There’s a belief within Elys Game Technology that retail sports betting will grow in the U.S. in coming years, and the company is expanding its retail presence across the country. The company has a short-term focus of expanding its footprint in the nation’s capital.
Elys shared news this week that it plans to expand its partnership with Grand Central Restaurant and Sportsbook, as the two entities will eventually open a second sportsbook in Washington, D.C. The location has yet to be announced, but it’s not Elys’ only news in recent days.
Last week, Elys announced that it received initial regulatory approval in D.C. for a sportsbook at Ozio Lounge. Elys also plans to have sports betting offerings at Cloakroom Gentleman’s Club and Entitlement Restaurant and Lounge.
“We knew that there’d be a completely unserviced, untapped segment, which is the small business sector,” Michele Ciavarella, Elys executive chairman, told Sports Handle.
Betting on retail growth
Ciavarella and company are bullish on the potential for retail sports betting in the U.S. They’re aware of the convenience of mobile sports betting, but they believe there are people who like the experience of wagering at local businesses.
“A lot of the times you hear, ‘Well, mobile is the big opportunity, it’s the cash cow,’ but there’s always going to be a segment of the sports betting base that actually likes that retail environment,” Tory Key, business development project leader with Elys, said.
Ciavarella believes the small business segment will “catch fire” in coming years.
“It’s going to be, in our view, one of the largest segments in the U.S. market over the course of the next 10 years or so as the market develops,” Ciavarella said.
Expecting growth in retail sports betting, specifically within small businesses, Elys recently announced plans to enter the Ohio sports wagering market. More than 50 locations across Ohio are expected to use Elys Game Technology to power their sports betting offerings through a partnership with Wright Bet.
Maryland is another jurisdiction Elys could realistically enter in the near future. The state has ample retail sports betting licenses available, and legislation encourages the inclusion of small businesses in the market.
Worthwhile for small businesses?
So why shouldn’t small businesses just enter partnerships with major operators? Elys believes it offers a deeper, more financially rewarding partnership than an affiliate partnership with a large brand.
“I think there’s always going to be that retail side that people enjoy, and if you’re just an affiliate, you’re not really going to reap the benefits of that,” Key said.
Brian Vasile, owner of Grand Central Restaurant and Sportsbook, told Sports Handle in April that sports wagering “brought in a new demographic and new business … and it’s given another [form of] entertainment to the folks who were here already.”
Vasile was pleased with the addition to his restaurant, and it didn’t drastically alter the experience for usual customers. It brought the owner a new revenue stream, while also engaging a new customer base.
Sports wagering isn’t for every small business, but for those interested in entering the market, Elys is an option as a partner. Grand Central serves as a model for other non-traditional gaming entities to enter the market, and Elys hopes other additions in the DMV and Ohio show how they can add value in the small business sector.
“We like to say we’re kind of a beacon of hope for the small businesses in the sports betting space, so they can be a part of the game and have some action,” Key said.