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This week we chat with Irishracing.com Editor Vincent Finegan about what the future holds for the site, and the state of the wider affiliate sector.
Affiverse: Irishracing.com is a familiar name in the world of sports betting, but what does the site bring to the affiliate space?
Vincent Finegan: Irishracing.com has been on the internet for almost 30 years. It is a specialist horse racing site that is a favourite among serious form students of both UK and Irish horse racing. Our audience loves horse racing.
Our site traffic rose by 15% in 2018 which shows that horse racing still has a wide appeal and I believe sports bettors are beginning to realise that the unpredictability of horse racing gives them a better chance in their battles with the bookmakers than most other mainstream sports.
AI: There are a number of sports betting affiliate sites out there. What makes Irishracing.com stand out from the rest?
VF: Irishracing.com is 100% free to use and allows users to access historical data going back to 1990 for all UK and Irish horse races. The website is laid out from a punter’s perspective and designed to provide the user with maximum information in the fewest possible clicks. For example each horse race has three distinct pages of information that the user is interested in – the race card with the list of runners and form, odds-comparison page with all the latest price movements and the results page. Our site links all three pages so the users can easily toggle between these related pages of content.
Our race cards are also unique in that we populate them with all the relevant information from across the site such as racecourse statistics for the horses, jockeys and trainers and quotes from trainers about their horses so that a user of the site can find what they are looking for on one page.
AI: How important are the ‘News’ and ‘Blog’ sections when it comes to generating traffic and clicks?
VF: We find ‘News’ is not as important as it once was. There was a time when a breaking news story would generate significant spikes in traffic but nowadays all other news outlets pick up on our content very quickly so we place less emphasis on it. ‘Blogs’ tend not to be copied so we get much better traction from a good blog than a news story.
AI: The wider affiliate space appears to be in a constant state of flux. How do you adapt to constant upheaval?
VF: The new UK gambling legislation has had a significant impact on how we can promote our betting partners. We always followed best industry practice but many of the larger bookmakers are running scared of the new rules in relation to affiliates and their policies are tailored to curtail the rogue affiliates. In the past we would have produced a lot of bespoke content to promote our partners but now we are restricted to waiting for them to provide us with the content.
We have seen a significant growth in the number of new sports betting operators over the last twelve months. The majority are existing casino operators now branching out with white label sports products. The main issue we see in this area is the lack of sportsbook, and in particular horse racing knowledge, that these companies possess.
AI: As we move into 2019, what are your projections for the next twelve months for Irishracing.com?
VF: On 1 January the TV coverage of Irish horse racing switched from Attheraces which was free-to-view on SKY to Racing UK which requires a monthly subscription. In the short-term we would expect this to benefit irishracing.com as most racing fans will not pay to view the live pictures and are likely to use our website more often for their racing updates. However, we could in time see a falling off in the appeal and relevance of the Irish Racing product as placing the live TV pictures behind a paywall will narrow the base audience.
Brexit, in particular a No-Deal version, could have huge ramifications for Irish and UK horse racing. Certainly the movement of horses from one country to the other will virtually stop if there is no-deal. The success of major racing Festivals such as Cheltenham, Royal Ascot and the Aintree Grand National are very much dependent on Irish trained horses competing. Cheltenham sees around 10,000 punters travel over from Ireland to their March Festival each year. If there were no Irish horses running those numbers would plummet.
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