TheScore Plans To Be Apple Ready For A Fall Sportsbook Launch In NJ

Posted By Bill Gelman on July 3, 2019 - Last Updated on March 11, 2020

TheScore is getting real close to launching its NJ sports betting app. The countdown that started out in months is now down to weeks.

And the folks up at company headquarters in Toronto, Canada, are getting very excited.

But if you ask about an exact date, officials at theScore are quick to point out that decision is in the hands of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

John Levy, CEO and founder of theScore, did provide a general timeline of “being ready for the beginning of NFL season.”

Levy notes that everything is on course with the regulators and the steps the company needs to take. This includes filing any necessary documents.

“We are well underway with respect to the process,” Levy said.

“All I can say at this point is everything seems to be moving in the timeline that we anticipated. The regulators have been great. It’s very refreshing to have regulators who understand business and have a business acumen.”

A media company with sports betting plans

TheScore is rather unique compared to the other 14 sportsbook apps available in the Garden State. They are a media company (yes, there is an app for that, too) transitioning to the NJ online sports betting world.

Of course, theScore could’ve very easily gone the affiliate route, but the company is going all in.

“We wouldn’t do it any other way,” Levy said.

“In the short term we could make a lot of money being an affiliate, but it never felt like the right approach. It never felt fulfilling. … We wouldn’t give the user what they really wanted.”

The digital sports news app is available for iOS and Android devices and has quite a following in North America. Here are some eye-catching key audience stats provided by theScore:

  • There are 4-5 million monthly active app users.
  • Each of those users opens theScore app more than 100 times a month on average.
  • App users span every single US state.
  • It’s the second most popular multi-sport news and data app in North America (the No. 1 spot is held by ESPN, according to comScore).
  • The average monthly reach on social media is 100 million.

And the above numbers do include New Jersey users.

Instead of just reporting on the NFL and NBA news, the new wrinkle of sports betting will be incorporated in a separate app. Levy compared the two platforms to Facebook and Facebook Messenger. One acts as a compliment to the original.

Once live, it will be the third and final skin for Monmouth ParkWilliam Hill NJ and PlaySugarHouse NJ have the others.

Obviously, due to regulatory issues, he did not get into specifics about the new app. However, he did say “it will be easy peasy to make a bet.”

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Will there be an iOS app for theScore?

The road to launch does come with its share of challenges, including whether or not to build a native app.

This is especially true in the case of iOS devices, thanks to the new Apple policy that will create headaches for real money apps such as sportsbooks and NJ online casinos.

In a nutshell, by Sept. 3, the policy requires real money gambling apps to be built natively for iOS, rather than built with the common HTML code.

It’s not a topic Levy brings up in conversations. However, he will openly discuss it if someone else does.

Believe it or not, before Apple even announced these changes, Levy and theScore team were analyzing the situation behind the scenes. That included the integration with partner Bet.Works.

There were talks about starting out using HTML and building the native app down the road in year one or year two. But Levy said there were reasons that plan was quickly nixed.

“Our product guys were coming back to us and saying we should really consider doing it right from scratch because the end user and the experience we want our customers and our sports fans to have could be second rate with that type of technology.

“… When you build native you can incorporate stuff into them that you can’t do otherwise. We want that same level and sophistication and enjoyment by our users.”

And there was another reason.

The team was noticing a trend in which betting apps were getting held up by Apple and not getting through to the App Store as quickly.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, the SugarHouse, Parx and BetRivers sports betting apps are live, but none have an iOS app yet. In New Jersey, Unibet Casino, a new online casino that launched in June, also does not have an iOS app yet.

After several conversations, theScore team decided to bite the bullet and build it from scratch.

“We challenged our developers, and we put them all on this project,” Levy said.

“Honestly when we first started, nobody knew whether the guys could actually do it in the timeline. We had the best guys in the business. They already built one of the best apps out there.”

Bet.Works took care of the back end, and theScore is taking care of the front end.

Ready, set, bet… but not until later

For now, we can take random guesses when this new product will hit the market. Some have speculated that theScore could launch as early as August. Others lean closer toward September.

Those who have attended the sports betting conferences held in New Jersey this year likely noticed the giant banners hanging around the convention spaces. Yes, marketing is a big part of the rollout plan for theScore.

And keep in mind, there could be 20 online sportsbooks by the time football season kicks off. TheScore would be one of them.

Unibet’s NJ sportsbook and Bet365 (both under the Hard Rock Atlantic City license) are two others approaching the launch gates.

While the big day is getting closer and closer, theScore is not at liberty to discuss the odds of the Toronto Raptors repeating as NBA champions. Local fans in NJ may prefer betting the futures on the new look 76ers.

No matter what customers decide to bet, excitement at theScore is building.

“We just can’t wait. We’re counting the weeks now,” Levy said.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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