Sports Betting Community (SBC)’s second annual Betting on Football Conference took place today at the world famous Emirates Stadium in London, home to Arsenal Football Club.
Over 250 sports betting industry professionals participated in today’s event, over twice as many as last year, according to SBC.
Delegates were impressed with the conference venue, a nice open space with plenty of places to sit, chat, enjoy EveryMatrix vodkas and energy drinks, sip on delicious “The Grind” coffee, take selfies with an Emirates Stadium backdrop and listen to quality sessions.
Directly following the conclusion of the sessions, delegates were invited on an Emirates Stadium tour and treated to complimentary drinks and food.
Today’s session topics included strategies for football club sponsorships, emerging market opportunities, innovation in sportsbetting companies, in-play trends, match fixing and more.
The “International fixtures- betting & football across the continent and beyond” panel featured Simon Burrell of Editec, Dirk Makritzki of Eurostream GmbH & Co, Michal Kopec of Better Collective and was chaired by David Clifton of Clifton Davies Consultancy.
Opportunities in the emerging African market dominated the discussion, indicating a clear area of interest for established sports betting operators.
Burrell said there are 57 countries in Africa, but when it comes to sports betting, people think of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. About 30 of the 57 countries have licensing and regulations in place and between sportsbetting and lotteries, take about 2.5 billion in bets per year.
However, it is Africa, Burrell said, and the regulatory structure there cannot compare to the regulations we are used to in the West or in Asia. “There are a number of hoops you have to jump through for regulations”, he said.
Nigeria is a market of particular interest to the online gambling industry, mainly because its one of the more developed countries on the continent with widespread 3G and a good penetration of smartphones.
There are 2,000 betting operators in Nigeria at present and Burrell said international operators “cannot just rock up” to Nigeria and expect to be successful. “There’s a whole education you have to go through”, he said.
Burrell also offered general advice for operators wishing to enter the African market. “Local knowledge is incredibly key in Africa, you physically need to have a presence in the country, meet with regulators and government officials, find the right area for your premises, build integrity in the brand straight off the bat…William Hill means nothing to the people in Cameroon”, said Burrell.
When it comes to the Eastern European betting market, the German market and the African market, football is the sport of choice.
In Poland, Kopec explained the only way licensed operators can advertise is through sponsorship deals with football teams. In Germany, every major football team has a partnership with an operator, Makritzki said. In Africa, sports betting is driven by the Premier League. “The youth are fanatical”, Burrell said. “They cannot consume enough information about Premier League”.
The “Whole new ball game – innovations in football betting” panel was chaired by iGaming Ideas’ David Sargeant and included Conall McSorely of Metric Gaming ,David Mills of mLabs, and Mick Robins of MR Games, all innovators in the sports betting space.
All panellists agreed instant gratification is an area every operator should be focusing on.
“Customers want more instant gratification, products that are not going to tie up cash for 90 minutes plus”, said McSorely. Rather, customers want games segmented into little markets. Robins said its “betting for the snapchat generation”, we’re moving much faster now and fans engage in a different way than when we were young.
Mills said innovation lies in getting more from the football game itself. “Anything that increases interaction with the team, players, the actual game- that’s the way forward”, he said.
Keane is involved in daily fantasy sports for increased fan engagement and emphasized the importance of an easy-to-use interface that is customized for the player. McSorely agreed and said, “Customization is key- show the customer what they want to bet on, not under-18 women’s matches” he joked.
When it comes to getting a new idea out into the marketplace, Keane advised spending a lot of time on the ground, time with the clubs, time with the fans.
“Its about building relationships, really” he said. Trust with the clubs is of upmost importance and if you’re working with one club, others will follow. “Cracking the first egg is the hardest part”, he said.
At the conclusion of the panel, Sargeant asked each panellist what they think will be the next big trend and their responses were as follows:
Robins: Daily Fantasy Sports and Instant Betting- talking to the younger generation
Mills: Instant betting and interaction- the social aspect
Keane: One Screen- get customers more integrated with the game being watched
McSorley: Real time, in-play, contextual play