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Waterhouse VC: Crypto wagering

| By iGB Editorial Team | Reading Time: 7 minutes
In his latest column, Tom Waterhouse of Waterhouse VC dissects the crypto wagering opportunity and how crypto operators can stand out in a fast-paced, competitive market.
crypto wagering

“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat” – Steve Jobs.

The wagering industry has long been at the forefront of innovation across several areas, including user experience (UX), marketing and payments. Online crypto operators (such as Sportsbet.io and Stake.com), which have a similar UX to online fiat operators like FanDuel and DraftKings, are already recording extraordinary turnover and leading innovation in both marketing and payments.

As at May 2022, Sportsbet.io recorded US$2.7bn (£2.12bn/€2.51bn) of turnover per month and we gather that it has likely grown. To put that in perspective, in 2023, Australia’s largest operator averaged US$1bn of turnover per month and has around 45% market share in the country.

Influencer marketing

Stake and other large crypto wagering operators dominate streaming through partnerships with celebrities like Drake. Rather than partnering with celebrity streamers, emerging operators like Shuffle.com identify influencers with small but dedicated followings of around 1,000 to 10,000 true fans.

Micro-influencers are cost-effective because they are often undervalued or overlooked by established wagering operators.

Dedicated fans do not just engage with influencers by “liking” their posts or watching a 30-minute betting stream. Instead, they interact directly with the influencers in group chats, communicating around the clock. An influencer with 10,000 “dedicated fans’” could generate far more revenue for every dollar spent than an influencer with 1,000,000 followers who are less engaged.

crypto wagering
Drake is one of the world’s most popular online casino streamers. Source: Betensured Blog


Launched in 2023, Shuffle is one of several new crypto wagering businesses at the forefront of marketing, customer retention and payments innovation. The company has rapidly expanded and already facilitated more than US$6bn in bets.

Noah Dummett, founder, Shuffle

Led by Noah Dummett, Shuffle’s management team draws on expertise developed in marketing roles rather than traditional wagering industry experience.

Noah, a 24-year-old crypto native from Australia, was an early employee at some of the fastest-growing crypto exchanges, such as Bitmex. He believes crypto wagering operators can be just as large and profitable as the exchanges he worked at previously.

Noah believes that Shuffle can become the world’s largest crypto wagering operator and that achieving this will take bold bets executed by a young, energetic and laser-focused team. Today, Shuffle has 55 full-time employees, with an average age of 24 years old, and plans to double the number of employees in the next 18 months.

Ishan Haque recognises the power of influencer marketing and community-building, tapping into live streaming, betting group chats and crypto communities.

crypto wagering
Shuffle’s turnover has increased 10x in 10 months. Sourch: Noah Dummett
Shuffle’s casino user interface. Source: Shuffle.com


Similarly to dominant operators like Stake, Shuffle intends to announce large-scale brand ambassadors and endorsements later this year with Tier 1 sport teams and mainstream celebrities/athletes. Initially, smaller operators have to methodically pursue deals where there is high return on advertising spend.

Larger marketing deals should only be pursued once experience has been developed through successful smaller deals. The key metrics measured across smaller and larger deals are the same:

  • How many eyeballs convert to sign-ups
  • How many sign-ups convert to first-time deposits
  • How long can depositing players be retained

These metrics allow operators to reverse engineer expectations for larger deals, which are typically more difficult to value.

crypto wagering
Alfa Romeo’s F1 car sporting the Stake.com logo. Source: GambleBoost

Retaining customers

Once an operator has identified influencers to collaborate with, it is often difficult to maintain engagement after an influencer’s initial promotion, resulting in a surge of customer sign-ups followed by a period of inactivity. There are several ways to improve customer retention, including personalised offers, community engagement and ongoing promotions that span the entire duration of the influencer partnership.

Haque attributes Shuffle’s early success to acting on product feedback and iterating swiftly. He believes that even the best marketing and retention strategies are ineffective if the product is not engaging.

Shuffle’s platform features a custom-built UI and in-house developed games that prioritise speed and user experience. For example, Shuffle has developed tools like “Advanced Dice” for custom auto-betting, whereby users can seamlessly switch between games like plinko, blackjack, NBA parlays and election bets without any lag.

Ishan Haque, head of business, shuffle

Furthermore, Shuffle’s casino games boast some of the highest return to player rates (RTPs) in the industry, with house games at 99% and slots at 97%.

At Waterhouse VC, we believe that offering a full suite of world-class wagering products is critical to success. This is one of the reasons why we focus on investing in B2B suppliers rather than B2C operators. In a highly competitive industry, B2B suppliers are critical for operators to differentiate through product and user experience.

How to get started?

Emerging wagering businesses (both B2B and B2C) have the greatest chance of success if they focus on dominating a niche without a clear market leader. For Shuffle, that meant focusing early growth on Japan, a market that was underserved by crypto wagering operators at the time.

Marketing to multiple regions requires an understanding of the complexities of localisation, culture and acquisition channels.

Instead, new operators could focus on one market by hiring native speakers, offering localised support, aligning the brand with the local culture and understanding what kind of content locals look at. Such a growth strategy is particularly relevant for newly regulated markets like Brazil.

Companies like Shuffle, Stake and Sportsbet.io have proven that a differentiated product, marketing strategy and user experience can fuel rapid revenue growth in the highly competitive wagering industry.


I recently discussed the US competitive landscape on Ausbiz. I spoke about increasing taxation and regulation in the maturing US wagering industry, which puts pressure on subscale B2C operators’ ability to compete.

For wholesale investors interested in following wagering and gaming industry news and trends, please follow our updates on Twitter (@waterhousevc) or through our website at WaterhouseVC.com.

Tom Waterhouse


Please note the above information in relation to Shuffle.com, Sportsbet.io, Bitmex, YouTube, Stake, FanDuel, Flutter Entertainment Plc and DraftKings is based on publicly available information in relation to the company and should not be considered nor construed as financial product advice. The fund currently has a position in Flutter Entertainment Plc. The information provided in this document is general information only and does not constitute investment or other advice. Readers should consult and rely on professional investment advice specific to their individual circumstances.

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