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From Marketing to Sports

Kyle Piasecki, Head of Partnerships, Playmaker/Better Collective

From Marketing to Sports

Kyle Piasecki frequented Atlantic City growing up. Celebratory dinners. Concerts with his parents. The family home in Voorhees a mere 45 minutes away. “The casinos were always larger than life to me as a kid,” he says.

His aunt, Luann Pappas, also inspired his interest. Pappas spent 30 years at Harrah’s and Caesars, from retail clerk to executive.

“Sometimes she would pick me up to stay with her for the weekend and we would have dinner in the casino steakhouse, where we would sit for hours while she held court,” Piasecki says. “I’d watch her making business decisions, chatting with customers and having meetings with executives. I took it all in, and while most kids may have dreamed about being a firefighter, I always wanted to be a casino executive.”

But Piasecki had other options after Rutgers. He joined his father at his construction business. “I also had a marketing business that I started in college,” he says. “I wanted to keep it running because it satisfied my deal-making passions.”

Piasecki brought in a partner to help run the marketing portion. They launched a nightlife website. “We had numerous contracts with Atlantic City bars and nightclubs to book talent, plan events, and promote the venues to our email database,” he says. “We started consulting for bars and restaurants and expanded to cover Philadelphia.”

The recession of 2008 took its toll. By 2011, both businesses shut down.

“Desperate for a job in 2011, I went to work for Hyatt as a housekeeping supervisor to get some corporate hospitality experience,” Piasecki says. “After a year and a half at Hyatt, I landed a hospitality host role at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Within a few months, I was promoted to a full casino host with my own book of business.”

When it came to Covid-19, Piasecki was in the right place at the right time. “I’ve been working nonstop without much time to take in all that happened the last few years,” he says. “My career has been a rocket ship since March 2020, largely due to the rapid expansion of online sports betting. The digital media business was the right space to be in, and I’ve been fortunate to work with almost every online operator and many other adjacent businesses.”

He launched The Props Network/PropsHQ.com several months prior to the lockdowns. The company had a few partnerships at the time with several online operators. When sports completely stopped, many friends were furloughed. “I began questioning keeping the business open. I had to try something,” Piasecki says.

That something was to put together a pro tennis event with an old college friend. He then sold the rights to an exhibition pro tennis series to a sports data company, which licensed the event to sportsbooks around the world. They launched May 4, 2020 with women’s singles, then added men’s singles, and more.

“By June 1, we were streaming 30 matches per day, seven days a week,” Piasecki says. “We ran the exhibitions until October 4, 2020. By that time a lot of sports were coming back.”

By then, PropsHQ had started to take off. “We began working with over a dozen sports and sports gambling podcasts.”

If this trip sounds like the results of a solo flight, think again. He thanks Steve Cotler, founder of VIP Gambling Tours, and Seth Young, chief operating officer for Fifth Street Gaming Digital for his acclimation. But don’t forget Aunt Luann, now CEO of Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, in D’Iberville, Mississippi.

In May 2022, Playmaker HQ acquired PropsHQ, and Piasecki stayed on as senior vice president of partnerships. On July 3 of this year, Better Collective acquired Playmaker, where he remains head of partnerships. “My main focus is on securing sponsorships and commercial agreements with companies in the gaming industry across Better Collective’s network of digital assets,” he says.

Working for Better Collective is a dream come true, Piasecki says. “There is so much opportunity. I hope in five years I’ll have been successful in my current role and I am leading new initiatives with the company across the globe. They have a vision of becoming a leading digital sports media company, and I hope to be instrumental in making that happen alongside my peers from the Playmaker HQ team.”

Piasecki sees online casinos and customer loyalty initiatives playing a much larger role. Along with VIP casino marketing, this is where profits lie, he says. “More states will realize that legalizing iCasino is the key to industry growth.”

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.