Nathan Joyes met up with Betconnect Co-founder Daniel Schreiber to see how the social betting platform is teaming up professional gamblers with ordinary punters.
Can you explain to Gambling Insider what Betconnect is and what the standard punter can expect?
We have two types of users on our platform. We’ve got pro punters on one side and regular, recreational punters on the other. The pro punters are experts who have had their betting accounts restricted over the years, so it means they are able to place bets through us.
From a recreational punter's point of view, they are able to copy and follow the bets tipped up by the so-called professional gamblers. It’s not a case that punters have to follow these bets. We send them what we call a Bet Request, and if they want to follow the bet or even take the pro on, they are able to match or lay it on our platforms within a click of a button.
When a pro creates a Bet Request, they will need to have the stake and commission in their account to have the bet successfully accepted. When a punter matches the pro, the punter needs that liability in their account, so both sides of the equation are held with Betconnect.
Whatever the outcome, the bet is settled by Betconnect; we take the commission from the pro. Both the punter and the pro’s bets are settled with us and we pay out the winner.
What does Betconnect class as a pro gambler?
Initially, it's self-validating, as the pro will pay us a commission of up to 3% to get their bet matched. Now, obviously, if they want to place a bet with a bookmaker, it’s free, so the fact they would pay to have a bet processed through Betconnect tells us they are more than likely restricted.
The punter can also see the pro’s profile. Everything is totally transparent. Their track record through Betconnect is there for all to see. We don’t have any pro gamblers coming to us boasting about the amount of money they have made previously. Only bets which are recorded on Betconnect are available to view.
Will there be a set amount of pros?
At the moment, we are taking on as many pros as we possibly can. There were a lot of people queuing up to join our bet programme, as we were only selecting and choosing to begin with. But now all pros can come on board with Betconnect.
That number will reflect how many people are restricted from betting on normal accounts who want to carry on betting; but also how many are actually good at betting. No one knows what that number is; over time, we will find out. Recent research we commissioned suggests up to one in 10 punters have been restricted.
Will Betconnect’s Bet Request alerts be tailored to each particular punter?
This is something which is very much personalised. As a punter, you tell us what sports you are interested in, so if you solely want football and tennis bet requests, this is what you will receive. If you aren't fussed, you will pretty much receive everything on our platform.
Over time, our technology will build a profile of each punter, so every Bet Request we send them will be highly interesting and relevant to what they like to bet on and when they like to bet.
There’s a lot of clever AI, which we are building so that we can deliver a highly relevant and personalised experience to all our users.
When a bet comes through, will there be a point system, stake or explanation to it?
When punters receive the Bet Request, we show them the pro's username and track record, so you can see how good a certain individual is. We also show the amount of Bet Requests they have sent out, so you know if the individual has just started, or if they have a good track record. That’s version one.
Version two, we are going to divide by sport and put a lot more data analytics behind the pro. So ,if you are a punter, you can look at weekly stats, for example, and dive a lot deeper. At the moment, it’s a high-level overview. There are punters out there who believe a certain pro is good but others are prepared to take them on, so it’s quite an interesting concept. What in the profile has made the punter follow the pro and what has made the punter lay the bet?
The pro is a real person and it is real money which is being staked. It isn’t a tip on paper or a tip simply put out on social media.
Bookies are often quick to suspend markets when receiving hefty bets. Is this something Betconnect will have to be wary of?
I guess it all depends on the market and what the punter decides to do with the bet. If they are matching it and laying it themselves, it doesn’t even hit them. It all depends on the bookmaker which is running that market. No one knows when markets get suspended, and no one knows when or how punters get restricted. That’s each bookmaker’s choice, and how they go about that, we don’t know.
Some bookies may have really big limits, others may not. Where restrictions are happening is down to the person placing the bet, rather than the actual bet itself. It should be down to the bet; unfortunately in this day and age, that isn’t the case and it’s down to the individual.
What countries is Betconnect available in?
We are regulated by the Gambling Commission here in Great Britain, where we have held a license for a couple of years now. The US is probably a little way off for us at the moment, but continental Europe and Australia are very much our next targets.
What is Betconnect looking to achieve in 2019?
It’s an exciting time for the company. We’ve launched now, so we want to get our product out there as much as possible and educate people about our product. Our product has been described as the most exciting social betting innovation. No one has tried to crack this side of the market on our scale – it’s a very interesting concept we have here at Betconnect.
Everyone has an opinion in sports betting. We aren’t saying these pros are amazing or guaranteeing anything, or that you’ve got to follow their bets. But they want their bets to get matched and the punter has the choice to match or lay.
We are already seeing punters choosing to side with the pro, but we’ve noticed more who want to take the pro on; especially when it comes to football, for example. Initially, with football, I would have thought more people would have gone with the pro, but that hasn’t been the case. However, with other sports, such as horseracing, tennis and American football, punters are matching the pros' tips.
How far do you believe Betconnect can grow in the next five years?
Betfair was the leading and biggest exchange and was streets clear of everyone. No one really got near it, but then again, no one has really tried. The exchange space is definitely up for grabs at present and, with our product, it can work alongside an exchange but because of the social element, we believe we have the ability to be the next Betfair.
It was 20 years since any really significant innovation occurred in the industry. We believe we have the product and the team to get it out there.