Five-time world champion Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan found out this week that his unique style of play has forced bookmakers to create a separate predictive algorithm for when he is on the table.
He explained that the “conveyor belt of Chinese talent” is being driven by 5,000 snooker clubs in Shanghai and 3,000 in Beijing, while “grassroots snooker in the UK isn’t that good” and “there isn’t an amateur circuit” in this country.
Joined by Keith O’Loughlin, Executive Vice President Sports at OpenBet, and Hilly Ehrlich, BetCris CEO for Europe/Asia, O’Sullivan admitted fears over the sport’s integrity within the huge Chinese market, but praised those in charge of the UK circuit for “doing a great job of cleaning things up.”
O’Loughlin explained that timing is key from the snooker punter’s perspective, while operators benefit from sessions taking place across the day to fill the gaps in their schedules, yet not clashing with more “weekend sports” such as football and golf.
He commented: “The timing of snooker is critical and yields a great content window. Combined with the amount of streaming and with 50 betting markets for every single outcome, snooker is very appealing to consumers.”
The OpenBet EVP of Sports also admitted that the perfect tournament outcome for an operator is for Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has recorded 13 competitive 147 breaks, “to make the final then lose”. This is because it is hard for operators to make money when the big favourite prevails, yet interest in the event drops immediately after the exit of big characters.
O’Sullivan, who treated delegates to a Q&A and pool demonstration after the session at the Sports Bar and Grill in Marylebone, wore clothing emblazoned with BetCris branding for the event, having recently agreed a partnership with the Costa Rica based operator.
Ehrlich, whose company recently obtained a licence for the UK market, added: “We were looking for a passionate and well-known ambassador and Ronnie fitted the bill perfectly.”
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