John Pettit, Playtech BGT Sport’s UK, Ireland, Asia and Australia Managing Director speaks to SBC on his firm’s detailed approach to servicing independent bookmakers.
Having secured new terminal contracts with a number UK independent bookmakers, Pettit details how Playtech BGT services and provisions can help ‘independents’ continue to make their mark within the ultra-competitive UK retail betting sector.
SBC: Hi John, great to catch up. As an industry technology provider, why has Playtech BGT made a concerted effort to service independent bookmakers?
John Pettit: We believe our turnkey product offering is ideal for all bookmakers, irrelevant of size, and so targeting independents is a logical step in our growth strategy. Our SSBTs are easily integrated into independent operators with either one shop or fifty, and we will look to continue expanding in the area in the coming years.
Independent operators have a significant part to play on the high street, driving custom with local expertise and a sense of community, and our products will be able to further aid their success by providing a competitive edge.
SBC: From a supplier perspective, how do you build effective terminal solutions for independent bookmakers who operate much smaller retail networks…what is the main challenge for PBS services?
JP: Our scalability is key to providing effective solutions. The installation of each terminal is straightforward for any bookmaker, and this allows for a flexible approach to the number of SSBTs in each shop and across an entire estate. We work with each customer on a case-by-case basis to ensure we are providing the right products, to the right scale, and this is no different for independents or larger operations.
One of the significant issues with supplying independents with our SSBTs is that margins can be more erratic due to lower turnover. Chain operators generally have the benefit of mitigating risk across their stores due to their vast number of customers, who bet on different events and outcomes. However, a small number of players can affect independents’ bottom-lines quickly. Fortunately, our centralised risk management team and high proportion of accumulator bets result in such high margins, that even a 5% downturn is manageable.
SBC: Can new PBS terminal services introduce Independent bookmakers to new technologies which can engage customers?
JP: Without a doubt! Our products have been digitising the high street shop for years, enhancing the betting experience for customers. Our focus has always been on driving the digitisation of the retail space by finding ways of bringing the choice of online to the shop floor, and this is no different with independent bookmakers.
Our SSBTs offer a wider range of sports, competitions and bet types, all easily-accessible on wide screens and in coupon formats which help the player build accumulators with ease. Not only are most of the events we offer not available over-the-counter, but they are also around the clock, in-play and pre-event ensuring players can bet on their favourite sport when they want, rather than being confined by major fixtures which can be at unsociable times.
Along with our BetTracker app, which allows customers to transfer a terminal bet onto their mobile device to track and cash-out, we are very confident that customers will engage with this new era of retail betting, improving the UX and boosting bookmakers’ turnover and margins in the process.
SBC: Independent bookmakers have declined in number in recent years, do you think they need to re-evaluate their market position or are the larger chains too strong to compete?
JP:It’s a sign of the times that larger-scale operators with greater marketing budgets and geographical reach will edge out some independents lacking these economies of scale. This is certainly not specific to betting though, with a similar process occurring in various industries.
However, I believe independents can certainly remain competitive and fight back against the bigger players with the right targeting of customers, product range and customer service. On the face of it, retail shops are fairly homogenous, with very little differentiation between them, so if independents can utilise the latest in affordable technology then they will remain competitive.
I don’t think they need to have a complete review of their market position or process, but just an open mind to how the retail sector is evolving and how they can stay at the forefront of its development.
SBC: Having secured new services contracts, how do you see your partnership with Independent bookmakers progressing in the coming months?
JP: Independents still play a key part in the retail sector and I can see a very positive relationship developing in the coming months as our products help to increase their customer base, as well as profits.
We will continue to work with independent operators to address their needs and highlight potential marketing opportunities for our SSBTs. As they become embedded in their estates, consistent with what we have seen with larger operators, I would expect to see a greater number of terminals deployed in each shop to satisfy the increased customer demand that follows as customers become familiar with our product.
SBC: When servicing independent bookmakers, what considerations, factors and dynamics do suppliers have to understand with regards to their client’s day-to-day operational realities?
JP: Independent operators generally have smaller management layers compared to larger operators and so the day-to-day decision-making process is often spread between shop managers and the executive level.
Often shop managers may have to flag up issues themselves, as opposed to coming from a head office data centre, and it is this personal touch that can help our servicing teams to operate with a greater understanding of the needs of the customers.
John Pettit, Playtech BGT Sport’s UK, Ireland, Asia and Australia Managing Director