Russia 2018: The contrasting consequences of non-qualification

As the dust settles on a dramatic qualifying campaign, betting operators are left assessing how to maximise Russia 2018, even if that means promoting the tournament to nation that fell at the first hurdle and failed to qualify for football’s showpiece event.

As CEO of Digitain, the B2B power behind Armenian betting operator TotoGaming, Suren Khachatryan underlined that although everyone at TotoGaming would have ‘dearly loved’ for Armenia to have qualified for the World Cup, the vast majority of the football traders on the TotoGaming sportsbook “weren’t surprised to see FIFA’s 90th-ranked team come up short in a strong group.”

On the other hand the expectations of Italy were considerably higher, therefore when The Azzurri failed to qualify it sent widespread devastation through Italian football. However, Head of Sport at planetwin365 Dargutin Ivanovic predicted a silver lining for Italian betting operators, as Italy’s absence would mean “less risk” with regards to trading on the tournament.  

Speaking to SBC after Italy’s play off defeat, Ivanovic said: “It’s very hard to predict the effect of Italy’s qualification failure for bookmakers, considering it hasn’t happened for the last 60 years since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. One sure thing for every bookmaker however is that customers will bet anyway; this being the most important tournament in football. Another important factor to consider is the reduction of volatility. If Italy had qualified, every single Italian fan would have placed a bet on Italy to win the Cup and so for a bookmaker this non-qualification means less risk.”

Khachatryan agreed that domestic shortcomings wouldn’t decrease from the heightened levels of interest in football’s most prestigious spectacle, he emphasised: The World Cup is not exactly a difficult pitch as a betting product to a football-mad nation such as Armenia. That intrinsic passion, allied to the proximity of venue and culture, brings a natural synergy for the World Cup and TotoGaming. Even if expectations for our national team were at an all-time low, the opposite is true for betting business at next summer’s World Cup in neighbouring Russia, which promises huge interest and gaming traffic throughout the CIS region.”

He added: “This is the first time Russia have staged the showpiece event, and our shared history, approximate geography and time zone means our players are primed to follow all the action at peak times throughout the tournament. Therefore, there are already some elemental drivers already in place, on whose coat-tails we can ride. We are powered by market-leading provider, Digitain, whose multi-channel sports betting and casino platform enables us to cross-sell those offerings, allied to their bespoke marketing features and strategy. This will allow us to migrate as many users as possible over to the sportsbook side for this jewel in the footballing crown. Once there, players can benefit from our myriad pre-match and in-play options on every World cup game, which will be available through both our online and offline channels.”

Detailing just how TotoGaming aims to connect with punters at throughout the World Cup, he outlined the importance of finding angles which connect with patriotic players, as well as leveraging markets or accompanying content which generates either universal appeal, or ignites niche Armenian interest.

He went onto identify the importance of: “Creating odds and specials around the World Cup’s human-interest stories (coaches, players, others with national ties) means we will be responsive to the hot topics going into Russia 2018 – and, indeed, the breaking news which emerges as the tournament unfolds. After all, creating compelling content, and framing it with betting markets that speak directly to its themes, is often a key factor when it comes to client retention and online “dwell” time.”

He continued: “We have some exciting new features, which have just been rolled out by Digitain with a view to optimising the World Cup experience. Take “Edit My Bet”, a unique bet re-selection tool that brings fresh flexibility to our sportsbook. Football fans know that their sport is driven by opinion, but these opinions move and shift. With Edit My Bet, we’ve given them the facility with which to easily adjust to any changes in opinion or team-sheets, allowing users to even contradict their initial thoughts by swapping out or dismissing a previous selection. This functionality also permits players to play up the odds of their singles or multiples as well, paving the way to larger payouts. Totogaming feels this will prove particularly prescient when it comes to the needs of the World Cup, as multiple selections are particularly popular during this tournament.”

For both Armenia and Italy there is a guaranteed betting interest in the World Cup, with or without a home nation. This however isn’t replicated in the USA, where the national side’s first absence at a World Cup since 1986, will have significant consequences on the betting interest on the tournament. Meir Moses of Don Best Sports explained to SBC that: “Obviously the US is a unique proposition as the demand for wagering on the WC essentially devolves to minimal revenues in the regulated market (namely Nevada).

He commented: “In the US – as well as US facing offshore markets, we think it could well be that the WC will pass with little in the way of betting exposure. Of course there will be more turnover but books will focus on their usual summer fare – namely Baseball. MLB will still provide significant wagering turnover owing to the volume of games.”

The World Cup and maximising the tournament as a betting product will be a key topic at the upcoming ‘Betting on Football 2018’ Conference (#bofcon2018). For more information Click on the banner below. 

Super Early Bird


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