The first Betting on Sports Conference kicked off today at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London, organized by Sports Betting Community (SBC). SBC dipped their toe into the conference organizing world with their annual Betting on Football Conference and as a result of industry feedback, decided to put on a conference dedicated to the entire sports betting industry, the only one of its kind.
Day one of this two-day event was well attended, with the main conference track taking place on the first floor and a busy expo floor and networking area populating the ground floor of the conference venue.
Today’s main track sessions covered topics such as the impact of Brexit, partnerships with sport, player acquisition strategies, integrity, in-play engagement, the future of sportsbetting and the break-out sessions touched on the Italian and CIS markets, opportunities in eSports and how to use big data.
The live-streamed “Why the industry needs to wise up on its player acquisition strategies” session featured Harry Lang of Pinnacle, Richard Hayler of IBAS and Vahe Baloulian of BetConstruct.
Hayler started off the discussion by providing a perspective from the outside in and said it seems like welcome bonuses are saturated and player are split into two groups- one group is sharp and they figure out the most effective ratios to yield the best ROI using the bonuses. The other group accepts the bonuses happily but then gets upset when they realise all the Ts&Cs. Hayler said it must be difficult for operators to find the right balance and it can be “a game of cat and mouse” because they risk losing one group if they cater to the other.
“Maybe there are better and more innovative ways to bring customers into the industry”, Hayler said.
“I hope we don’t carry on this downward spiral”, Lang said in response to welcome bonus saturation. He said there are companies out there with huge budgets who don’t even care about KPIs, they spend incredible amounts on things like bonuses and sponsorships, but what about differentiation? Do you have better odds than other operators? If you deal with VIPs only, give them cash back- give retention bonuses where the real wins can happen, he suggested.
Let’s innovate more and get creative, Lang said, go to the heart of the players’ needs, let them think of your brand in a more appealing light- don’t try and just hook them with the bonus. “Let your brand attract the players”, he said.
“I think the solution is creativity”, added Baloulian. Don’t take the easy way out and take a risk, he said. “Let’s go back to the drawing board and understand who we are dealing with and stop trying to lure them with bonuses…I love risks, but they have to be calculated”, said Baloulian.
Today’s “User engagement in live betting environments” panel featured Tom Light of SBTech, Paul Witten of SIS, Matt Stephenson of BetGenius and Jacob Lopez Curciel of Optima.
Stephenson said in the last ten years in-play has grown so much in terms of what matches are offered, but pointed out there has not been a huge amount of innovation. We’re finally seeing a shift in the past few years in how customers are interacting with the product, he said.
Witten said the biggest change in in-play is the growth of mobile. “Creating new products for mobile is a big challenge”, he said.
Light mentioned how SBTech was “late to the party” and is only just now implementing personalization into their in-play offering. “Sometimes it’s good to be late to the party”, he said and used the example of Facebook – it took them three years to perfect personalization and now we can learn from them, Light said.
The importance of live data was also discussed and all panellists agreed operators must provide their customers with information in order for them to make an informed decision. Stephenson added “without this data it’s irrelevant” and “the key here is putting the right data in front of the right people at the right time”.
Witten agreed and said “live data is essential, but how you present it is absolutely essential as well”.
The ability to provide real time CRM is an example of innovation in in-play betting and Stephenson explained how BetGenius has been helping their clients with real time CRM for the past two years. “Betslip retargeting” is their method, similar to how Amazon will suggest items to buy after customers abandon their basket. “We can follow customers and send a personalized message”, Stephenson said.
Light agreed and explained SBTech’s strategy of communicating with customers when their wallets are open, perhaps suggesting a larger bet. “It’s all about connecting with customers in real time at the right time”, he said.
While the sessions were running, the expo floor was busy all day and full of entertainment including food, drink, fooseball tables and punching bags.
Betting on Sports platinum sponsor GoldenRace.com brought along MMA star Lyubo Simeonov, otherwise known as ‘The Hammer’, to invite delegates in a punching bag machine challenge, with the lucky winner to walk home with an Apple Watch.
Golden Race is a sports betting software company with an innovative virtual fighting product called “Real Fighting” and featuring real HD video of real MMA world champions filmed in real live combat, combined with real odds from real professional bookmakers. Martin Wachter of Golden Race walked us through the extraordinary graphics of this brand new virtual betting product and explained some of the behind-the-scenes details of filming with the MMA fighters.
Betting on Sports bronze sponsor BetConstruct booked a nice display on the expo floor and CEO Vahe Baloulian had nothing but positive things to say about the event so far. He joked and said even though it feels like there are more iGaming conferences than people, he appreciates the opportunity to network and do business with sports betting professionals spanning the entire industry in one place.
The networking opportunities for day one were plentiful and continued well on into the night with post-conference drinks, two VIP dinners – one for affiliates and one for CEOs – fooseball tournaments and an official Betting on Sports party. Everyone will return on day two for another round of sessions and expo floor, followed by the BiG Charity Dinner.