SBC News Olivier Kaplan: From Loto Foot to Bet Builder 

Olivier Kaplan: From Loto Foot to Bet Builder 

SBC News Olivier Kaplan: From Loto Foot to Bet Builder 
Oliver Kaplan

With Bet Builder set to be the sports betting sector’s flagship product in 2024 and beyond, Olivier Kaplan, an expert in online sports betting with more than 20 years of experience with Française des Jeux and Betclic, analyses the evolution of betting products over the past 25 years.

For nearly 10 years now, almost all sports betting operators have been driven by their aim to offer a quality Bet Builder product to their players.

But while Bet Builder has made a number of operators very happy, particularly in the US where it generates substantial margins in comparison with single bets (on average 15% compared with 5% respectively), is Bet Builder an end in itself?

Indeed, have we reached the ‘ultimate product’ and what can we expect in terms of new products from the sector?

To better understand Bet Builder’s position and importance in the market, let’s take a look back at the sports betting developments that have brought us to the current product as it stands.

From 1X2 grid to fixed-odds betting  

In the late 1990s, the only way to bet on sport was to fill in a grid of (mainly) football matches and predict the overall outcome. Based on a pools system, whatever the number of matches to predict, you had to find the winning choice between 1, X and 2.

This was difficult and could, sometimes, be rewarding. In France, this product was embodied by Loto Foot, a slight evolution of the emblematic Loto Sportif, a basic but extremely difficult game and therefore rewarding (when you were lucky enough to win, having risked at least THE surprise of the day) for Française des Jeux.

But the result was also that players were often disappointed; either because they never won, or because when they did win, the sums involved were minimal because the results were logical: all the favourites had won and once the money had been shared between all the winners, the size of the payouts was always disappointing.

This is the result of a game that mixes expertise and pooled winnings: either there are surprises and you didn’t anticipate them, or there aren’t any and all the other players win and have to share winnings.

What players wanted…  

The findings of player surveys were unanimous and pointed in the same direction: the need for a sports betting product that allowed players to win a little, but regularly (or a lot, but with increased risk), but also to be able to choose the events on which they wanted to bet.

In the 1990s this resulted in the arrival of fixed-odds betting. In France, Cote & Match (Odds & Match in English) was launched by FDJ at the beginning of 2003 across its retail network and online.

Immediately it was well received and, although limited to football and 1X2, it quickly diversified thanks to technological developments, with other sports and other types of bets, and above all an increasingly wide range of matches.

What operators wanted…

Accumulators (pari combiné in French) and high-margin betting have been game-changers for operators. While a simple 1X2 bet appeals to players because of its ease and simplicity, the margins for operators are relatively limited. A three-choice bet on football matches does not provide a sufficient operating margin for an operator, who becomes too dependent on sporting results in a sport where the favourites still win most of the time.

To remedy this, two major routes were taken to enable operators to better control their margins, outside of pure risk management, and therefore, in theory, reach the stage where they can accurately predict their margins.

Look out for the next installment in this series next week, when Olivier will explain how the number of punter selections and bookmakers’ offers influenced corporate strategies (and margins).

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