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Volume 22 No. 19
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Golden 1 Center’s experiment with betting lab a big win among fans

The arena tested a lounge in which fans could make various predictions on games.
Photo: sacramento kings

The Sacramento Kings gave fans a taste of sports betting via a four-game pilot at Golden 1 Center last month and are pleased with the results.

“It was a lab for us to see how this worked,” said Kings Chief Technology Officer Ryan Montoya. “When sports betting is legal [in California] we want to be prepared. Not only do we want to be prepared as the Kings, we want our fans to be prepared.”

The Kings and sports betting and software firm Swish Analytics opened the Skyloft Predictive Gaming Lounge for home games between March 17 and March 23.

Montoya said the lounge grew out a function on the Kings mobile app named “Call the Shot” that allows fans to pick the top scorer, rebounder and team stats to win points for rewards and prizes. MGM Resorts, Xperial and Amazon.com partner with the Kings on the app promotion.

“We wanted to see what this would look like in a physical space and so we had this vision that we would create a sports book/Apple Genius Bar within our arena,” Montoya said.

The gaming area was created in a premium lounge where fans could use iPads to make various predictions on the game and performances of individual players. Fans could make free predictions for the chance to win raffle tickets for prizes such as Kings gear and player-signed memorabilia. They were given a mythical $100 to use in the lounge and were provided tutorials and information from Swish.

Photo: sacramento kings

The four-day test saw 90 percent of fans who entered the lounge actually participate, and 65 percent of those who did were women.

“As soon as people got into the lounge they were very engaged and interested in learning more about the general worlds of betting,” said Bobby Skoff, Swish’s co-founder.

More than 1,500 total predictions were made. Those on player performances included predicting how many points opponents such as the Nets’ D’Angelo Russell and the Suns’ Devin Booker would score down the stretch.

This was the first project inside a venue for San Francisco-based Swish, which also counts MLB as a client.

Montoya and Skoff said the pilot showed the potential for sports betting. The team plans to have a predictive gaming lounge in a general fan area next season.

The team may be in for a long wait before sports betting is approved in California. Such a move would require voters to approve a state constitutional amendment. So far, legislative efforts to get that on the ballot have failed to gain much traction.

The sports betting pilot project is another effort by the Kings to be ahead of technology and consumer trends since Vivek Ranadivé bought the team in 2013 and the Golden 1 Center opened in 2016.

A new recording studio opened at the Sacramento arena in December and a record store in March. The arena has booked more concerts and other events than the team’s previous home, Sleep Train Arena. Part of that is due to the technology bandwidth and premium amenities of the new arena, said John Rinehart, Kings president of business operations. But Rinehart said there also has been a push to go after a diversity of shows and events including Latin shows.

“Overall we are going to do, probably, for the full year 155 to 166 events and shows including Kings games,” Rinehart said. “If you look at what we did our last year at Sleep Train Arena, we did about 76 shows. So we are doing significantly more.”


Mike Sunnucks can be reached at msunnucks@sportsbusinessjournal.com.