Though we’ve only seen a few months of it, 2020 has already been a year for the history books and has had a huge impact on industries across the board, all around the world. In terms of iGaming, operators who have historically focused solely on sports betting have been thrown a major curve ball, with practically all sporting events being cancelled until further notice. Moreover, there was not time to prepare for something like this, so brands had to react fast and get creative when building alternative strategies.

The following article will look into several of the more recent trends that have been observed among sports betting operators and will discuss tactics that can be undertaken in order to best prepare for when sports resume and things start getting back to normal.

What is Being Done by Operators to Fill the Void?

The world is filled with sports enthusiasts, who are definitely feeling the impact of the virtual standstill. However, there are various alternatives currently being offered by bookmakers in attempts to “fill the void” their customers may be feeling. The below section is an overview of what some merchants are shifting the focus of their product on, during this time:

Esports

Esports has become extremely popular in recent years, so it is no surprise that operators are turning to it to help mitigate the loss of betting on sporting events. Brands are offering betting on tournaments on popular games such as Counterstrike, Fortnite and League of Legends. Some are even opening up to tournaments in different time zones in order to appeal to a wider market. There has also seen a large emphasis put on sports related video games, with tournaments being held for NBA 2K.

Virtual Sports

Similar to esports, virtual sports have also been gaining momentum given the current situation. Examples of virtual sporting events that are available are for NASCAR, football, table tennis and horse racing, to name a few.

Jika Sportsesports iGaming

Specific to the South African market is Jika Sports, a leader in animated sports betting. This entertaining and engaging option is rapidly growing in popularity within the country’s borders. It provides players with high frequency content, where they can place a bet every six minutes on the animated replica of the sports of soccer and racing.

Reality TV and Sports-Related Events

In addition to the animated and virtual options, many operators still hold the option of betting on real events, be it sports, or non-sports related. Something that has been around for a while that has recently surged in popularity is betting on reality television shows, such as Survivor. Moreover, some brands are holding contests on sports-related events such as the NFL and NBA free agencies and the NFL and NBA drafts.

Focus on Other Verticals

On a different note, the current situation has also proven to benefit other iGaming verticals, such as online casinos and poker, whose customers are no longer able to visit operators’ land-based counterparts. This has provided multi-vertical brands with the opportunity to still be successful without making too many changes to their offering, by simply putting a larger emphasis on their other products. A lot of merchants have undertaken this strategy by expanding their current offerings within each product (example: Additional casino games, online poker events, etc.) and by offering product specific promotions (example: Free bet on esports or free spins on casino).

What Can Affiliates Do in the Meantime?

We have also explored what can be done by affiliates during this unprecedented time in the iGaming industry in order to remain proactive and engaged with the brands they promote.

The most important thing affiliates can do is ensure they remain in contact with operators in order to stay informed and provide their players with content based on how the operators are positioning their brands. As mentioned, some operators are pivoting from solely offering sports betting and moving towards the alternative trends discussed earlier, so it is vital for affiliates to maintain seamless communication with their partners in order to provide relevant and up to date information.