With sports bookmakers constantly looking for new betting products to stay ahead of the game it is surely only a matter of time before they turn to the largely untapped resource that is fantasy football.
In a way fantasy football and football betting have followed a similar evolutionary cycle. Initially conceived as a simple way of enhancing spectator interest, both past-times have become increasingly popular and sophisticated over the last two decades.
In the case of fantasy football, whole leagues have emerged, different variations of the scoring system have been devised and the game has effectively established itself within the social fabric of our time. Although friends often put money in a kitty which serves as an end-of-season prize, fantasy football is really more about bragging rights among friends than financial gain – for the time being.
Football betting of course, has been around as long as the sport itself but has developed immeasurably over the last 20 years, with the impact of SKY television bringing football to the homes of the masses and lending the beautiful game unprecedented access to the punter.
The bookmakers have reacted accordingly, introducing myriad football markets, including live betting, and enabling punters to back all manner of propositions while the game is in-running such as who will score next, or how will the next goal be scored.
The internet, of course, has had a huge impact on both fantasy football (which has seen numerous websites created and fantasy versions of numerous other sports establishing themselves in hyperspace) and betting (the creation of Betfair and other exchanges has revolutionised the industry), so it is only a matter of time before the two industries find common ground. Indeed Paddy Power’s introduction of the goal assist market is the first doffing of the cap towards the world of Fantasy Football.
One company that has recognised this gap in the market is Predictalive, a London-based company which has been set up to provide business to business Fantasy Sports Games for Sports Bookmakers.
The brainchild of directors Richard Thorp and David Sargeant, Predictalive uses the fantasy football concept to offer large cash prizes to players and is in the process of getting several sports bookmakers on board in readiness for the World Cup.
The Football Predicta, for example, gives players a chance to win up to £250,000 per week for correctly guessing a line of correct scores. While the top prize may prove elusive, players accumulate points which are added to the Fantasy Predicta League over the course of a month and get to compete for a monthly cash prize.
“Often in the case of Fantasy Football, players lose interest before long because their teams fall out of contention early on,” says Thorp. “But in the Fantasy Predicta League all players’ scores are reset to zero every month allowing even the most useless competitor to dust themselves down and start all over again. And all you need is one good correct-score week to bring home the jackpot.”
In addition to The Football Predicta, Predictalive have an extensive list of other fantasy sports betting propositions, such as, the predictably entitled Racing Predicta.
“The Racing Predicta offers horse fans an entirely new experience to their daily routine of ‘close but no cigar’ virtual crumpled betting slips,” says Thorp. “By simply predicting a few forecasts [that’s the first two home to you and me] you can run away with a daily prize of up to £25,000.
“And, just as in the Racing Predicta version, if you don’t win that then, to paraphrase the Manic Street Preachers, ‘you move from despair to where the points are’ – the monthly league system kicks in again. Let your friends show off as they continually beat your scores and post them on social networking sites.”
If any of the Predicta games are as infectious as Thorp’s enthusiasm – and I think they might be – then he’s on to a winner. “Man has not had to get this excited about something since the invention of the cat flap,” he concludes.
For more information about the games (either as a player or as a company wishing to host the products) or for further Manic Street Preacher misquotes you can contact Richard on [email protected] or visit www.predictalive.com