BtoBet is sponsoring the fourth edition of the largest international football and betting trade conference at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge.
Kostandina Zafirovska is the Chief Executive at BtoBet. Ahead of the 3-5 May event, we spoke to Kostandina, about why football is such an attractive sport for betting and how the market is changing from a consumer perspective.
SBC: Why is football such an attractive sport for betting?
Kostandina: With over 3.5 billion of fans and counting, football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world. Its consolidation and inevitable advance in countries like United States, China and India will almost certainly drive further huge increases in the number of passionate fans.
The popularity of the sport is helped by its accessibility and the ease with which people unfamiliar with the sport can quickly gain an understanding of its rules. It is a truly intuitive sport without many of the more complicated rules and procedures that accompany other sports such as American Football, rugby and cricket.
Football not only creates heroes – and villains – it also stimulates the fans to get involved, by watching the games at either the stadium or on television. In particular, the game stimulates betting like no other. To have an opinion in football is everything; whether it’s about a team, a player or the referee. And from opinions we get betting opportunities as fans pit themselves against the bookmakers. Football is the perfect medium for betting; even if a football fan doesn’t support either team in any given match, they can still get involved by having a bet.
SBC: From a consumer perspective, how is football betting changing?
Kostandina: Football betting is going through an evolutionary period.
Technology can help operators reach the final customer with ease – indeed, the biggest danger for many operators is the speed with which a customer can be overloaded with messages, offers, bonuses and the like. The end scenario here is that many consumer-facing propositions can end up lacking differentiation and any level of personalisation. However, with the technology available today, we can know much more about the consumer than was previously the case. We know much more about their habits, their likes, what they bet on and when, their favourite bets and which devices they prefer to use. With this data at their disposal, operators can offer the right bet, at the right time and in the right way, making the customer feel valued and increasing their loyalty to the brand.
The technology evolution ensures operators interact with consumers in a fast and effective way. Smartphone push notification and promotions, for example, can provide the customer the chance to bet immediately or in the nearest geo-positioned shop during an important football match. It is a process which suits the modern bettor; they are tech-savvy people who have expectations of technology that are far beyond their predecessors. It’s the millennial audience and to get their loyalty football-betting brands have to cater to their needs.
SBC: How can betting & football stakeholders work better and more effectively together?
Kostandina: Football and betting are a strong binomial. Every football field is framed by advertisements for betting companies, many football shirts bear the name of betting companies and the odds of the betting companies are promoted before and during a game on TV. But it shouldn’t be just an economic relationship; it should be a combined effort towards product development.
Football must provide useful data for new gaming markets to develop. Data can be provided, for instance, about the ball possession, or the number of assists. This kind of information will help create new offers that can be offered in real time.
Football has certainly helped with the growth of betting. At the same time, betting and football can collaborate to meet the challenges of ensuring the game is free of corruption and the threat of match-fixing. The entire system of the betting management can report any anomalous action to the responsible authority to avoid any potential fraud and betting can also help with the education of the football players aimed at preventing any potential fraud.
SBC: What new technology do you feel will have the biggest impact on football betting?
Kostandina: Online and mobile betting is very challenging in the iGaming business. Players are turning more tech-savvy and becoming ever more demanding.
They are pushing firms towards effective strategies and technology to improve their service, boost player confidence and increase player lifetime values. I firmly believe technology plays a key role in the football betting industry: the possibility exists now for operators to utilise deep-data analytics, automation and personalisation of offers while creating meaningful experiences for users – through a clever omni-channel platform – that will inevitably be a big plus for attracting to a brand and retaining their loyalty.
For example, BtoBt’s Recommendation engine collects and analyses large amounts of information on a player’s behaviour, activities, preferences, predicting what they would like to receive. And through its Artificial Intelligence and sophisticated algorithms, it enables operators to track players’ behaviour to provide perfect suggestions, for the best odds and bets for each player or segment of players. At the same time technology is helping licensees to detect any suspicious and fraudulent behaviour in order to check and correct any anomaly in a very short time.
SBC: What key agenda, debate or discussion do you want to hear at BOFCON 2017?
Kostandina: I personally will be a speaker in the Supplier CEO panel ‘Operating in a multi-asset marketplace’ on the 3rd May at 4.30 pm, talking about effective strategies and product developments.