TG Talk - How can cricket betting appeal to the masses

TG Talk - How can cricket betting appeal to the masses

Monday, March 26, 2018 Posted by Craig Davies
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Could Twenty20 be the saviour?

Cricket is undoubtedly a huge sport on a global scale, but that fan enthusiasm hasn’t been fully reflected in a betting capacity thus far. What more could be done to elevate the sport into the realm of a more mainstream betting product? Does test cricket have to fall by the wayside and the shorter formats become the focus? And what importance does in-play have in the conundrum? We asked some industry figures for their take….

Alistair Gill, sportsbook commercial relations manager at Kindred

The plight of cricket betting sees many parallels to the sport itself in often struggling to capture main stream attention, with the longer formats especially struggling in the wake of much faster paced, shorter forms of the game.

Interestingly the comparisons don’t end there, as in general us bookmakers are finding, much like the cricket authorities, that punters and cricket fans alike are drawn towards much quicker paced events, be it the duration of a cricket match of the settlement time of a bet, with punters especially being drawn more and more towards live betting. Even within this format we see a hierarchy, with the quicker settlement bets gaining ever more prominence.

In line with this, it appears that a push towards focusing on the live betting product is the best way forward for cricket betting. At Unibet that is exactly what we have done, focusing on our live betting offering with things like Action Betting, which allows punters to bet on the amount of runs scored from an individual ball, as the bowler is running in.

This type of bet, along with an array of player specials, bets on a batter’s total runs in the innings, next wicket method etc allow punters to be kept interested and involved after the result may be clear, as well as settling far quicker than the duration of the match. Although clearly more popular in the shorter forms, these have in some ways revitalised betting on the test format too by creating kind of ‘mini events’ within a match for players to bet on, rather than waiting 5 days to get any potential return on your bet.

The problem for cricket in terms of hitting the main stream is that this type of Live betting offering is prominent in other already main stream sports like football and tennis, where we see similar offers and much, much more. So whilst cricket betting is moving forward, the established main stream is also moving forward at a similar pace.

However, with the increasing prominence of T20 events such as the IPL, Big Bash and others, cricket bettings’ advantage lies in the fact that the sport itself is moving forward and giving the fans what they want, allowing bookmakers to move forward with it. I would say a combination of a Live betting focus and T20 events is the formula cricket needs to follow to enter into the mainstream betting forum.

Paul Lowery, Sky Betting & Gaming's head of international trading and sports product

We definitely feel the limited overs game is the future of the betting world for cricket. In-Play is already our bread and butter in all forms of the game, accounting for the vast majority of our turnover.

Within that we see customers demanding more and more quick hitting action which has graduated from innings runs, to runs in the power play and more recently runs in the next over. I think to become more mainstream in the UK the profile of the domestic T20 tournament needs to be higher.

IPL and Big Bash regularly see better stakes than the T20 blast and this has a direct correlation with viewing figures. When the UK public become invested in T20 cricket on these shores, I think we will see a boom in cricket as a betting product.

Joe Lovelace, senior PR executive at Marathonbet

There’s no doubt we’ve seen an increase in betting on cricket in the last few years and this can be coupled with the growth of the game’s shorter formats (ODIs and T20s) over the last five or so years.

The increased commercialisation and globalisation of cricket and more specifically T20s, has seen it land in a growing number of countries and become a popular spectacle – providing a welcome alternative to Test cricket that has undoubtedly engaged a much younger audience.  

With T20 interest continuing to rise so will betting activity but will it ever reach the heights of mainstream sports such as football in the UK? In the short term of course not, but in the long term there is a real possibility it can challenge, match and offer an alternative to football’s dominance in the betting space with its continued trajectory. The huge success of cricket’s shortest format in Australia (Big Bash) and India (IPL) is an example and blueprint for the UK.

There is no doubt the shorter formats hold the key to this with it’s quick turnaround and big hitting gameplay suiting punters betting patterns. There is still a role for Test cricket to play in the context of cricket as a sport, there is no doubting that, but far less so in the betting sphere.

If cricket and T20 is to become a mainstream betting product in-play features will become crucial with the sheer number of overs and balls offering the punter numerous opportunities to bet on a number of markets in such a short space of time.

Not many sports can offer a similar quantity of prosperity to bet and the betting industry needs to maximise this if it’s to become a big hitter in the betting world. Markets such as runs under/over, wickets yes/no and batsman runs are the perfect example of these quick turnaround markets.

We’ve also seen an increase in competitions offered, especially at Marathonbet where we now offer bets on events like the Plunket Shield in New Zealand, Hong Kong T20 Blitz and Indian Karnataka Premier League.

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