The current summer heatwave is set to have an impact on all major sporting events. SBC speaks to Jim Dale founder of British Weather Services (BWS), who urges betting leadership to up their recognition of weather impacts on markets and enterprise!
SBC: Hi Jim great to catch up. From your personal experience, why is betting a ‘weather-sensitive industry’? What does this terminology mean when tackling a heatwave?
Jim Dale (British Weather Services): Every weather-type has its own impacts across the various sports and excessive heat & humidity certainly should be part and parcel of a bettor’s considerations, hence betting is, without doubt, a ‘weather-sensitive industry’.
SBC: Can you detail to SBC readers, how extreme heat and humidity impact an athlete’s performance?
JD: The impacts can be felt both at the physiological and psychological levels – effecting the performance of individuals and teams alike. We all know that the sun on one’s back can often enhance athletic performance, but when the sun’s heat is excessive, particularly when humidity levels are high (nowhere to sweat out to and difficulty to breath), then the reverse can be true.
Things tend to slow down, whilst tempers shorten, so in football for example, there may is a tipping point where card numbers increase – ‘hotheads’ and all of that. But the main impacts tend to be ones where the fitter athletes/teams prosper, at the expense of opponents. The same could be said of teams more naturalised to hot conditions, as per Nigeria beating favourites Iceland in the recent World Cup in 30 degrees of heat.
SBC: Why do bookmakers underestimate weather effects when pricing markets… is this somewhat a rejection of Scientific elements by industry incumbents?
JD: A very good question! OK let’s be controversial. I’m going to use the words ‘lazy’ and ‘sheep’. Most cannot be bothered and will simply follow the leaders of the pack. For the many, it’s a step too far and they simply categorise this as an inconvenient variable, that they have neither the time for, nor the skill, to take on-board and factor in…But that is to a bettor’s advantage if you catch my drift!
SBC: Furthermore, how are retail assets (betting shops, racing points) impacted by heatwave conditions?
JD: SBC You really are thinking deeply into this. In general, when it’s hot and humid, people are not in the high streets where most betting shops are located. Instead, they are out in the park or on the beach.
So there is a problem there… unless the shops are air-conditioned and provide free refreshing cold drinks and ice creams that is! In the fresher air of the courses, it’s a totally different matter as fine weather (even excessively hot weather) will tend to magnetise customers, but the same would apply with concern to the provision of comfort from the heat; e.g. air-conditioned areas and food and drink to alleviate heat discomfort. There’s money to be made in them there heat-waves!
SBC: How should industry leadership, prepare and react to extreme weather conditions… Can this factor ever be truly anticipated?
JD: Industry leaders, akin to retail leaders and many others, should ALWAYS have their fingers on the weather pulse. For every degree rise and fall in the mercury there will be a commensurate rise and fall in the demand
and supply of and the impact upon, most things that count. The first trick is to measure the impacts and become educated in weather sensitivity, then you know what to expect each and every time. The second is to anticipate and plan ahead, in effect beating the crowd. The third is to implement a winning strategy for ALL occasions, not only heat-waves. In short, be a weather winner, not a weather loser. We can certainly help with that!
SBC: Finally, how long will this UK heatwave last (SBC readers are dying to know)?
JD: The short and get-out answer is to say, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ But for you guys I’ll put my professional credentials on the line and say things are looking a little shaky!
Jim Dale – Founder of British Weather Services