, acquired by Bally's last year, advertises 'second screen experiences' like prediction leaderboards and bingo

Bally’s Free-To-Play Marketing Strategy Will Include “Live At The Bike” Integration

Being a latecomer to the market can require some creative marketing strategies.

Letting poker fans play along with their favorite live stream is certainly creative. That’s part of the plans Bally’s Corporation announced today.

Many of Bally’s competitors have a multi-year head start on it. During that time, most of them have been shoveling money into promotions in order to acquire players. Trying to beat them at that game would be tremendously expensive, and probably doomed to failure.

Instead, Bally’s is putting its eggs in a different basket: free entertainment.

Last year, it began acquiring the pieces for this strategy, announcing the following acquisitions:

This year, it’s starting to put those pieces together. For one thing, its recent investment in Snipp will let it integrate such free-to-play products with its rewards program. Now, it’s also looking to improve LATB in a variety of ways, including the integration of free-to-play gaming for its viewers.

Per the Bally’s press release:

As part of the revamped Bally’s Presents Live at the Bike, the Bally’s Interactive division will utilize in-house free-to-play game resources to provide new ways for viewers to engage with Live at the Bike content. Now, in addition to watching high stakes poker, viewers can get in on the action and play along.

Big production upgrades coming for LATB

There’s little detail available on exactly what “get in on the action and play along” will mean.

If it follows the format of sports prediction apps, players will probably compete against one another to guess how the broadcast will go. For instance, they might have to predict the biggest winners and losers at the table, or the size of the largest pot.

However, poker lends itself to more interesting possibilities, especially because the cards-up version of the stream is on a delay for game security reasons. This means that viewers could, for instance, be presented with a real situation in the game “before it happens,” without the hole cards visible, and have to guess whether a given player is bluffing or not. After locking in their predictions, they’d get to see how the hand plays out in reality with the cards up. Something like that would certainly be an interesting possibility.

Play-at-home features won’t be all that Bally’s is adding, however. It will also be upgrading the set, lighting, audio, commentary booth and camera equipment. LATB should soon be a much more polished production, whether or not you’re playing along at home.

“We are excited to take a poker pioneer and elevate its content through gamification and second-screen experiences,” said Adi Dhandhania, COO of North America for Bally’s Interactive. “Live at the Bike originally made its name by making the sport more entertaining and accessible to all types of poker enthusiasts. Bally’s aims to continue that mission and bring a whole new audience to the stream.”

SportCaller, or Telescope?

Despite the timing, it doesn’t appear that the LATB plans have anything directly to do with the investment in Snipp.

Rather, Bally’s Director of Content Marketing (and one-time OPR contributor) Jessica Welman told us that it will more likely use products developed by SportCaller or Telescope.

Dhandhania’s comment makes the latter much more likely. Specifically, the “second-screen” experiences he refers to are something Telescope explicitly advertises on its site.

SportCaller’s products are much more traditional prediction games, mostly involving picking a guess from two or more options. Telescope’s second-screen offerings are much broader, including a predictor leaderboard but many other possibilities as well. Some of the play-along options it lists are:

  • Bingo
  • Crosswords
  • Fantasy contests
  • Polls
  • Quizzes

It’ll be exciting to see what Bally’s has in mind, and also how poker factors in to its real money gambling plans, if at all.

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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