The World Darts Championship begins at the Alexandra Palace today, with bookmakers expecting a record £50 million to be wagered on the showpiece tournament.
As the big guns roll into town to compete for the trophy, SBC News caught up with Tony Kenny, Head of Sponsorship and PR for main tournament sponsor, William Hill.
SBC: Tony, thanks very much for talking to us. Can you introduce your latest product, the William Hill darts iOS app, and tell us what sets it apart from the competition?
Tony Kenny: Of course. Using the rapid roulette-style of betting, customers can bet where the first dart of each visit will land, by simply placing casino chips on the dartboard. This new feature adds a completely new ‘rapid-fire’ experience for fans following the action at the World Darts Championship.
Available now, the app simulates real dart matches and offers a wide range of other in-play markets, all using the ‘casino-style’ interface so customers can easily follow the match and bet in-play on the event. Live statistics will also be displayed within the app throughout the Championships, keeping fans up to date with the latest scores and highlights.
Our darts app is a first in the betting industry, allowing customers the unique chance to bet on a match in real time. By incorporating an element of gamification into the experience, darts fans will be immersed in the game and feel an additional level of excitement for the match.
SBC: You mention anticipating a record industry turnover for the tournament and even surpassing £50m in bets; what is the previous record for this?
TK: We estimate it was just over £40m last year. At William Hill, we took close to £10m alone on last year’s tournament.
SBC: Do you have any specific marketing plans throughout the tournament to get the most out of your sponsorship?
TK: We’ll be focusing heavily on the darts app – which is a game-changer in our industry. We’ll also be offering our customers the best prices and value throughout the tournament.
SBC: You are replacing Ladbrokes as Chief sponsor of the tournament; what have you learned from them over the past few years?
TK: The one thing I’ve learned is that now we have the sponsorship – not to let it go! This is one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar. At Ladbrokes I don’t know who made the decision not to continue the sponsorship, but they must have had a breakdown!
SBC: Aside from the outright winner and 9-dart markets, what are the other markets that you expect to be popular with darts punters?
TK: The leg betting is always popular – as is the betting on a maximum 170 checkout!
SBC: And finally, at William Hill, who are you backing to lift the trophy?
TK: We hope it’s not MVG as he’ll cost us a fortune! Adrian Lewis will at least get to the semi-finals this year – and at 25/1 he looks like a good value bet. Michael Smith is a player with a lot of potential and I think I’ll have a cheeky £10 E/W on him at 100/1!
Tony Kenny, Head of Sponsorship and PR