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Chris Sieroty

Sports books hope to attract fantasy sports players

17 January 2014

LAS VEGAS -- Sports betting is big business in Nevada with $3.45 billion wagered in race and sports books statewide in the last reporting year. It also helps bring in millions of tourists annually to wager on the Super Bowl and NCAA basketball tournament.

“Sports betting has been tremendous for us this year,” said Matthew Holt, vice president of business development at CG Technology, formerly Cantor Gaming. “We expect huge numbers this weekend from the final four in the NFL playoffs. Denver versus New England and Seattle against San Francisco will do very well.”

But Las Vegas casinos and sports books are still trying to figure out how to attract fantasy sports players and their disposable income to the Strip. Holt on Thursday floated the idea of casinos using fantasy sports as a promotional driver.

“Daily fantasy in a casino has a lot of appeal,” Holt told about 320 attendees gathered at the Bellagio for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Winter Conference. “Fantasy sports offers opportunities to drive people into the door.”

The concept of daily games is relatively new to fantasy sports. Like traditional fantasy sports, players draft a team of real athletes who then score fantasy points according to their performance and scoring rules. However, the games last just one day, not a whole season.

Holt said fantasy sports’ evolution in Las Vegas would be tied to properties creating fantasy games around a loyalty program that lets participants use points they earn for rewards, such as free rooms, meals or concerts.

“Most people these days expect rewards,” Holt said. “It is an interesting way to reward people to come here. Las Vegas is a destination town, not just a gambling town.”

He said poker and slot tournaments have been used for years to bring gamblers to Las Vegas. Hosting a fantasy sports tournament draws a specific demographic that also spends money on gambling. Holt described that demographic as the same one targeted by the millions of dollars invested in local nightclubs.

That demographic is 80 percent male, 89.8 percent white, and 51.5 percent unmarried, data from the Minneapolis-based Fantasy Sports Trade Association show. A fantasy sports player’s average age is 34 and 78.1 percent hold college degrees or more, the data show.

CG Technology entered the fantasy sports business in 2012, with its first betting option called the “Cantor 5.” The bookmaker chose a team of five National Basketball Association players every day during the season and allowed bettors to do the same.

Based on a scoring system similar to fantasy basketball, Cantor would set a line on the matchup. Bettors could wager on Cantor’s team or their own against the spread.

Holt, who previously served vice president of fantasy games, said the former Cantor Gaming introduced “Cantor 7” for the National Football League and “Cantor 6” for Major League Baseball. He said players could wager up to $5,000 on a football game, and $2,000 on baseball.

“It was very popular,” said Holt, who participated with Rob Phythian of SportsData LLC in a talk called “Fantasy Sports on the Strip.”

“It was very similar to and predates daily fantasy games for real money,” Phythian said. “We decided to avoid conflicts with our (sports books) and discontinued it.”

Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial services company and parent of CG Technology, remains involved in fantasy sports with a $25 million investment from its Cantor Ventures arm into TopLine Game Labs in Los Angeles. TopLine, who hired David Geller away from Yahoo Sports to run the business, focuses on fast-growing short-duration fantasy sports games.
Sports books hope to attract fantasy sports players is republished from