Tipico’s Adrian Vella Says Ohio Launch Highlights New ‘Hyperlocal’ Approach

Tipico, a sports betting operator with German origins, is preparing to launch in its third US state. But as the Malta-based company awaits final approval in Ohio, it’s taking a different approach this time.

Adrian Vella
Adrian Vella
Tipico US CEO Adrian Vella shares with Casino.org the sports betting operator’s plan as it prepares to launch in Ohio on Jan. 1. (Image: Tipico)

A couple weeks ago, Tipico unveiled WinOhio.com, a free-to-play site that lets people rank preselected spreads and props they think will hit. They earn points for each successful pick, and Tipico provides prizes to weekly and seasonal winners. Seasonal winners will split $5,000 in bonus money, with the top point earner receiving $500.

In addition, each weekly WinOhio entry will also serve as an entry into a grand prize drawing, with 10 entrants winning an Ohio-themed package that includes premium tickets to an in-state sporting event, VIP tickets to a concert, dinner and a hotel stay. Grand prize recipients can also choose to take $1,500 in funds for their Tipico account instead.

Tipico will enter Ohio through a partnership it established with the Columbus Crew, an MLS franchise in the state. Ohio’s sports betting law gave pro sports teams and state-licensed casinos and racinos preference for mobile and retail licenses.

Going ‘Hyperlocal’ in Ohio

WinOhio is part of a new philosophy the company is using to acquire customers in advance of the expected Jan. 1 launch, Tipico US CEO Adrian Vella told Casino.org.

He described it as a “hyperlocal” approach that will go beyond just the relationships Tipico has with the Crew and media giant Gannett, which operates websites and newspapers in Cincinnati, Columbus, and 19 other Ohio cities.

There will be, as well, partnerships around events, partnerships around putting a face to our brand, partnerships with influencers, partnerships with affiliates,” Vella said. “So, everything we’re doing will be very, very hyperlocal to Ohio.”

More partnerships will be announced, and those will also be Ohio-focused, he added.

“The content we write, the creative, all of it will be hyperlocal to Ohio. So, in reality, that’s what we want. We want to show a message that they understand we want to show them that we care for Ohio, that we understand the market, that we understand the consumer, and that we really want to create a brand and a product that they love.”

Jan. 1 Launch an ‘Asset’ for Tipico

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has preliminarily approved Tipico’s online sports betting application. Pending final approval, it will be one of the operators slated to start on the universal start date. As many as 20 or more operators may also start on New Year’s Day, too.

Being able to launch on the first day is a key “asset,” Vella said.

“Maybe we will be the first book that the customer sees,” he explained. “When we launched in New Jersey, all the customers had already established who their preferred sportsbook is, and it’s more of a fight for acquiring market share through competition.”

Retail Plans Remain Under Discussion

Come Jan. 1, Tipico plans to launch only online. The OCCC also gave preliminary approval for a retail sportsbook, but Vella said discussions continue regarding a brick-and-mortar venue.

That includes where the sportsbook would be located, although Vella could not provide any details on that.

We’re discussing in many ways what it should be,” he said. “What should be its purpose. How much should we focus on that? It’s been a bit of a topic, but we believe that can really drive some excitement because there’s very few licenses.

“Still, the focus is to make sure you open your mass-reach product on the opening date, and then focus on (brick-and-mortar) a bit later. I’m not saying we will not have it, but we have not yet we have not decided that date in stone yet.”

Lessons Learned from Gannett Deal

Tipico made headlines more than a year ago when it forged a national partnership with Gannett. Besides owning USA Today, Gannett serves as the largest US newspaper publisher with publications in several key markets. At that time, it had a presence in New Jersey and was getting ready to launch in Colorado.

Ohio will be the first launch since then. In August of this year – roughly a year after the partnership was signed – Gannett announced a new deal with Tipico that limited the arrangement to certain states and now allows Gannett to partner with other sportsbooks in other states.

Ohio will be a Gannett state, as stories on Dispatch.com and Cincinnati.com show Tipico odds.

Vella goes back to the local approach as he discusses what Tipico learned from its partnership with Gannett, which he said gave the sportsbook some brand equity as it arrived in the US.

“What we learned is that we have to be more state and local focused, and that’s what you see with what we’re doing,” Vella said. “Leveraging more of their assets inside of those states and have a tighter relationship with them and their assets.”

Tipico to Offer Choice of Bonuses in Ohio

On Thursday, Tipico announced that early registration was now open for its Ohio mobile sports betting app.

Those who sign up now will be able to pick from one of three promotional offers they will be able to use once sports betting goes live in the Buckeye State.

They can take $150 in free bets that will be available as six $25 wagers. That bonus will not require a deposit.

If they make deposit, they can opt for a 150% matching bonus to receive up to $150 in additional funds. Also, Tipico customers can choose $250 in “parlay cash” if they make a minimum $50 deposit.

“Our bonus offers will fuel the fire of the diehard Ohio sports fan, eager for heart-stopping sports moments,” Vella said. “The Tipico team has worked tirelessly on meaningful product innovation that will inspire new bettors to put their money on the home team.”

Meanwhile, WinOhio will remain available as a free-play option after Tipico’s sports betting platform launches. The company tells Casino.org that the site will offer basketball markets later in the first quarter of 2023.

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