Reel Lives: Sporttrade COO David Huffman On An Operator’s Challenges, A CEO Who Leads By Example, And Betting On Birth Weights

Eric Raskin

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Every gambler has a story to tell. And so does every person who chooses to make a living in this unique industry.

In our “Reel Lives” series, Casino Reports shines a spotlight on people working in the gaming business, from executives, to analysts, to media members and communications pros, and all points in between.

The subject in this interview: David Huffman, the chief operating officer at Sporttrade, a sports betting operator licensed in New Jersey, Colorado, and Iowa. Sporttrade differentiates itself by offering exchange wagering, a peer-to-peer form of betting that resembles playing the stock market. Huffman joined the company in 2021, ahead of its 2022 launch in New Jersey.

Casino Reports (CR): I believe your role at Sporttrade, though maybe your first job directly in the gambling industry, is not your first job in sports. Can you tell us about your first job in sports analytics?

David Huffman (DH): Sporttrade is my first “real” job in the industry, but I’ve worked on several personal passion projects throughout the years in sports. Back in college when the concept of “strokes gained” in golf was increasing in popularity, [Sporttrade CEO] Alex [Kane] and I started scraping publicly available Shotlink data and putting together post-tournament reports to send to professional golfers. We would try to hone in on certain players’ weaknesses and give them areas to improve on. I would obsess over tinkering with the data to get the insights just right and to give golfers actionable things to work on. We still use some of the tools we built back then in our own golf games today. 

CR: Your Twitter/X bio says, “I will bet on anything.” What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever actually bet on?

DH: My friends and I often make markets on all sorts of things. You can find us on golf trips making markets on everyone’s over/unders, birdies made, and head-to-head matchups. At the office, we make markets on things like the next state to launch sports betting or how many customers Sporttrade will have on a particular date. I think the most ridiculous thing I’ve actually made a bet on of late was the birth weight of one of our colleagues’ newborn children (I ended up losing my bet on over nine pounds). 

CR: What’s your biggest remaining career goal, either inside or outside the gaming space?

DH: I’d consider myself pretty young still in my career, so it’s fair to say I have a lot of remaining goals. There’s so much more to prove and demonstrate with the Sporttrade product that it’s hard to pick anything in particular. I think the most obvious one is to carry out Sporttrade’s goals of state expansion, growth, and customer education. We have years and years of work left on those fronts that really makes every day both exciting and extremely challenging. I don’t see myself aspiring to do anything different until we can make Sporttrade a household name. I think we will continue to see significant growth, maturity, and change in profile in the U.S. market for years to come and that’s an exciting opportunity for Sporttrade. 

CR: You go way back with Alex Kane. Tell us one thing about Alex that most (or all) people in the industry don’t know.

DH: Alex and I met in 4th grade at recess and have been friends since. There’s probably a lot of juicy stuff I could drop here, but I will spare him with some compliments.

In the office, Alex is one of the kindest leaders you will ever meet. He leads by example and is obsessed with improving the Sporttrade product. I often see him spending his free time playing around on the “beta” version of our app, thinking of ways to improve it. He truly cares about putting the customer first and building the experience around that. I think that will pay immense dividends as Sporttrade grows and is a huge differentiating factor in the player experience. 

Outside of the office, he’s extremely competitive at badminton, darts, croquet, mini golf, and is a lightning fast downhill skier. He grew up on a farm in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and is a huge history buff, particularly U.S. history and the Revolutionary War, having lived close by to several battlegrounds in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

CR: What’s the number-one challenge, in your view, for the gambling business going forward?

DH: The cost of doing business. The extremely difficult part of offering a fair product to customers is the costs associated with doing so. As a regulated operator, you pay market access costs, state licensing costs, state tax, federal excise tax, payment fees, data provider fees, KYC fees, geolocation fees, and all of the typical OpEx of running the business. Margins are incredibly thin and there’s a lot of costs we think need to come down to offer our best product and pass on those savings to the customer. Things like tax rate hikes, lack of friendly tax conventions like loss carry-forward, and lack of promotional deductions really do make it difficult. 

CR: What actor would you choose to play you in the movie about your life, and why?

DH: I think I’d have to choose Bradley Cooper, with him having grown up near Philadelphia as well. He’s a serious thinker, incredibly witty, well-liked, and humble. He’s proven that he can play a wide variety of characters, which is something I feel I do well by wearing multiple hats in my professional career. 

Reel Fast

On which social media platform do you currently spend the most time?

Twitter.

My favorite sports team is …

Eagles.

Describe the offshore gambling challenge in one or two words.

Surmountable.

If you find me in a casino or on a casino app, the game/bet I’m most likely to be playing/making is …

Blackjack or Mississippi Stud.

My all-time favorite golfer is …

Tiger Woods or Fred Couples.

The worst job I ever had was …

I’ve never had a bad job.

You can find David on X or LinkedIn, or you may be able to find him in Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie’s private box at Lincoln Financial Field. Oh, wait, sorry — that’s not David. That’s his doppelgänger Bradley Cooper.

Previous installments of Reel Lives:

Strive Gaming CMO Jamie Shea On Soaking Up Knowledge, LTVs, And Stray Cats

GMA Consulting’s Pat Eichner On Unveiling The PointsBet-NBC Sports Pact, Being Outdoors, And Storytelling

OpenBet’s Jess Feil On Player Protection, Running An International Team, And Riding Horses

Fanatics Betting & Gaming’s Scot McClintic On Building Products, Quantitative Thinking, And Hockey Fights