Data – the beating heart of sports betting growth

Or Lenchner, CEO, Luminati Networks, considers how data is helping the gaming industry attract new customers and deliver an improved customer experience

Online sports betting is big business and the latest statistics show its continued momentum with annual revenues amounting to £2.1 billion in the UK. The digital transformation from physical stores to online platforms has changed the face of the industry forever, allowing customers to discover a wealth of markets from their smartphone, tablet or laptop. The industry is now one of the most digitally advanced in the UK and has data to thank for improving the user experience, increasing competition, and allowing it to expand to previously undiscovered markets.

The online model has benefits for both the bookmakers and their customers. For bookmakers, this is a highly agile format and allows them to respond and adapt extremely quickly. To stay on ahead, bookmakers are tapping into a wealth of data. The information required is no big secret, it’s publicly available data collected from numerous sources, but with hundreds, if not thousands, of events to bet on every day – bookmakers have to work at scale to collect this. Therefore, bookmakers are now turning to data collection automation platforms to pull in every possible statistic that could be relevant to the customer. The benefit can be seen in three main areas:

1)      Getting the odds right

To be successful, bookmakers need to be competitive in what is an increasingly crowded market. Data collection automation allows online betting companies to gather data on various different factorsto set the most appropriate and lucrative odds. Analysing the form and nuances of, for example a racehorse, is critical to getting this right. By offering the wrong odds, bookmakers are at risk of pushing away potential customers or offering too good a price, meaning if the customer wins – bookmakers are, quite literally, left paying the price. Managing this risk is a fine art, but one that data collection has pushed forwards in recent years,and by tapping into the wealth of available online data, bookmakers have a reliable way of minimizing their risk exposure.

2)      Sizing up the competition

There are over 80 online bookmakers licensed to operate in the UK and maintaining customer share in this environment is tough. With disruptive brands and established players going toe-to-toe, it’s important they have a measure of the rest of the market. Having a view of competitors’ markets, odds and offers is crucial to the actions taken by bookmakers to remain competitive.

3)      Adapting to emerging markets

Data also opens the door to new markets for bookmakers. If they are first to these emerging markets, they will have a sought-after dominant position. Going in blind is far too big a gamble, and data is required to steer them through this. An example of this could be seen during the global lockdown when mainstream sports were suspended around the world. Bookmakers needed to find niche sports events still taking place, create competitive odds and provide customers with data for them to base their betting on.

There is a data revolution taking place in many markets, especially as brands find their feet again after a turbulent first half of 2020. Online data insights are increasingly integral to staying ahead, as they can provide a more up to date snapshot of market reality than more traditional forms of data. This is especially true within the sports betting industry. Data powers the actions of bookmakers and real-time data insights, and the versatility this provides, allowed the industry to come through the pandemic in relatively good shape. In the UK, the sports betting industry only suffered a 0.5% decrease in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The competitive nature of the sports betting industry in the UK has driven innovation through data, and is now seen as one of the most cutting-edge markets when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. Other industries should be following this very closely. When data benefits the customer experience and company strategy – everyone is a winner.