Werner Becher, new MD of US Betting at Sportradar Group, talks to SBC Americas about the importance of a results-driven approach to engaging US sports bettors and some of the lessons that can be learned from the established European sports wagering market.
What lessons can be learned in the US from what has happened in the European betting markets?
Sports betting has been regulated across Europe for many years now. During this time, strong and highly innovative offerings have been developed in response to technological advancements and trends to increase engagement for audiences. Consequently, the need for sophisticated means of analyzing the market, using machine learning and AI for example, to price competitive odds as well as manage risk has also been realized. The main factors the US can learn from this are twofold. Firstly, identifying and utilizing the trends and technology that make a sportsbook a real success is important, but so is being able to target audiences by honing in on regional preferences. Secondly, a sportsbook offering needs to be supported by quality trading and risk management as this is equally important if an operator wants to avoid pitfalls.
What has the biggest growth potential in the US betting market?
It is all about live, in-play betting via mobile. We have already seen the popularity and success of this in US states that have allowed for mobile betting. In New Jersey, for example, 85% of handle in October 2019 was derived from mobile wagering. This is similarly reflected in markets across the world. Given the advent of technology and mobile penetration across the world, bettors are increasingly opting for the convenience of handheld devices to place a wager whenever and wherever they like. Additionally, the statistically-strong nature of many US sports really lends well to live, in-play betting with the ability to create granular markets for increased betting opportunities, like rapid markets and player markets, for example.
On the other hand, what are going to be the key challenges in the US market?
The fact that legislation is being enacted on a state-by-state basis creates fragmentation in the US. However, this is similar in emerging markets across the world like Latin America and Asia where it is on a country basis. This creates division not just in regards to whether betting is legal or not, but also because of differing regulatory frameworks pertaining to mobile and retail channels, depending on where you are across the region. For operators, this simply reiterates the importance of being able to identify what works in general terms and applying this at a more localized level. This is about knowing what sports are popular, how people like to bet and what technology and trends shape, and will continue to transform this.
How big an impact can ad:s have for US betting operators?
ad:s was developed as another bespoke addition to Sportradar’s 360 degree betting services, which enables operators to create a point of difference in what is becoming an increasingly crowded and competitive market. In the US in particular, it can really help operators tackle the key challenges discussed earlier. ad:s uses Sportradar’s unique data access to help bookmakers identify, acquire and retain customers based on their specific activity. It therefore is a more results-driven approach, giving bettors what they want based on their preferences, meaning operator’s marketing spend is much more efficient. We recently launched our new programmatic ad offering through ad:s, which is the only service of its kind dedicated to the betting industry, utilizing our knowledge of sports bettors to help operators better address their audiences through optimization and customization. In the US, where technology and personalization in sports is key, this is crucial in order to stand out in the new market.
What is your vision for Sportradar US?
Expansion in the US is vital to the Sportradar business. Becoming the first and only data provider to secure partnerships with the four major US sports leagues was a huge achievement and the way in which we are merging media and betting via our data-driven marketing services, ad:s, excites me. This combination of data and technology, along with the scalability of the company and the emergence of the US betting market was highly attractive to me, and why I am here.
My job is to work closely with management to ensure we stay at the top of our game. While the US market may be evolving from a legislative standpoint, the one constant we can always rely on is the incredible enthusiasm of the sports fan. We want to continue to deliver market leading products and services to our partners that ultimately brings these fans closer to the sports they love.