eGaming Review January 2014 - Page 39

TRADING PLACES Advancements in pricing methods have changed the role of a sports trader but is the industry heading towards commoditised pricing? By Gerard Starkey T imes have changed from the pre-internet days when traders, or odds compilers as they were once known, would price up sports events armed with a blank sheet of paper, a calculator and a variety of magazines and books, such as the football traders’ favourite, the Rothmans Yearbook. With little or no reference points available, the odds compiler would be wholly responsible for the prices he or she would set, often resulting in operators offering arbitrage opportunities for those willing to take advantage. However, rapid advancements in technology, the birth of exchange betting in the early noughties, the highly liquid, low margin football betting markets in Asia, and the rise of third-party pricing providers have all contributed to the changing face of odds making and market creation for sportsbooks big and small. Some believe much of the human element has been eroded from the pricing up of sports events with traders now able to call upon these important tools to guide, dictate or even create their prices. “There’s so much available market out there now – if it’s not driven by the Asian market you’ve got the exchanges, and there’s quite a few third-party providers giving odds platforms too, so the days of the traditional odds compilers are numbered,” Jonathan Wright, head of trading at Boylesports, says. Aside from golf, tennis and the shorter forms of cricket, Boylesports now takes price feeds from a number of pricing outsourcers for all it sports events, with Sporting Index subsidiary Sporting Solutions providing pricing feeds for as many as 18 sports including football. In the case of tennis, one of Boylesports’ core products, it can now offer more than 18,000 matches per year on a fully automated basis via a number of providers including Sporting Solutions, BetRadar, Amelco and Betgenius. EVOLVING ROLES According to Wright, who entered the industry as an odds compiler in the late 1980s, traders haven’t become obsolete but have instead evolved into ‘product managers’ who now monitor rather than create the prices. “I can ask two tennis traders to ‘trade’ probably 14 matches simultaneously with the comfort of knowing there’s an algorithm there working in the background effectively,” he says. “As product managers, they can sit on the ticker and watch bets come through and ensure bets are settled correctly, that there are no anomalies with the prices and there are no delays in the feed – that’s the major accountability the individual sports traders will have.” This changing job spec and sophistication of pricing isn’t limited 37