COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the sports betting industry. One vertical’s loss has seen others gain. Will players revert to type now that live sports are resuming and how can operators retain their new customers in the long run?
CCO, Bobby Longhurst, offers his thoughts
Is the conversion of sports betting customers a blip or will they stick around?
Covid-19 hit suppliers and operators, especially those with a focus on sportsbook, with a number of obstacles to overcome. However, many operators were quick to address the shutdown of live sports and recognised the opportunity to expand their offering with virtuals and esports, as well as additional casino content. Many of our partners have been able to attract a number of existing sports bettors to experience this influx of new products.
It’s now up to the industry as a whole to ensure that players do stick around, with an even greater focus on retention techniques to keep them engaged. Much of that will depend on the quality of the new gaming experiences players have become accustomed to during this period. We’re confident a strong segment of bettors will keep returning to esports and virtual events even when live sports returns, mainly because they’ve enjoyed the new content on offer.
What tactics have been used to attract them or has the growth been organic?
There’s definitely a case of organic growth, with those keen on football and racing naturally gravitating towards virtual offerings of the same sport. Many bettors will have been familiar with the concept of virtual events, but I know some will have been surprised at how the graphics and mechanics have improved significantly in recent times.
When it comes to esports, there’s been a strong need to educate players on how betting on such events works. Bettors will be more inclined to wager on markets that they understand, so our account team have been working closely with the Pronet Gaming operator network to ensure that their end users understand the vertical.
On the casino side of our platform offering, we’ve recently partnered with a supplier specialising in fast-loading swipe casino games offering an efficient cross-selling tool between sportsbook and traditional table games such as roulette and blackjack. These new games are ideal in keeping newly converted casino players active, while they can seamlessly swipe back into a sportsbook as they welcome the return of live sports.
Is cross-sell changed for ever as result of the pandemic and what are the learnings in recent weeks?
The main lesson here has to be not to be too over reliant on one offering. Of course, nobody could have predicted the events that have unfolded in recent months, but it has highlighted the need to offer a more rounded portfolio to players going forward. Our quick-thinking team moved into action to completely redevelop our UX in order to make products such as esports and virtuals the focus of our platform offering. This allowed our operating partners to market virtual football and racing as though it was prime-time Saturday with Premier League action and racing from Aintree. It also introduced players to entry level RNG offerings, with virtuals obviously needing no prior knowledge to enjoy. That again introduces another form of cross-selling for operators, with those recently converted RNG players now potentially keen to venture into slots and other casino games.