Engaging the Next Generation of Sports Bettors with Delasport


One of the biggest challenges that operators face is keeping players engaged. With 77% of Gen Z playing mobile games, the demand is there, so how can you keep player retention high? Delasport has tried and tested formulas to engage – and keep – the one-swipe generation. Kristiyan Petrov, our Head of CRM, believes gamification is the answer. Here is what he shared to iGB.

As sports betting continues to become regulated globally, operators are under pressure to engage with players in more innovative and exciting ways. Once upon a time, using a simple bonus offer would entice a player to a site and engage them, but newer audiences are now getting more savvy when it comes to marketing ploys. So to get ahead of the competition, operators now need a long-term strategy that attracts, engages and retains players so they don’t just recoup the average cost per player but surpass it.

Sports betting platform and iGaming solutions provider Delasport shares the secret to pulling bettors in and keeping them. Its name? Gamification.

Gamification has proved hugely successful over the past decade with the likes of McDonald’s Monopoly, Duolingo streaks and fantasy football leagues. The format of point collecting, coupled with winning prizes and competing against like-minded people has proven successful in a variety of industries over the past five years. So much so that gamification can boost interaction with a platform by up to 13%, social sharing by 22% and content discovery by 68%. This can lead up to a 100-150% increase in engagement metrics to a site.

And with the introduction of smartphones, the consequential growth in apps, and the launch of more and more digital-first companies, the base for the gamification market has grown exponentially – and is expected to continue to grow from $13.26bn in 2022 to $58.71bn in 2023.

Unsurprisingly, many operators in the industry are looking to innovate to entice the tech-savvy, demanding Gen Z player base, and with 77% of millennials playing mobile games in the last 6 months, it’s obvious the ‘one-swipe’ generation to be drawn into the use of gamification mechanics.

Why does the gaming industry need gamification?

The global iGaming market size was valued at $63.53bn in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% from 2023 to 2030. After the upsurge in sports betting during one hard-to-miss pandemic, and the gradual change in regulations across the US, where it is now operational in 33 states, the growth in the sector is at the forefront of many in the industry’s game plans.

“Sportsbook players were neglected for a long time,” Petrov explains. “As opposed to casino players who used to get a lot of perks from the respectful content providers, the sportsbook players stayed in the ‘award desert’, mainly getting the good old free bets. We offer a complete suite of player engagement to sportsbook players rather than just the odd perk.”

So what tools are available and where can sportsbook operators turn to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd?

Putting the ‘I’ in Gamify

From varying missions, levels, badges and points to communication channels, stores and tournaments, gamification in sportsbook gambling is generally used to encourage repeat interactions with the site, players or teams. In its 2022 iGaming trends report, Delasport showed us that gamification gives even the smallest fanfares the passion of “feeling part of something”, and Petrov says it is in this that the player feels the operator is giving them proper attention. It is this type of interaction with the player that introduces a whole new dimension of engagement and increases retention immensely.

“Players feel compelled to level up, gain points, get rewards and achievements, and overall get a sense of progression,” he says.

“This feeling of progression and anticipation for a prize is what’s appealing. It has a strong effect when it comes to the desire for completion, achievement and fear of missing out.”

“Let’s state the obvious: gamification is fun.”

But Petrov is keen to emphasise that it’s not just the initial buzz that makes gamification worthwhile, it’s backed by stats. “Take Spin the Wheel, for example: introducing it upon registration boosts conversion rate to first depositors by 5% – 20%! iGaming as well as other types of gaming counts on our basic need to play. This is why gamification significantly enhances the overall player experience.”

The proof is in the pudding

Petrov puts it simply, “The statistics speak for themselves.”

With the gamification market at the value that it is, it’s no surprise that companies that use gamification are seven times more profitable than those that do not use gamified elements at work—whether with employees or consumers. And Petrov says that “the numbers we see at Delasport speak to this. We saw an increase in player engagement of circa 85% month to month from 32,000 completed missions to nearly 59,000 just a month later when implementing gamification into our partners’ portfolios.

“There probably isn’t a single person who doesn’t like to see the fast and clear progression and get both instant and long-term gratification. Gamification fits seamlessly into any type of sportsbook platform, it’s pretty much a logical upgrade. Engagement tools like these have the potential to convert almost anyone into a loyal player.”

The advantages are legion, ranging from improved conversion and retention rates to increased loyalty and optimised satisfaction. But as Petrov makes clear, the offering Delasport gives its customers also has a proven competitive edge.

“When players have the option to bet somewhere else, they’d most probably choose to come back to the gamified platform because there’s a visible log of their progress on there, as well as their own achievements vault.”

Tools like achievements, leagues and tournaments make players feel part of a community and promote healthy competition, so it creates a real sense of satisfaction when certain milestones are reached. “It requires trial and error plus tuning, but once it is set right it simply works,” he explains. “For some years, gamification was mostly used as a buzzword. However, once the tools are used in a correct way – e.g. make it simple for the players to engage with it, grant awards that are relevant and contextual – then operators see the positive results and fast.”

“Additionally, rewarding the time and effort a player spends on your platform leads to good things only! And something that should also be taken into account is the easier training aspect. Gamification allows players to quickly grasp complex concepts and skills in a fun and intuitive way. They are easily onboarded onto your platform and engaged right away.”

Enter Delasport – the key to your competitive edge 

Delasport’s gamification product offering uses custom elements to build on sportsbooks’ proven successes. “If the operator wishes so, most of the work could be done by Delasport. We are proud to include a lot of custom elements for each sportsbook partner of ours.”

As users gain points, the possibilities of how they are used are down to the sportsbook, adding a certain degree of flexibility that enhances UX and personalisation on a case-by-case basis. The team at Delasport understand that each sportsbook functions completely differently, with needs and desires that don’t all fit into one simple solution.

“Every gamification implementation has its own narrative, visual identity, characters, etc. And if the operator doesn’t have the creative force to do all of it on their end, we’re always here to take the process off their hands. Our player engagement suite can operate on a do-it-yourself basis or with our professional team as a managed service.

“The abundance of engagement tools we have are ready to go. We’ve made sure to include in our portfolio every gamification feature a player might love and it’s up to the operator to decide how many of those will be presented to their audience.”

Avoiding the pitfalls: AI

In recent years we’ve seen many industry platforms sidestep to AI to streamline business processes. However, Petrov feels strongly about avoiding falling into the same trap as everybody else. The difference in Delasport’s products is that they’re not only personalised, but in the words of Petrov, “they’re human”.

“Features like the ones we offer are already optimised on personalised and fun aspects, but the human factor will become more and more important as time goes on. With AI and machine-learning innovation a hot topic, players will start to feel the lack of human interaction in time on an iGaming platform.

“Automation is key, but feeling a human presence on the other end of the device is about to become all the more valuable in the near future. We, at Delasport, always have this in mind.”

The future of sports betting

It’s clear that gamification is a surefire way to improve customer retention, engagement and, in the long term, loyalty. But Petrov believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to iGaming.

“We prioritise personalisation – not only in terms of player-facing features, but in our relationship with operators as well,” he says. “Every partner of ours is special and our offering is tailored to their needs. Even with our immense growth in recent years, we still insist on treating each operator with the individual attention they deserve.”

The team at Delasport are ready to listen, tailor and personalise their approach to gamify your sportsbook needs. Could this solve the challenges faced by operators for the next generation of bettors?


Dela Sport Kristiyan PetrovKristiyan Petrov holds the position of Head of CRM at Delasport since March 2021. His experience in the iGaming industry is decade-long and he has taken different roles throughout this time. His Bachelor’s degree in marketing and Master’s in Finance both come in handy for understanding customer needs and how complex systems operate. One of his latest accomplishments is the implementation of a whole gamification module in Delasport’s platform.