1. In your opinion where will we see the biggest growth area in betting at this year’s world cup?
Previously, World Cups have been all about new customer acquisition but over time the industry has realised that big tournament CPAs tend to outstrip customer LTVs. This is especially true with summer tournaments that are followed by a 6-week ‘content gap’ until the new football season begins and thus the retention opportunity is diminished. I therefore think that this year will be more about servicing existing players than finding new ones. That being said, recruitment via prize competitions such as the Super 6 or Sun Six will continue to be used as a low cost and hence justifiable acquisition channel. Bet365 have introduced Bet Builder in line with other ‘request a bet’ features and I think we will see more features like this which rely on quantitative modelling and fulfil bespoke customer demand. These pools will all be provided with the standard Colossus features: significant minimum guaranteed prize pools; leg-by-leg Cash Out and crowdfunded Syndicate tickets. We have spent a lot of time working on the design and presentation of the pools and we think they will provide a properly modernised experience for players.
2. How is your company preparing for the world cup?
This is an exciting time for us. On the one hand, we have a mad scramble to get several new partners live with our pools in time for the World Cup, while making sure that our tote network can funnel in the bets from all partners across 5 continents with zero buffering or down time. On the other hand, this summer we are also launching our racing product as the exclusive pools supplier for a consortium of 54 British racetracks. So we definitely have our hands full.
3. In your opinion will there be a greater demand for bespoke betting (request a bet) services during this world cup?
I think there will be growing use of this bet type. Whether it is because it is pushed on the player as a high margin / low risk product or because it is pulled by the players themselves remains to be seen. As such, it is debatable how sustainable the trend is but it certainly seems like a USP on which several operators are focusing – led by SkyBet who were quickly copied…until the ‘next big thing’ emerges.
4. With a major sporting event like the World Cup there is always the potential for fraudulent betting, does your business plan to deploy additional resources in this area to combat any resultant surge?
We focus on pools betting, which is by construct a low risk / low frequency product, so we avoid most of the fraud issues that are prevalent in a broader sports betting (or more so, in a casino context) where the rate of win/loss can be frequent and fast. Even so, we work with a number of industry partners to keep crime and fraud out of gambling. Our integrations with these partners and their own in-house controls are scalable and have been designed to meet periods of high demand without the need to deploy additional resources. We also make a consistent effort to keep abreast of industry and product developments and will of course continue to adopt new technologies and maintain best practice.
5. Will AI play a bigger role in your operations during the tournament? If not why not?
AI is starting to invade the betting world, especially with some players trying to use AI to model prices and bet ‘professionally’. But AI is probably more valuable for now to a bettor than an operator and as such, it is unlikely to be applied to operators’ risk pricing for some time. It is also likely to be treated sceptically by risk managers in traditional betting firms. On the other hand, AI may be used in the non-pricing parts of the business like enhancing CRM and predicting problem gambling or fraud, which would be useful and beneficial for everyone involved.
6. What specific events or promotions are you running in the months leading up to the tournament and during it?
The great thing about a tournament like the World Cup is that it allows us to essentially have the liquidity of a Saturday schedule every day. This, in combination with a much expanded Colossus partner network, means that we can offer over £50m of prizes for this tournament alone. So our focus is slick UX, fail-safe systems and new major partners before the opening match kicks off. In addition, we will be providing risk services to other operators who want large jackpot products and content to leverage for acquisition during the tournament.
7.Who do you think will win the World Cup this year?
I don’t really have an opinion. The secret is out that I am not a football fan…but I guess the romantic in me would like to see Argentina and Messi lift the trophy.