The 2016 Olympic games gets underway in Brazil today and there’ll be plenty of action to keep us entertained until August 21st. It’s been a controversial games before it’s even kicked off with the unravelling of the doping scandal, but here we focus on the opportunities that it offers for bookmakers.
In its latest Bookies’ Corner series SBC picked the brains of Betway’s Alan Alger, Pinnacle’s Customer Engagement Manager Mirio Mella, LeoVegas Head of Sports Andreas Bardun and PR & Mischief Champion Lewis Davey from Paddy Power Betfair.
This’ll be the last games for the likes of Usain Bolt, Bradley Wiggins and Serena Williams. Do you expect this to impact the betting markets, will we see more making emotionally charged bets?
Alan: As always, crowd favourites such as Bolt, Wiggins and Serena Williams will attract a high proportion of bets. As they reach the end of their stellar careers, however, we expect the volume of emotionally charged bets to be countered by those clients looking for value on youngsters who will seek to dethrone the old guard.
Overall I think it would be unrealistic to expect the Track & Field events to reach the kind of turnover seen during London 2012 from a UK market point of view. Punters are usually encouraged by seeing events take place closer to home, especially when minority sports are concerned. While it’s the biggest event of the summer in sporting terms. It can be put into perspective by us confidently saying that Euro 2016 from the Quarter Finals onwards would see more bets than the whole 19 days of action in Rio from all different sports.
What are you anticipating to be the biggest market at the Olympics, and do betting trends tend to be repeated across them?
Andreas: As a sportsbook professional, this is now my eighth Olympic Games (fourth Summer Olympics) and from experience I can say that expectations around the Olympics tend to be too high. The only exception was London 2012 when bookmakers’ expectations were actually exceeded. I believe that one of the main reasons for this was the increase of in-play betting that made the Olympics a much more attractive betting product.
Rio 2016 is now here and with the massive improvements in in-play betting and the increase of mobile betting, it has never been more fun and interactive to bet on the Olympics.
I expect the in-play trend to make a significant difference in traditional sports such as tennis. Besides being one of the in-play sports that is not heavily affected by the difference in time zones, tennis offers the ability to bet on who wins the game, the set, the match or even the next point. Having several betting options is ideal to satisfy the increased demand of faster betting events, popular in in-play sport.
Having said that, I think that football is still going to be the main sport and the final will be the event where we expect to have the highest turnover and the main driver of action is still the old fashioned 1×2 bet.
What I also find unique in the Olympics is the huge amount of outright markets that will be decided in 17 days and nothing is bigger than the men’s 100m final in athletics. Typically, athletics and outright markets are not the most popular bets but due to the nature of the event, the media coverage and it being one of the most watched events on TV, the 100m final should be one of the top events when it comes to betslip count.
Ambush marketing has something of a history at the Olympic Games but with the authorities cracking down, and establishing a legal backing to suppress it at Rio 2016, will this will stop the likes of Paddy Power from getting up to their usual tricks and what does this mean for marketing for bookmakers?
Lewis: There’s no doubt the fun police have cracked down on ambush marketing around the big events. Marketing is constantly evolving and the biggest challenge for us is coming up with new ways to land mischief that causes a reaction and entertains our punters. If you just look at our Shave the Amazon stunt for the 2014 World Cup, we were able to be one of the most talked about brands heading into the tournament without even needing to even be at the event. Being fast and relevant is so important and last week we hit the right note with our latest Olympics ad.
Off the back of the IOC’s barmy decision to allow those dopey Russian athletes to compete at the Olympics we launched an ad campaign offering money back as a free bet if Team GB and Irish athletes finish 2nd to a Russian in Rio. It was a good example of tapping into a relevant story with a Paddy Power twist on it. It’s getting tougher but half the fun is finding new ways to make mischief.
The Olympics features some unique sports which may garner mainstream public attention, how do bookmakers set up fair markets for lesser known sports?
Mirio: The Rio Olympics is as much a challenge to our traders as it is an opportunity for domain specialist bettors.
Our trading team committed to posting odds for 306 medal events by the end of June, but given that the Olympics is the only time that many of these ever appear in our Betting Menu this is unfamiliar territory.
To stand any chance of offering accurate prices our traders must cover their bases to understand the national selection processes, the idiosyncrasies of Olympic event formats as well as the relevant form. On top of that you have additional factors like the impact of completely new venues, host advantage, and fluid situational considerations such as the Russian doping scandal and Zika.
For the fringe events Traders are coming up with a best-guess, but Pinnacle’s model accommodates that. Soft early prices will be quickly firmed up at low limits by domain specialists.
As the market becomes more solid we increase the limits and those bettors who were able to beat our opening odds will be the ones taking home gold.
The Betting on Sports conference will address betting opportunities outside of football. With over 600 delegates expected over the two days, and in collaboration with the BiG Foundation dinner it’s the largest sports betting industry event of the year. Make sure you’re in attendance.