Sergey Tsukanov, Head of Sportsbook at Betby, provided an in-depth overview of the bookmaking market and discussed the most important betting news and trends that had hit 2020.
What is your overview of the betting market of 2020? Keeping in mind the pandemic and its influence on this vertical, what were the best lessons for bookmakers?
I suppose that this year was the most difficult throughout the history of betting. We hope that something like that will never happen again, however, we are keeping in mind that a similar situation can occur once more. The main lesson that we have learned is that you should be ready for any changes and be able to react to them properly, launch new projects in the short term, and be able to work with players in such situations.
How did the pandemic and events’ cancellation change bookmakers’ strategies?
Certainly, it was a huge blow to the strategy, when instead of preparing for Euro2020, you must integrate and try to convert users into virtual sports. And, of course, everyone was forced to alter or almost cancel all marketing plans.
What regions are on the rise in terms of sports betting revenue? How tough is the competition there now?
Even though betting looks like such a monolith, but in reality, it continues to develop and grow almost in all regions. It is hard to say where the level of competition is not high. I can't name a region where you can launch a mediocre product, not spend on marketing, and start earning.
What are the main tendencies and trends for sportsbooks in 2021? Should operators expect revolutionary innovations (for example, in the payments sector)?
I don’t think we should expect anything extraordinary from 2021. Players do miss the real sport, and they have appreciated the moment when it has come back. And many regions continue to try to legalize gambling, with their own payment cards, rules, etc. Many experts say that this year will be the same as the previous one in terms of obstacles and challenges. Indeed, this year is also going to be full of obstacles and challenges. However, it won’t be as problematic as 2020, since we no longer expect to get a complete shutdown of the sports. As for our future strategies, in Betby, we are actively working to use data-based technologies to localize our brands for local users, for user behavior, to identify potential VIPs or potential abusers.
What types of bonuses are the most effective for attracting and retaining customers currently and why?
Regarding the bonuses, there is not much I can say. One of the most attractive forms to win over the players is to give them extra money as a bonus, allowing them to participate in live betting.
Betting platforms with live streams were a hot topic in 2020. Is this solution a real must-have for betting websites this year?
It depends on the availability of live streams in the region very much, whether the player has to pay extra money for them, whether they are available in the region… So far, I have not seen any sportsbook on which it would be as awesome and convenient to watch the live stream as on TV. The main advantages for bookmakers are the increase of turnover and the players' activity during the live betting, while for the players, the main advantages are the possibility to play in various situations and forms.
It is needless to say that betting on esports has come into the spotlight during the lockdown. Does it have the potential to stay at the same demand level as traditional sports?
I have always thought that it is too early to say that esports can reach the level of the real sport. Yes, this year will probably accelerate this process. I think that, in 10 years, we will see a big explosion of esports in the betting market. The reason why it is ahead of schedule to say that esports is going to reach the same level as traditional sports is due to the lack of a large market of players who like esports and who are ready to play big. On the bookmakers' side, the obstacle is that the line is not so strong to accept large sums. But it is obvious that esports betting is going to grow from year to year.
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