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Betting on F1's future

NEWS STORY
17/10/2016

In the wake of the first phase of Liberty Media's purchase of Formula One, it became clear that gambling is one area of the sport that its new owners intend to exploit.

"Outside the United States there is a huge gambling opportunity in the sport, none of which we capitalise on," said Liberty Media's Greg Maffei at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York last month.

"There are a bunch of ways in which digital can play through this," he continued, "from a service to augmenting other things to providing data that are interesting that we are not capitalising on, that I think will be a part of the future growth."

Talking to Totally Gambling, a number of trade experts have shared their views on how the sport might become a better proposition for gamblers.

"I'm sure some of the big odds-on hitters think it is a compelling betting proposition already!" said Ed Nicholson, Head of UK Marketing Operations at Unibet. "The odds on shots have been regularly winning for three years now; only five different drivers have won a Grand Prix since the start of the 2014 season, and so far in 2016 all but two of the Grand Prix have been won by Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton.

"For most punters, the dominance of Rosberg and Hamilton has been a turn off," he admitted, "since 2014 they have won so many Grand Prix between them, and number of bets metrics has dropped.

"As to what changes we at Unibet would like to see, the simple answer is anything that would make the result more unpredictable enabling bigger odds for a range of potential winners."

Among the ideas suggested by Unibet are the reintroduction of refuelling, tyres that allow drivers to push for the whole race, relaxing aerodynamic rules for overtaking and having more engine suppliers. The company also wants more official live statistics made available.

"The most obvious change that could make F1 more compelling for betters is creating a more competitive field making races harder to predict," said Mirio Mella, Customer Engagement Manager at Pinnacle. "Uncertainty equals excitement, which is what bettors want. This shouldn't go as far as homogenising the cars/teams - as this could risk alienating current fans - but perhaps adopting a similar approach to the WEC.

"F1 might also learn from the Tour de France and explore awarding points for a wider range of events beyond race wins," he adds. "This could extend to qualifying position, fastest lap, fastest pit-stop, and fastest time on practice days. You can bet on these already but formalizing them competitively, as well as weaving them into the overall outcome, would allow bettors to diversify their interest."

"Formula 1 is way too regimented and predictable to make a compelling betting proposition at the moment," admits Paul Petrie, Director at McBookie.com. "We can't offer attractive odds on something that has very little variety in the result.

"I'd like to see some changes that would mix it up a bit and make it a little more interesting. For a start I think banning team orders would be a good start and reduce the manipulation of results when it should be down to pure ability.

"Related to that we should scrap the Constructors Championship, or at least place less emphasis on it. The public don't really care about it. They are all about the drivers.

"What would be a true test of a driver would be if they were to remove qualifying and have drivers take turns at different places on the grid each race, but I'm sure there are commercial reasons for the several day qualifying build up which would make this impossible."

Finally, Alan Alger, PR at Betway said: "F1 has been overtaken by a number of sports in terms of turnover, as punters look elsewhere for more competitive contests. 48 of the last 56 races have been won by either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg. For that reason we have to be restrictive with prices.

"The suggestions I would make have been well documented elsewhere. I'd use randomly drawn grid positions for each race. I know the sport's governors don't want to lose their major income from a day of qualifying at the track - but they could easily replace that with a ten lap shoot-out in a similar format which would add say 10/8/6/4/2 points to the championship or to be used as a tie-breaker in the final season table. That's exciting enough for betting purposes and to put bums on seats for the Saturday."

Discuss.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/10/2016 14:05

"A remarkably innovative & imaginative set of potential changes that will immensely enhance the options for the monetization of the property."

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2. Posted by Red Baron, 18/10/2016 0:05

"I'm all for positive change, but his is really scary talk :("

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3. Posted by Burton, 17/10/2016 21:15

"Please step in European Commission, you're the least crazy of the bunch! (never thought I'd say that)"

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4. Posted by Jonno, 17/10/2016 11:55

"What a load of rubbish.

For a start US citizens are also subject to a complex and confusing legal system with regard to online gambling.

Secondly, no sport has changed its rules for the benefit of gambling. We've seen what's happened with cricket, creating a climate where a repeat of the infamous fixed Singapore race could kill. If LM allow ontrack gambling, they can kiss goodbye to all claims that F1 is clean.
"

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5. Posted by bfairey, 17/10/2016 11:32

"WOW draw for grid positions? this would sort the men from the boys."

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