- Legal States
Fiona Simmons December 22, 2022 5 min read
World Cup reflections: Positives All Round for Sports Betting Industry
We ask Tommy Molloy, Chief Sportsbook Officer at Sportingtech, and Alex Beecham, Managing Director at Checkd Media, to find out the impact of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on betting businesses
This year’s World Cup was unusual for a wide range of reasons, not least the fact that it took place in the run-up to Christmas. It proved to be a tricky one for punters, but what was the overall verdict on the one-off tournament from the betting industry?
Q: What were your expectations in the lead-up to the World Cup and how did it play out in comparison, in terms of revenues generated for operators?
TM: Given our huge footprint in LatAm, particularly Brazil, there is always the anxiety that a good World Cup for Brazil could mean our clients’ end revenue suffers but, thankfully, (to those who don’t follow Brazil) their surprise exit, accompanied by a whole range of favorable results, has produced excellent revenues across the board.
Our proprietary World Cup Widgets, featuring outrights, groups, events and specials packaged in bespoke modules, has been a great success, with records broken for acquisition. In addition, registrations and (crucially) FTDs, turnover, bet counts and revenues are at an all-time high for the platform.
AB: We expected this World Cup to outperform last year’s Euros due to its unique timing in the sporting calendar. With very little gap between the Premier League ending, we expected customer engagement to remain high. However, we didn’t expect the levels we have seen with operators across NDCs, bets and activity levels. England games outperformed our initial estimates with huge engagement across social, web and app channels.
This was helped by the fantastic start England made against Iran in their opening game. The acquisition window was also much longer for this World Cup compared with previous tournaments, as operators tried to maximize sign-ups ahead of the regular season kicking straight back in again after the final. The number of shock results will also have helped drive a good margin for operators – far more shocks than I can remember from previous tournaments!
Q: What types of bets were being placed and did punters trust their heads or their hearts when it came to international competition?
AB: We’ve continued to see a really strong appetite for Bet Builder-style bets with customers, either following our own boosted bets or building their own. Stats and rationale continue to support betting activity with more users wanting to see data to back up their picks, which we deliver via the Betting Hub app and stat packs in social.
Our audience also backed group stage bets with a combination of teams to win all their games or players to score x numbers of goals across multiple matches. These types of bets appeal both due to value and extending the length of the bet across multiple days.
TM: Typically for major tournaments, punters tend to bet patriotically, all following their own teams. Our recently rolled-out Betbuilder product has been particularly popular, with huge bet numbers and, significantly for our operators, a considerable margin attained. Outside of this, the ever-present popularity of 1X2, total goals and pre-tournament, the outrights including Winner and Golden Boot, are all still very much the most played markets.
Q: How were bettors kept entertained in and around the on-field action and did anything special catch your eye from an engagement perspective?
TM: We have a variety of products available to end users to complement the World Cup, including Virtual Sports and Esports. We also offer our Bet Assist feature, utilizing AI-led betting tips across a wide range of events and sports, which drives that extra engagement and volume. Added to this we have been able to cross-sell Casino for those customers looking to continue in-between matches. Crash games have also been extremely popular for us.
AB: One area which is key to engagement is conversation and updates with our audience on social channels and via product notifications. This helps add to the excitement of a bet as you discuss the game as a community. For example, this includes questioning if a player should have been booked for a particular foul and celebrating together when legs come in.
Finally, what lessons can the betting industry draw following a controversial but action-packed event?
AB: It’s been a great tournament for both operators and affiliates, with results and the world’s best players being on the show helping drive excitement. I think the appetite for Bet Builder-style bets will only continue and operators should think about how they can push the user experience forward in this area – for example, with the integration of stats and data to support building these types of bets.
TM: It was very much an unprecedented tournament and one we were all hoping would be a success, and that has proven to be the case. It does help when an underdog such as Morocco upsets the apple cart and our operators have been able to not only acquire new customers but also retain revenues. So long as there is top-level sport available, regardless of the politics that surround it, players will still flock to enjoy the action. Our next task now is to ensure the retention rates are maximized going into a busy Christmas period!