At last month’s ICE London, Betradar made a commitment to the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), a not-for-profit organisation, to further its understanding of the local market, while exploring all opportunities related to sports betting and gaming in India.
We caught up with William Howie, Programme Manager Premium Cricket at Betradar, to discuss the potential legalisation of sports betting in the country, how quickly this might counter the spread of illegal betting activity, and the scale of the opportunity that a regulated, cricket-mad India would represent for Betradar’s Premium Cricket product.
SBC: How vast is the potential for legalised and regulated sports betting in India?
WH: The financial potential needs little explanation; this is a country of 1.3 billion people, a large proportion of whom are regular users of the internet via their mobiles. It is also probably fairly redundant to underline that a huge and very active betting market exists there already. The more interesting and often overlooked potential is the power of good that regulated betting may bring to the Indian people and to sporting integrity across the country.
A regulated market would afford protection to millions of Indians who currently have none, while it would also make it more difficult for match fixers to operate. Sportradar recently spoke at the SBGI event in Goa on this very topic, and is keen to promote these particular benefits of regulation to stakeholders across the country.
SBC: What role does Sportradar have to play in setting out the strongest and safest proposition for the Indian market?
WH: Sportradar can help by offering its range of industry leading technologies: for example, its Fraud Detection Systems that already works across 17 different sports to combat match fixing, and its Managed Trading Systems that supports over 100 operators worldwide to allow visibility that will enable better customer protection.
An important point here is that no one company will be able to make these contributions unless they have products exciting enough to gain a significant share of the market. This is where Sportradar has its biggest advantage – given that it owns the world’s leading cricket betting product.
SBC: Given the scale of the existing black market, and the expected level of taxation in the country, how long would it take for legalised betting to lower illegal activity?
WH: This is dependent on the regulated companies that choose to operate in India. The quicker they can attract existing underground business to their regulated products, the quicker the illegal market will shrink. This also puts the onus on companies like Sportradar to focus on the strength of their offerings. We need to ensure our products and ideas are exciting and appealing to users, beyond the ones that they currently experience.
SBC: Similarly, to the developing situation in the United States, do you expect companies with local knowledge to be at an advantage?
WH: To some extent yes, however the experience gained in our own markets is also a huge advantage for anyone wishing to operate in India. The top-notch products and supporting technology currently on show in regulated markets are what will ultimately have the biggest impact in India. As such, those that can partner an understanding of the current Indian status quo with an experience with modern products from elsewhere, will be best placed to succeed.
SBC: Do you expect bookmakers to come up with more innovative cricket-based products to meet the passion that Indian fans have for the game?
WH: This is a very exciting question for us at Betradar. Whereas the concept of betting is established and slow to progress in our well-developed market, the situation in India allows scope for greater innovation. Given that at some point betting will be officially presented to the Indian public for the first time, companies like ours will have an opportunity to redesign what the betting products of the future will look like.
The biggest example is cricket, a sport that has received very little investment or imaginative change during the lifetime of internet betting. Cricket products have been set in their ways and slow to change. The size of the Indian market and its love of cricket will soon reward those who were brave enough to invest in the sport, and they will now be given even more scope for development and innovation.
That is why our Premium Cricket is in pole position not only in India but across all the relevant markets to reset expectations on what cricket betting can and should look like.