Last week’s SBC Awards 2021 saw numerous operators recognised with honours for a variety of achievements across the sports betting and gaming sector, with Ladbrokes taking home the Football Sportsbook of the Year Award.
Although marred by lockdowns and other restrictions, 2021 was a huge year for football fans, and by extension sportsbook due to the Euro 2020 and 2020 Copa America tournaments commencing shortly after the conclusion of popular domestic leagues. Meanwhile, 2022 has the potential to be just as promising with the FIFA World Cup taking place, albeit occuring in the unusual winter seasonal setting.
As a unique year full of both hurdles and opportunities comes to a close and a packed sporting schedule looms around the corner SBC reached out to Myke Foster, Head of Sportsbook Proposition at the Entain brand.
SBC – How did you find the SBC Awards ceremony?
Myke Foster – It’s always a pleasure to be able to attend events on behalf of Ladbrokes and represent our brand- even more so when you’re able to bring home an award such as this, to act as a huge pat on the back to everyone, at all levels of the business, who has contributed to our success over the last year.
It’s very rare that we put ourselves forward for this type of recognition and so we’re all delighted that it was rewarded. But it’s been great to be able to get back into the room with not only our colleagues, but the rest of the industry too. Lots of familiar faces and reunions, alongside some well deserved awards for brands doing great work in this sector.
SBC – What have been the main challenges, if any, of operating a football betting service in 2021?
MF – 2021 has thrown up a few significant challenges – not least the unexpected addition of Euro 2020 this summer! But to be honest, 2021 has been something of a welcome return to ‘normal’ in our industry. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a (mostly) consistent sporting calendar, very much unlike the one we saw in 2020, where mainstream sports were cancelled, postponed and altogether removed. We managed to weather the storm better than most throughout the last 18 months or so and it really put us in a good position to succeed this year.
SBC – With a packed football schedule next year (domestic leagues, international club tournaments, world cup) how important is it that operators enact a strong marketing strategy?
MF – I think now, more so than ever before, it’s vitally important that marketing and product work together to differentiate us within our industry. It’s no secret that we face tough competition on a daily basis – from companies who might be willing to spend more or shout louder about products and services, but we have seen some incredible success with new and innovative products such as 5-A-Side, which empower our customers to find new ways to engage with the sport they love.
We’ve built very strong relationships with the marketing arms of the business to ensure that we’re highlighting the areas and products which really stand us head and shoulders above our competitors, and it’s been proven through in some of the huge campaigns we’ve run across the UK and digitally in the past 12 months – and that will no doubt continue as we carry our momentum into next year.
SBC – Do you anticipate any challenges with next year’s World Cup taking place in the winter?
MF – The concept of a winter World Cup is an interesting one, of course- sitting down to wrap Christmas presents whilst cheering England on to (hopefully!) another major final will feel a little strange! But the Christmas period has long been synonymous with great sport.
We see top quality football, racing & darts all coming thick and fast in a regular year, and the addition of a World Cup will just enhance our enjoyment of it. The real challenge will be some of the early kick off times for those working, I think there will be plenty of people tuning in from work across the UK each day which hopefully won’t affect productivity too much!
SBC – Without giving too much away, what can we expect from Ladbrokes going into 2022?
MF – 2022 will absolutely be about refinement and development for Ladbrokes. We want to continue to offer the most engaging, enjoyable and responsible product that we can, alongside getting as many of our new products into customers’ hands as possible.
The World Cup next winter gives us an opportunity to continue to innovate around football, which is where we have really shone this year- but there will a lot of focus on the other elements of our Sportsbook, and Gaming for us in the next 12 months too, and it’s all part of ensuring that we are offering our customers the best possible experience of our brand, however and whenever they choose to engage with us.