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Industry Snapshot: Gambling Industry Challenges for 2019

The gambling industry continues to see growth and strong results.

In the UK, the gross gaming yield of the British gambling industry is estimated to be around £14 billion, with online gambling thought to account for £4.7 billion. In the US, the relaxing of the 1992 gambling legislation has made sports betting legal throughout the country. Accordingly we’re set to see a $3-£5 billion stake in the sports betting market for the US in the next few years.

But with growth comes competition and this competition is driven by consumer demand. The need for in-play and live betting is forcing betting companies to become innovative in their offers and agile in their consumer engagement strategy. Changing regulations always prove challenging too.

This year, some of the biggest industry challenges include:

The need to build trust and cut through the noise 

The market is cluttered with betting companies, packed full of competing odds, and at the mercy of customers that show little loyalty – those aged between 25 and 34 are the most likely age group to have five or more online betting accounts. Short term performance is therefore key, but it can’t be done to the detriment of building a trustworthy brand identity.

Cutting through the noise and standing out from the competition is crucial. To do so, betting companies need a strong brand, with a consistent message and excellent customer service. To create this strong brand, above the line advertising still very much has its place, whether innovative TV campaigns or a defined sponsorship strategy. The message needs to stay consistent across social media, online content and digital advertising.

Whistle-to-whistle advertising ban 

While TV advertising still has its place for gambling companies, it will no longer do so during live televised sports events in the UK. The so-called whistle-to-whistle ban comes into effect from the start of the 2019/20 football season and means that no gambling TV ads can be shown in the UK during live sports coverage before 9pm from five minutes before the event begins and until five minutes after it finishes.

The regulations which were implemented in December, came into effect after reports that 90 minutes of gambling ads were shown during coverage of the 2018 World Cup.

Companies in this space therefore need to lean more heavily on their online advertising strategy to drive performance for the important in-play market during live sports events. These ads simply must work harder to compete. And with the gambling ban recently lifted in the states, there is plenty of cash to be made from online sports betting in the US. Which brings us on to our next point.

UK companies trying to break the US market 

The whistle-to-whistle advertising ban isn’t the only regulation impacting betting companies in the UK, with the likes of the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) dropping from £100 to £2 and the increase in Point-of-Consumption Tax also coming into play.

The change in regulation is cited as the key driving force behind many UK betting companies eyeing expansion into the US. We’ve already seen the likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill and 888 increasing their presence in the States by entering into partnership with players on the US market or taking them over completely. This follows the relaxing of the laws in the US to online gambling, with many more UK companies set to follow suit. A challenge or opportunity for the established companies in the US?

Strategy towards VAR 

Another change coming in with the beginning of the 2019/20 football season in England is the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) in Premier League games. As was witnessed during the World Cup the previous summer and the 2018/19 Champions League, VAR can throw up more controversy than it in fact solves.

Teething problems abound, with little trust in the new system from managers, players and supporters. But what it does mean is the potential for twists and turns throughout the Premier League season. We’ve already seen the implementation of VAR, in MLS stateside since March 2017, with the issues still apparent and a lack of love towards the new system.

It’s essential for betting companies to get their Premier League VAR strategy right from the outset, including the odds they offer, the in-play markets available and how they communicate their key messages. Those that get this right, will most likely earn the early spoils and attract those less-than-loyal customers.

The ongoing challenge of live in-play betting 

Sport makes up over 30% of all bets.

It’s of huge importance to betting companies and is by its very nature unpredictable. So when it comes to online betting, customers will change their mind during an event depending on how proceedings unfold. They want the flexibility to place new bets or cash out early if things aren’t going their way.

The market for in-play betting is therefore huge and is only continuing to grow – it accounted for 72% of Bet365’s sporting revenue in 2017. And the smartphone is clearly the device of choice for in-play betting.

Following the changes in legislation in the US, in-play sports betting has taken hold and really captured the imagination of the stateside consumers. In New Jersey, reportedly the in-play market now accounts for 40 – 50% of total betting, with roughly 80% of all bets taking place online.

That makes an agile approach to live-in play betting essential for gambling companies. And to be agile and able to deliver the right message, using the right channel at the right time, automation through feed ads and dynamic creative is essential.

Final Thoughts 

Online advertising is essential for betting companies to build brand awareness in existing and new markets and to engage with their potential customers through an agile approach to in-play betting. With such competition, ad strategies need to be tailored, targeted and high-performing

The Fluid Ads platform can revolutionise your approach to digital advertising ensuring potential customers will always be engaged with at the right time, in the right channel with the best possible message and or odds/call to action. Contact us today to learn more.

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