We heard from SIS earlier this year on tapping into Latin America’s strong racing heritage, but what about in regions such as Africa where there is little to no history to draw upon?
Joe Andrews, Digital Sales Manager at SIS, discusses taking racing to new operators and bettors across Africa, how the esports betting boom has reached the biggest markets and why the acquisition of 49’s will prove central to its African plans in 2021 and beyond.
SBC: What are the challenges with appealing to new operators and bettors in Africa where there is a lack of racing heritage?
JA: Naturally, in regions where there is little or no racing heritage, which applies to most of the African continent, horse and greyhound betting has been less popular than other betting content, notably football. In most countries, there is no racing offered at all, meaning that there is a lack of understanding around racing and how its betting markets work.
However, we have already seen betting on racing grow in popularity in other countries. For example, in Eastern Europe, more operators are introducing racing content as they recognise how this betting product can help drive customer engagement and revenues. Feedback from both operators and customers has been excellent despite the traditional lack of knowledge and heritage of racing.
Customer education is key and so is the need to make racing more accessible, for example by providing easy to understand betting markets to make the product more relatable.
Our mix of products offer regular short-form betting opportunities throughout the day, which are proven to help drive bettor engagement and provide high margins to operators. SIS also provides operators with marketing materials to enable them to educate their customers on how to bet on racing and to promote betting on racing.
SBC: How important is it to tailor your approach to specific markets rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach?
JA: If you listen to anyone talk or write about the African market, they always stress how important it is to tailor your approach as every country is different.
While horse and greyhound racing are generally our core product, we also have a number of other products that appeal to bettors in Africa, including our 49’s numbers betting content, SIS Competitive Gaming esports product, as well as virtual racing. We take a considered approach to the many regional differences in Africa and adapt our offer to meet those different needs.
For example, in Nigeria virtual greyhounds are one of the most popular betting products, yet not many operators offer live greyhound racing, so introducing this content is obviously a key opportunity. While in South Africa, numbers content is hugely popular, so our daily 49’s draws continue to grow in popularity.
As well as focusing on different products, we can deliver our channels in various languages and graphics – including French and Arabic – to tailor to local market requirements.
SBC: Earlier this year SIS acquired 49’s. Will this be a key product when targeting new markets in Africa moving forwards?
JA: We have big plans for our 49’s numbers product in 2021. As well as refreshing the classic 49’s draw that is enjoyed by so many bettors, we are introducing two new products. We are looking forward to sharing more details on our numbers offering in the coming months.
Numbers betting is very popular as bettors can stake low and win big from a single draw, which in certain African territories is hugely appealing. We know that football accumulators that carry huge odds are very popular with bettors in certain countries and aspects of our racing products can also be appealing to this type of bettor.
Our 49’s virtuals, and our exclusive live greyhound and horse racing betting markets include forecast and tricast bets with every race, meaning bettors can create betting slips with higher odds to win big from. The challenge is making sure the customer is aware that these bets are available and how to go about placing them, which is where the marketing and education piece comes back into play.
SBC: Esports has enjoyed a surge in popularity this year. What role will your SIS Competitive Gaming product play in appealing to new audiences in Africa?
JA: 2020/2021 has seen a continued increase in popularity of esports and it’s no different in territories in Africa. In countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, the number of people playing online is growing massively as technology and accessibility to consoles and games improves.
So, it’s clear that esports is an important vertical for operators to have in their product offer moving forwards. Some operators that saw a surge in esports betting during the COVID lockdowns have seen a levelling off in betting on esports, however we have still seen growth in betting on our product.
SIS Competitive Gaming’s offering features sports-themed events, such as NBA2K21, which appeal to current sports bettors and now features two daily 24-hour streams covering multiple time zones.
The product was built specifically for sportsbooks and bettors with a schedule that is optimised for operators. It offers markets and bet types that are familiar to current sports bettors and may also attract the generation of gamers who are looking to bet, which is why it has continued to grow.
SBC: Looking ahead to the rest of 2021 and beyond, what additional opportunities do you anticipate for SIS in the African market?
JA: The majority of sportsbooks across Africa mostly feature markets for just their core sports such as football and tennis, so this represents a chance for SIS to deliver new content to operators – such as racing, numbers and esports – to help broaden their portfolios.
With many betting opportunities focused around live core events, there is the potential for our short form and high frequency content to slot in perfectly – for example at half-time of a football match, we can deliver four racing betting events.
With the Euros coming up this summer, these additional betting opportunities (when your audience is at its highest) will help optimise revenue from customers who are looking to have a bet either during half time, in between games or any other hour of the day!
We have found that providing a 24/7 offering to bettors is paramount, to ensure that they remain engaged at times that suit them. A single streaming integration for customers is also key. Our 24/7 Live Betting Channels – which can include premium horse and greyhound racing alongside esports and virtuals – can deliver an extra 100,000+ betting events per year.
We can provide operators with an end-to-end solution which includes live streamed pictures, data, on-screen graphics with betting triggers, prices, and derivatives. We can also offer a ‘light’ service to areas where data and bandwidth usage are problematic. For retail operators picture delivery over satellite is also an option if internet-delivered protocol TV (IPTV) is not possible.
We are confident that such an offering will prove attractive to operators as they seek to increase engagement levels and drive revenues in 2021.