In recent years, the industry has been gaining momentum with the upward trend in social betting, but where does this concept come from and where does it lead? We spoke to experts from different industries to analyze how it is developing.
SBC: Sports betting and casino social features have been one of the key trends in recent years. How and why did this concept appear?
Alex Dubin, Founder and CEO of BettorOff: In today’s world of mobile and hyper-networking, virtually every business model involves some form of socialization and community building, and sports betting is no exception.
Since the early days of online betting, PokerStars has used the free version of the PokerStars.net platform to create a risk-free poker community with the goal of converting these users to the paid version of PokerStars.com.
This trend of using community building to grow and attract a user base has evolved from a smart marketing strategy to another industry that has become an integral part of the online betting ecosystem. As PokerStars has demonstrated, social betting can be a very effective tool to introduce people to sports betting without risk or fear.
Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO of EvenBet Gaming: Being part of the community has always been important for players and the general public. So our platform has always had features like chats, forums and other basic interactions between users.
In online gaming, social features became a super trend soon after the start of the 2020 pandemic. This was because offline interactions were limited, so people didn’t have access to live sports and couldn’t play with other users.
Will Tyrrell, Director of UK Media at Checkd Group: Sports betting is more than a 90-minute football game or a four-day golf tournament. These are the controversies, the cash out dilemmas, and the journey that players are currently discussing with their friends. This shift in recent years has meant that the potential financial rewards of betting have fallen out of sight, and players are now looking to show off their knowledge and correct predictions. This competitive edge is the key to Tipster’s new product, which gives players the chance to compete for free prizes such as football tickets, autographed T-shirts and cash.
SBC: What social betting features are the most popular in the industry?
AD: In-game and peer-to-peer betting is one of the hottest trends in the industry. Especially on social media. Their popularity during arena play is a result of the dynamic nature of sports broadcasts. Gaining a betting edge is always a challenge and players are constantly working to identify, capitalize on and maintain that edge. At the moment, the best way to achieve this is to bet on games with ever-changing odds.
The popularity of peer-to-peer (“P2P”) betting has also grown over the past few years. Peer-to-peer is at the heart of social engagement, offering players the opportunity to compete with other sports enthusiasts. Similar to the PokerStars model, P2P can be played without money just for the sake of competition, but the end goal of almost all P2P betting platforms is to turn free users into real money bettors. This “free” model is also widely used in games, from buying CS:GO skins to buying add-ons for mobile games like Candy Crush.
DS: There are basically two types of features in social betting. In-game communication such as chat, comments, live streams, as well as features such as leaderboards, leaderboards, special rewards, and other forms of positioning yourself in relation to other users. Not everyone sees ratings as a social mechanism, but they are primarily a form of showcasing success, a process much like uploading a photo of a gourmet restaurant meal or a powerful car to Instagram.
VT: Using the Tipster product example from the Betting Hub betting app, we were able to use our own social community to submit entries and discuss each tournament. The product offers the opportunity to participate in tournaments for free, and also allows players to directly share their selections through social channels to stimulate communication and interest. They can also place live bets with our integrated partners and compare the best available odds from different operators.
Delivering added value and opportunity through social rates is key to the success of new products in a highly competitive environment.
SBC: In which key markets/demographics do you think this concept works well?
AD: Social betting is a natural fit for those who grew up on social media. This might seem like a fairly young audience, but Facebook and its platform’s many offshoots have been around long enough for the social betting target audience to go way beyond millennials.
Digging deeper, the data shows that social betting is expanding its presence on college campuses. According to the data, graduates earn over $75,000. Socialization is critical to the development of this sector as part of a fully connected world. Therefore, something more is required than the excitement of betting, the joy of winning and the pain of losing. They want to share this experience with a community of like-minded people.
Today, this communication is most often seen on Twitter. Here, sports bettors follow each other, exchange opinions, discuss and communicate. In short, functioning as a community, like all communities, this community requires better access to information, greater accountability, full transparency, and ways to separate signals from noise.
This is how professional and exciting platforms are born and develop. Responding to the natural call of the community to communicate in certain areas without the distractions and distortions of popular social media platforms. For sports bettors, the platform should offer everything they need in one place. Verified user statistics, odds from multiple books, news, opinions and all the social features they expect, plus the ability to monetize their ideas.
This community development has been seen before. LinkedIn is the professional brainchild of Facebook, while Twitch grew from YouTube to become the go-to streaming destination for gamers. Today we see the sports betting community demanding the same.
DS: There is no specific age group or market that is more receptive to social interaction in iGaming. However, in less mature markets where there are fewer professionals and experienced players, social opportunities may be more important advantages than specific gaming opportunities for amateurs.
VT: Social media betting is best for outdoor enthusiasts who are usually more active and interactive on social media. They are tech savvy, probably new to betting, and not necessarily obsessed with picking favorites or finding the best value possible. We see it as another form of entertainment that adds value to sports consumption. We also found that these amateur players are more likely to follow multiple social media content producers and may target products such as tournaments that offer rewards in exchange for successful picks.
SBC: It seems like the era of social betting has just begun – how do you see it evolving in five years?
AD: As online gambling expands across the country, we are in the middle of a burgeoning social gambling era with endless opportunities for innovation, iteration and expansion. The attractiveness of operators and the perceived usefulness of social charges as a retention tool make the restriction almost non-existent. However, we must remember that everything that is destined to continue is destined to change. Thus, we can expect the already fluid nature and role of social fees to change over time.
A good example of this is the growing role of socialization as a marketing tool and connection for experienced amateur bettors looking to put their skills into sports betting by being paid as betting advisors and influencers.
As such, any platform that wants to follow in the footsteps of LinkedIn or Twitch is bound to offer more than just social features.
DS: I think the era of social betting will become a must for gaming and betting platforms. In just two years of working from home, our entertainment and work habits seem to have changed forever. The social aspect of the game makes you feel like you belong to a community united by a common passion. This community will grow further with more technology such as video and virtual reality, as well as more features available on both mobile and desktop.
VT: It’s a great tool that gives users the ability to place bets without the risk. This allows players to learn the ins and outs of betting, and transferring that knowledge to real money should ultimately help ensure smarter operations.
For example, if you look at the United States, daily fantasy sports competitions have a long history and are so successful that even casual fans have detailed game statistics. Social betting takes advantage of these qualities and adds an element of competition to create the excitement that naturally leads to conversions.
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