Going for glory during the Ryder Cup

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Peter D’Arcy, Head of Sports at Metric Gaming, on how the Ryder Cup has become one of the largest betting events on the calendar

As a sporting event, the Ryder Cup has it all. Intense competition between the world’s best golfers from Europe and America. It takes place on stunning courses, and with a spirit and sense of patriotism that is unique to the three-day tournament.

This has seen the Ryder Cup become one of the largest one-off betting events on the calendar. It might be the third most popular golf betting tournament behind the Open and the Masters, but it attracts a very different player demographic.

Due to the unique format of the Ryder Cup, it has mainstream appeal and draws in a growing army of casual bettors every other year. Punters like to get behind their team and are driven to bet by a sense of allegiance they don’t feel towards individual players.

What’s more, the Ryder Cup is highly publicised and broadcast across key media platforms, from television to radio via online and social media. In Europe, for example, Sky Sports provides round the clock coverage, while sports news apps offer real-time updates.

The Ryder Cup is therefore a fantastic platform for online sportsbook operators to engage this casual player demographic and push them to their books by offering a wide range of markets, competitive odds and bonuses that deliver genuine value.

But which markets are the most popular for casual and more sophisticated bettors?

Our data shows that individual match winner markets are the most wagered on, simply because punters can watch all of the action from that group – this is not the case with a lot of golf coverage and is another reason why the Ryder Cup is so popular.

We also see a lot of volume through in-play betting markets. The importance of teams winning each hole delivers high levels of anticipation and excitement for viewers, which they heighten further by placing hole-by-hole bets.

These markets are very popular as they provide the customer with quick wins and are able to recycle their winnings through the match.

The Top Points Scorer markets are also very popular with the more hardcore fans and bettors. There is a fair amount of trader judgement in how these markets are priced and it allows the punters to back their own views like in a regular golf tournament.

Of course, the 2018 Ryder Cup is the first time that US punters (outside of Nevada) will be able to wager on the tournament legally, and I expect to see a large number of bets placed through the newly opened sportsbooks in New Jersey.

Golf is a popular betting sport in the USA and with the main markets of the Ryder Cup being match-ups – which American punters are used to and comfortable with – New Jersey sportsbook revenues will likely hit record highs in September off the back of the event.

Given the recent repeal of PASPA, I expect US bookmakers to have a fairly stripped-back Ryder Cup offering this time round. That said, the casinos that have partnered with European bookmakers have the experience and resources to offer a wider range of markets.

Regardless, this will be the most comprehensive Ryder Cup offering in the USA to date, and will set the benchmark for future tournaments. Despite the excitement, operators will have to keep a close eye on the tournament and betting activity to ensure integrity.

It is still early days for legal sports betting in the USA, and already FanDuel has come under scrutiny in New Jersey for refusing to payout an $82,000 win after a “glitch” in its system offered punters the wrong odds.

The operator has since backtracked and agreed to settle the bet – and those of others that wagered on the erroneously inflated odds – but it still stands as a warning to the wider industry about ensuring their systems and processes are working as they should.

This is certainly true of the data feeds that help operators flag suspicious betting activity and patterns that could suggest problem play. The FanDuel error has hit the operator where it hurts – its pocket – but the impact of a match fixing scandal would be far worse.

So long as operators work with established and experienced platform, software and data providers, these issues can be avoided and the opportunities presented by headline events such as the Ryder Cup fully capitalised on.