SBCnews caught up with Kelly Eden, Head of TXTRADER at TXODDS, to find out what he made of the industry’s progress in 2015 and beyond.
SBC: What industry development caught your eye this year?
KE: Betting and gambling in Africa, particularly sports betting seems to be getting bigger and more widespread there. Football is and always will be the biggest market, thanks to TV broadcasting and also the dominance of well-known African international football teams such as Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria, but now there is also the emergence of teams such as Algeria, Ghana, Cape Verde Islands, Congo and Mali.
The European leagues are swamped with big named stars from Africa but the arrival of a new breed of African footballers has really put the continent well and truly on the map. Betting in Africa is flying thanks to licensing laws being lessened, and combination of betting shops, on-line betting and smartphones.
SBC: What was your favourite industry event this year?
KE: On a personal level it was the SBC Betting on Football and Matchbook Traders Conference. Both days a success to the industry. The Betting on Football was a fascinating insight into all the different angles and experiences on several levels in football betting, with plenty of professional faces sharing views and knowledge.
The first ever Matchbook Traders Conference was a fantastic success with over 350 sports traders and industry types selling out the event. TXODDS were prominent at both events and our very own Alex Kozlenkov was responsible for an excellent presentation and speech.
SBC: Where will Chelsea’s finish in the league at the end of the season?
KE: While Chelsea have named Guus Hiddink as interim manager until the end of the season, Diego Simeone, current coach of Atletico Madrid, is the bookies favourite to over next season, also Pep Guardiola who is currently at Bayern Munich is being linked to the job.
Chelsea are somewhat adrift in the league, so their main focus will the Champions League, but being drawn against PSG is going to be tough. Also the FA Cup will be a target now and is a cup they have a good record in. I can see Chelsea finishing 10th in the Premier League this season.
SBC: ESports – is there true potential in this market or is it over-hyped?
KE: ESports has such a huge impact on many different every day level and personally I see betting markets being available at some point but only on certain games. Obviously like everything in the betting industry there are certain flaws to get over and most importantly the whole gambling part would need to be regulated.
Another aspect is the games, if any, that betting would be applicable to. I see bookies having no problems offering odds on say FIFA football which is one of the most popular selling games, but games like Halo, Tour of Duty, Assassins Creed etc, I would not expect bookmakers being that tempted. Betting Exchanges in my opinion are the companies that would benefit the most from ESports betting.
SBC: What are your expectations for the Euros? Which team will win it? Which domestic team will advance furthest?
KE: The draw has been made for Euro 2016 and thrown up some tasty groups and games. Last year after the World Cup, I was asked who would win Euro 2016 and I said France at 6/1. And I’ve no reason to change my mind, yes the odds are shorter now. Home advantage is always a plus and the French squad is full of fantastic individuals, coached by Didier Deschamps and have a nice draw in a group with Albania, Romania and Switzerland.
Obviously World Cup winners Germany are the favourites but in a group with Poland and Ukraine it won’t be easy. Spain are next in the betting but have a tough group with Croatia, Turkey and Czech Rep and I think Spain are in need of a change of management.
Belgium have plenty of class players and talent but failed to shine at the World Cup, while Portugal at 18/1 and Italy at 16/1 seem big odds but always fall short at the critical times in major tournaments. Austria at 50/1 were very impressive in qualifying and don’t have a bad group with Portugal, Iceland and Hungary.
Of our home nations, England were outstanding in the qualifiers and finally look to have a squad of young, raw and eager players but experience on the big stage could be vital but they should advance from their group consisting of Wales, Russia and Slovakia. Wales have a few fantastic players but their full squad lacks class, while Northern Ireland performed miracles to qualify but now find themselves in a group with Germany, Poland and Ukraine. The Republic of Ireland also did well to qualify, via a play-off but have a tough task in a group with Belgium, Italy and Sweden.
Poland could be dark horses, they have lost only once in their sixteen games and at 80/1 they look over-priced for a team that consists of one of the best strikers in the world in Robert Lewandowski.
SBC: What’s your hope for the industry in 2016?
KE: New competition for Betfair would be good for the industry. Betting companies that are merging need to give something back to the punters, particularly sponsorship in horse-racing. More support and funding needs to be given to Greyhound Racing, especially stadiums and tracks. And finally, continued success for TXODDS as the company grows and expands its coverage and product range!