SBC News Battle of the bet builders - the products which will drive success at Qatar 22

Battle of the bet builders – the products which will drive success at Qatar 22

When New Year’s Day rolls around in three months’ time, many sportsbook managers may hope to never again hear the words ‘World Cup’ after what is expected to be a hectic and somewhat challenging Q3.

As Matt Scarrott, BetVictor’s Director of Emerging Markets, observed: “The World Cup is never far from our minds, as soon as one finished finished we start thinking about the next one. SBC News Battle of the bet builders - the products which will drive success at Qatar 22

“With it being in November, once you get into the year there’s plenty of time to do whatever development work you want to do. It’s an ongoing cycle – we’ll be talking about the next one as soon as this finishes.”

So the main question of the day for the ‘World Cup – Acquisition or Retention’ panel at the SBC Summit Barcelona last month was, if the tournamnet has been on every bookie’s mind for much of this year, how are they preparing and what are they expecting from it?

The products driving profit

Outright betting is not where the cash is at this World Cup, the panel observed, pointing to a huge rise in popularity in stats betting such as over/under markets and total goals.

With some of the world’s best strikes going up against each other in the Middle East from November to December, it is unsurprising that the bookies in Barca are predicting these offers to be the big money makers.

“Definitely not outrights, but it depends by country,” Fortuna Entertainment’s Group Head of Sportsbook, Michal Hanák, remarked when quizzed on this topic. “Top will be over/under, and half time/full time is an emerging market which has been trending over the past two years for us.”

A key difference between acquired and retained customers, the sportsbook lead asserted, will be between pre-match and in-play betting. 

“Pre-match will work for the newly acquired customers without any experience, it’s the perfect opportunity for them. For the retained customers and existing ones, both options will work. 

“Everyone is expecting a super rich offer for each game, with tons of varieties for bets. It works for all, but based on my experience pre-match is for newly acquired customers and in-play is for retention and existing customers.”

Scarrott, meanwhile, expects that multiples will be a common betting trend throughout the tournament, largely due to the packed schedule.

“There are four games a day at the start, there will be a lot of multiples around those games,” he said. “There’s an emergence of stats based markets now; passes, shots etc. Everyone’s favourite player will be at the World Cup.”

However, he added that pre-match betting can still be expected in many markets due to the timings of the tournament, with many games taking place throughout the working day. 

“The UK market is still very pre-match focused, in-play is there but it’s not as big. The timing of the games means people should be at work, whether they are when England are playing I’m not sure, so I think you’ll get plenty of pre-match which will move towards in-play as the game progresses.”

For James Mckay, Sportsbook Director at LiveScore, Virgin Bet and Roxor Gaming, the focus will be on accumulators, which he noted was ‘something we’ve not done before’.  SBC News Battle of the bet builders - the products which will drive success at Qatar 22

In his view, the ‘world is your oyster’ when it comes to modern betting products on the World Cup, with the industry having come a long way over the couple of decades regarding its football betting product range. 

However, free-to-play products were Mckay’s main area of focus, with the Director highlighting the emerging products as key to customer retention in the build up to and during the World Cup.

“I think it’s huge,” he said. “Again, it’s something that has broken through and I think most operators have one now. it really helps from a retention point of view, again, through those periods where there’s nothing on etc, to make sure that people are creating habits ultimately when using your sites, which is extremely important.”

Cold winter, hot markets?

Whilst many are preoccupied with the hot sands of Qatar where the action will begin unfolding next month, the weather in North America might be slightly chillier but the sports betting scene certainly isn’t.

The betting sector in both the US and Canada has exploded over the past year as more states open their borders to regulated wagering and Ontario looks promising as one of the region’s leading emerging markets.

However, football – or soccer as the local audience prefers to call it – is not the number one game in the US or Canada. And Scarrott doesn’t expect this World Cup to be any different in comparison to his evaluation of the UK market where he expects aforementioned pre-match bettors to drive revenue.

“Canada’s very complicated, as we can’t advertise and show the value in our offers,” he explained. “Hopefully the World Cup will market itself. It’s unlikely they’ll qualify the group, but they’re a better side than they once were. 

“It’s also in the middle of the US sports season, which is a difficulty, and competing with the NFL and NBA will have to be factored in.”

Over at Fortuna, there was also a degree of doom and gloom with regards to some unexpected markets – those in central and southeastern Europe which are very football focused areas. 

This, however, poses a problem in Hanak’s view, as ‘football dependent’ markets – such as Fotuna’s jurisdictions of Romania, Poland, Czech Republic and Croatia – will see a reduction in revenue due to the postponement of their usual domestic schedules. 

“For us this World Cup will represent an outage in the stakes and profit because most of our countries are football dependent countries,” he explained. SBC News Battle of the bet builders - the products which will drive success at Qatar 22

“It means that the outage of the European leagues doesn’t cover the stakes and the profit we expect for a World Cup. For us, it represents a huge issue.

“A World Cup during summertime means some additional stakes, whilst during this time there is an outage of European leagues and we do not expect the stakes from this non-traditional World Cup to cover the lost stakes form these other leagues.”

Back in the UK, Mckay highlighted an important factor, however, which is the return of EFL football, as the 72 clubs of the Championship, League One and League Two get back to business in the latter stages of the World Cup. 

This has influenced LiveScore Bet and VirginBet’s decision to focus on accas. He explained: “The leagues are coming back, so on Saturday at three o’clock we’ll be pushing the good old fashioned acca, which people sometimes forget about when we talk about bet builders.”

The brighter side

Mckay remained optimistic, though, that the winter World Cup will provide an opportunity for growth and customer acquisition for sportsbooks, no different to any other tournament.

“We could think of it as an opportunity to acquire later in the tournament, so normally when we look at the semi finals we knew we’d have the full three or four weeks that there would be no football going on. 

“Now we’re straight back in after a week. From an acquisition point of view we can go further into the tournament, which is good.”

On the question of whether Christmas will interfere with bookmakers’ operations, Mckay observed that ultimately they must focus on their entertainment offering and make themselves stand out from competing sub-sectors.

“People will be spending their money on other things, but we have to be concrete on making sure ours is the best product. It is a factor, but is not something we should worry too much about,” he concluded.

Agreeing, Scarrott observed that the World Cup ‘potentially could be really positive for us’, due to the lull in activity before summer tournaments during the gap between domestic and international football – which is of course non-existent for this tournament.

“No one will fall off in this period, no one will go on holiday or be distracted and they will be ready for the world cup, then we’re straight back in again. It is actually a massive positive for us, given that there’s no real window beforehand.”

Bringing the discussion back to the start to some extent, McKay concluded by observing that bookmakers’ focus will then move on to the next big tournament – the 2023 European Championships.

World Cup conditions for operators were also discussed on the SBC Summit Barcelona ‘Keeping sportsbooks hot during the World Cup’ panel – read the article HERE

SBC News Battle of the bet builders - the products which will drive success at Qatar 22

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