dogg who, in keeping with the brand’s kangaroo-themed identity, became the company’s Chief Ganjaroo Officer earlier in 2023.
Roobet has since leveraged the partnership to create greater player engagement by ‘Snoopifying’ its popular original game Crash to create Snoop’s Hotbox.
Snoop may be an unconventional choice of brand ambassador, but Roobet is an unconventional company and, in many ways, he is the perfect fit.
Duea says: “Snoop’s an entertainer. He’s a performer. He connects with us and our community at a deep level.
“He’s a legend and he’s achieved incredible things, but I think our connection with him is that he understands the life of an artist.
“A lot of the people involved in Roobet like to create and we like to support creators. We like to work with people to make fun, goofy, weird content.
“And Snoop’s got that kangaroo streak to him, he’s got a little bit of that weird to him. He does things with his own Snoop flavour and I think that’s what really makes us sort of lean in with him.
“That’s why we were very excited to work with him.”
A knockout sporting strategy
The yin to Snoop’s yang is Canelo Álvarez, the four-weight boxing world champion, who is also a Roobet brand ambassador. While Snoop is a creator, the Mexican pugilist is very much a destroyer, and that appeals to a different group.
“Canelo doesn’t need to be a content creator to stay relevant. He just needs to keep knocking people out,” says Duea.
“He brings the betting audience. Casino is a whole different beast, but Canelo is definitely a sports person and Snoop’s more casino.”
Boxing is the most traditional sport to feature in Roobet’s promotional efforts, in part because its leadership team is not looking to take on the heritage sportsbook brands.
Perhaps more important in the thinking is how well Duea’s team knows its target audience. People who use crypto tend to favour other new and disruptive forces, and in the sporting world that means MMA and esports.
Roobet is now the UFC’s official social casino partner via its Roobet.fun free-to-play platform, and also produces a range of MMA podcasts with fighters including Alex Pereira, Charles Oliveira, Brandon Moreno and Marlon Vera.
In addition to helping to reach and engage with sports fans in Latin America, where top UFC fighters are superstars, the podcasts further build Roobet’s positioning as an entertainment brand, rather than a purely transactional operation.
“We’re willing to take the time and make the investments in things that we’re passionate about and are fundamentally fun things to do that connect with our values,” Duea explains.
“With these podcasts, we just like hearing the perspective of the people inside the sport. We enjoy giving them a platform to be viewed more as a human being and less as an action figure that stands in a ring and gets their face punched at.”
One of those fundamentally fun things that is indelibly in Roobet’s ethos is the Counter-Strike video game series, which has become one of the world’s most watched and bet on esports.
The operator now stages the Roobet Cup, a big money CS:GO tournament, and organises the Roobet Arena, a matchmaking service for CS:GO enthusiasts looking for an opponent.
While this is largely another way to strengthen the connection with its community, it also provides a window on the company’s unique culture.
“CS:GO is a part of our roots,” says Duea. “A lot of the people at this company wouldn’t even know each other today if it wasn’t for that video game – we’ve spent a lot of time shooting each other in the face!”