Shot Callers: Scott Warfield, Managing Director of Gaming, NASCAR

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With the legalization of sports betting across the United States continually growing, many professional leagues and teams are taking matters into their own hands. Auto racing giant NASCAR is no exception.

FOS Editor Ian Thomas spoke with Scott Warfield of NASCAR about the company’s approach to the sports betting space, which has been several years in the making.

Edited highlights appear below:

On how NASCAR set up their current system and protocols to let fans bet on races (0:58)

Warfield: “First and foremost, we went out and we struck a deal with Sportradar to be our integrity partner and that was crucial to get those kind of key protocols in place. Sportradar came in and they did fraud detection monitoring and they did education seminars with our drivers and our teams and our tracks which gave us the foundation to start to pursue on the commercial side. So that was a good part of the fall of 2018 and then we turned our attention to the data side….What does sports betting represent for NASCAR? It’s an engagement play. So what we’ll be developing in partnership with Genius Sports is a live sports betting product that the sports books will be able to offer. As the United States catches up with where Europe’s been…we’ll be well positioned to offer our fans something to engage with during an event.”

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On where he sees the sports betting space evolving to (2:33)

Warfield: “The good news and the bad news is the innovation around NASCAR sports betting to date has been limited. So right now for the most part, it’s race winner, it’s series championship. There may be a head-to-head matchup, but beyond that, there’s not a ton of markets. We see that evolving over the next 12, 24, 36 months and pretty rapidly we hope, right? So you could look at things like lead changes, number of leaders, stage wins, next fastest lap, things that we hope will keep the audience’s attention longer, right? So how do you get that core fan, that 3-5 million people that are watching every Sunday to watch another 15 minutes, 30 minutes in there…It has a tremendous impact on TV ratings or the value of media sponsors. Then how does it attract new fans? Right? You may not be a NASCAR fan, but if you’re able to engage in a fun, unique way through some prop betting in play betting, that may bring you into the sport. So it has kind of a dual role for us.”

On how betting will be incorporated into NASCAR broadcasting (03:57)

Warfield: “We’re running a 10-question props game every single week. We posted our odds gallery for the first time starting back in February. It’s one of the most popular pages we have on NASCAR.com. We did a partnership with the Action Network where they’re producing a lot of content around the sport, what it means to bet on the sport, how you go about it, different prop bets…But over time as the state-by-state rollout happens, I think those opportunities from a broadcast standpoint are gonna probably take off if you look at what NBC regional did with Washington and with Philly…really unique concept where you still have that main linear broadcast for the fan that’s interested in that traditional broadcast.”

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On the type of fans that doing more with sports betting will speak to (05:52)

Warfield: “I see this as a core fan engagement play. I’m not naive enough to think that if you’re a non-fan and all of a sudden we have more bet types, are you going to start watching the sport? I’m not sure. I’d like to believe we can get there. But as we have the most loyal fans in all of sports they are ambassadors for NASCAR more than any megaphone. So if we offered them a good vetting product, they will be out evangelizing this. They will bring in their neighbors, their cousins, their friends. I definitely think that is an opportunity to grow the pie.”