SUZOHAPP: “The next step for the sports betting industry is a real focus on retail”

This year’s edition of the SBC Summit North America is just around the corner, set to gather hundreds of gambling industry professionals at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Convention Center between May 9-11. Among the major companies ready to showcase their latest products at the event is SUZOHAPP, with the gaming manufacturer and distributor having prepared a lineup of retail sports betting solutions that will be at display for the occasion.

Ahead of the event, Yogonet held an exclusive video interview with Todd Sims, Vice President of Sales America. In conversation, Sims explains what attendees will find at SUZOHAPP’s stand at SBC, discusses the importance of retail for the sports wagering industry, and what sets the company’s betting ecosystem apart.

SUZOHAPP will be exhibiting at SBC North North America this week. What can you tell us about the company’s product lineup for the show and what are your expectations for this key event?

It’s been a really good event for us over the last couple of years and it just keeps growing and becomes even more important for sports betting. We’ll be showing our existing lineup of products for the segment, which includes the podium-style kiosk, the cash redemption terminal and our bar top unit. We have two different flavors of that bar top unit. It’s a sit-down unit where somebody can sit and relax and watch a game.

Our focus is on retail sports betting and how we maximize the overall experience in that betting environment. We’ve added some new products and have a long pipeline of products that we’re bringing to the market. One that is really exciting is additional signage and enclosures for the retail market, to make the kiosks pop; make it really known what that unit is for and what it does. It allows a lot of extra marketing and brings additional attention to the kiosk. I think that’s something important. When I walk around and see retail sportsbooks, with a lot of them, particularly when you walk into casinos, it’s not immediately obvious what those kiosks are for unless you’re already a sports bettor.

And then we’ve got another device that is really exciting. It takes advantage of an existing footprint that’s already out there in the field that we can bring sports betting to. But I’m going to keep that a secret for those people that come visit us at the booth.

You will also be participating in a panel at the show. What topics will you discuss there?

The panel is about omnichannel as it relates to sports coliseums and stadiums; how to blend the online experience with the in-stadium experience. I think stadiums are particularly interesting and exciting for sports betting because that’s the easiest place or the most obvious location to take a sports fan and convert them into a sports bettor. And there’s such a small segment of the overall population here in the US that is already sports bettors who are going to sign up for a mobile account.

That market is probably getting close to saturation now and the cost of new customer acquisition is very, very high. So where can these sports betting platforms and operators go and get new players and convert folks? There’s no better place than a stadium. Now, having that experience be friendly and inviting to a new player is important. And cost is also important because stadiums aren’t open all time; there’s not a game every day. So, what equipment goes into that stadium? What makes the most sense and how to blend all that? It’ll be an interesting panel for sure.

SUZOHAPP's Todd Sims

Sports betting has grown so much over the last few years. And what many wonder now is what will happen next. What do you see as the next step for the industry and in what direction is customer demand advancing?

The next step for the industry is a real focus on retail. Retail is where growth will come and there are a lot of benefits to it. There’s the obvious benefit which is gaining new players; taking that sports fan and converting them into a sports bettor. It is much easier to do in a retail environment because somebody can walk up and just put a $20 bill into a kiosk and place a bet on a game or a team that maybe they never would have thought of betting on before.

As soon as they do that, you’ve got that conversion and now you’ve got that opportunity to get that person to sign up for your loyalty club, your platform. These are golden opportunities that are relatively cheap. They’re relatively inexpensive when you compare them to online, trying to get customer loyalty on mobile. Retail is targeting a vast ocean of people who aren’t going to sign up for a mobile account and share their Social Security number and put money on deposit and go through all the steps that are required right away. Hopefully, they will, or eventually, they will. But in the beginning, it’s a whole lot easier to just walk up, put some money into a kiosk, print off a bet slip and you’re ready to go.

There are also a lot of collateral benefits to retail sports betting and one of them is in-play betting. A podium-style kiosk really isn’t the type of equipment for in-play. You can’t stand at a podium during the entire game and there’s probably going to be a queue of people behind you waiting to place their bets, too. So something more like a bar top unit is the right type of device in a retail setting to capture that in-play betting. And in-play betting then drives increased spend on food and beverage, which in many cases that’s where the money is made.

If it’s half time or your team is losing, or your bet is not doing well, then you’re able to place new bets in place, new micro bets and do more fun things to keep you engaged in the event that you’re watching. You’ll stay in the facility and you’ll spend more money on food and beverage. Retail is very important and it needs to be looked at in its totality and the type of money that can be made there.

What things would you say are important for operators to keep in mind when developing a successful retail operation? Some may hesitate to create a large retail footprint because they may think that it will imply a high cost for them, but as you were saying, retail can actually be more cost-effective for operators.

There is a lot to consider. A lot of the retail market so far looks like an afterthought to me. It’s approached like: “Take a podium kiosk, throw it on the floor and okay, now we got retail.” But that’s not drawing people and it’s not an inviting way. It doesn’t advertise to people what it is and what it can do. And it’s expensive.

Kiosks aren’t cheap, they’re going to cost you $8,000 or so. So you want to make sure that that investment is really going to pay off and it will do so by bringing new players in, by helping your labor cost. There are a lot of different ways to look at it and how it’s going to pay off. But some real thought needs to go into how we deploy retail and what are the right equipment and the right way to deploy it within that retail setting so that that cost actually pays off in the end.

We do a lot of consulting with our customers, working with them, and talking through what their approach is. And I see more and more platforms and operators have conversations every day with folks, really giving this some good consideration. The market is swinging towards the retail side and there are new ideas and new ways to deploy that need to be explored. The days of just putting a podium-style kiosk on the floor and hoping that it generates something are gone. The whole market is evolving.

Mobile obviously remains very compelling, meaning your costs are a lot lower. It’s long-term, that’s where you want your customers, or the majority of your customers, to migrate to. But you got to get them signed up first. And in retail, there are so many benefits, from new customer acquisition to increased total revenues on sports betting to increased revenues on food and beverage. There are so many reasons to go retail that the market has to go that way

SUZOHAPP describes its sports betting offering as an “ecosystem.” What does this imply, and what sets it apart? 

We refer to it as an ecosystem because it’s self-contained. And it’s cyclical, everywhere from placing the bet upfront to monitoring the bet, to being able to cash out your bet. At the very end, customers are like: “I won my bet, now, how do I turn this back into money?” The Cash Redemption terminal is a big part of that.

We were the first to bring our technology partners together to bring cash redemption terminals, which we see traditionally on gaming floors everywhere for slot machines. We were the first to do it for sports betting, and it’s going fantastic. It’s clearly something that’s needed. We’ve got a lot of projects and these things are moving quickly. So bringing that whole entire system together is why we refer to it as an ecosystem.

Watch the full interview here.