Sports betting newcomer Betr has announced its expansion plans for 2024, which include making its online casino debut in Pennsylvania. Betr hit the scene last year as a collaboration between online gambling entrepreneur Joey Levy and social media personality and boxer Jake Paul.
Paul leveraged his YouTube fame to get eyes on his professional boxing debut in 2020. He and Levy hoped some of that fame would translate into success in the sports betting space. They announced their plans for Betr Sportsbook in 2022. Since then, they have launched a beta version of the product in three states: Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia.
Betr Sportsbook is pending launch in two more states—Indiana and Maryland—and its plans for 2024 will add Colorado and Kentucky to the mix. However, Pennsylvania will mark the brand’s first opportunity to try to make a dent in the online casino market.
The Jan. 23 announcement specifies Cordish Companies as Betr’s land-based partner. Cordish owns the flagship Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia and a satellite property outside of Pittsburgh. It also has its own in-house online gambling brand, PlayLive!, which operates only in Pennsylvania.
Cordish President Ron Norton said:
We are very excited to partner with Betr on the launch of their first online casino. Betr Casino will make a winning addition to the gaming options available to Pennsylvania players, which includes two of our own successful Live! Casino properties.
The announcement lacks specific details about what to expect from its Pennsylvania online casino. However, sports-first operators tend to place more emphasis on table games than their more traditional casino counterparts. Blackjack is particularly popular with the sports betting demographic.
Betr’s Struggles to Gain Traction
The US sports betting market has not been kind to small brands and newcomers. Though barely five years old, it has already seen several contenders throw in the towel or make a desperate pivot to iGaming.
Betr hasn’t given up yet. However, there have been signs that business hasn’t been going the way Paul and Levy hoped.
Last summer, Betr launched a picks-style fantasy sports product, Betr Picks. Its rationale for doing so was that it was “less financially intensive” than seeking licenses for its regulated sports betting product.
Betr Picks is now available in over 20 states. However, some regulators are eyeing a potential crackdown on that business model. DraftKings has argued that player-vs.-house picks amount to illegal sports betting, not fantasy products. Even so, it may secretly be working on such a product of its own.
Betr Will Exit Massachusetts in 2024
Buried in its expansion plans, Betr mentions that it plans to withdraw from Massachusetts this year. It says the regulatory costs for all the new states combined will be less than renewing its temporary license there. For the seven months it operated in Massachusetts in 2023, Betr was dead last. Its aggregate handle from June to December was under $2 million, its revenue was just $148,058, and its market share was less than 0.1%.
In Ohio, it fared slightly better but was still 20th out of 21 operators and only accounted for 0.1% of handle in the state.
Granted, Betr has only been working with a beta version of its product until now. Moreover, online casino gaming is a much more lucrative vertical than sports betting. Pennsylvania is the largest market for regulated online casinos in the US and is still growing faster than New Jersey and Michigan. Yet it has already seen TwinSpires fail, and Unibet has announced its exit. Even Golden Nugget, a top online casino brand in other states, has only captured about 2.5% market share as a late arrival.
Betr Casino will have to present Pennsylvanians with a very attractive proposition if it hopes to tempt them away from more established competitors.