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Dish's Boost Mobile to offer sports betting

Dish Network's mobile offering, Boost Mobile, is getting into the sports betting game.

"We're moving into sports entertainment," explained Boost executive vice president, Stephen Stokols. "It's just edgy enough that you're not going to see T-Mobile do it or AT&T do it."

The company's overall goal, Stokols explained, is to provide more reasons for customers to switch to Boost Mobile. He said unlimited data services at $40 per month are mostly table stakes at this point, and now Boost is working to develop new features and services that other carriers either can't or won't match. Stokols pointed to Boost's recent move to bundle K Health's remote-care service with its flagship unlimited-data plan as well as the company's new bundle of privacy products.

"This is all part of a bigger play," Stokols said. "We want to differentiate beyond value."

For sports betting specifically, the new Boost Mobile offering stems from Dish Network's integration deal with sports betting provider DraftKings, announced in March. However, Stokols explained that Boost is running some of the elements of its new sports betting offerings itself and will rely on DraftKings for other elements such as fantasy contests.

There will be two basic elements of Boost's new sports betting offering: The company will run contests where customers will be able to win up to $100,000, and it will also create ways for customers to place bets directly into the DraftKings platform. Some of those functions will only be available to customers in states that allow sports betting, but others – such as the $100,000 contests – will be available to Boost customers nationwide.

Stokols explained that Boost will sponsor some DraftKings contests, and those will be open to all DraftKings users. Other contests, though, will only be available to Boost customers. Some contests will be free to enter while others might cost $2.

Apart from the contests, Stokols said Boost customers will also be able to earn credits they can use to place bets into the DraftKings platform. For example, customers who sign up for automatic bill payments might receive credits they can apply toward DraftKings.

One final element of Boost's new sports entertainment strategy centers on the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. There are thousands of Boost Mobile retail stores across the country, and customers will be able to visit those stores in order to put physical cash into their DraftKings accounts. That's a first for the DraftKings platform, Stokols said, which until now has relied exclusively on digital payments, including credit cards.

And this is just the start, according to Stokols. "It's phase one of the mobile version," he said. Dish is separately working with DraftKings to add sports betting into its pay-TV service.

Dish acquired around 9 million Boost Mobile customers from T-Mobile last year for around $1.4 billion. The transaction instantly turned Dish into one of the biggest MVNOs in the country. As an MVNO, Boost Mobile's service piggybacks on T-Mobile's network. However, Dish is working to eventually transition those Boost customers onto a nationwide 5G network it's constructing.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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