When Bet.Works sought to hire a seasoned executive to oversee its risk management team, the company targeted a group of a half-dozen experts attuned to the forces dictating the new sports betting ecosystem nationwide.
As it turned out, the Henderson, Nev. headquartered company did not have to look far beyond its backyard. In late-June, Bet.Works announced the hiring of Jay Rood as its chief risk officer. Rood, a veteran bookmaker, spent 25 years at MGM Resorts, starting as a ticket writer at the MGM Grand in 1993. Rood served as the company’s director of race and sports for more than a decade; at the time of his departure he oversaw 13 sportsbook properties in Nevada, New Jersey and Mississippi when he left the position in May.
Bet.Works is a Business-to-Business (B2B) sportsbook technology supplier that provides fully-managed turnkey solutions to its sportsbook clients. Last December, Bet.Works inked a multi-year agreement to become the exclusive supplier of sportsbook technology for theScore Inc., a Toronto-based digital media company.
At Bet.Works, Rood is reuniting with founder and CEO David Wang, who formerly served as vice president of online gaming at MGM Resorts. He is also joining an executive team that includes COO Quinton Singleton, former vice president and general counsel of Cantor Gaming and Marc Brody, the company’s senior vice president of business development. Brody is a former senior vice president of strategic initiatives at SBTech.
“We are in some really exciting times in this industry, Bet.Works is a very exciting company and well positioned to lead the charge,” Rood said.
Sports Handle recently spoke with Rood on his new role with Bet.Works and the future of in-game sports betting in the U.S.
The following interview was lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Sports Handle (SH): What intrigues you most about your new position with Bet.Works?
Jay Rood (JR): I think the most intriguing thing about working with the team at Bet.Works is the development of our in-play offering. In the past U.S. customers have been very limited with their in-play betting options and I am excited to work with a more advanced technology team who can develop what I think will be the next generation of in-play player propositions that U.S. bettors will enjoy. I do believe that in-play will evolve as the betting market matures due to people looking to wager on the go. They may miss start times due to their schedule but will be able to get a bet in after the game has started or when conditions in the game will intrigue perceived value plays.
SH: Explain how Bet.Works’ full turnkey solution differentiates the company from its main competitors?
JR: Our turnkey solution is really designed as a plug-and-play operation. It’s very simple, a casino operator allows Bet.Works to manage all aspects of running a sportsbook. Las Vegas has been the sports betting mecca for 30 years, we bring that experience and expertise to every client on our platform. You cannot just buy that off the shelf from our competition. Our combination of world class software and an experienced team will prove to be a distinct advantage for us in the open market.
SH: Since David Wang helped roll out the playMGM mobile sports betting product at your previous employer, how do you plan on drawing on your past work with David to integrate state-of-the-art technological innovations into Bet.Works’ product offerings?
JR: David has a ton of experience in getting the most out of a technology stack. David and I learned a lot about what customers expect and what the “European suppliers” could actually deliver to the U.S. market. Bet.Works took into account our collective learning from our past operations. David and the team have built from the ground up a truly dedicated U.S. product designed to attract U.S. players.
SH: From a risk and trading perspective, how critical is it to develop a custom strategy for each operator in order to account for the sportsbooks’ distinct risk profiles?
JR: This will be a big part of what the executive team and I will bring to all our clients with a very customized offering for each client’s needs. Clients that will have extensive land based offerings vs. clients that are exclusively mobile operators will have very different approaches to acquire and retain customers.
SH: Over the last year, there have been numerous cases of well-documented pricing errors at major sportsbooks throughout the U.S. What explains the high rate of error and what steps should oddsmakers take to avoid them?
JR: I think the cases that you cite really just come down to inexperience. Automation in this space can be a great thing, however one needs to make sure and have tight controls around monitoring the offering and that the offering is in line to the conditions that exist in the game. In-game injuries and send-offs can really affect the flow and conditions of the game that do not translate well in the algorithmic-world and need the attention of an experienced trader to handle those situations. At Bet.Works we have that balance of advanced technology and the experienced traders to manage all aspects of the process.
SH: What type of market penetration does Bet.Works intend to achieve in the U.S. over the next 12 months? Based on the company’s market access agreements, about how many states does Bet.Works expect to offer its products in over the next year? Without disclosing the exact figures, about how many additional sportsbook operators does Bet.Works expect to partner with by this time in 2020?
JR: Let’s just say with the partners Bet.Works have already announced like theScore you will see a Bet.Works managed sportsbook in most states that have legalized sports betting. By 2020 I expect Bet.Works to be a leader in this industry, it is not about the quantity of clients. It’s about the quality of clients. While we expect to have more than our fair share of customers, and any one of them like theScore, for example, could wind up dominating the space in just a few year’s time.