Suggested bets: Netflix for sportsbooks or dangerous tools?

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The world of content is increasingly dominated by algorithms, TikTok, and waning user attention spans; sports betting is no different. Therefore, it’s no surprise that industry executives discussed the possibility of increasing the use of suggested bets in the coming years.

At SBC Summit North America, Earl Mitchell, SVP Predictive Analysis at Hard Rock Digital, suggested that increasing user demand for personalized content, fueled by social media, will inevitably drive the take-up of suggested bets going forward. 

“When I think about suggested bets, immediately personalization comes to mind. In that sense, they are of course at least part of the future of how an online book works. The ability to know our customers, understand what they want to bet on and then surface the most engaging next proposition for them to bet on is how we’re leveraging data, it’s the trend of the future.”

While, for sportsbooks, suggested bets are a way to further leverage customer data and extract more betting volume by tapping into their preferred activities. For sports leagues, this new technology can help engage new fans and turn those into sports bettors. 

By using suggested bets, Casey Brett of the MLB explained how players can understand the game more and in turn, learn how to bet on the game with ease as they leverage more suggested bets. 

Brett, who is the VP of Gaming and New Business Ventures at MLB, said: “We as a league get really excited about it because recommended bets and wagers are a great way to broaden the pool of potential customers within a sports betting experience. 

“I think one of the things we’ve seen with our customer base and our fans is that they still get a little intimidated with placing their first wager if they don’t have a real opinion. They can barely understand the odds, let alone which of the thousands of markets to choose. 

“So having that ability to supplement the wager, whether it’s with great analysts or personalization based off customer data, it’s great to surface something in a much more presentable manner.”

As with any product innovation or new technology, there are challenges with implementing such change and suggested and recommended bets are no different. 

Though the comparisons are easily made with the Netflix algorithm and the autoplay function which recommends new shows to watch, nobody would watch a show that causes them financial hardship. 

So with recommended bets, players could be suggested losing bets each time but persist because they have been suggested to them. 

This is a concern that Jeff Cadillac, an NFL analyst at Better Sports Network, raised. 

Cadillac explained that the models are very much in its wild-west phase and that operators must err on the side of caution to keep players safe when taking up these suggested bet offerings. 

He said: “Sometimes you could go with a person’s likes with their team but what if somebody is a Yankees fan betting on Yankees games and now an operator gives them more bets on Yankees games? 

“That can draw them into a situation where they were coerced into betting on Yankees games and now they’re losing money left, right, and center. It’s like holding a carrier in front of somebody. 

“You have to be very careful with bettors because it’s very tricky. It’s like the wild west right now and still everybody involved has to be very careful from gaming platforms and the houses.”