Horse Racing’s Growing International Appeal

Following a number of Eastern European operators introducing horse racing to their sportsbooks for the first time, SIS Product Director Paul Witten speaks with European Gaming to discuss why the sport is becoming a viable betting product for bookmakers in territories with relatively little racing heritage, and how the company is working closely with its operator partners to help attract new customers.

European Gaming (EG): Horse racing has not traditionally been a betting product within Eastern Europe, but we’re now seeing more operators in this territory expanding their offering in this space. What’s the reasoning behind this shift in strategy?

One of the key reasons why more operators in Eastern Europe are expanding their offering in this space is due to the way in which the overall product is now being presented to bettors. The availability of live horse racing events through SIS’s 24/7 channels means that online and retail customers now have access to a betting opportunity every three minutes.

Our ‘Watch and Bet’ betting model is proving to be valuable for operators, in helping to engage their customers with content which they’re not necessarily accustomed to. This approach which allows bettors to view live sporting events without the requirement of first placing a bet, increases engagement levels, particularly as we know that bettors are more likely to wager on events that they can see. Commentary and on-screen graphics with betting prompts help to inform the bettor about exactly what is happening before, during and after a race, which also drives interest in betting.

As is the case with other areas of betting and gaming, we’re increasingly agreeing revenue share deals with operators, and these agreements carry many benefits for bookmakers who are looking to introduce a new product such as horse racing to their customer base. These types of deals reduce the risk involved, while also prompting suppliers to work more closely with operators at launch, to leverage their expertise which is invaluable to ensuring that the product is as profitable as possible.

European Gaming: Is there a big enough audience out there for horse racing in Eastern Europe?

Absolutely, there are millions of potential bettors out there in the marketplace. The key is knowing how to turn these prospective customers into active depositing users. To make horse racing a successful betting product for operators in this territory, educating the audience on how to bet on the sport is a key part of the marketing strategy.

Although the sport holds a limited heritage in this part of the world, providing bettors with access to free-to-view pictures of the events via the Watch and Bet model is a great way to get them engaged with the sport, as well as ensuring that there is adequate information on the product for bettors.

European Gaming: How can operators attract new customers with this type of content?

Bettors are more inclined to wager on events that they understand, so it’s worth considering pushing markets that aren’t too complicated. Through our in-house trading team, SIS offers pricing derivative markets that provide a wide range of betting opportunities to suit all betting styles, and particularly popular amongst uninitiated bettors are casino-style ‘spin-and-win’ bets. These types of markets are perfect for operators within this territory, as it enables a newer audience less familiar with the sport to engage with the sport. Bettors can for example, bet on the odd-numbered horses against the even-numbered horses, similar to how roulette is played. Once bettors have experienced a few races they will be more comfortable with exploring the plethora of additional markets that are available.

European Gaming: How are suppliers such as yourselves looking to assist operators in this region when launching horse racing for the first time? Do you offer more than just streams of live racing?

We’ve grown our presence in this territory recently and one of the key factors in our success has been the way in which we work closely with our new operator partners. We strongly believe in a partnership approach and look to help our customers extract the maximum value from our products and services by providing by providing additional services to help operators establish their new horse racing offering.

We have created an operator marketing portal which contains point of sale material and ‘How to bet guides’ to help them educate their customers on racing, which has proved very beneficial for operators. Our bookmaker customers are able to create bespoke in-store posters and promotional offers.

In addition, our Financial Analytics team, through ongoing data analysis, provide valuable insights into what’s performing well, as well as having access to the latest betting trends in other jurisdictions. This information allows us to provide recommendations to our operator partners to help shape their offering in a way that optimises the appeal to their customers.

European Gaming: SIS recently launched Competitive Gaming. Do you believe this new product is suited for the Eastern European market? Has there been any interest in this new format of esports from this region at all?

As we’re seeing with horse racing, we have no doubt that esports will appeal to bettors all over the world. Again, it’s a case of knowing how best to package this experience to make it relatable to existing sports bettors and become a profitable product for operators.

SIS Competitive Gaming is the world’s only esports betting product that has been built specifically for sportsbooks. We have just agreed a deal with a major Eastern European operator and have had significant interest from a number of other operators in the region. One of the key reasons why the operator opted to take our offering is because of the easy-to-understand markets available. Head to head tournaments featuring skilled gamers cover a wide range of sports, which are sure to resonate with their existing customer base.