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Alexey Khobot speaks with iGB about the future of Fonbet’s contracts with the Russian national football team and KHL, as well as the landscape post-Covid for betting shops
With many live sporting events and leagues around the world making progress on returning to business as usual, operators can now begin to piece together an idea of what the future of sports betting may look like.
We spoke to Fonbet Betting Company’s chief expert, Alexey Khobot, to discuss his views on the future for physical betting shops, as well as the role esports will play in the future of sports betting.
He says, “As with many industries affected by the quarantine, there will be a deferred demand effect. People sorely missed top-level sport. This is evidenced by a significant increase in new registrations and bets placed with us since the resumption of the Bundesliga.
“Some of Fonbet customers took a hiatus, but now they are returning. The company expects to reach pre-quarantine levels as per MAU and DAU indicators in the not too distant future.”
As for reaching the previous high rates of growth, however, Khobot says it's almost impossible to be sure: “For obvious reasons, we have to brace ourselves for the reduction in disposable income amongst our customer base. This will affect the average total amount of each bet slip, as well as the number of bets placed per customer.”
However, he feels the future looks bright for Fonbet: “The company’s strong product, technology and optimisation, something which Fonbet focussed heavily on during the quarantine, will allow the company to reach previous rates of growth by the end of the year”.
According to Khobot, Fonbet shifted a chunk of its budget towards esports during the pandemic, but in general, as far as the period in question is concerned, the company’s primary strategy involved the optimisation of marketing expenses.
Moving forwards, Khobot shares that the company’s primary focus will be providing internet and television broadcasts of the main events from all the top leagues and competitions as they return.
“Fonbet will continue working on and with all of its current contracts and main partners: KHL, the Russian national football team, VTB United League. The main plan is to expand Fonbet's sponsorship portfolio.”
Khobot adds: “Fonbet is also looking at creating new advertising channels. We’re planning on making further investments in CRM as one of our key priorities for our marketing activities going forward.”
The decline of offline?
Consumer habits have already shifted towards playing online, and the same has been seen in almost all industries, from retail to the entertainment industry, Khobot states.
He explains that Fonbet has always had strong online products, and that most of Fonbet’s customers prefer to play online.
In answer to our questions about the potential decline of land-based sports betting, Khobot responds: “If sports hadn't been suspended, Fonbet would probably be talking about expectations for an extremely significant migration of offline customers to the online platform.
“What the company is actually seeing is a relatively small migration of offline customers to online. Betting shops don't just provide lively communication, but also other benefits: a bar/restaurant, VIP rooms, massage chairs, and table service.
He continues, explaining that the company’s offline customers, especially VIPs, call the company’s top managers to ask when the betting shops will open. Some of them have started to play online, especially since the Bundesliga resumed, however they still plan to return to visiting betting shops.
At the moment, most of Fonbet’s betting shops in Moscow remain closed. They will only reopen them once there is a permission from the authorities, and when they can be sure that all safety measures are observed.
Boosting customer engagement
The company plans to release a new mobile application soon, including a new useful feature allowing for the personalisation of the app's interface and betting process.
In general, bookmakers use the total volume of bets placed and accepted online as a yardstick for success.
“Everyone likes to discuss who has the best advertising, and in fact, the amount a bookmaker can earn depends on how easy-to-use and fast their live section is,” Khobot adds. “There are a lot of betting companies for whom it is simply impossible to offer any form of live service because they lack the capacity to deal with ever-changing odds in real time.”
In the Fonbet application, you can select different modes for controlling the auto-confirming bets in case the odds change as the bet is being placed. For example, when you click to place a bet with odds of 1.55, if during the split second it takes for the bet to accepted, the odds go up to 1.57, the bet will still be placed without any further confirmation.
According to Khobot, Fonbet is also moving towards the conception of a so-called super application. With this, clients are already able to watch live broadcasts, keep track of events in the Match Centre and read the latest sports predictions and news.