When it comes to identifying and addressing the hottest issues in the sports betting market, my first stop is always the team behind Sports Betting Community or SBC. SBC started producing conferences and events in 2014 and as we enter 2017, their portfolio has increased significantly, crowning themas the leading organizer and sourcein this sector, in my opinion.
With everyone back in the saddle after the holidays, it’s a good time to lay out the biggest issues on tapto study in the year ahead and for the sports betting sector specifically, I spoke with SBC’s Managing Director, Andrew McCarron.
McCarron and I discussed SBC’s brand new upcoming event, the H20 Data – Sports Data Seminar in conjunction with BetConstruct, an evening seminar, dinner and networking event taking place on the Sunday prior to ICE Totally Gaming.
“There are three key things to take into consideration when it comes to data, it needs to be quick, it needs to be accurate and it needs to be robust. All three are vital components to a healthy data feed, which is as important to the sports betting business as water is to life – hence the name of the session”, McCarron shared.
“Of course there are always issues around the handling of data and filtering what is useful. That is perhaps the biggest challenge of all”, he added.
In addition to hosting this one-day targeted event next month, the course of 2017 will bring SBC’s London Baby networking party during ICE, the fourth annual Betting on Football Conference, the second annual Betting on Sports Conference and the SBC Awards.
McCarron explained how his team integrated feedback from previous events to shape a more robust schedule for their conferences in 2017, beginning with Betting on Footballin May. We also discussed the biggest issues the sports betting industry should be focused on in 2017, all issues to be covered throughout SBC’s conferences and events this year.
Diversity in the Betting Market
Creating diversity in the sport betting market has been a challenge for a while now and with new advert restrictions potentially looming in the UK, the issue is even more important to address in 2017.
“It would be nice to get some diversity within betting market – even the marketing messages tend to be the same these days. I’ve even seen different betting brands use the same shot for shot advert in different territories. The market is generally being squeezed as it is, with 4 or 5 major players just throwing money at their promotional budget”, explained McCarron.
“If daytime gambling advertising is banned in the UK, and it is a distinct possibility given the way facts are a diminished currency in politics at the moment, then the industry will be forced to innovate and reach its market in a different way. At the moment, the same companies are offering customers the same products in the same way. If an operator can embrace some of the exciting ideas that are out there and bring them to the mass market, then they will stand out from the competition”, he added.
Evolving Bonus Culture
The demise of the Welcome Bonus and other bonus abuse issues are nothing new to the sports betting industry, but more changes to the UK government’s rules will likely bring bonus discussions to the top of the list in 2017.
“One of the things that will have to be looked at in a different way is the bonus culture. For an industry that is trying to reach out to new customers, the way sign up bonuses have understandably evolved to protect operators from abuse instead now means that they are not fit for their purpose. Regular people are not going to understand the recycling commitments and instead feel like they’ve been conned. This has been the case for some time, but now the UK government is changing the tax definition of the free plays means that they are going to be more expensive might now act as a catalyst for a new approach”, shared McCarron.
In the same way that affiliate programs must work together to keep affiliate commissions under control, operators will need to put their heads together this year and come up with a way to address bonus abuse.
“In any way the cost of bonus abuse to operators is clearly getting out of hand. But the industry would probably need to work together in order to create a joint solution”, added McCarron.
Future of Betting Exchanges
I can remember when its seemed like Betfair’s betting exchange was taking over the world, but now times have changed. 2017 will likely become a pivotal year for betting exchanges, especially with all the recent mergers involving the sector. These are McCarron’s thoughts on the issue.
“It’s going to be an interesting year for the betting exchanges as they are at a bit of a crossroads. What are Betfair Paddy Power’s plans for the exchange model for example? Even before the merger Betfair lost some of the drive for the exchange that it helped perpetuate, so who knows what the score is now. BetDaq has been lost in the Ladbrokes morass almost since the day it was acquired and with Coral now in the organisational mix, it will struggle to push its agenda internally”.
He added, “Whether that opens the door for smaller exchanges such as Matchbook to exploit or it just means exchanges will be stuck in a niche after all is a question we might see answered this year”.
Affiliate marketing techniques
SBC made steps to include more affiliate strategy in their 2016 conference agenda and they will continue to do so in 2017. Seeing as sports betting marketing techniques are under the spotlight in the UK, its important for affiliates to play by the rules as well to keep the industry reputable.
“Sports betting affiliates will have to be careful to make sure the sector as a whole doesn’t bring disrepute to the industry. Questionable marketing techniques will only turn the spotlight on the affiliate business model, especially alongside a heightened awareness around problem gambling. Up until now affiliates have more or less dipped under the regulatory radar, but given how important it is to the business, the regulators might start looking that way. While there might not be anything implemented directly, operators could well feel the squeeze to make sure that high standards are maintained”, said McCarron.
Betting on Football 2017 will take place May 3rd and 4th this year and according to team SBC, they’ve invested six times what they invested last year into the event. Building stronger panels for sports betting affiliates was part of the 2017 investment.
“We have dedicated panels to address the affiliate, media and marketing topics at Betting on Football, and to drive the discussion we are bringing in top 40 sportsbook affiliates to participate. Some of these include Oddschecker, Bettingexpert, Sportlobster, Squawka, 90min, Catena Media, OLBG, SuperScommesse, and many more”, revealed McCarron.
Virtual Sportsand Live Betting Innovation
When it comes to innovation to watchin the sports betting industry this year, McCarron pointed out virtual sports and how this sector stood out in the 2016 SBC Awards innovation category.
“In our recent SBC Awards we had a whole section of Innovation categories and the Virtual Sports award was extremely competitive. There is all sorts of R&D going on there. Golden Race won it for its Real Fighting product, but there’s an awful lot of interesting product in the pipeline for virtuals”.
He added, “I do think we are due the next big development for live betting as well. It might be something as techie as a new customer friendly interface with a series of complicated personalisation algorithms behind it, or a new way of packaging it such as cash out”.