Euro betting interest in US sports on the up

Euro betting interest in US sports on the up

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
NFL and NBA making their mark on European bettors

The news that BetStars is hugely increasing its range of US sports offered on its largely European-facing sports-betting site should be no surprise given the evidence of a burgeoning interest in American Football, US basketball and baseball.

BetStars will now be offering 348 new betting markets including an array of bets on NFL and college football and on Major League Baseball (MLB) and the company highlighted how it was intent on leveraging a wider global interest in US sports.  

“The globalisation of US sports has seen considerable growth in the level of interest in American sports on this side of the Atlantic,” said BetStars managing director Zeno Ossko.

His comments mirror those from participants in the recent Betting On Sports panel on US sports and the European audience. Nathan Rothschild, co-founder and partner at sports data provision company iSport Genius, agreed that there was increasing evidence of a hunger for US sports among European sports fans and punters.

Pointing to the three NFL regular season games taking place in London in October – one this past weekend involving the Jacksonville Jaguars versus the Indianapolis Colts with two more scheduled later in the month – Rothschild said there was plenty of appetite for NFL in particular.

“It’s been building for a few years now,” he said after speaking to TotallyGaming.com at BOS. “I have seen the Stars and Stripes flags on Regent Street (in London) and the games are clearly generating excitement among general sports fans. That also translates into betting activity.”

Meir Moses, vice president of business development at Don Best Sports which is the supplier of sports-betting data to BetStars, told TotallyGaming.com the high-profile nature of US sports made it all but inevitable that it attracts attention from sports fans in Europe.

“Expanded live TV coverage and video streams offered by operators have had an impact and generally the availability and timing of games is beneficial - coming often after soccer events in Europe for example,” he said. “Also, US sports are generally premium events that are increasingly heavily marketed. It's more fun to bet on a big NBA or NFL game then say, second-tier football events.”

Staying with the NBA, Rothschild said he believes that US basketball offers the potential for grabbing real interest among a European audience. “We know from running our own basketball Facebook pages that the social media interest in NBA is phenomenal,” he added. “I think there is a real opportunity here for a European-based brand to establish themselves in this area and harness the interest in the sport. But operators should also look beyond the confines of the UK market. The market for betting on basketball in Spain, for instance, is much larger than it is in the UK.”

A further hint of the potential for US basketball betting comes from Moses who points out that his company sees NBA as the second most popular sport by betting revenue. “It has massive popularity in Asia,” he added.

But for the betting on any US sport to really take off, Rothschild suggests the punters will have to embrace a form of betting not as yet common in the European market. “Against-the-spread betting is the most popular form of betting in the US, and it’s just not something European consumers are familiar with,” he says. “An educational job needs to be undertaken but I think the rewards could be huge for any operator who manages it.”

Evidence of how US sports has already permeated the European market isn’t directly related to the direct interest in the sports themselves, though. US sports is permeated by the statistics and that level of interest is now being replicated in Europe. “Data is the key to US sports but it interesting how it is now translating to other sports, particularly football, in Europe,” said Rothschild whose company itself produces data nuggets which help inform punters of potential bets. “The stats side is now so much more accepted; its part and parcel of the sporting experience now.”

Moses agreed that there are punters that use stats to gain an edge. “Research and diligence can pay off,” he said. But he added that when it comes to in-play with US sports, real-time insights are not so useful. “When it comes to in-play markets, many punters will forego their reliance on stats. We have already seen a lot of upsets in the NFL season so far that hinge on crucial, unanticipated events on field that no stats can account for in the resulting markets.”

Totally Gaming says: The Yanks are certainly coming, particularly when it comes to the NFL in London, and BetStars is making a smart move to push its US sports offer to its European audience. As iSport Genius and Don Best make clear, there is an increasing appetite for US sports and clear rewards for operators who take up the challenge.

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