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BETTING

Unibet Says Goodbye to the North American Sports Betting Market

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Sponsored Unibet
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Unibet Ford, sponsores by sports betting operator Unibet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400. Logan Riely/Getty Images/AFP

Malta-based sports betting operator Unibet will cease operations in the United States and Canada according to its parent company, Kindred Group. The withdrawal is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2024.

Can’t Compete

Experts in the mobile sports betting industry have long believed there would be consolidation in the market and it’s already happening with WynnBET shuttering operations in all but a few states, while PointsBet recently sold its U.S. assets to Fanatics. Maxim Bet, Fubo Sportsbook, and FOX Bet are other casualties of industry consolidation.

And now we have another sports betting operator announcing it too is pulling the plug on its operations in the U.S. market. Unibet is the latest to make its exit and it will be closing up shop in its five current U.S. markets: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Virginia, and Indiana while also exiting Ontario, Canada. Unibet also terminated operations in Iowa last year and paid $5.06 million to get out of its access agreement in Ohio.

Cost Reductions

Nils Andén, interim CEO of Kindred Group, issued a company statement that said, “The cost reduction actions announced today are both necessary and decisive. While it is never a desire to inform valued colleagues of redundancies, this puts us in a stronger position to secure long-term growth for Kindred across our locally regulated core markets. We can now focus our resources and tech capacity towards strategic initiatives and selected markets where we see clear potential to grow our market share.”

Approximately 300 jobs will be lost, but the company will reap a savings of around $51 million. Unibet could not gain enough traction in the North American market and its hold rate was among the lowest of the nation’s operators establishing a paltry win rate of 3.5% in Arizona, 5.1% in Indiana, and 3.1% in Virginia.

“I am confident that this will create a leaner organization, enhance the Group’s scalability, and improve focus on key growth initiatives,” Andén added.

What’s Next for Unibet?

An exit from the North American market will allow the company to focus more fully on the European sector. Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström and CFO Johan Wilsby have both resigned their positions as the company pivots to a new direction.

Andén said in a separate statement that “the cost reduction actions announced today are both necessary and decisive. While it is never a desire to inform valued colleagues of redundancies, this puts us in a stronger position to secure long-term growth for Kindred across our locally regulated core markets.”

Industry insider Charlie Horner offered the following: “In what is possibly the biggest full US exit in the post-PASPA repeal age, Kindred has announced a full North American market retirement by Q2 2024.

“Unibet will pull out of Ontario, Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in the next seven months after struggling to be a major player in an incredibly competitive region. Despite rolling out its tech stack earlier this year, it seemed inevitable that a full exit would be on the cards after the group left Iowa in Q4 2022.

“The US market saw minor operators exit in 2022 but, in Kindred, a major European player is calling it quits stateside. Is further market consolidation on the way?

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