Wednesday is Prime Day.
No, not that Prime Day, on which people order an air fryer for 40% off at Amazon – it’s Prime Day in that Ohio sports bettors can be the first to bet with the new Prime Sportsbook, which planned to soft launch in the afternoon. It’s a sportsbook that is seeking to bring the old-school style of Vegas bookmaking to the world of online sports betting.
“Taking action left and right, high volume, lower margin, it’s now called American-style bookmaking. That’s what we are going to do,” said Joe Brennan Jr., the executive chairman of the nascent sportsbook, who has partnered with Adam Bjorn, a 25-year industry veteran and the COO of Plannatech, which is handling the tech and risk management end.
“What happened after PASPA is everyone went running to the Brits. It was actually kind of disturbing — you had all these American casino companies operating for a half-century in Vegas, and I always figured they’d extend their reach out to New Jersey and other places,” Brennan said.
“Instead they panicked, went to the Brits, who have been doing this online stuff for decades. They had the tech, but also brought over this style of betting that was inconsistent with the U.S. marketplace. It was low stakes, [and] the bookmaker could limit you if you strung together some wins or found you dangerous.”
Many American sports bettors have found this out the hard way, being limited — in some cases, to pennies — at various sportsbooks.
Prime promises a different experience.
Doors are open
“Even though Adam and I are coming late to the dance, I think we’re well positioned,” said Brennan, a Sports Betting Hall of Famer who helped spearhead the movement to legalize sports betting in New Jersey and the rest of the country. “No one other than Circa is offering that type of alternative to the offshore market.”
So what does Brennan claim will be the big differences? There aren’t many, but they are significant.
- High limits: While Brennan can’t say how high they’ll go, he said he expects to take upward of $10,000 on sides relatively early on. He did caution that, for instance, Sunday night NFL lines for the following week might start at $1,000 or $2,000, but go up as the week progresses.
- Known limits: When a customer places a bet in the bet slip, it will automatically tell the bettor what the maximum allowable bet is — and it’s the same for everyone. “Every time you go to bet — side or total or prop — you’ll see on the bet slip what the maximum amount is that’s available in that market,” Brennan said. “And that’s for everybody, it’s not tailored in any way to the player you are, winner or loser.”
- Rebets will be allowed. “If the max amount of an NFL game is $5,000, then you can bet $5,000. And if you still like the number after you bet it, then you can bet it again,” he said.
- No limiting: Customers will not be limited, period. “A sharp dollar and a square dollar are both dollars,” Brennan said.
After Ohio, Brennan said New Jersey and Kentucky are next on the list of states where the wheels are in motion for Prime.
“We’re bookies, our product is bets, so don’t expect us to have a slick interface,” Brennan said. “Think more artisanal in nature. This is farm-to-table sports betting. It’s more about treating the customer right and our back-end process. Judge us against that.”
And Brennan said that approach will also play out in the company’s marketing efforts, which won’t go the traditional route.
“We’re not doing a big ad campaign, we’re not going to acquire everyone and figure out how to monetize later,” Brennan said. “We’re going to get good customers one by one in an organic way.”
Brennan compared Prime’s strategy to being a down-ticket candidate running for president, saying it plans metaphorically to be “shaking hands in a lot of Iowa City diners.”
“We’re coming out quiet to start,” Brennan said. “The first thing we want to do is appeal to bettors who are getting bumped out of the existing regulated sportsbooks. That’s our first strategy, rather than glazing the Earth with a coating of free bonus money.”
Prime is the brand name of the sportsbook operated and controlled by Out The Gate, a Cherry Hill, New Jersey company that received a license from the Ohio Casino Control Commission via its partnership with Geneva Sports. Geneva Sports runs the SPIRE Institute, a college prep school with a focus on sports. The OCCC approved this deal last Dec. 15.
Prime is also in the process of setting up a retail book at a restaurant that is under construction in Geneva-on-the-Lake and will be located outside the campus of the SPIRE Institute.
Brennan has been working on getting Prime off the ground for two years, and now with 20 employees and venture capital funding the operation, Prime is set to begin taking bets at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Prime becomes Ohio’s 20th sportsbook. Brennan said the reason it’s launching there is simply because the state’s process moved faster than New Jersey’s, where Brennan said regulators are still testing the Plannatech software platform.