Customer rapport and a minimum bet guarantee has become a more prevalent issue for European sports betting operators. As the US market evolves and operators seek to maintain a harmonious relationship with punters, learning from the mistakes of the European market will be pivotal.
We spoke to Canada’s Adjunct Professor of Gambling Law Harley Redlick, who emphasized why constant communication and placing a key focus on customer care will be key if US operators are to succeed.
SBCAmericas: What can US operators learn from the UK market, in terms of maintaining a good rapport with customers, whilst also keeping sensible checks on their own liability and responsibilities?
Harley Redlick: Constant communication and 24-7 customer service is standard. Good content about big matchups (Premier League, NBA playoffs, NFL) as well as signup & deposit bonuses are required. However, UK operators are now following US ones in paying losing bets for ‘bad beats’ – a slippery slope as clients will come to expect it for any bad loss and it is a costly promotion long term for operators.
SBCAmericas: Do you think stake limits will be similar in the US to what they are in the UK?
Harley Redlick: Stake limits are very sportsbook dependent. Some post their limits for all to see and some allow fish to bet a lot and sharks to bet a little. This has also gone on in LV for a long time. With mobile, it is much easier to post limits and the sharper books will allow high stakes for all ($50kUSD per bet for a premier league or NBA/NFL game).
SBCAmericas: Do you believe larger staking American punters will follow similar patterns and therefore present similar minimum bet problems to UK punters?
Harley Redlick: Large sophisticated punters are a headache for most sportsbooks. Technology allows them to scour tons of sites and lines and pickoff the 1-2 per day that are mispriced, and then hammer them for large amounts. Sportsbooks “protecting themselves” by claiming palp error and rescinding a bet, or cutting off a winner doesn’t work effectively – once cutoff, your acquaintances figure out you are sharp and will all place bets for you for a piece of the sharp action.
SBCAmericas: How do you anticipate the US market will be regulated to ensure consumer protection and that customers are freely able to place bets?
Harley Redlick: Any cancelled bet by an operator in New Jersey or Nevada must be reported to the gaming control board for review. This includes a brief egregious computer glitch. Many UK shops are use to having trader approved bets posted for hours and then rescinding the bets claiming palpable error. This will not legally hold in the US with their consumer protection laws and shops behaving that way will risk horrid PR and then likely lose their licenses for rescinding bets. While US Casinos can 86 players, with mobile betting its tough to stop syndicates (ie, if I’m sharp and mobile book X cuts me off, I can still text friends what to bet).
SBCAmericas: When it comes to terms and conditions, (are there any that might apply uniquely to the US betting sector?) how important is it that US operators form their own stance which caters to their own customers and regulations?
Harley Redlick: It is very important that the US customs its rules to its customers and games. Ie, in hockey (or basketball) most US casinos have two-way lines and OT is part of the game VS the standard UK three-way line.
Operators will not succeed in the US with general palp rules where they are constantly rescinding bets hours later for marginal valuation differences. They are probably best off allowing any bet with a payout below $10,000 to fly even in error, and for those higher bets state that “if the payout is shown to be 10x more than the odds should have paid, a maximum of $10,000 will be paid out per bet”. That way, small errors get paid by big operators who made the error, but a single error won’t destroy a sportsbook.