SBC: What industry development caught your eye this year?
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: Elaborated on further down, it is hard to escape to raft of potential mergers and acquisitions this year. Though these were easily predicted, with changes to government legislation, it has to be said a couple of them have really rocked the industry. While most expected the smaller firms to be hoovered up not many foresaw some of the current giants collaborating.
Generally positive company results are reflecting the upturn in the economy and within those figures the importance of in-play betting is hard to ignore.
The battle to win official data supply licenses by the variety of firms configured to do so is and will continue to be an interesting subplot in industry newswires next year.
SBC: What was your favourite industry event this year?
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: I was abroad and unfortunately missed the Betting on Football Conference this autumn, I’m sure that would have been my favourite event… but as I can’t include it, I’d have to say ICE. Although hard work the chance to connect with current and potential clients in once place means it is essential to attend. I can’t ignore the excellent Betting on Football awards this winter, held at the Playboy casino it was an excellent evening. Super Soccer Oddsfeed and Abelson Info’s GPS system was shortlisted and unlucky to be pipped for the Best Data Integration award.
SBC: Where will Chelsea finish in the league at the end of the season?
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: With Jose gone things can and will improve but the damage has been done for this season and a top six finish will be tough to achieve; I have them finishing seventh.
It will be fascinating to see how they progress now the manager has gone. It is widely reported that the lack of harmony in the camp has been to blame for their rapid decline, should a marked improvement in the second half of the season go some way to prove this, it will be used for many years as a case study for the strength of team collectives.
SBC eSports- is there true potential in this market or is it over-hyped??
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: The growth of esports from relative obscurity has been remarkable. While I’m far from an expert in this field it has been hard to ignore. Personally I think that long-term it will command an ever larger market share but in the immediate short-term I’d be cautious on getting too involved.
Given technological advances in gaming and faster internet speeds it could well usurp virtual sports betting in the retail and online channels. Currently questions over latencies, coding bugs, and even drug abuse make this a market to be wary of. With better regulation it will be one to keep a close eye on.
SBC: Will there be any more major mergers next year? In which areas do you believe consolidation is still likely/necessary?
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: I think there will, undoubtedly, be more mergers announced in 2016.
Smaller players will find it increasingly hard to compete with predatory behemoths and will fall victim. The UK market has looked saturated for some time but we keep hearing of ambitious and cash rich firms wanting to take a slice; SunBets are the latest, they, like Pokerstars, have the advantage of a ready-made customer base. I honestly think that without this it would be almost impossible to make an impact, though BetBright have proved contrary to this rule in recent times.
The casino/gaming market looks particularly ripe for a round of consolidation, there are just too many firms selling the same product under different brands, a cull seems likely.
SBC: What are your expectations for the Euros? Which team will win it? Which domestic team will advance furthest?
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: The inflated 2016 European Championship will be the main focus for sportsbooks next summer. I’m very keen on the chances of hosts France, even if they have to do without the currently exiled Karim Benzema. France not only have home advantage but they have also benefitted from UEFA’s draw structure. General 4/11 favourites to win Group A, they are (like the Group D winners) assured to play a third-placed team in the second round followed by a runner-up at the quarter-final stage. Even without these “gifts” I think they will have the strongest side at the Championships.
Barring an absolute disaster England will progress furthest from the fantasy group also containing Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
SBC: What’s your hope for the industry in 2016?
Jeevan Jeyaratnam: I’m obviously biased but I hope that the European based firms continue to catch up with their UK counterparts and realise that goalscorer betting is big, profitable business. Our GPS System has seen a number of new and potential clients from abroad for the first time this year and we hope the trend will continue into 2016 and beyond. With firms looking to save money our feed is ideal for not only reducing labour costs but for increasing coverage, market offerings and quality.
I’d also like to see, though I don’t hold much hope, less reliance for firms in “tracking” or “scraping” prices, this is particularly prevalent in smaller markets and this brain drain means the art of compiling is being lost. This is a big shame, there is no way I’d want to offer prices about which I had no idea if they were an accurate representation of the probability of that event occurring.
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