There have been a lot of changes in the betting industry over the past fifteen years – more than in the previous forty. From about 1961 to around 2000, cash betting remained virtually the same until the industry saw some minor regulatory adjustments; however, it wasn’t until online betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS) started to take hold that real changes were seen.
In the past four to five years, in particular, there have been a lot of changes in user trends in sports betting, including the increased prevalence and prominence of player performance (aka player prop) betting. One company that has been at the forefront of this shift in user preferences and in many ways been a pioneer for the innovation in player prop betting is Digital Sports Tech (DST). DST Director and industry expert, Ari Lewski, has been closely observing the changes in sports betting to help ensure DST continues to be at the forefront of industry advancements and has valuable insight into where sports betting is headed.
“The first key change we’ve observed is in connection with the next generation of users coming through,” says Lewski. “These users, commonly referred to as millennials, are seeking a different type of engagement when betting on sports. These days, users have access to vision of all the games they bet on and, therefore, want a more immersive experience. I believe this alone has been one of the biggest contributing factors to the rise in popularity of in-play betting.”
In-play betting has evolved massively since its emergence 10-15 years ago, with many operators now offering a myriad of in-running markets to attract gamblers and increase volume. The primary catalyst for the more recently steep rise in popularity has been the advent of mobile betting and the penetration of smartphone devices. This has led to in-play betting representing anywhere up to 80% of turnover for most operators across Europe, a region dominated by in-play betting on football.
Lewski explains, “The other significant shift we’ve observed in the industry is the growing attention to player performance and, by extension, player-related betting markets. Another senior industry executive was recently quoted as saying that in certain sports and leagues the players are becoming stronger brands than the teams and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. The NBA is a great example of that ⎯ it’s a sport in its prime in terms of its global appeal and popularity, and it’s solely due to the proliferation of captivating, star players currently in the league.”
Fueling this growing interest in player performance has not only been the accessibility of watching the star players but the vicious rise in popularity of fantasy sports worldwide. In North America alone, fantasy sports now sees over 59 million users. While the DFS segment of fantasy sports has experienced a steep growth trajectory over the past three years as DraftKings and Fanduel, in particular, have been able to exploit the desire of fans to engage more with their favorite sports. A recent survey indicated that 61% of consumers welcome laws that legalize DFS and cash prizes. Now that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) has been repealed by the US Supreme Court, that wish will soon become reality
As Lewski points out, , “The popularity of fantasy sports is something that definitely struck a chord with us a number of years ago and was the genesis of DST. It is also the main influence behind all of the products & solutions we have built to date for the sports betting industry. We identified a number of factors behind the popularity of this activity that weren’t being exploited enough by sportsbooks, so we set out to build products for the industry that tap straight into these same factors. Even though we were innovating there really wasn’t any uncertainty whether demand for these new products was there ⎯ it was more a case of building the right mousetrap to ensure we could pull users who were playing fantasy sports across to sports betting.”
DST has launched some of the most innovative offerings possible to the gambling community. The company’s Bet Builder prop betting solution has been a huge success, gaining favor with sportsbooks around the world. It also was a springboard for the creation of DST’s “Same-Game Accumulators” solution that was another industry-first that launched in 2017. Now the company is getting set to launch its next revolutionary product for the industry, in-play player prop markets. “This has been one of the most challenging solutions we have built to date, but hopefully it will end up being the most rewarding,” says Lewski.