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Sportradar on Qatar: in-play betting will drive engagement

By - 22 November 2022

Since the previous edition of the World Cup in 2018, there has been significant technological advancements in the sports betting space.

Dalraj Bahia, Managing Director of Operations within Sportradar’s Betting & Gaming vertical, is curious to see how in-play betting performs during this year’s competition following the advancement of live betting and the introduction of rapid markets.

What opportunities does the upcoming World Cup present the sports betting industry?

The World Cup is huge. The 2018 competition reached a global television audience of 3.5 billion people. From a betting perspective, the turnover for the tournament was €136 billion, that’s more than twice the amount of turnover achieved at the European Championships three years later.

Its unrivalled popularity provides operators with an opportunity to engage a vast number of sports fans and punters, many of whom are likely to bet on soccer. It’s through this engagement that operators can develop a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences and interests, using these anonymised insights to create personalised experiences that engage fans more deeply and for longer periods of time.

Do you anticipate greater betting engagement rates than Russia four years ago?

Absolutely I do, for two reasons. Firstly, technology has improved these past four years. In that time, we’ve seen greater application of automation technologies which we’ve used to reduce suspension times and expand the number of betting markets available in-play.

Effectively this creates more time for operators to engage with their customers during a match, while enhancing the experience for bettors.

Secondly, there have been significant regulatory changes since the 2018 World Cup, with 30 states in the U.S. plus Canada opening up for online sports betting.

For the first time, sports fans in these two countries will be able to legally place a bet on World Cup matches. Additionally, the national teams of the US and Canada qualified for the tournament, so we can expect fans to be particularly engaged this year.

How have operator partners approached the winter tournament differently to a traditional summer event? What have been the biggest hurdles with the different timing?

The fans might be grumbling about the timing of this year’s World Cup, but its mostly business as usual for sportsbook operators.

Soccer is the world’s number one betting sport by turnover and its popularity means that most operators today engage their customers with a round-the-clock soccer offering, so they’re accustomed to covering events at different times of day and across different time zones.

What betting trends are you anticipating for this World Cup? Are we likely to see a greater focus on outright betting or bet builders?

Actually, I’m curious to see how In-Play betting performs during this year’s competition. The advancement of live betting and the introduction of Rapid Markets adds to the thrill and excitement of the live sports experience for some bettors.

And, given the growing popularity and proliferation of live betting in the U.S., I think In-Play betting will be even more of a key driver of engagement for operators this time round.

What features, products and innovations have you lined up to coincide with the World Cup?

For this year’s tournament we’ve introduced Sportradar Virtual Stadium, an artificial intelligence and machine learning-driven social engagement solution. It allows sportsbook operators to connect more deeply with bettors and enrich the user experience throughout the competition in Qatar.

What makes the new solution so unique is that it provides bettors with the opportunity to socialise with each other and share the live sports experience by participating in conversation and friendly debate on betting content, pre-match build-up and on the pitch action.

It includes game-specific chat rooms for upcoming and live matches, free-to-play betting opportunities, fan polls, reaction stickers and cheer-meters that highlight how the fans are reacting to a particular event within a match.

Dalraj Bahia is Managing Director of Operations within Sportradar’s Betting & Gaming vertical. Working alongside Sportradar’s Chief Product Officer, Dalraj manages a global team to lead and develop a suite of Betting & Gaming products.

Previously, Dalraj worked within the Direct Private Equity team at CPP Investments, where he focused on lead and co-lead investments across a variety of sectors. He also has experience in the hedge fund industry, having worked as an Analyst at Liongate Capital. Dalraj holds a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

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