GoldenRace’s CEO and Founder Martin Wachter explains why he believes the European success of Virtual Sports can be replicated in the North America sports betting market.
It is not a secret that the US is a huge market, for everything. I think it also has a strong potential for the virtual sports industry. In fact, according to a survey by the American Gaming Association, 39 per cent of adult Americans are either current or potential sports bettors.
Of course, not every state has legalised sports betting yet, and, even in those states where it has been authorised, we need more time for virtual sports to be fully available. Also, companies need some time to start trusting this new path, and it is important that operators and bettors understand the product in detail and to get to know all the benefits virtual sports has to offer.
In this process, virtual sports providers can play a major role educating their clients as to how to market and offer this vertical, which is still a novelty across the country.
At GoldenRace, we have been studying the North American market for years, and we are applying to receive our first licenses and certifications to operate within the US and Canada. In this process, we have clearly identified that our 15 years of experience providing virtual sports betting platforms around the world, when this product was still unknown, constitutes a major advantage as we advise our clients on the introduction of virtuals in uncharted territories.
The history of virtual sports in the European market is a very interesting example to study.
When we started offering virtual sports in Germany in 2006, operators and players didn’t know very much about our virtual products, and it was hard to make them understand the advantages of having a pre-recorded portfolio next to their sportsbooks. Even if those advantages were numerous! Because, if you create and offer virtual sports as we do, with realistic odds and well studied sportsbook features, there is almost no learning curve for players to adopt these new games.
In fact, our virtuals have a lot of similarities with real sports betting, with the benefit that players are able to bet on their favourite teams more frequently.
Fortunately, these operators took a chance and tried something new, offering virtual sports at their betting shops to fulfill the moments between real events. This is a very important issue, as during the last months we have seen, perhaps clearer than ever, how virtual sports kept the betting industry going while there was a shortage or complete lack of real sports events.
Back in those days, European clients started to see virtual products as an opportunity to cover a portion of their fixed costs and as a safer way to keep their shops open. With this new offering, they noticed that they could make better use of their resources, while players discovered the high reliability of virtual sports and learned to trust them. For them, it also became extremely exciting to be able to bet on their favourite teams and games every few minutes!
It seems like a long time ago now, especially when we see that in some established markets 15-20 per cent of the monthly profits generated at a betting shop are driven by virtuals.
In Italy, for example, which is for me the most developed virtual sports market, more than six per cent of the whole sports betting volume in the country is produced by our virtual sports.
We can now prove, beyond doubt, that the presence of virtuals at betting shops increases traffic. We know it through our own experiences and the solid testimonies of our clients. In some markets we even have clients selling more tickets with our virtual soccer than with the real thing!
So, what does this experience say about the North American market? Is it possible to replicate the European success of virtual sports in the US?
My answer would be: you have to know how to do it. If virtual sports are introduced and offered correctly, the prospect for growth is enormous.
First of all, clients need to give it a try; understanding how the product works and learning the best ways to present them to their players.
Betting shops already have a sportsbook- driven base of customers, but the more diverse and complete their portfolios are, the more players they will attract, and the longer they will stay engaged.
What could be better for operators than offering a product that is so similar to real sports betting and that is available when the other is not?
There is one final substantial piece of advice I would give to anyone who wants to warrant the success of virtual sports in North America: spend time there first, stay close to your clients, understanding that there is not only one solution for all the world.
In the United States, for example, it is unthinkable to go with a game that has been established for years in Europe and expect that players will understand it or like it from the beginning. The offer has to be tailored-made for the US market, even considering the different tastes for each state.
You have to be willing to know the needs of the different markets and adapt your product the right way, such as a simple mode that new players can easily understand.
As I have mentioned, GoldenRace has gained extensive expertise by establishing virtual sports in Europe for more than a decade, paying special attention to the understanding of players’ behaviour and needs.
Every day, more and more users bet on our virtual sports, which allows us to find more details about their preferences. Because of this, we are able to more accurately design our products to fit our clients’ needs and maximise their income.
We strongly believe that this knowledge will help GoldenRace and our partners to successfully enter the US market.
I am aware we still need some months before virtual sports becomes a reality in the United States, and even more as a solid business. But I have no doubt that the success will arrive, and when it does, it can be bigger than it is in the rest of the world.