Exclusive interview with FOX Bet CEO Robin Chhabra

"FOX Bet is like nothing else the United States has ever seen"

"At this stage, our priority is to earn the attention of our existing players, learn from them and refine our offering," says FOX Bet CEO Robin Chhabra.
2019-11-19
Reading time 4:06 min
The chief executive of the company created as a partnership between The Stars Group and Fox Sports tells Yogonet FOX Bet puts sports first and betting second, and he finds similarities with Sky Bet approach. In its first 8 weeks, free-to-play sports prediction game FOX Sports Super 6 app has been downloaded more than 820,000 times, had more than 7.5 million total contest entries.

The Stars Group and FOX Sports announced in May their plans to launch FOX Bet, the first-of-its-kind national media and sports wagering partnership in the United States. In September, FOX Bet was launched in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and FOX Sports Super 6 nationwide (except Washington).

Former Stars Group Chief Corporate Development Officer Robin Chhabra was appointed in May as joint-venture CEO.

Can we have your current assessment of your partnership with Fox Sports and the initial stages of the operation in the US so far? With several media companies entering the US sports betting market, why have you chosen Fox in particular, and what are your expectations for this business relationship? 

It’s no secret that The Stars Group was searching for the right media company in the U.S. for some time before the announcement in May. What’s less well known is the amount of work that went in to exploring the relationship before then. It wasn’t a standard legal and corporate financial exercise. We both wanted to make sure that the creative opportunities were there. It’s those that will ultimately drive the success of a project like this, and we couldn’t be happier with the potential in this strategic deal and relationship. FOX Sports is an iconic and disruptive brand in America with genuine personality. They’re passionate, exuberant and they’ve set the standard for sports programming for decades, earning the trust of their millions of viewers across the U.S. in the process. When you’re exploring a relationship like this, one that goes beyond just look and feel, these are things that you must consider.

How could Fox Bet in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and Fox Sports Super 6 make the difference to stand out from a growing competition? 

Honestly, we’ve been standing out from the competition since the very start of this. FOX Bet is like nothing else the United States has ever seen. That’s because of the teams at Stars and FOX Sports – the production crews, the creatives, the celebrity talent - who have been working together to make sure the integration between programming and sports wagering is genuinely authentic and skilfully administered. Even before we announced the deal, we knew we were going to put entertainment first, with sports betting there to enhance that experience.  

Why have you decided to launch free-to-play games along with the sports betting product? Do you have any updated numbers you could share to measure the current feedback for both products? 

FOX Sports Super 6 was launched nationwide in September to complete the all-round immersive experience that we’re creating in the United States. It’s easy to download, free-to-play with some huge cash prizes, and when you combine it with the entertainment value of going head-to-head with FOX Sports’ top personalities and analysts, is a great way to engage customers who are new to making predictions on their favorite events. In the eight weeks since launch, the FOX Sports Super 6 app had been downloaded more than 820,000 times, had more than 7.5 million total contest entries and has been ranked in the top 20 in the games tab and in the top 10 in the sports section in the Apple App Store. A real achievement. I’m afraid we aren’t in a position to share FOX Bet figures quiet yet, but the pace of progress since it was first announced has been exciting.

In what other states do you expect to launch in the short term? 

We launched FOX Bet in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the FOX Sports Super 6 free-to-play game nationwide (excluding Washington) in early September, all within the same week. Just a few weeks later PokerStars became the first online poker operator to go live in Pennsylvania, alongside PokerStars Casino which launched on the same day. This was a huge achievement for us, and something we were very proud to do for our players. It also meant that FOX Bet in the U.S. now runs multiple offerings – PokerStars, PokerStars Casino and FOX Bet – in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At this stage, our priority is to earn the attention of our existing players, learn from them and refine our offering. We will, of course, provide updates when the opportunity to offer our produce and services in other states arises.

How would you assess legislation and regulations for sports betting in both states, possibly as compared to other jurisdictions? What improvements could be made in order to optimize the business, if any? 

We’re champions of regulation globally and strive to work with the relevant authorities to develop regulations that we expect would protect consumers, encourage responsible gaming, ensure reasonable levels of taxation and promote regulated gameplay. We are very pleased to work closely with both the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. 

What differences and similarities could you mention between FOX Bet and Sky Bet, specially regarding target audiences? 

FOX Bet puts sports first and betting second. We want to enhance the overall viewing experience for everyone, not just those who might already have been inclined to place a bet. In that sense, it’s very similar to the Sky Bet approach. With us, just about anyone can put their sports smarts to the test, regularly or during the year’s biggest headline events. The FOX Bet customer is someone who loves sports, just like everyone at Sky Bet and everyone here.

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