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Bally’s Acquires Fan Engagement Services Company Telescope

Ross Everett
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Bally’s Corporation has acquired Telescope Inc, a company specializing in ‘real-time audience engagement’.
  • Bally’s has been very aggressive making acquisitions as they work to reposition themselves as a mobile sports betting provider.
  • The company launched their Bally Bet sports betting app in Colorado in late May 2021.

Every industry has their fair share of overused buzzwords and sports betting is no exception. Right at the top of the hit parade is ‘fan engagement’. For some reason, every press release related to sports betting has to justify whatever is being described as a function of ‘fan engagement’. If a sportsbook signs a promotional deal with a bowl game–like we reported yesterday with Caesars Entertainment and the Fiesta Bowl–they have to say it’s all about ‘fan engagement’. Here’s what Sports Insider’s industry majordomo James Murphy said about it:

We can retire the ‘fan engagement’ nonsense anytime now. Can’t we just say that this is a great promotional opportunity for Caesars? A great sponsor for the Fiesta Bowl? It’s becoming the ‘I read Playboy Magazine for the articles’ of the sports betting industry. I won’t even get started with the ‘education’ part–the charade that no one in a newly regulated state knows anything about sports betting theory and practice isn’t fooling anyone. If they want ‘education’ I’ll come in and lecture on handicapping theory.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘fan engagement’ per se. Obviously a sports team–or for that matter a sportsbook–would rather have their fans and/or customers engaged than not. If a team’s fans *aren’t* engaged to a certain degree it doesn’t bode well for anyone. The problem is that any type of transaction, partnership, dear, etc. within the sports betting ecosystem has to justify its existence as a means of facilitating or enhancing fan engagement. Don’t believe me? Keep an eye out for sports betting industry press releases and you’ll have a near impossible time finding any that don’t put ‘fan engagement’ front and center. Or just type ‘fan engagement’ into the search box on this website.

So there’s no reason to expect that ‘fan engagement’ will go away anytime soon. Nor should it. What *should* go away is the overuse of the term to obfuscate what is really going on. To wit–the Caesars/Fiesta Bowl deal. Caesars wants to attract new customers in the soon to launch Arizona market as well as to further establish their brand as a player in US sports betting. The Fiesta Bowl wants to create a new revenue stream and maybe further publicize their annual matchup. These are all perfectly valid reasons to make a deal. Spoiler alert–both entities are in the business of making money. The Fiesta Bowl might ‘officially’ be a non-profit organization but that doesn’t negate the fact that they’re trying to generate revenue. To paraphrase the great Steve Martin in The Jerk, it would benefit the growth of sports betting in the US if everyone just accepted the fact that like any other industry in the world it’s a ‘profit deal’.

Today, however, we’ll talk about actual legitimate fan engagement. Bally’s Corporation has acquired a company called Telescope Inc which is ‘the leading provider of real-time audience engagement solutions for live events, gamified second screen experiences and interactive livestreams’. They want to keep people engaging with the Bally Bet, Belly Sports and other brand channels and as they’ve done in a variety of other areas they’ve used an acquisition to bring that functionality in house:

Telescope’s first-in-class products and services will amplify the Bally’s Interactive, Bally Bet and Bally Sports brands, enabling viewers and players to have an integrated experience that allows them to engage on a multitude of platforms and channels, including online and offline. By delivering customized and interactive content, as well as deeply engaging social experiences, Telescope will connect with Bally’s customers in innovative ways, providing opportunities for Bally’s to attract a younger demographic and augment its loyal customer base.

Bally’s has acquired a number of companies over the past year as they’ve tried to pivot from an asset portfolio that was almost entirely land based casinos back when they were Twin River Worldwide Holdings to a ‘multi-channel gaming provider’ with a strong emphasis on mobile and sports betting. They’ve bought Monkey Knife Fight, the fastest growing daily fantasy sports site in North America, and SportCaller, a top free-to-play game provider. Early on, they bought Bet.Works, one of the most highly regarded sports betting technology companies and UK based gaming tech company Gamesys. One high profile acquisition is in the works–the Tropicana Las Vegas.

Here’s what Adi Dhandhania, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Interactive for Bally’s Corporation, said about the Telescope purchase:

“We are excited to integrate Telescope and its innovative audience engagement products into Bally’s growing and diversified portfolio of interactive assets. Mobile technology continues to play an increasingly significant role in sports betting and iGaming, and Telescope brings an expert level of creativity, innovation, and effectiveness in the social and digital media space that we are confident will enhance our customers’ interactivity and engagement with our products. We look forward to working alongside the Telescope team to not only strengthen the business, but also develop new engagement tools that we can leverage across our expanding media and digital footprint.”

Jason George, Telescope’s Chairman, is excited about becoming part of the growing Bally’s family:

“Telescope was founded on the premise that viewers will increasingly seek to engage directly with live video in real-time. Over the past 19 years, we’ve witnessed a material shift from TV to digital video across OTT and social platforms. We believe the next iteration is true gamification with immersive experiences offered anywhere that fans want to engage with their favorite live events. Being part of the Bally’s family will enable us to continue to innovate, offering our clients the best possible services, as well as helping Bally’s to drive play-along experiences and connect with their customer base in new ways. We’re excited to get started.”

There’s a lot going on with Bally’s right now–they’re planning to launch their sports betting app in additional states (Iowa and Virginia are definitely on the docket) and a rebranding of the land based gaming properties in their portfolio.

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