After more than two months out of the spotlight, sports has slowly begun to return in some pockets of the globe. The German Bundesliga returned in mid-May, while horse racing is back in France and NASCAR has made a comeback in the US. As such, sports betting now has more weekly options.
And while all of these took place without fans in the stands, it does at least provide a glimpse that we’re heading back to some form of normality – albeit in a gradual sense.
Of course, the world now is very different to what it was in March. For sports betting affiliates and operators, one big question looms large – how will player behaviours change in the coming weeks and months?
Nobody knows for sure, but we’re going to speculate on what might happen in this blog post.
Sports fans will have both more and less money to begin with
Since sporting arenas are still closed to the public in most parts of the world, much of the matchday experience has been ripped away from fans for the time being. Moreover, some countries – such as the UK – still haven’t opened pubs and bars. As such, supporters are mainly having to watch games at home. Naturally, they’ll save money in this sense. Putting on a weekend accumulator could signal a return to their regular routine, so there’s a chance they might spend a bit more until they can go back to games.
However, we should also look at the flip side of things. There might be individuals that have lost their jobs due to the virus, or are simply being more careful with where they spend their cash. There are also some fans who include betting as part of their pre-match ritual, but don’t want to place money when they’re not in attendance.
In short – some people will go back to spending money at the bookies each weekend – even if that happens to be online and not at their usual retail outlet. Others, however, might wait until fans are allowed to return to stadiums. It’s also possible that more individuals will shift to digital sports betting to avoid possible infection at betting shops.
Tying into the last sentence of the previous section, the continuing shift to online betting could result in new technological innovations. Prior to lockdowns becoming widespread, US-based Vig It had developed a social betting platform for players to enjoy. Bearing in mind the impact that social distancing has had on many, similar ones might come into fruition elsewhere.
Even retail outlets might adopt more technological innovations too. This has already been seen with US casinos, such as MGM Resorts. To limit physical contact, they’ve introduced digital hotel keys and menus. A greater focus on safety might result in UK-based bookmakers following suit.
Interest in other verticals
While there will always be a core of sports bettors who want nothing to do with any vertical other than sports betting, others will be more flexible. Verticals such as online poker and esports have been the subject of increased interest in the absence of sports betting. For those who found they enjoyed betting on both more than they expected, they might want to continue spending their money within these verticals.
For both sportsbooks and affiliates, this provides a cross-selling opportunity. Just because you adopted a greater focus on either of these verticals – or casinos – doesn’t mean that you should just drop everything all of a sudden. Instead, look at them as an additional revenue stream. This will not only benefit you in the long-term, but also help with recovering the losses made from a lack of sports quicker.
The world will look a lot different when everybody emerges from lockdown and sports already is too. Players will be excited to bet on their favourite events and teams again, though some may proceed with caution.
Nobody will know for sure what sports betting behaviours will look like until a good number of major events return. So, in the meantime, all we can do is speculate.
As important as it is to gear up for the return of sports betting, it’s also worth continuing with the pivoting that was effective for you during the lockdown. By combining the pair, you’ll find that you end the year in a stronger position than in which you started it.
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