Australian sports betting company PointsBet debuted the ninth online sportsbook in New Jersey on Jan. 17. Needless to say, PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken sounded pretty happy about it when he spoke with TheLines this week.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s exciting just to take bets.”
Aitken said the PointsBet app is the fourth most downloaded of all New Jersey sports betting apps. In just a week, the application is already closing in on the iTunes Store‘s Top 100 sports apps.
PointsBet is not a standard sportsbook
Naturally, people are interested in new things. However, in the crowded New Jersey market, a garden-variety sportsbook might struggle to stand out after the initial interest.
Thankfully, PointsBet comes with its unique product. Its signature game, points betting, rewards players based upon the magnitude of the final margin of victory.
So, a player will win or lose a multiple of his or her stake in a points bet. The distance from the given line or total acts as a multiplier on the bettor’s stake.
After the game, the final score is 36-28. Since the margin is only eight points, the player would lose $20, since he was wrong about the outcome by two points.
Conversely, let’s say the final score happened to be 40-28. In that case, the player would win $20, since he was correct about the outcome by two points.
Points betting has a learning curve, but it’s worth it
Needless to say, the concept of points betting is a new one to American sports bettors. Aitken acknowledged that getting players up to speed is one of the company’s goals.
“It’s an education piece — even more so in America (than Australia),” he said. “It’s a unique product. There is this sort of learning curve to it, so that’s a challenge for us moving forward.”
Nevertheless, Aitken felt confident that the product would quickly become a favorite for many players. The nature of the game promotes an environment that is both high-risk and high-reward.
Aitken mentioned that some professional bettors had already tried the signature product. He said they reported that it made their hearts pound for the first time in decades.
So, the appeal of such a game is clear. There is no such thing as garbage time with points betting. Even the beginning of the game warrants attention for players who have a points bet going.
“Everything matters,” Aitken said. “It elevates the watching experience.”
Aitken wants to shake things up in New Jersey
This elevation of the moment is symbolic of Aitken’s overall vision for the company. He wants a company that is both aggressive and anti-establishment. That attitude is part of the reason that one of PointsBet’s new ambassadors is NBA great Allen Iverson.
“(Iverson) embodies what PointsBet is all about,” Aitken said. “Going after the establishment. A slick, modern brand. Swagger.”
Aitken’s ethos is also why the company stood alone offering refunds to Saints bettors after the controversial NFC Championship Game. In fact, he said that PointsBet would continue to look for those opportunities to extend goodwill toward their clients:
“We (want) to be seen as the bookmaker that has the client’s back. I believe it will set us up for the long-term.”
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote about the rising transparency issues with NBA teams, star players, and their injuries.
The injury report issue specifically has been a challenge for the NBA biggest star and second-best player ever, LeBron James.
During the NBA finals, LeBron maybe-probably-could’ve-potentially broke his hand punching a whiteboard after the Cavs’ Game 1 loss. You might remember what preceded it:
This season, James’ groin has been the issue. From the ongoing theories about how severe the injury is (and who really knew what when), LeBron’s groin has been a source of consternation for gamblers. Writes Windhorst:
Gamblers want more transparency when it comes to injuries. Players, like anyone else, have privacy rights. Teams don’t want to allow a competitive disadvantage — and want to limit possible damage to business — and frequently obfuscate. In short, it’s a challenge.
It’s a delicate mix, for sure. The whole situation though could quickly come to a head as the NBA deepens its ties with legal betting operators.
Injury disclosure standards
Despite being late-to-get-on-board-with-gambling, the NFL historically has had the most wink-wink-nod-nod relationship with bettors. Their required injury reporting process is the most stringent of the major American sports league. As the NFL has partnered with Caesars now, stricter reporting policies may be put into place.
If the NBA had a 15-day disabled list like MLB, James surely would’ve been on it this season, clearing some levels of his day-to-day ambiguity. Currently, the NBA only requires teams to list a player as probable, questionable or doubtful by 5 p.m. on game day. Professional gamblers are used to working on those types of tight timelines, but it does make it more difficult for mainstream gamblers to gauge a player’s availability on short notice.
How do integrity fees fit into this?
Professional sports leagues want gambling operators to use their data feeds and charge them a fee for it. These integrity fees are intended to keep the games legit and ensure the quality of data being used.
But what about the integrity of injury information? Isn’t that just as important? And should gambling operators demand more transparency from professional sports leagues regarding player injuries?
The easy answer to that is, “yes.”
If professional sports leagues want to charge integrity fees, great. All day long. The operators though should push back and get standard reporting and standards from all leagues regarding player injuries.
New Jersey is showing the enormous appetite for legal sports betting in the U.S., pulling in $1.2M in handle since June. Degens are always gonna degen, they’re not going anywhere. But the real revenue growth will come from more casual mainstream bettors. Making sure they have the most accurate information is vital.
Expect this topic to gain steam this year.