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How the sector is tackling competition this sporting summer

| By Kyle Goldsmith | Reading Time: 8 minutes
A packed sporting schedule means there are plenty of opportunities for gambling companies this summer to engage and target new customers. iGB spoke to a few industry leaders on targeting new betting markets and unique products helping them to stand out from the crowd.
Sporting summer

Operators Betfred and Paddy Power and betting engine supplier Kambi are among those looking to capitalise and make significant revenue and customer gains throughout the packed summer sporting schedule, which is certain to excite sports fans.

The Euro 2024 kicked off on Friday and the Copa América starts this week, while the Olympic Games is set to take place in Paris as of 26 July with Wimbledon and the US Open to come in July and August.

The opportunity for the sports betting sector is clear, as more traction from these events will lead to increased activity across betting sites and ultimately more financial gain.

According to French gaming regulator L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), the country could see close to €1bn (£851.4m/$1.1bn) wagered on the Euro 2024 tournament alone. The German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) also stated up to €1bn will be bet on the competition in the tournament’s host nation.

Kambi head of soccer Jonathon Hurst highlights the huge potential of both the Euro 2024 and Copa América events occurring simultaneously and how it can attract customers.

“Both are expected to generate substantial betting interest for Kambi and our partners, as these tournaments are crucial for customer acquisition, as seen with Euro 2020 when 78% of [betting] newcomers during the tournament had a Euro 2020 bet on their betslip,” Hurst tells iGB.

“Notably, both finals fall on the same day as the Wimbledon men’s singles final, making Sunday 14 July a potential betting bonanza for sportsbooks,” he added.

Best-in-class experience

rachael kane emphasised the importance of major tournaments for Flutter

The surge in betting interest means an uptick in competition across the industry, so the ability to stand out from the crowd becomes increasingly important for companies.

Rachael Kane, spokesperson for Flutter, agrees: “Major sporting events are the pillars around which we pivot. We build our activity around all of it and with so much action ahead of us, we’ve got all hands on deck to make sure we are capitalising on every single one of them, and then some.

“It takes an extraordinary level of skill to pull all of this off, but we’ve got a highly skilled workforce, all personally invested in delivering a best-in-class experience for customers across all touchpoints,” Kane adds.

“Behind the scenes, a huge amount of research, time and energy goes into having the right ingredients to ensure our products are on the cutting edge of what punters want. We engage with them on a daily basis across retail, online and via our social media channels and know them intimately. “

How will companies capitalise?

Betfred is aiming to leverage the UK consumer’s Home Nations interest by offering top price on England to win the competition and on Scotland to qualify from the group stage. Even before that, the launch of a new platform earlier this year has sought to ensure a quicker and easier user experience with Betfred.

But it’s not only the user experience that companies are looking to improve. Companies are also keen to excel at the breadth of unique betting offerings and novelty markets also available this summer.

“There’s so many more markets than there used to be,” Betfred’s head of media Mark Pearson says.

“The build-a-bets are getting more and more popular as well. But what you will find during the tournament, your traditional bets of first goalscorer and correct score bets will be very popular alongside all these innovations as well.”

Home Nation interest

The value a major football tournament provides Betfred is huge as a bet on England to win the World Cup in 1966 helped founder Fred Done open his first betting shop in Salford the following year.

Pearson compares Euro 2024 with the Grand National, noting new customers tend to place bets following the hype surrounding these events.

Both England and Scotland will play in this year’s tournament and Pearson says the presence of those Home Nations is only adding to the expected betting interest.

“You do see the occasional gambler will come in and have a flutter around these big tournaments, especially for the Euros,” Pearson explains. “It makes a massive difference for turnover and obviously England doing well is fantastic for turnover.

“Some of the punters who may only have a bet once or twice a year will come out for a big Home Nations game and maybe have a first goalscorer bet because they’re planning to watch it with a big group of friends.”

Euro 2024 and Copa América offer unique opportunities

Betfred, Kambi and Flutter all point to the summer’s two major football tournaments as the standouts for increasing business across their products.

However, Pearson also highlights Royal Ascot as a key event for the firm as Betfred is its official betting partner.

“Even in a general election year, the Euros can end up dominating the news,” Pearson explains. “It’s very much at the forefront of people’s minds. I think everyone knows that if England do well, the nation gets behind them, interest gets higher.

“Don’t forget Royal Ascot. It’s five days, all the races on ITV as well, so Royal Ascot would be a big focus for us as well.”

Jonathon Hurst
the euros and copa América are crucial to hurst and kambi

Football tournaments are also hugely important for Kambi, with the Euros and Copa América its main targets from a revenue perspective.

However, Hurst expects the revenue disparity from the Euros to the Copa América to be different this year due to Kambi’s growing LatAm focus.

“While the Euros has previously been the clear number one, our recent expansion into Latin America means it should be much closer this year,” Hurst declares.

While the Euros “takes the cake” for Flutter, Kane says the operator will pay close attention to the array of other events this summer.

“That’s not to say we won’t have one eye on everything,” Kane states. “If we see an opportunity arise that feels right for our brand, we are always ready to jump in with both feet. We pride ourselves on being slick, agile, reactive and precise.”

Retention key for future success

The raft of new customers will be a huge bonus for operators and suppliers this summer, but once the final whistle blows on some of the higher-profile events, the ability to retain those customers will be the next battle.

It’s a challenge Kane believes Flutter is up to, even with the wide array of betting options available to customers.

“The industry has become a bit like Tinder,” Kane says. “We’ve got nothing against a summer fling, but once they’ve swiped right on Paddy Power, we want our customers to feel they’ve hit the jackpot, found their perfect match in our brand, fallen head over heels with us, and want to get married on a beach in the Bahamas.”

Products crucial for retention

mark pearson says making an impression on punters is vital for retention at Betfred

Kambi has enjoyed previous success in maintaining the activity of customers acquired during major tournaments. The company’s data showed 76% of first-time bettors from Euro 2020 used the supplier again.

Hurst notes the key to aid operators’ own retention strategies is delivering a top product.

“This includes ensuring that any new bet offers launched specifically for big tournaments like the Euros and Copa América are also available for bettors once the events are over and the new domestic seasons start,” Hurst continues.

“It’s also important to showcase excellence across the whole sportsbook, not just for soccer. In order for sportsbooks to retain players they must ensure bettors also enjoy the rest of the sportsbook, where retention rates can be even higher, during and after the tournament.”

Pearson agrees the ability to retain customers Betfred has acquired comes from giving them the best experience throughout the tournament to hopefully entice users back, especially those who aren’t major bettors.

“That’s the key for all online businesses, isn’t it?” Pearson explains. “To give good offers, good customer service, good experience and then hopefully they’ll come back.

“Some of these will only be football punters, so hopefully they’ll come back when the Premier League starts in August.”

Prioritising the punters

paddy power held a shootout competition ahead of the euros getting under way

Aside from its betting offering, Flutter’s Paddy Power has become known for its tongue-in-cheek marketing. It has kept true to its nature this summer, with a new campaign featuring Danny Dyer humorously playing on the reputation of England’s football fans in Europe.

That consistent tone of voice is key to Paddy Power, with Kane believing the operators’ ability to tap into consumers’ humour sets it apart.

“The guardians of our brand do an unparalleled job in ensuring Paddy’s unique tone of voice remains a consistent source of razor-sharp wit,” Kane explains.

“We seek out those lovely topics making sparks fly among fans. Once we’ve identified them, we dose them in petrol, strike a match, throw it and run away as fast as we can to admire the blaze from a safe distance!”

Alongside its marketing strategies, Kane says one of the keys to Paddy Power’s success is making consumer interactions with the operator as enjoyable and unique as possible. For instance, it held a penalty shootout event in London, flying the five best penalty takers out to Germany for the Euros.

“We put our punters first,” Kane declares. “If they’re entertained, feel informed and feel they can trust us to see them right, we know we’ve done a good job.”

Kambi partners with LiveScore Bet

Kambi is looking to take a multi-pronged approach this summer to achieve its primary purpose of serving its operator partners with a top product.

“Our offering includes new and fully combinable bet types, such as player assists, goal methods such as headed goal and even woodwork-related bets,” Hurst adds.

“To keep things fresh and to capitalise on emerging storylines, Kambi is also offering a large number of daily special markets for each competition throughout the tournaments which can be a powerful tool for operators to acquire and retain customers.”

One of Kambi’s partners is LiveScore Group, supplying its sports betting solution to LiveScore Bet when it rolled out in the UK and Ireland in May, having entered into a sportsbook partnership in October 2023.

“Kambi views our partners as far more than clients to be managed,” Hurst explains.

“Collaboration is key and we work closely with them well before the tournaments begin to understand their goals and develop strategies to achieve them.”

Companies must be adaptable

For the more experienced companies in the industry, their ability to meet and satisfy demand this summer is boosted by learnings from previous major events.

That need for adaptability can be called upon within tournaments. Hurst points to the rise in additional time at the 2022 World Cup as an example of Kambi updating its models in real time, made easier by the wealth of experience the company has.

Help comes in the form of technology, with Kambi highlighting its AI-powered trading division Tzeract as the “driving force” behind its pre-match offering.

“Launched before the 2022 World Cup and now implemented across all major soccer leagues, Tzeract leverages learnings from hundreds of millions of bets to deliver a superior offering during the tournaments,” Hurst notes.

Prior tournament experience is also crucial in informing Paddy Power’s strategy this summer.

“This isn’t our first rodeo,” Kane says. “Having experienced a Winter World Cup in Qatar, another in Russia and several monumental changes such as Brexit and Covid in what feels like the past five minutes we’ve learned to buckle up, be brave, hold on tight and know when to run for your life if you haven’t got a firm grip of things.”

Opportunities aplenty

While the attention of many will be who wins on the pitch or court, gambling companies will be hoping for their own off-pitch success.

As Kane outlines, it’s certainly not the first rodeo for the likes of Flutter, Betfred and Kambi, all of whom boast a wealth of experience that has set them up to attack the packed summer sporting schedule.

The real outcome of the summer of sports for betting firms and suppliers will come to light much later in the year as public companies release earnings reports reflecting on the busy period. For most, marketing, product innovation and thinking outside the box around customer engagement are key to ensure continued increased performance amid a packed sports schedule.

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