Playtech BGT Sports (PBS) is sponsoring Betting on Football 2017, the fourth edition of the largest international football and betting trade conference at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge.
Ahead of the 3-5 May event, we spoke to John Pettit, Managing Director for PBS in the UK, Ireland, Asia and Australia, about why football is such an attractive sport for betting and how the market is changing from a consumer perspective.
SBC: Why is football such an attractive sport for betting?
JP: Football is so accessible to billions around the world, with hundreds of matches to be bet on, even away from the weekends, that customers can constantly engage with the sport even if they have little interest in the match result.
The combination of easily understood core markets and its market-leading data and visualisation, both digitally and on retail terminals, provides the opportunity for both casual and committed punters to bet with a good level of interaction to the game in question.
The social side is also strong for football betting with bragging rights associated with hitting a fourfold accumulator on a Saturday afternoon or tipping up a first goal scorer. Football is so commonplace in the media and everyday conversations that betting is simply an extension of the product.
SBC: From a consumer perspective, how is football betting changing?
JP: Changes in football betting have been gradual over the years with digital innovation evolving rather than revolutionising the online side of the industry. Online, battlegrounds have been drawn over the number of matches and markets offered, both pre-match and in-play and many operators now struggle to differentiate outside of user experience because of this.
However, the retail space has come a lot further in a similar amount of time with the introduction of digital products such as SSBTs. The Saturday morning routine of visiting your local shop and taking your completed coupon to the counter still has its place but the shop can now offer much more.
Self-service betting terminals now offer the same depth of football betting, on wider screens and larger customer interfaces than can be found online. It has been interesting to see how customers of various ages and interests have taken to the digitisation of the high-street bookmaker.
SBC: How can betting & football stakeholders work better and more effectively together?
JP: Integrity is key to the sports betting industry, particularly when operators look to expand into less-regulated territories and need to persuade stakeholders on the positives of having a strong, healthy betting industry, and football can spearhead of this process.
It is important for both bookmakers and governing bodies in football to work together to show that the sport they are selling to the viewing and betting public is as it seems. This is true across all leagues, from the Premier League to grass-roots football.
All sides want transparency where what they see is what they get and it is important for the betting industry to support this. As betting is now so pivotal to the game, this can only help the sport grow into new markets and benefit football across the board.
SBC: What new technology do you feel will have the biggest impact on football betting?
JP: Football betting has benefitted from technological advancements over the past few years across two main areas: improvements in multi-channel betting and enhanced data services for both the digital and retail markets, which has enabled previously peripheral betting markets, such as in-play goals, to become a core market.
With more bets being placed on digital devices, it has become clear that football bettors now demand a greater range of markets than the traditional pre-match offering of WDW and over/under markets, as well as regular multi-channel innovation across various devices.
At PBS, we have supplemented this with our proprietary BetTracker technology, giving the customer the ability to place bets in-store on our SSBTs and transfer their bets to a mobile device through a bookmaker-customised app to track their bets and ultimately cash out their bets outside of the shop. This further boosts the multi-channel, flexible solution the general football bettor is looking for.
Data collation, primarily for live matches, will also have a significant impact on football betting as in-play betting continues to move away from traditional pre-match markets. With various picture feeds either prohibitively expensive or of poor quality, operators will look to build on their data visualisation offerings over the coming years to make the betting experience more immersive, informative and closer to the live action.
This could mean more accurate pitch position maps, player heat maps or potentially 3D pitch views. I expect to see suppliers push each other in the area over the next few years to the benefit of both digital and retail customers.
SBC: What key agenda, debate or discussion do you want to hear at BOFCON 2017?
JP: I am looking forward to a vibrant couple of days across the board and expect to see some forward-thinking, open discussions on how best to move the industry forward as a collective. I am particularly hoping to hear some innovative thoughts on the digital roadmap, and how to ensure technological advancements can be brought to retail customers who are yet to embrace digital betting.