Among the many changes the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the gaming industry was an increased awareness for in-play sports betting in the United States. Before the pandemic, sports bettors often had dozens of games a day to wager on between professional and college leagues. Pre-game wagers and the occasional prop bet often sufficed for the casual bettor. Then came the sudden postponement of leagues in mid-March, leaving wagerers desperate to find any action at all.
Though popular sports like European soccer, NASCAR, the NBA and MLB incrementally returned during the summer months, the stark drop-off in offerings from last spring created an important shift in American sports betting behavior. A presentation from Kambi’s chief commercial officer Max Meltzer at the 2019 G2E reported in-play betting grew 38% during the lockdown period of mid-March to mid-July, up from 26% pre-lockdown, but dropped to 30% between mid-July and the end of September.
As American sports bettors slowly migrated to in-play wagering, Triggy, an information technology and services company based in Stockholm, Sweden, took note. Launched in 2017 by Swedish-start up Flax Innovations, Triggy is a B2B2C company that offers data-driven live-score products for the sports betting industry; it aims to let the sportsbook own the whole customer experience through unique features that give players a better and faster experience via relevant, personalized notifications, either by using its white label app or integrated solution.
In 2019, Malta-based venture capital fund Vereeni Investments acquired a reported six-figure stake in parent Flax Innovations. By then, Triggy’s customers included LeoVegas and Sportsbet.io. The company, which partners with Sportradar and Kambi, recently launched Pinnacle’s Live Soccer Scores app.
And this past October, Triggy made strides by hiring banking and finance veteran Martina Akerlund as its new CEO. She will oversee the company’s expansion into the US market with the support of Darran Miner, Triggy’s vice president, North America, and formerly senior marketing director at the New York Racing Association (NYRA). With the US blowing past $3bn in legal sports wagers per month, expanding across the Atlantic was too good an opportunity to pass up, says Triggy co-founder Björn Nilsson.
“There is so much I’m excited about and looking forward to in the US market,” Nilsson tells Gaming America. “I believe casual and experienced bettors want quality, user-friendly products that enable faster and enhanced betting options. I also believe operators are looking for similar assets to increase engagement and revenue pre-game and in the in-play market. Our Triggy suite of products and technology really solves a need within the industry while bringing the bettor and operator close together like never before.”
When Triggy was launched four years ago, Nilsson and Flax co-founders Stefan Thunberg and Daniel Svenson couldn’t have envisioned a day like last March when sports betting came to a screeching halt. Triggy used the downtime to hire more people, raise capital and expand its app’s coverage of American football. All the while, the pandemic left bettors with more incentive, and time, to explore new wagering avenues. By the time sports picked up to its pre-pandemic speed, Triggy was better positioned to capitalize on the growth of in-play.
“That’s something I found really impressive when I joined Triggy because if you’re a company looking to thrive in the long run, you will have to adjust and be innovative in this ever changing business landscape, whether it be tougher periods, changing regulatory requirements or meeting new customer demands,” Akerlund says. “Triggy’s way of adjusting business operations in the pandemic is quite impressive. To invest in the future and choose to grow the company when revenues halt due to a total cancellation of sporting events takes great courage. We took that opportunity to expand, build and be ready to capitalize on the growing US market.”
Akerlund spent over two decades in banking and finance, industries she says love planning and structure; sometimes even too much, she admits. Akerlund credits Triggy’s entrepreneurial mindset for creating clear goals and fostering a strong environment. In her role with Triggy, she plans to improve efficiency along with developing partnerships with operators, media companies, affiliates and sports teams.
“Most businesses and companies are facing the same demands at the moment: automated processes, personalization, data usage, customer experience, innovation capacity, scalable processes and high delivering teams,” Akerlund says. “This is something I have worked with for a long time. The golden days of banking are over, though, and it's all about cost efficiency going forward while the gaming industry is just in the beginning of a new era, which is extremely interesting to be part of. There is a tremendous opportunity within areas such as customer experience, data and innovation where I really see the technology of Triggy can contribute.”
Triggy is confident the timing is right for US expansion as more Americans than ever are not only betting on sports legally but participating in in-play wagers. Triggy is currently demoing its US live sports products, which aims to separate itself from the competition by giving customers a specialized experience. The products allow players to subscribe to their favorite teams and receive push notifications and alerts on starting odds, lineups and in-play game events.
“When a customer follows a team, they will receive push notifications with game updates containing suggested bets [NextBets],” says Miner. “When they click on the suggested bet, they are brought right into a betting slip on the operator’s site. It makes the process streamlined and smooth for the customer and the operator. Also, bettors can set triggers for each game they are following. This allows them to set the odds they want to place a bet at. When the odds hit the sportsbook, the customer is notified and is offered up a NextBet.”
As Triggy’s top US-based employee, Miner is tasked with developing marketing strategies for in-play, which comes with some significant hurdles. In-play betting makes up 75% of bets in Europe and around the world, says Miner, but in the US it’s between 20 to 30%. Customers in newly legalized markets may be unfamiliar with in-play wagering or lack user-friendly products. Miner says it’s on operators to educate their players about pre-game and in-play betting opportunities.
“While US sports betting as a whole is in its infancy, the in-play market is really just beginning to emerge,” Miner says. “Sports betting operators see the value in getting their existing customers to bet more often and our products not only help them engage and retain players, we make it easy for the customers through our NextBet Technology.”
Miner relies on his five years of experience at NYRA, where he gained an understanding of what customers want. He was part of a team that launched NYRA Bets’ national online wagering platform. In that role he developed relationships with operators in recently legalized markets and worked to acquire market share. Triggy affords operators in emerging markets a similar opportunity, he says.
“For years, bettors, casual bettors in particular, only knew of pre-game bets and maybe some of the prop bets for big events like the Super Bowl,” he says. “Operators are educating customers within newly legalized states who have probably never placed a legal bet before let alone a bet while the game is going on.”
Once Triggy and its partners are able to raise awareness for in-play, the Triggy team is sure its products will increase consumer acquisition and generate revenue.
“Our products are engaging,” Nilsson says. “Our idea is to grow even further by adding all the US sports. We already have soccer and football and are looking to add basketball before March Madness, baseball in the spring and summer, and hockey in late summer of 2021. It is going to be a busy time.”