Penn National aims to become "tier-one sportsbook" with proprietary front-end

Penn’s head of sportsbook Scot McClintic tells EGR the casino giant has hired the “best of the best” engineering talent

Penn National will build a proprietary front-end for its forthcoming sportsbook, with the firm pledging to build an “intuitive and simple” product focused on recreational bettors.

The casino operator last week announced a sportsbook platform partnership with Kambi but told EGR it was building its new front-end to avoid another “me-too” product.

“We are approaching the market in a bit of a different way than many of Kambi’s other partners,” Scot McClintic, Penn’s head of sportsbook, told EGR.

“We really appreciate how good they [Kambi] are at managed trading, so building around those managed trading capabilities is presents quite a bit of opportunity.

“We want to really own that front-end experience – that’s where we believe you can ultimately win share.”

The operator also last week announced four skin deals with sportsbook firms but retained primary access for itself in the nineteen states it operates in.

McClintic declined to share specifics on the look of the new front-end but said the firm had hired the “best of the best” engineering talent and was focused on simplifying sports betting.

“Everyone always talks about building a product for the casual better because that’s how you build a sustainable business, but has anyone done that yet?” McClintic said.

“Companies have not yet really adapted a product that is in line with what you see from Uber and Airbnb, and Lyft and OpenTable, and all these great platform apps.

“I think you need to rethink what this product should look like. And not being totally different than what’s out there but being able to present this information in a more intuitive and simple way while also not alienating your hardcore bettor.

“If you can solve that amazing riddle that’s how you win share in the long run.”

When asked about the dangers of building a product from scratch – Swedish casino firm Casumo had similar plans for a proprietary sportsbook on Kambi APIs which was ultimately a year late – McClintic again highlighted the strength of the product team at Penn’s Interactive division.

“Whether you’re getting them from Facebook, or Amazon, or Google, those are really smart people, and people that are used to building B2C products,” McClintic said.

“Sports betting is just another B2C product,” he added. “And as long as you have a really good engineering talent and a very good leadership team, you will be able to build effectively around APIs.”

The exec, who joined Penn from Comcast in March this year, refused to be drawn on a timeline but said: “If it takes longer than a year, that would be a shame.

He added: “Given that this is 100-year race, you don’t want to make those mistakes by rushing to the starting line too quickly and not thinking those things through.

“Penn National has been around for a long time and we’re going to keep on being around. Our goal is to be a tier-one player in sports betting.”

Penn said last week it would not necessarily be using its own brands for the national sportsbook product but instead was in discussions with sports media brands for a Fox Bet-style deal.

McClintic and Penn’s Interactive chief Jon Kaplowitz both joined from Comcast, prompting speculation that Penn could do a deal with Comcast’s NBC brand.

McClintic said there was “nothing to report,” but the company’s talks with media partners were “still ongoing”. 

Kambi | Penn National | Platform | Scot McClintic | Sports betting | Strategy