After a night full of conference networking activities such as VIP dinners and an official party, delegates returned to the Grange Tower Bridge for day two of Betting on Sports 2016.
Today’s sessions were split into three rooms, the “real sports track”, the “digital sports track” and “breakout sessions”. Topics covered an impressive span of the industry included horseracing, opportunities in eSports and protecting eSports integrity, the potential for more obscure sports, strategies for sports betting affiliates, virtual sports, betting on politics, DFS, ambassador roles and more.
The “Which sports have a wider global reach” session featured Conall McSorley of Metric Gaming, George Osborne of India Bet, Michal Kopec of Better Collective and Todd Buckingham of TopBetta.
The focus was up and coming “minority” sports and which ones have the most potential for online sports betting operators. Osborne said cricket is the minority sport to get a slice of and clarified that it’s not actually a minority sport in countries like India, but European operators should take notice as cricket will become an increasingly big market.
Buckingham mentioned MMA and said it’s certainly up and coming, especially with the integrity of the sport, meaning both fighters are going into the ring to win. For sure MMA is popping up all over the gambling industry, especially with virtual sports technology providers such as Golden Race and Inspired Gaming, a sign Buckingham could be right with his prediction.
Handball was the up and coming sport of choice for Kopec, mainly due to the fact handball is big in countries like France, Spain, Croatia and the Nordic countries. He said the sport is most comparable to football plus it’s televised and there is a lot of data out there on the sport.
McSorley is a big believer in the potential of golf for sports bettors, especially with in-play betting. Metric Gaming offers real-time, putt-by-putt betting options for golf bettors, providing an instant and gratifying slot machine-like experience.
Today’s “Future of virtual sports” panel featured Neale Deeley of Betradar, a seasoned professional in the online gaming and virtual sports betting industry. Deeley emphasized the importance of game play as a virtual sports developer, but added unless you have high quality graphics to entice customers, they are not going to play. “They know there is an RNG in the back if it, but they want a betting experience. It has to look real”, he said.
When it comes to expanding their virtual product offerings, Neale said football is the mainstay product in virtual sports and Betradar will continue to introduce new versions of their football product. When they introduced a Euros version, revenues went up across all their football products, so adding more options is certainly in the cards. “There is a lot to be said for expanding game play into different experiences. Give the punters choice, the goes the same for virtual”, he said.
As more and more vendors come into the virtual sports market, the appetite for betting on virtual sports is increasing and gaining acceptance, according to Deeley. Not to mention the younger generation is much more open to treating virtual sports as a standard betting product, he said.
Without a doubt, today’s ultimate highlight- in fact, the conference’s highlight- was the appearance of David “Hayemaker” Haye on the final panel of the event, “How bookmakers use the ambassadorial role to reach an audience”.
Haye said boxing and betting are a natural match as boxing in general is about two guys- one guy wins, one loses- so it generates excitement and strong opinions.
“When you have opinions, you want to put your money where your mouth is….boxing and betting go hand and hand, makes it that much more spicy…blood, sweat, tears, there’s nothing better than having a few quid on your guy”, he said.
“Boxing is not so much about the promotion or promoters, it’s the fighter- if the fighter is interesting or in interesting fights, people will follow him…boxing hypes people up, something other sports don’t do, it’s the personalities. Good personalities you want to follow, you want to back them, feel the emotion with them. You’re in it with them”, he said.
When it comes to ambassador roles, Haye said he sticks with companies he believes in such as Amazon prime, a service he actually uses. “I need to believe in the product and the company behind it”, he said. “I have to make sure the company doesn’t bounce the check”, he joked. He also said he wouldn’t sign an ambassador deal with a product he doesn’t believe in. “I’m not going to sign a deal with a tanning oil company”, he joked.
Haye has set up his own boxing promotion company “Hayemaker Productions” with which he promotes his own fights. When asked why he decided to take over his fighting promotion, he joked and said, “because you’re not going to rip yourself off” and added, “Decisions weren’t being made in my best interest. Now I have control. When I step in the ring, I know the people in there are working for me, with me”.
Looking back over the past two days, Betting on Sports 2016 was a massive success and left deletes feeling satisfied when they left the event. For some the fun continues at the BiG Sports Charity Dinner and for everyone, the fun will continue next year at Betting on Sports 2017, likely to take place September 13 and 14th, so mark your calendars!