Vahe Baloulian discusses the state of in-play

Vahe Baloulian discusses the state of in-play

BetConstruct CEO Vahe Baloulian surveys the state of in-play betting in 2016 for iGaming Business Magazine, and asks how it is evolving to meet the expectations and needs of the always-on consumer.

I think that, intentionally or not, in-play betting was born to address the desire for incessant and instant gratification – something that has become one of the defining attributes of our lives.

The challenge for the betting suppliers and operators is to make certain that the data that makes in-play betting possible is precise and quick to arrive, and that the coverage is diversified, consistent and constant. Considering how many links are in this supply chain before the final product arrives on the player’s screen, the task seems daunting. And it is.

The number of live events in in-play betting

Is the quantity of the live events really important? I can sometimes hear suppliers who offer a limited number of events argue that most punters often prefer the most popular sports and therefore the quantity is a hyped-up differentiator. To me, this is akin to arguing that because most people eat staple foods, we should stick to them and forgo everything else the nature has to offer us.

However, pure quantity will not translate into a successful offering unless appealing markets are continuously created and the events are not placed there just to fill the space. Everything has to be done with the end-user in mind – will the bettor engage with what we offer, is there a 24/7 opportunity to bet on a variety of sports, is the presentation simple enough to be understood?

With diversification and sophistication in supply comes the challenge of having the knowledge and ability to manage the risks. Match fixing is a scourge that requires an enormous effort to eradicate and near-academic levels of knowledge to recognize and be able to draw your defences to render its effects innocuous. Betting relies on trust. It’s that simple.

Тhe current expectations and needs of consumers in in-play betting

Unless someone is working on certain secret market-changing features, the enhancements at the moment are focused on quantity of both matches and markets. Expanding on what turned in-play into such a ubiquitous fixture in the first place, the so-called quick-fire markets like 'Next Point' in tennis, or 'What Happens Next?' in football, are becoming ever more popular as punters seek quick bets and quick settlements, contributing to the operator’s increase in turnover.

The same goes for Cash-Out – still continuing its successful march across the betting sites, bringing along Partial Cash-Out as an extra layer which again gives customers a chance to feel more in control by engaging more often and making decisions they didn’t have an opportunity to make until recently.

Contributing to in-play betting success is the availability of visual data through streaming, for the companies that can afford it, or animation. These gave the bettor an unprecedented chance to be informed, particularly on minor matches where information or pictures are very scarce.

Allowing bettors to customize their in-play betting experience as they do for pre-match and offering them more opportunities to do that will gain more steam. We continue to discover more ways to learn and analyse our customers’ behaviour and habits and put that invaluable intelligence to use.

eSports: new markets in in-play betting

As we move along, there are new and innovative markets being offered and our specialists predict that we will see more of these, depending on the level of will to delve into the unexpected.

With the development of eSports we are coming across a huge demographic. This growing vertical could potentially offer an impressive number of matches and markets. The challenge is for betting suppliers and operators to offer something which appeals to an eSports fan who is not interested in traditional sports and betting. Notwithstanding all the noise around eSports, it is abundantly clear that no one has perfected this yet.

I hope to be called on this, but the major functional innovations in in-play, like Cash-out, are fairly recent and are not yet fully digested to warrant something similarly innovative and exciting in the near future.

This does not mean innovation in in-play is stagnating. There are many new ideas being worked on in our labs and I believe in the R&D departments of our peers. I wish I knew which one will be the next big thing.

The article was originally published in September 2016 Issue of the iGaming Business Magazine.