VSodds.bet CEO, Dalius Dabashinskas – fixing up the sportsbook model

The focus in recent years has been on live betting, but there is room in the market to differentiate on pre-match odds as well, says VSodds.bet CEO, Dalius Dabashinskas

It isn’t hard to launch a new sportsbook brand these days.

A whole host of suppliers offering out-of-the-box solutions covering everything from platform and odds feeds to marketing and CRM can help you get live in a matter of weeks.

The only problem? Your product will likely look very similar to what everyone else is offering.

Launching a sportsbook that stands out from competitors and offers customers a genuinely engaging USP is a different matter entirely.

But while it may take considerably more time than the white-label model, the potential rewards are significant.

Beyond live betting

Much of the growth in sportsbook over the past few years has been through in-play. In fact, the rise of live betting has been so rapid that it now accounts for around 75 percent of revenues for many major sportsbook operators.

This is no bad thing, but it has meant that most innovation in the sector has been focused on the in-play segment. Just look at products such as cash out.

So while the live betting experience has completely transformed over the past five or six years, the pre-match, fixed-odds product offering has remained much the same.

The soon-to-launch VSodds.bet sportsbook is looking to change this by transforming the way customers bet on matches pre-match.

When we began working on VSodds.bet, we quickly identified that we could not compete with the world’s biggest sportsbooks on marketing.

But we also noticed that despite the sportsbook sector growing considerably, with many new entrants, there was very little variation available to customers when it comes to odds.

If you take a look at an upcoming Premier League football match on an odds comparison website, it is unlikely that you will see more than a five percent variation in pre-match odds offerings by sportsbooks.

Most major operators follow the market when pricing up events, and as a result they are very conservative with their odds. They prefer to compete with each other on marketing, bonuses or by offering other products – such as virtual sports – designed to acquire and retain customers.

This presents a major opportunity for a sportsbook willing to engage in the lost skills of bookmaking and offer bold odds based on their own models, rather than simply following the market.

A different type of customer

Operators have often been scared of taking this approach out of fear of attracting the wrong (read: winning) type of customer.

However, if you have confidence in your model and trading team, shrewd customers are nothing to fear.

Indeed, if you are pricing up an event more accurately than the market, the huge influx of volume from customers looking for arbitrage opportunities will only be a positive. It will be your competitors who are blindly following the market that will lose out in the long run.

From an affiliate’s perspective, where the challenge is to offer engaging content to an audience of savvy bettors, going alone on price will be a powerful acquisition tool.

Another benefit is that the sportsbook can save considerably on the promotions, bonuses and marketing that are so established in the mainstream of sports betting.

In mature European markets, the cost per acquisition of a sportsbook customer now exceeds €100; acquiring players via an odds-led approach can help to reduce this figure.

A lost art?

Ultimately, refocusing on pre-match odds is an opportunity to rediscover the lost art of bookmaking. Today, the dominance of in-play and the huge range of markets available to bet on has made it a necessity to follow the market with pricing.

Of course, settings odds is a very different process than it was several years ago. As well as a skilled team of traders, much of the process is now automated. Finding the right balance between algorithms and old-fashioned trading is the key.

Offering odds that are different to the rest of the market is a sure-fire way of attracting customers’ attention. We aim to stand apart from the market consistently on major events, and that will create arbitrage and best price opportunities that can cut through the marketing noise of bigger competitors.

And in a competitive landscape where operators are struggling to create a unique voice that resonates with punters, it is about time odds were placed at the centre of the race towards differentiation.