Moritz Maurer is the Head of Esports at Betgenius. Ahead of Betting on Sports 2016 (#bettingonsports), at which there’ll be four esports focused panels in total and one of which Moritz will be leading, we caught up with him to talk skin betting, how to approach esports fans and desktop vs mobile.
SBC: Are you surprised it took as long as it did for the unregulated nature of skins betting to be revealed, and for it to begin to unravel?
Moritz: Until this year, the unregulated nature of skins betting had flown almost entirely under the radar of regulators and publishers.
You could argue that this was surprising given the alarming levels of threats like match-fixing and underage gambling, however, once mainstream media outlets such as Bloomberg began to turn their spotlight, skins betting’s future has actually unravelled fairly quickly. Since 2015, Genius Sports (of which Betgenius is a division) has been invested in esports integrity, monitoring the liquidity in skin betting markets.
The combination of popular websites like CSGOLounge’s deciding to stop their skins betting functionality, as well as the recent scrutiny being paid by the UK Gambling Commission and the Dutch Gaming Authority, should bring the end of skins betting sooner than many people would have imagined. It’s something we’ve been calling for some time and should give a boost to the regulated esports betting sector in the process.
SBC: Many have speculated that despite the huge volumes of skins betting, there will only be limited crossover into more traditional esports sports betting… do you agree with this or is it about how companies go about approaching customers and how they shape their particular product?
Moritz: When comparing the typical skin betting offering, we were looking at tote-systems with very limited betting possibilities and virtually no in-play markets. Furthermore, as appealing as skins may be for the players, they are very impractical from a betting standpoint. Under regulated operators, we are convinced that esports punters will find a considerably more engaging offering with more market types and exciting in-play features. This is where the potential of esports betting can truly unfold.
Another area where regulated betting operators are looking for crossover is from traditional sports betting markets, such as football, tennis and so on. Several of our clients have seen encouraging cross-sell trends, particularly in in-play betting markets, without even pushing it aggressively. It’s been an organic shift in several cases.
However, while the evolution of betting on traditional sports can act as a signpost, similarities between that and esports only go so far. By nature, the esports audience is more connected than any other with 75% of its core demographic aged 18-34. Operators must, therefore, ensure that they tie into the high-octane, interactive nature of esports in order to best approach customers.
SBC: Live betting is, on the surface, ideally suited to many esports. Sky Betting’s Ben Conroy stated that 65% of turnover on esports was from live betting…how can operators step up their game when it comes to offering in-play esports markets? And what pitfalls must they watch out for?
Moritz: We believe that an engaging in-play experience is key to the growth of regulated esports betting. When you look at how esports are consumed away from betting, the viewing experience is absorbing, with lots of information being processed every second – even more so than other sports.
A live betting experience needs to mirror this. For operators, it means offering a varied range of markets covering multiple variables, including multiple quick-fire markets on events that happen within short time periods. These live markets can be made specific to the punter’s game of choice such as ‘Team to Slay the Next Dragon’ or ‘Team to win the Next Round’ as well as being applied to each map for different games.
As with any strategic sportsbook launch, selecting the right partner is crucial. Operators, unless they happen to have deep knowledge of eSports and eSports betting in-house, need a partner who can not only provide an end-to-end trading service but that also has a passion for the product and expertise in its nuanced make-up. Our team of 15 eSports traders is hugely passionate and knowledgeable – they really get it.
SBC: With mobile endlessly on the rise elsewhere it’s actually desktop at which the heart of esports betting lies right? How should bookmakers make use of this knowledge?
Moritz: That is a tricky question. It’s clear that most esports fans consume the games on desktop screens, and logic would dictate that betting will take place on the same devices.
This means operators have an opportunity to provide a rich experience without worrying too much about fitting it on a smaller screen. Blogs, competition info, betting tips and so on are all much easier to consume on desktop and that kind of in-depth approach should pay off over time.
That being said, our partners are seeing plenty of turnover through mobile, which hints that second-screen betting could become a massive opportunity as it has in live football betting for example.
SBC: Why should attendees come to your talk at BOS?
Moritz: Amidst the flurry of activity following Valve’s cease and desist letters to clamp down on skin betting, now is a prime opportunity to dissect the huge level of opportunity within the regulated esports betting market.
Having launched the industry’s first comprehensive pre-match and in-play esports product a year ago, we have been able to build the most established service on the market. In the session we will happily share some of the experiences – both good and bad – of running an eSports betting product, from which games are proving the most popular, tips on setting up a live eSports betting service, and which marketing techniques are paying off.
I very much look forward to the event and getting the chance to talk esports betting with the industry.
Moritz Maurer is one of a number of leading industry experts discussing the ins and outs of esports betting and commercialisation at #bettingonsports. Check out the agenda here.