Chicago: FanDuel affiliate Over/Under sportsbook bar seeing success with “Betting Ambassadors” model

A little more than two years after the opening of Over/Under in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, the sports betting bar on the city’s North Side has made a few improvements. These include more TV screens to view game action and odds information, more seats, renewed seats, and a third viewing area.

With another college basketball-filled March Madness underway, owner Ed Berry discussed with Sports Handle his new ideas, including what he calls “Over/Under Plus.”

According to Berry, there are between 140 and 150 days a year when most of the bar sales occur, coinciding with the big days of sports. However, he believed there was something more Over/Under could offer in terms of attracting new sports bettors.

This is how he developed the feature “Betting Ambassadors”, a concept Berry had been working on since Over/Under opened before the bar became a FanDuel affiliate. With this new feature, customers can call the ambassadors to any table to discuss the day’s games and relevant statistics to help them with their mobile betting.

Berry’s Over/Under Plus is composed of social interaction, gamification, and technology. He hopes to bring the model to other bars in the city, and eventually across the country, to turn them into preferred destinations, he told Sports Handle.

The second part of Berry’s plus-model is the gamification of wagering itself. There was some trial and error, as he required legal clearance from FanDuel each time the betting ambassadors expanded into a different sport and combined different contests with the sign-up bonuses that come with mobile registration. But Berry’s creations of raffles for bettors and “Bettor Bingo” took off quickly.

We invented gamification and prizeification to go with the book experience,” he told the publication. “And it’s been greatly embraced.

Under this system, the bettor will receive one raffle ticket for their initial $20 bet and an additional raffle ticket for every subsequent $10 bet. Every two hours, a winning number is drawn, and the successful bettor wins either $50 or $100 credited back onto their cash deposit.

“Bettor Bingo” has patrons attempt to bring together a winning five-leg parlay that has minimum +400 odds, which plays right into FanDuel’s wheelhouse as the biggest mover of such wagering among sports betting apps. Berry estimates that during big game days, at least half of the patrons at Over/Under are doing some type of wagering.

The third piece of the Over/Under Plus model came as Berry visited other cities with his evolving business model. Berry began to look at the possibility of the betting ambassador harnessing the betting odds information, their own sports betting knowledge, and technology to retrofit a location to make it similar to Over/Under. 

“Let’s say it’s football Sunday, they have Bears-Packers, and the next screen is Ravens-Steelers,” Berry told Sports Handle. “I can customize every screen, and as my betting ambassador talks to you, they can talk to you about what they see on those matchups. 

“And there could be Bettor Bingos or special offers on that specific game if that’s what you want to talk about.” For some bars, it’s a simple add-on to the technology without the need to install new screens. “We are simply manipulating the feed on your screens,” he explained.

The odds information appears in an L-shape on the outer perimeter of the picture showing the game via an internet feed, and they’re the same odds available on the FanDuel sports betting app. The screens that don’t have games being aired have odds information. He also suggested adding advertisements into the rotation of the odds information to include ads featuring the sign-up specials in addition to the QR scan codes found at each table.

The ambassadors are in charge of the pre-game setup, picking which games appear on which screens and which games will have audio throughout the location. The ambassadors can also set a screen to a specific game with those specific odds listings in the L-shape addition to walk and talk patrons through the sign-up process and betting options if they wish.

The gamification of wagering at Over/Under has served the location well generating repeat business. Berry is offering patrons the opportunity to reserve tables through Tock for six-hour blocks at a time for the NCAA Tournament for $60 per person for groups up to 20, with that deposit going toward the final bill.

Over/Under is soon to face some competition. The DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley Field recently obtained its sports facility wagering license from the Illinois Gaming Board and commenced retail betting operations last Friday. Despite the prominent presence of the 20,000-square-foot DraftKings Sportsbook nearby, Berry feels Over/Under Plus has the agility to provide an edge in an eventual and necessary transition for sportsbooks, from customer acquisition to retention.