Johnny Aitken will be the first to admit he’s no expert on American football. But the Australia native knows how to handicap the NFL.
Need proof? Aitken, the CEO of PointsBet USA, has been among the leaders all season in Gaming Today’s Bookies Battle contest. And as the season heads to Week 12, Aitken finds himself still in the hunt as he’s tied for seventh place at 89-73 despite a 6-8 week.
“Always easier said than done,” he said of his success to date. “But my strategy thus far has started with separating what my head thinks from what my heart says.
“I’ve tried to fade overreactions from a given team’s performance in the previous week and instead trust a more extended sample size.
“I’ve also looked to identify teams with really strong underlying numbers early — such as the 49ers — and have continued to back them until I feel as though public perception has caught up.”
PointsBet is a relatively new player on the U.S. sports betting scene, having launched its operations in 2018. It has a sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey and has headquarters in both New Jersey and in Colorado, where voters in that state recently approved to have legalized sports betting.
“While Proposition DD did not face much opposition leading up to the vote, our intel did always suggest its passing to be a genuine coin toss given the specific wording of the ballot initiative,” Aitken said of the Colorado vote. “We’re thrilled the people of Colorado voted to bring sports betting to the state, but it’s no secret that the PointsBet team has already been here in Denver, ready to establish ourselves as Colorado’s premier sports betting operator.
“We plan to tap into the area’s impressive talent pool and bolster our best-in-class tech to give this sports-loving market the premium product they deserve.”
And as PointsBet integrates itself longer into the American sports betting scene, Aitken is confident bettors will be more comfortable with his company’s menu of wagering options and be more involved.
“One of the biggest differences between sports betting in the U.S. and Australia is the Australian market’s affinity for racing. Horse racing, greyhound racing and so on account for a huge percentage of the country’s sports betting handle, which of course is much different from the story here in the States,” he said. “The Australian market is also more formed, as sports betting has been available on a mass scale for much longer and therefore is a bit more ingrained in the overall sports experience.
“With the established DFS culture in America, we’ve found the U.S. lending itself to more activity on prop and player-specific markets, highlighting another reason that we look to offer our clients with as many options as possible.”
Aitken said it’s a matter of comfort as bettors are creatures of habit and it takes time for habits to change.
“No, we’re not surprised, as we expected the progress to be gradual for activity around some of our more unique offerings,” he said. “Many folks are still getting familiarized with fixed-price betting and sports betting in general, let alone PointsBetting.
“Sharps and experienced bettors enjoy the new challenge we offer via our PointsBetting platform, so it’s also a good challenge for us to continue to perfect our pricing and product.
“In relation to some of our other unique offerings, we’ve found that many bettors gravitate toward our Name-A-Bet, which is a more accessible product and something that any bettor can engage with, given how its core idea touches upon the essence of wagering: if you have an opinion, you can put money behind it.”
Name-A-Bet is an option where a bettor can reach out to PointsBet and ask them to set a line on a certain event within a game, such as an over-under on the distance of a home run in a baseball game, or who will make the first 3-point shot in an NBA game or a head-to-head bet between touchdown passes or yards thrown for by two NFL quarterbacks.
It’s an exciting, different kind of wager as the bettor’s creativity helps shape the odds.
“In owning our tech end-to-end, one of the many advantages we’ve been afforded is the ability to be nimble and creative with our offerings,” Aitken said. “Our PointsBetting platform, our proprietary and best-in-class technology is really what makes our slate of offerings possible. To give our clients so many choices, we have great faith in our pricing and the risk management capabilities of our traders to handle our liabilities, ultimately putting us in the best position for long-term success.”
Of course, sometimes the bettors get the best of the house. That happened earlier this season when one bettor won $600,000 on a $30,000 wager involving the Ravens and the Dolphins. But Aitken said that comes with the territory. You’re not always going to win.
“We take the long-term approach as a company and really stand by our bettor-first positioning, so it’s business as usual when a big bettor has a big win,” he said. “We welcome big bets and always strive to provide the best experience possible for sports bettors, so sometimes that involves our clients coming away with a really great victory.”
Aitken said that willingness to accept big wagers and occasionally lose will help PointsBet’s credibility and attract more gamblers, both big and small.
“As more states come online, more operators enter the market, the competition continues to rise and the battle for market share continues to stiffen, the ability to be different and distinguished from the field will become even more important,” he said. “We’ll continue to leverage our proprietary and best-in-market technology to make that possible.”