Sports spread betting: The affiliate opportunity

By Louella Hughes

Sports spread betting is the lucrative untapped product affiliates need to do more to promote, argues Kevan Edgerton of Sporting Index.

While betting straight-up (win or loss) has the potential for high-drama, there are some bettors who, in their pursuits, reach in the direction of something even more sophisticated and exciting. It’s because of them that sports spread betting continues to have growth potential as it responds to that desire. Sports spread betting goes beyond the mundane, everyday predicting of wins and losses, extending its players’ powers of prophecy to a whole new level. For example, could you predict how many goals there will be in a football match or how many runs will be scored in a cricket innings by a particular batsman? Those are the kinds of questions that an operator like Sporting Index asks bettors to answer every day.

With spread betting, bettors benefit from a fresh, immersive experience where they can back their instincts by betting on a wider variety of events within individual matches. It also creates a dynamic where it’s not just whether a player is right or wrong – it’s how right or wrong they are that determines their overall profit and loss.

The sports spread betting player base is typically comprised of older, more affluent professionals who have been around long enough to know the value of a pound, and the importance of checking the weather before placing a wager on an outdoor event.

Spread betting player profiles Nestled alongside fixed-odds and financial trading (forex and binary options), sport spread betting inhabits a profitable sweet spot, while also maintaining its own identity and player draw. Fixed-odds players that experiment with spread betting are likely to find additional enjoyment from the niche, as it offers them something that they can’t get anywhere else; the feeling of every moment mattering and directly impacting their profit or loss. They may spread bet alongside their traditional fixed-odds punting, or even fully adopt spread betting as their preferred form of betting. The appeal of this upper echelon of sports betting is something it’s in affiliates’ interest to be aware of, so they can capitalise on its as yet untapped revenue source.

In addition to being accessible to more traditional punters, sport spread betting also has the potential to be a more profitable product for affiliates, with higher average LTV and associated commission. Affiliates and operators need to work together to determine what motivates a player to make that transition, and to help facilitate this through education about the product - a focal point of Sporting Index’s spread betting affiliate programme. A comparison can also be made to those in financial trading who work with complex algorithms and large sums of money on a daily basis. It’s a player base typically comprised of older, more affluent professionals who have been around long enough to know the value of a pound, and the importance of checking the weather before placing a wager on an outdoor event. And while exchange betting requires its own brand of steely reserve, there are dynamics that make sports spread betting a much exciting and “edge of your seat” experience.

Another comparison in the existing iGaming framework for affiliates to consider is online poker, which also asks players to make the most of the information at their disposal before placing a bet. Poker and spread betting can each be approached with the hope for a bit of luck, but in terms of sustained returns, a player who is more knowledgeable tends to ultimately be the one who is rewarded. In other words, if fixed-odds betting can be equated to Friday night poker with one’s friends, then sports spread betting is like suddenly finding yourself in contention at the World Series of Poker. Both can provide great entertainment but the wins or losses can be much higher in spread betting, with heightened excitement to boot.

The affiliate factor In November of last year, the UK Gambling Commission released its report on industry statistics between April 2009 and September 2013. The report showed that the remote betting sector experienced increased turnover and gross gambling yield across football, tennis and golf. Overall, according to the report, betting accounted for £22.4bn of the £23.4bn in industry turnover for the period between October 2012 and September 2013. Those weighty figures, combined with the lure of high-risk, high-reward payouts in sports spread betting, form a foundation upon which affiliates can seek to build a profitable model. There is added incentive due to the aforementioned crossover with fixed-odds, financial trading and poker, which provide affiliates the opportunity of becoming sites of convergence for these verticals. Through this opportunity for acquisition crossover, affiliates can become integral to the marketing strategies of not just sports spread betting operators but all the above. These are the opportunities that Sporting Index aims to help affiliates leverage through its programme.

Many bettors are also sports fans who have a distinct sense of loyalty, which can be of advantage to affiliates eyeing the revenue potential of sports spread betting.

The overall stability of the sports betting market has never been greater. According to a September 2014 news release from bookmaker BetSports888, the worldwide gross win from online sports betting reached about US$15.5bn (€11.5bn) in 2012. The same release states that sports betting generated more than 50 percent of the total worldwide online gross win that same year. The sports spread betting industry is no different, with increasing player levels and profits boosted by large events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and any other major event on the sporting calendar. Evidence also shows that mobile technology is evolving in support of verticals like sports spread betting and the increasing number of adapting affiliates. As with the retail industry, mobile facilitates engagement and purchases, giving operators a broader audience to market towards. It’s the very reason why Sporting Index has developed and is constantly improving its own mobile spread betting service. “Smartphone penetration has now surpassed 60 percent and tablet ownership more than doubled in 2013 to 36 percent in the UK adult population. More than eight in ten 25 to 34 year olds have a smartphone and nearly half have a tablet,” states a February 2013 report from Deloitte entitled, The Future of the British Remote Betting and Gaming Industry. The report goes on to say that “currently almost a third of betting and gaming consumers have used their smartphone and 16 per cent have used a tablet to gamble online.”

Respecting the fan base Many bettors are also sports fans who have a distinct sense of loyalty, which can be of advantage to affiliates eyeing the revenue potential of sports spread betting. That loyalty is what carries fans from one season to the next, even when their football club breaks their heart. As spread betting is a niche offering that targets an evolving player market, operators and affiliates have the opportunity to build strong customer relationships early in their lifecycle. Sporting Index is constantly experimenting with strategic CRM and finding new ways of enhancing both product and promotions to strengthen those relationships.

With Europe’s UEFA Champions League, England’s Premier League and the American NFL each getting into their seasonal stride, the iGaming industry is heading into one of the busiest times of the year. During this time we expect to see even more bettors wager via sports spread betting operators, as the product begins to break further into the mainstream sphere of the avid punter. Affiliates should look to get on board now to exploit sports spread betting’s burgeoning potential. Sporting Index is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority in respect of sports spread betting, a leveraged product where losses may exceed deposits.

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