Matthew Glazier of bookies.com looks ahead to next summer’s World Cup extravaganza in Russia, which promises to be typically record-breaking.
Aside from an Under-21 European Championship and the glorified group of friendly matches that comprised the Confederations Cup, there wasn’t a lot of football played during the summer of 2017, although at least the latter tournament whetted the appetite for an event twelve months further down the line.
While many don’t approve of the way Russia effectively bought the hosting rights for the quadrennial international football tournament, nor its flimsy approach to stamping out racism, it won’t stop football fans all over the world enjoying the latest FIFA World Cup and the various betting opportunities that are presented to them.
Football is the most popular betting sport in the majority of countries and the World Cup remains the pinnacle of that sport, with sixty-four matches being played between 14 June – 15 July and there will be action taking place on most of those days.
During the group stage of the competition, we can expect three matches to occur daily. As one trader disclosed to bookies.com: “It’s like Sky Sports Super Sunday taking place every day for the best part of a month.”
Indeed, punters will aim to soak up as much football as they can and the opportunity to place a pre-match or In-Play bet has never been more tangible. Bookmakers have the customers in the palm of their hand, but can they deliver the sort of World Cup betting service that keeps them coming back for more?
Cash Out and Request a Bet enter World Cup picture
Four years is a mighty long time in the world of betting, especially with the sort of technological advances that are now occurring. Cash Out has become commonplace in the lexicon of modern day gambling, although it’s easy to forget this is a pretty new phenomenon unless customers were previously familiar with the workings of the Betfair exchange which relied on liquidity being available.
Not content with introducing Cash Out as a product, bookmakers such as bet365 now have a Partial Cash Out facility and it gives customers the perception that they are taking control of their bets. It’s not difficult to see the appeal of Cash Out, especially when it comes to multiple bets where a profit can be realised before the bet is eventually settled.
Requesting a bet is another empowering tool which plays to an audience now immersed in social media, especially Twitter whose real-time mechanism has led bookmakers and affiliates to side-line Facebook and focus on using a tool which appears as though it was designed for betting purposes.
Bet requesting was discussed in depth at the recent #bofcon2017, with figureheads such as Eoin Ryan of BetVictor and Andrew Wright of Sky Bet considering how the process can be automated ahead of the World Cup. The latter operator has become the market leader with their RequestABet facility and this has obvious connotations for the World Cup.
In the United Kingdom, there will be a heavy focus on the England football team, with operators looking to accommodate any number of special bets that apply to the Three Lions and there’s a fair chance that many of them will relate to losing in a penalty shoot-out. However, it’s the match markets where RequestABet really comes into its own.
Watching an England World Cup match might ultimately prove to be underwhelming but the hype and feverish anticipation lends itself perfectly to requesting bets outside the usual markets, while games like these are often social occasions watched with groups of friends. The opportunity for an England fan to create their own bet is akin to allowing a child to make their own pizza.
Let battle commence
Imagine a group of friends who have been drinking all day and are now shouting over each other to be heard. You’ve just painted a picture of what operator competition will look like in the weeks building up to the 2018 World Cup.
The operators who are already part of the UK and Irish landscape will have budgets across the marketing mix to ensure that their presence can be felt, while there’ll be a substantial squeeze from new bookmakers wanting to make a splash and gain a foothold into a mature market where online betting has become a mainstream activity.
We should expect some fireworks as a result. For Euro 2016, BetVictor went with a “Golden Goal” promotion that promised to give away £1 million to any customer(s) who could predict the First Goalscorer and time of goal in the final. It was an imaginative effort although somewhat scuppered by Portuguese substitute Eder breaking the deadlock after the match had gone into extra-time.
Sky Bet will have their usual array of game products such as Super 6 and Fantasy Football where big cash prizes can also be won, while we should expect bet365 to fire up their free In-Play bet facility for several of the big matches including the ones involving England.
We’re a year away from the 2018 World Cup but the wheels are in motion when it comes to having a first-class betting product for next summer’s big tournament. It’s an opportunity for operators to not only accrue new customers but also showcase a range of innovative products for the biggest football stage of all.