Our Director of Sportsbook and Trading discusses the opportunity for round-the-clock betting during the upcoming summer of sports
With the 2020 Summer Olympics and European Championships amongst a number of major sporting events this summer, how is Pronet Gaming preparing for the months ahead?
It’s a very busy summer of sport for sure, but we are ready for it. We have a comprehensive range of betting markets and all the requisite feeds to ensure that all of our customers, and their customers, have everything they need to enjoy the experience. It’s also about having complementary products around the main sports and markets to ensure that our partners make the most of those captive audiences that are attracted by the big tournaments.
Pronet Gaming specialises in emerging markets with a rapidly expanding footprint in Latin America and Africa. The Summer Olympics is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, yet historical betting interest doesn’t seem to match. Why do you think this is and could the status quo change in emerging markets?
I think the fact that the Olympics offers so many different sports during such a short space of time provides customers with the so-called tyranny of choice. Where do you start when it comes to shooting, synchronised swimming and rowing to name but a few, for instance? Whilst it attracts huge audiences, swept along by the patriotic fervour, they tend to gather every four years and disperse until the next one – as does TV coverage. Football, on the other hand, is on in one form or another almost every day of the year. It is a familiar and ever-constant feature in the lives of millions of people around the globe. That’s why it is the undisputed king of sports when it comes to sports betting: it is omnipresent. I don’t see that changing in any market.
In Latin America, what international sporting events resonate outside of domestic leagues and tournaments such as the Copa América? How do international sporting tastes differ between the various LatAm markets?
Amongst the more popular sports across the continent is basketball of which NBA is the key driver. Having said that, esports is by far the fastest growing sport having seen a spike in popularity during Covid mid last year. Despite this, Football is king right across the region, so the fact that Euro 2020 is running at the same time as the Copa America means that there are round-the-clock betting opportunities for an engaged audience. On Saturday 19th June for example, the football obsessive can, in theory watch five elite matches – Hungary v France, Portugal v Germany and Spain v Poland in the Euros, followed a couple of hours later by Colombia v Venezuela and Peru v Brazil in the Copa America. With many operators across LatAm having gone the extra mile during the pandemic to take their retail operations online, this represents a chance to engage customers by leveraging a pair of tournaments featuring world-renowned stars from the sport’s two pre-eminent continents.
Do bettors on international football tournaments bet differently compared to domestic leagues and club competition? Are popular betting markets the same?
I suppose the major difference is ‘patriotic punting’ with customers following their country. But maybe that blind allegiance applies to supporters of particular clubs, too? It’s certainly the only reason England starts off among the favourites to win international tournaments every time! In the case of the Euros, we still expect to see heavy betting on the main stars, who remain the big attractions in whatever format they play. Of course, extra time and penalties, which features far less in domestic competitions, add an extra dimension.
Domestic European club competitions such as the Premier League and Champions League are popular betting markets in Africa. Historically, can the same be said for international European football? Were the betting volumes for Euro 2016 or 2018 World Cup fixtures not involving African teams impressive?
Clearly there is no national pride at stake, but given that the top European nations are made up of the best players from the leading European clubs, who they see week in-week out in the various domestic and Champions League, there will still be widespread interest. These are the players whose replica shirts they wear. The matches will also be of a high quality, and highly watchable as a result. They will be available via the same TV suppliers broadcasting in similar time zones, so are very conducive to sportsbook wagering. Betting volumes have been growing significantly in recent years and I would expect Euro 2020 to be no exception.
How will African operators look to engage domestic audiences for this year’s European Championships and Summer Olympics?
The pandemic has had the effect of accelerating the shift from retail to online and operators have embraced the opportunity to offer omni-channel solutions to customers. We have played a major role in helping businesses make that digital transition and now is the time for those operators to deploy appropriate tools to engage with the online audience. In terms of Euro 2020, we have a number of engagement features built solely for the tournament which include a variety of widgets, stats, head-to-heads and form guides via our bet assist tab. Our front-end UI/UX is completely modular, allowing our clients to push the content relevant to them. We can push all of the Euro 2020 events or simply offer a more focused view across fewer events, displaying more markets via our fully customisable front end. desktop is not used in Africa, remove.
How important is the flexibility of a sportsbook solution to achieving engagement and retention?
It is always significant as customers want to a sportsbook to reflect their needs, no matter the sport their betting on. By that I mean that if we’re talking about betting on an overseas tournament like the Euros, customers in various African countries will still want a UI and a UX with which they are familiar. The lay-out and the bet types all need to reflect their usual experience. Pronet Gaming’s sportsbook allows operators to have that flexibility wherever they are, ensuring nuanced continuity for regular customers.
What unique cross-sell opportunities do international sporting competitions offer in emerging markets?
You have a captive audience that are all watching the same thing at the same time. It might not be so much that there are unique opportunities but rather that a lot of customers are gathered for one event. Some of those can be new customers of course, drawn by the excitement. With them, there is an opportunity to retain their custom with a good user experience. For those who are familiar with the product, it could mean cross-selling online casino, virtual sports or other products such as numbers betting during periods of down-time around matches.