Where will sport betting’s next big game-changer come from?

Estimated read time 4 min read

Shane McLaughlin, a betting and igaming industry consultant and former DAZN Bet MD, laments the lack of true revolutionary developments in sportsbook products over the past two decades but suspects that change is on the horizon
The post Where will sport betting’s next big game-changer come from? first appeared on EGR Intel.  

Tens of millions must now be spent annually on sportsbook product development and innovation, with a huge acceleration in investment since the opening of the US market. However, very few developments have been truly needle shifting in the past 20 years.  

My list of notable game-changers would be cash-out, in-play, free to play, player props and bet builder (same game parlay for our friends in the US).Of these, bet builder stands out as the biggest mental leap forward in sportsbook thinking.

One of the first things I was taught in a trading room was never to allow related contingency selections in the same multiple. It was one of those fundamental trading rules that we lived by, and then bet builders came along and ripped up the rulebook.

With a shift in mindset towards creating mass-market consumer products, it opens up a world of creativity and possibility that operators are only starting to explore. Sportsbooks are fast heading in the direction of gaming products that have been so successful in engaging players over the years.

Last month, BetVictor launched a beautifully designed lucky dip product for the recreational bettor. You are guaranteed big odds, but you don’t know which selection you are backing until you spin the wheel.

Ten years ago, if you had put forward the idea of getting customers to place bets without knowing what selection they are betting on, you would likely have been placed in a straitjacket. But in the current market context of needing to appeal to a wider recreational audience, it makes a lot of sense.

Ladbrokes may have laid claim to creating the original lucky dip product out of Entain’s Product Innovation Centre, the mere existence of which highlights how the bigger firms now have entire teams dedicated to building and market testing new sportsbook product innovations.

Successful innovations are quickly copied, so you have to move at pace with a constant pipeline of product innovations to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Personally, I often look towards betting exchange functionality when in search of inspiration for new sportsbook product innovations. Exchanges are a hotbed of innovation and boundary pushing to squeeze out any edge possible.

After all, exchange players were doing cash-out long before it was ‘invented’ by sportsbooks and made available to the mass consumer market. It may be no coincidence that many of the big innovations in sportsbook have come out of Flutter Entertainment, which has the largest exchange player base in the world to observe. 

One exchange-inspired opportunity that seems untapped to me is the potential to develop ‘dutching’ into a consumer proposition for events with large fields such as the Grand National or weekly golf tournaments.

For those not familiar with the term, dutching is where you back more than one selection in an event to win the same amount whichever of your selections wins. Fun fact: it is named after Al Capone’s accountant ‘Dutchy’ Schultz, who favoured this betting style.

The ability to pick as many selections as you want, set your preferred total stake and get a fixed payout if any of your selections wins seems like it should appeal to the mass market.

If you pick five or six selections with a mix of odds ranges, then you’d hope to have an interest in the closing stages of the event for a reasonable payout. Call it ‘pick’n fix’ or something catchy, create a nice widget and easy UX, then release it to the world.

It may not be this idea, but I’m looking forward to seeing if sportsbook operators bring anything truly game-changing to the market in 2024.

Shane McLaughlin is a consultant to the betting and igaming industry. During his career, he was MD at Betdaq and DAZN Bet, and worked with leading brands including Entain, Ladbrokes and BoyleSports. He is a trusted adviser and expert in sportsbooks and exchanges, international market development, growth strategies and leadership.

The post Where will sport betting’s next big game-changer come from? first appeared on EGR Intel.


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