The US market has emerged as a surprise market of interest for cricket, as it looks to continue the momentum it had built up pre-lockdown in terms of fan engagement. 

In an interview for SBCNews, William Stephenson, Head of Data & Trading Feeds at RPM Gaming, John Wright, Head of Cricket at Integral Sports Management, and Jamie Nuttall, senior cricket trader at Spreadex, explored new markets for the sport.

Nuttall emphasised the intrigue for cricket in the US by saying: “The U.S. is an interesting, possibly overlooked, market for cricket, as regulation continues to roll out state-by-state. Of course, North America has its hard-wired four sports of NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. 

“However, only basketball and American football (with its four-month season) are generating huge betting volumes, while sports like tennis and golf are starting to steal up and poach an audience. 

“I can definitely see cricket carving out an expanding niche in a U.S. market which holds burgeoning Asian communities bereft of their national sport. There are nearly three million Indian immigrants now resident stateside, which makes them the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans. You don’t need to be an accountant to interpret the latent cricket-watching potential among this growing population. 

“While the Indian Premier League’s T20, with its huge reach and social-media power, will obviously lead the charge when it rebounds later this year, thanks to a worldwide audience of 800 million.”

Wright, meanwhile, added some insight on the emergence of new European markets. He explained: “The immigration and successful integration of passionate cricketing communities around the world is definitely a key driver. Just take Germany, which recently staged a leg of the European Cricket Series to serve an engaged and ramping Asian fanbase. 

“Admittedly, that T10 series has made for something of a travelling circus with a standard of play that seldom rises above village levels. Nevertheless, with 30-40 sportsbooks taking the feed, it just shows that no-one wants to miss out on live sport at the moment. 

“So, if cricket’s powers-that-be can help fill the void in the coming months (and the IPL and the PSL certainly intend to), the challenge for operators will be to build the products (betting or fantasy) which add another level to fan engagement. 

“After all, cricket, with its natural ball-by-ball breaks of about 30 seconds, is perfectly structured for in-play wagering. Bettors can pause, evaluate their positions and the state of the game, before deciding whether to act. Perhaps only tennis is similarly well-suited.”

Stephenson then weighed in on the role of new format tournaments in maximising and expanding the engagement of cricket: “As for formats, it’s a shame that this pandemic has also put the arrival of The Hundred on its back foot,” he admitted. 

“The launch of this new 100-ball format has now been shelved until 2021. And while some of its rules and innovations are still to be fine-tuned and finalised, it’s great to see the ECB trying to grow the game with tinkering that doesn’t trample on tradition. 

“Cricket’s complexities can be a barrier to engagement, so an accessible fourth format is welcome – particularly if the IPL could also be persuaded to take it on as an additional competition. Of course, debates about cross-format cannibalization will rage. 

“However, at RPM Gaming, our next job is simply to build and perfect the trading algorithms that will speak to this new format. At the end of the day, it’s that ball-by-ball pricing accuracy which will set our clients apart and continue to grow cricket as a premium betting medium in both established and emerging sportsbook markets.”

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