As 2019 comes to a close SBC looks through the year to highlight major news that you might have missed in the sports betting world.
This third edition looks at March and more specifically at VAR, the relationship between betting sponsorship and football, sports betting in India, and the expected innovations for 2019.
Amidst all the excitement, or intrigue, that surrounds the role of the video assistant referee (VAR) – particularly ahead of its impending introduction to the Premier League – bookmakers have so far been forced to take a defensive stance to the detriment of the customer experience.
However, after a World Cup which passed ‘largely free of VAR incidents’, the bookmakers – or more specifically the trading teams that underpin such operations – are ready to embrace the opportunities it presents, according to Sky Bet Head of In Play Football Joe Petyt.
Petyt said that the prolonged decision-making periods, while often frustrating for the spectacle of the game, can provide the operators with a window of opportunity to take advantage of unique content, particularly when paired with an increased standard of customer messaging.
He explained that customers, whether it’s those in the stadium, watching on TV or following on a mobile device with no pictures, are far more willing to accept a market suspension if they know the reason for it. It is also true that at a time where most traditional markets have to be suspended, you have a captive audience ready to engage with innovative markets.
Much has been written regarding the industry’s relationship with sports, none more so than football, where criticism has suggested measures must be put in place to curb what is seen as an oversaturation of marketing, sponsorships and advertising.
This topic is set to fall under the microscope at the sixth annual Betting on Football, taking place this week at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge home in a panel session titled “sponsorship and advertising – how much is too much?”
Amid the debate regarding the industry’s sponsorship and advertising efforts surrounding football, Mark Davies, global head of partnerships at Swansea City, commented: “There is no doubt there is clear synergy between football and betting. For many it’s part of their weekend routine, even if they aren’t headed to a match or following a specific team, and as such will always remain a relevant part of the industry as long as people want it too.
“Personally I support all of the current efforts made by brands in regard to promoting the GambleAware side of the business, as well as the protection of minor’s being interested in the sector at an age too young to understand the potential dangers.”
With India on the brink of legalising sports betting, and a number of other countries around the world also mulling the idea, this year’s Betting on Football will be hosting a track-focused upon the Global Markets that are considering liberalisation as well as looking at those that have legalised recently.
Joe Saumarez Smith, Chairman at Bede Gaming, spoke to SBC about how he believes that the liberalisation of the Indian market will largely be driven by cricket, but the growing football and tennis markets may play a role in engaging with newer audiences.
Smith stated: “Among the more enlightened politicians and sports administrators in India there is a tacit acceptance that legalising and taxing sports betting is the only way forward. There is such a huge level of illegal sports betting within India and as we are seeing in Sri Lanka, match-fixing and spot-fixing is far more likely to happen in a market where gambling is not regulated.”
In the run up to #bofcon as part of SBC’s Question Time, we turned our attention to all things innovation. We asked our sponsors what innovative ideas and developments they believe will capture the industry’s attention in 2019.
Peter Woodfine (Business Development Director, Vermantia): “It’s always a dangerous thing to look into the crystal ball and try to second guess the future! But I think we will continue with the trend of operators and their suppliers making life simpler, more convenient, and increasingly tailored to their customers.”
Steven Rogers (Chief Commercial Officer of Virtual Sports, Inspired Entertainment): “At Betting on Football 2018 I caught an interesting seminar on the emergence of Esports and their increasing popularity in the sports betting community. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this growth continue in 2019 given how rapidly Esports is growing with significant boosts in revenue from media advertising, sponsorship and development partnerships and merchandise sales.”