Masters of the bookmaking universe

Betting World is one of South Africa's premier bookmaking operations and a wholly owned subsidiary of JSE listed, Phumelela Gaming and Leisure Limited.

By Ian Armitage

If you enjoy a bit of a flutter Betting World is the place to go.

It offers its customers a wide range of horse racing and sports betting products and services, via its national retail footprint, regional call centres and online betting platforms.

"We offer the opportunity to bet on a number of sports," says Betting World managing director Michael Weare (pictured). "Whilst horse racing is a big part of our business, recent growth has been in sports betting, with soccer betting in particular showing large growth."

English and European soccer fixtures in particular are very popular and Betting World offers pre-match betting on every match as well as live "in-running" betting on every match televised on South African TV.

Its website and mobile betting platforms provide customers with odds and allows them to bet on horse racing meetings from all over the world, as well as on major sports including soccer, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf, motorsport and boxing.

"Going forward we believe that our growth lies in expanding our retail footprint and diversification into other betting products and services," says Mr Weare. "We launched a brand two years ago called Soccer World and have subsequently also launched Cricket World and Rugby World. Our Soccer World website and retail outlets are targeted at soccer betting enthusiasts and aim to provide them with all the information which they require, including exclusive match previews by local soccer celebrities.

"We've begun rolling out Soccer World outlets nationwide, with the initial outlets having been opened in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with more to follow in Durban. The new soccer orientated outlets are much larger than the traditional horse racing outlets and are located in and around the rim of the CBD. As the majority of our soccer betting customers look for value by taking large multiple bets, with between eight and 22 selections (teams), the number of operators and the use of technology in these outlets is ensuring a high level of customer service and business efficiency. Customers elect to take these large multiple bets as for a small out lay, they stand a chance of winning a large payout.

"We're also working with service providers such as Betradar in an effort to increase our sports betting products and services. Betradar are a leading European supplier of sporting events and related betting data, and have become quite well known locally. We have been working closely with Betradar and our wagering system supplier on integrated feeds which will allow us to focus on managing risk whilst at the same time providing a far larger product offering to our customers."

The launch of these products is expected to boost Betting World's online business.

"Our financial year ended in July and we had a good year with substantial growth on the previous few years," adds Mr Weare. "We're growing all the time and our online betting in particular is growing year-on-year and I think that most of our growth from online is on the sports side as opposed to the racing side. That is something we're looking to continue growing as well as our physical footprint.

"Gambling and betting is controlled in South Africa, regionally by provincial gambling boards. This means that we have to apply to all the different provinces independently so as to operate in their regions. We are looking to expand our retail footprint in terms of licensed premises and at the moment we have about 28 applications being processed by various gambling boards. Our largest retail footprint is currently in Gauteng, around Johannesburg and Pretoria, with the second largest retail footprint in the Western Cape around Cape Town. This is not necessarily by choice but because of a complicated regulatory environment. As a result of previous legislation, we had a long wait before being allowed to apply to operate in KwaZulu-Natal. We're busy with an application at present and aim to expand into this province as soon as possible.

"Our business strategy is to establish a sizeable footprint of retail shops in South Africa. I think fairly soon we should have about 75-78 shops, and we aim to reach 100 in the next few years. I believe for South Africa and the size of the market that this will offer sufficient coverage.

Betting World and Mr Weare's plans are ambitious.

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Image: Supplied

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