Business

More than Luck

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter

Wednesday, August 15, 2012    

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THE Olympics may have bumped up sports betting revenue at Supreme Ventures.

But the 2014 World Cup is set to bring an entirely different ball game, according to Brian George.

"We want to see sports betting three to four times its current size within a year," said the CEO of Jamaica's largest gaming and betting company.

At over $200 million in annualised sports betting sales so far this year, his projection would place the company's revenue from the business segment closer to $800 million next year.

George plans to place Supreme in a position to have Jamaicans bet on the 2014 World Cup Football.

Supreme makes most of its revenue from lottery games, which raked in $13.7 billion of the company's $15.4 billion total revenue for the first six months in 2012.

But sports betting which brought in sales of $102 million for the half year ($204 million annualised), had seen tremendous growth over the year. The comparative period last year saw Supreme earn $43 million in revenue from the business segment.

George said that it is knowledge of games that separate sports betting from lotteries, which are based on chance.

"People like to feel in control and they want to use their knowledge of a particular sport to gain," he said.

But that didn't stop people caught up in the excitement of the London Olympic Games to bet on their feelings.

"The emotion and euphoria of Jamaica's success in the Games was translated into bets."

Olympic 100-metre champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce was a crowd bet favourite for the 200-metre race, George said.

At one point on the day of the 200-metre women's final, the odds for Fraser-Pryce to win were 25 to one. She ended up with the silver medal.

Overall, the Summer Games' impact on the company's sales was phenomenal, according to Supreme's CEO.

But betting could extend well beyond the sporting arena, by George's reckoning.

"It would be good if people could bet on events like Miss Universe," he said.

Legitimate sports betting crept on to the gambling landscape when the Cabinet approved an amendment to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act.

The approval paved the way for the introduction of betting on overseas sports matches, such as National Basketball Association (NBA) games in the USA and European football matches.

It is no wonder the company offered odds on of the basketball tournament to Jamaican betters.

The US men's basketball team, popularly known as the Dream Team, were placed as huge favourites to defend their Olympic title at odds of 1.15 to one, with Spain following at odds of five to one.

As it turned out, both teams went to the final with the US securing gold in the end and Spain the silver.

George believes mobile betting is an inevitable next step.

"It is impossible to have something as ubiquitous as a smartphone and not give people access to mobile betting," he told the Jamaica Observer.

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