Can NFL be a major player in the UK betting market? A Q&A with Redzonesports.bet co-founder Stephen Baumohl

Can NFL be a major player in the UK betting market? A Q&A with Redzonesports.bet co-founder Stephen Baumohl

Monday, October 9, 2017 Posted by Craig Davies
A London franchise appears to be the ultimate goal

The National Football League (NFL) has experienced enormous success in the United Kingdom since the inception of the ‘international series’ a decade ago.
 
One game a year quickly began to grow, with London staging four events this year and a minimum of five in 2018. Two games have recently been held at Wembley Stadium, with Twickenham set for hosting duties on two occasions later this month.

Ahead of those games, TotallyGaming.com has been speaking to Stephen Baumohl, co-founder of Redzonesports.bet, to discuss all things NFLUK. 
 
Totally Gaming: The NFL participation of London has been steadily rising for a number of years now, what does that say about the popularity of the sport?  And how does that popularity relate to the betting market?

Stephen Baumohl: Ever since the Channel 4 days back in the eighties there has been an almost ‘cult like’ following of NFL in the UK, with events such as the American Bowl series at Wembley, the London Monarchs, and the World League being the annual rituals. It began to crossover to a more mainstream following with the advent of Sky Sports’ extensive live coverage, and the gradual escalation of the International series in London has really vaulted the sport to a level where it must be taken seriously. 
 
It is my understanding that Sky Sports considers NFL the fastest growing spectator sport in the UK, regularly drawing better viewing numbers than their similarly timed live Spanish football. 
 
It is no secret that the games in London are a test to see whether London could support an NFL team based here and each time the UK passes these tests with flying colours, the excitement of having our own franchise grows and only fuels the interest in the sport. 
 
Having been heavily involved in the promoting of NFL and American sports in general in the UK for nearly 30 years, I can honestly say that interest has never been greater and it is not going away anytime soon.

With the increase of popularity in the sport, there is naturally a greater betting interest and, as with most American sports, it is a sport that lends itself very well to betting. With the abundance of statistics and online coverage, it is easy to research and read opinions and therefore form your own views and ultimately back that up with a bet. The increase in betting on NFL has followed the exponential growth of its general popularity as we are seeing turnover increase from the full range of clients; small recreational right up to high staking professionals.
 
TG: From a betting perspective, how can this fan base be tapped into further?

SB: The NFL fan in the UK tends to be quite knowledgeable about the sport and has quite strong opinions and so, in order to really tap into the fan base, I believe the betting product needs to be more sophisticated and less bland. 
 
By that I mean that pages of generic ‘derivative’ markets on games look nice but are unlikely to be the driving force in converting fans to betting and more opinion based markets, such as player performances/yardages, that a fan can really relate to, are required.
 
Also, while the fan base is growing, so is the understanding of the sport amongst bookmakers but there is still a very defensive attitude amongst them towards the NFL, which is surprising given the fact that there is a very well established betting line. But it can be quite hit-and-miss when trying to place a bet on the NFL so I believe the customer journey, as a whole, needs to be improved.

TG: Will we ever see American Football up there with the more popular betting sports in the UK?

SB: The simple answer is yes and we are not far away already. Needless to say, American football will never compete with soccer or horse racing in the UK, and tennis is probably out of reach as well, but I see no reason why it can’t be a top five betting sport before too long.

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