Betting Experts Roundtable: Road to World Cup 2022

World Cups are the pinnacle of the sports betting calendar to attract new customers and drive engagement, but with the 2022 tournament unusually taking place in the winter, what does this mean for betting trends? As operators prepare for the biggest tournament of the year, we spoke with multiple providers from the sports betting industry to examine how this year’s event could unfold…

SBC: Given the change of timings for this year’s World Cup, are you and your operator partners approaching the tournament differently compared to a summer event?

Malte Hegeler (Head of Product Development @OddsMatrix): With the World Cup taking place in winter, it means that, right now, our primary focus is on the sport that takes place before the first game kicks off in Qatar. The Premier League season is restarting in early August, a week earlier than usual due to the impact of the mid-season World Cup, but the summer ‘pause’, throughout much of June and July, is still a great time to launch new features and clients. We’ll be moving ahead with the launch of our US front-end, our baseball Bet Builder, and our in-house odds model for basketball, across NBA and FIBA. While it is a little too early to talk about our World Cup plans, the global showpiece will certainly come into focus towards the end of the year, from the end of Q3.

SBC: With the World Cup taking place in the lead-up to Christmas, do you feel this could impact engagement rates? Or will we see increased participation as more bettors stay at home to watch the action?

MH: We find that for our European clients, there is a general pattern that colder weather produces higher turnover, as most people go on vacations during the hotter months when the majority of sport is paused. However, it might be that other factors come into play given the unique timing of the tournament. A World Cup that starts in November faces higher ‘betting competition’, as it is up against a host of sports that are in full season. The NFL and NBA will be in full swing by then, along with various basketball and ice hockey competitions, all of which are usually in their off-season when a summer World Cup is being played. It is difficult to predict exactly what will happen with engagement rates and it could all come down to how successful the bigger nations are in the competition.

SBC: What betting trends can we expect from this winter’s World Cup? Will the humidity impact player performances and how you price certain matches/outcomes?

MH: The stadiums in Qatar will have air conditioning, so it seems unlikely that there will be an adverse impact on player performance. In terms of betting trends, the football world will pause in excitement to watch games one (or two) at a time, so we expect that multi-game multiples will create much less turnover that you would usually find during the football season.

However, we expect to encounter a much higher share of Bet Builder bets (which we now offer for 11 sports), both pre-game and live. There will also be more of a focus placed on player markets and exotic bets – substitutions or hitting the woodwork for example – because bookmakers are inclined to innovate around big tournaments, even if the turnover on these bets is low. Tournament outrights will be popular and as always, we expect to see the bulk of the turnover coming through the usual markets – such as 1×2, Over/Under, Both Teams to Score, Handicap – though influenced much more by (patriotic) emotions. Operators based in competing countries face unsecure profit and loss predictions, with a single match – or even a single kick – possibly having a decisive effect on their monthly returns.

The original version of this interview was published by SBC News under the title Betting Experts Roundtable: Road to World Cup 2022.


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