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How online gambling sites aim to turn your sports debate into bets

If you are a sports fan, you are no stranger to debates.

The Raptors have the best home advantage in the NBA. Auston Matthews scored most of his goals in early matches. Scotty Scheffler will trick the 12th hole in Augusta on Sunday.

These are the kinds of opinions that can only be discussed in the past. But the sportsbooks, which legally entered the Ontario yard last week, are meant to aid those discussions with more information.

Dale Hooper, general manager of online gambling site FanDuel in Canada, said his goal is to help create content and drive stories for sports fans.

“If we do our job well, it’s not about betting on people. It’s about giving them more data to talk and argue about their teams,” Hopper said in a recent interview with CBC Sports.

Vijay Setlor, a marketing instructor at York University Business School, added the part that Hopper didn’t: The point of the additional information is to turn fans into players.

“He’s right when it comes to increased storytelling that improves fan engagement,” Setlur said. “But there’s no certainty that this will lead to the transformation they’re looking to make.”

Huber said the information enriches the fan experience, regardless of whether any money is at stake.

“All these conversations that Auston Matthews had on his way to 60 goals, it’s really fun stuff. Where did he score from? What time in the game did he score? What was the score when he scored those goals? If we could tell these accounts, You don’t have to be a bettor to improve the game experience.”

Fan Experience Evolution

FanDuel recently signed partnership agreements with the NHL and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), which owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts, Marlies and TFC. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation also signed a deal with the NHL, as did PokerStars.

Meanwhile, TheScore Bet has agreed to an exclusive 10-year partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As more teams and leagues approach sports betting, the fan experience is sure to evolve. The common goal of both the sports and the betting industry is to keep more people watching for longer, and in turn spend more money – through ticket sales, increased TV ratings, merchandise and more. A Deloitte Canada report suggested that the industry could grow from $500 million to $28 billion within five years of nationwide legalization.

Where sports analysts believe they can change the game is keeping fans engaged beyond winnings and losses. Bets such as Over/Under (total points, number of runs or goals in a game) and spreads (such as Jays favoring 1.5 times in a given game) increase the stakes even in games where the winner seems irrelevant or is quickly decided.

Bettors will soon be able to gamble when Austin Matthews scores his next goal. (Frank Jean/The Canadian Press)

Richard Schwartz, CEO of online gambling site BetRivers, noted that in-game betting is the next frontier.

“This is an area that we’ve really seen very big growth in the US where it started when the market opened at 20 percent. Now most days, more than 50 percent of the betting is in the game during the match period or between the whistle,” Schwartz told CBC Sports.

The simplest example of in-game betting can come at the end of the first half of a basketball game, if you think that the losing team will come back to win in the last two quarters.

By partnering with the NHL and MLSE, FanDuel says it wants to arm fans with the kind of data to form that kind of opinion. This will inevitably lead to a discussion with friends and family. It will also provide an additional color for the broadcast, which can provide live betting odds.

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There is one other element of the diversion, which has not gained as much publicity in the past week: online casinos, which feature slots and card games.

Schwartz said nearly 90 percent of BetRivers’ betting volume in Ontario was in the casino.

“You hear a lot of talk about sports betting,” he said. “But the casino is really where the returns are not only expected in Ontario, but we’ve seen the same in all US states as well.”

Diverse audiences

With many Ontarians betting in the unregulated gray market before last week, there are three sportsbooks for fans, leagues, teams and networks that should cater to their needs: serious bettors, casual bettors, and non-bettors.

FanDuel is also in partnership with TSN. Meanwhile, Sportsnet does not have an official partnership but recently launched its own vertical called SN Bets. The goal of these networks will be to add enough betting information to their broadcasts to satisfy the first two audiences, but not to the point of alienating the third audience.

You may have already noticed the recent onslaught of sports book ads on TV. But Setlor expects the networks to find a sweet spot among the three audiences.

“As long as they keep the consumer in mind, I don’t think there will be any problems because knowing what the consumer wants and delivering that is very important to them,” Setlur said. “And the last thing they want to do is turn people off causing people to unsubscribe from their cable or unsubscribe from their streaming service.”

Guests arrive at the FanDuel Sportsbook for its Arizona opening in September. (Matt York/The Associated Press)

Demographically speaking, Setlur said sports betting will appeal to Generation Z and the younger generation of sports fans whose interests differ from those before them.

The sports offered by gambling through in-game betting help to attract the attention of younger audiences who may not interact much with a sport like baseball.

“In the highly competitive interest economy we live in, it is very important that we deliver as much value as possible as quickly as possible to consumers so that they see the value and stay with us and become consumers of the future,” Setlur said of the sports betting stakeholder’s mindset.

With its introduction to the Canadian market, Hooper said FanDuel plans to add more options for hockey betting. While there are plenty of opportunities in basketball betting, hockey is relatively untapped.

In the future, the experience in the arena could change as well, whether that’s a gambling room or the ability to bet on whether every pitch in a baseball game, for example, will be a ball or a hit.

The sports betting industry is here to stay.

Your sports watching experience – for better or worse – will never be the same.

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