SBC News Industry executive David Brown looks to empower punters with start-up launch City Bet Club

Industry executive David Brown looks to empower punters with start-up launch City Bet Club

SBC News Industry executive David Brown looks to empower punters with start-up launch City Bet ClubPlacing a bet can often present quite a few questions – which horse do you go for? Which bookmaker has the best odds? Is there other information available which would better inform your wager?

Identifying these questions that punters might have, David Brown (right) set out to create City Bet Club, a members club which seeks to provide the shrewdest sports betting selections on the market by utilising the trading expertise and bookmaking insights of its founding members.

Speaking to SBC News, Brown discusses his move from bookmaker to sports information provider and the ways in which his new company is helping both recreational and more serious punters ‘take on the bookmakers fair and square’.

SBC: Firstly, can you give us a brief introduction to City Bet Club? What is it and how did the idea for the company come about?

City Bet Club (CBC) is a subscription service providing members with access to the shrewdest sports betting selections on the market. As an introductory launch offer, we are inviting customers to register and try our service free of charge for a limited period of time.

Our objective at CBC is to empower our members to improve their betting selections with expert betting advice. We aim to provide consistently high quality insight that is exclusive to club members at a very affordable price.

We have an expert team who research daily betting opportunities in great depth to allow the club members to access their insight through their membership. This team includes significant trading expertise both within mainstream businesses, highly successful private bettors and International contacts with experience and access to overseas betting markets.

Initially, we endeavour to find at least one value opportunity on horse racing each day which we post at 0930am UK time. This allows our members to take advantage of any bookmaker Best Odds Guaranteed offers and the markets are reasonably stable by that time each morning. We also provide selective football picks and other sports when our experts identify value.

Sports information or ‘tipping’ services have been around for as long as I can remember. For some time, I’ve felt there has been a gap in the market to provide a great value service that is affordable to the recreational bettor and also effective for the more serious punter.

I discussed this with trusted contacts in the industry, both in the UK and abroad. Together, we have trialled the quality of the information since November 2021 and the consistent profits achieved has allowed us to go live with City Bet Club in August this year.

SBC: What would you say are the main objectives of City Bet Club?

By building a client base of CBC members who interact with their membership on a regular basis we aim to make CBC the ‘go to’ information source that recreational punters choose to arm themselves with before placing their bets. To achieve this, our basic subscription rate of £20 a month makes this very affordable for the recreational and for the more serious betting punters.

We will consistently add value for our members by regularly adding new features so that there is always something fresh and new to enhance the service.

SBC: Give us your elevator pitch – what are you offering that other sports information advisers are not? And how are you doing that?

Firstly, all of our information is provided by sources exclusive to City Bet Club. Customers will not find this information elsewhere. We are offering a free trial at the moment so anyone can sign up through the website and trial the service.

We don’t see anyone else offering this. We’ve already had great feedback from our ‘pioneer’ members on how CBC has already transformed their betting activity.

When we do move to a subscription in the next few weeks we will have a very affordable rate of just £20 a month. We will introduce features on events too which will be written exclusively by our experts to provide interesting content on key events for members.

SBC: Why has now been the right time to launch City Bet Club?

I’ve been researching this project for about a year with key members of the team. We’ve trialled the quality of selections since last November. Only once we were all happy that we could consistently provide the quality service we aspire to, did we decide to launch.

Of course, we had to build the website with help from software experts but we thought we should launch on a busy racing week – so we picked the Ebor meeting week at York as our public go-live date. We don’t think the existing competitors providing information services have altered their offerings recently, so it was a good time to go live and here we are.

SBC: David, you’ve had a very illustrious career thus far – having held Group Trading Director positions at companies such as William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes Coral and a non executive role at Banach Technology in addition to running your own on-course betting business. How will you use your trading expertise – both from the online space as well as from the on-course sector – to inform your leadership of City Bet Club?

I’ve over 45 years experience in this industry as a bookmaker and operator. I’ve been fortunate to work as an Executive Trading Director for three major bookmakers in the UK for many years, reporting to a range of excellent CEOs. Everyone of them has been exceptional in their own way. I was also a non Executive Director at Banach Technology leading to a successful sale last year. I’ve also got to know some of the sharpest operators in the industry, both bookmakers and bettors.

There is a simple principle that if a market is difficult to win on as a bookmaker, or if there is a bet that is poor value to lay, then it’s a good bet to have as a punter and an even better bet if there is informed opinion behind it. So, our experts will be looking for selections that are ones you really wouldn’t want to be laying as a bookmaker.

Also, we will be aiming to keep the CBC proposition as simple as possible to understand and to use. This will be a guiding principle in all of our developments. So, together with the team, I will put the lessons learned in this industry to good use to make CBC as exciting as possible yet simple to interact with for our members.

SBC: Does this move into the sports information advisory space mean that you’re now a ‘gamekeeper turned poacher’, so to speak?

Well, you could say that Erin and it’s certainly true to an extent. I’ve recently sold my last racecourse pitch allowing me to devote more time to CBC too.

I am working with a great team of experts and between us we are most definitely seeking to empower our customers to make better selections and improve the profitability of their betting.

I’ve had a long and varied career as a bookmaker but now my focus is to put that experience to good use for CBC members. One example is in account management: our team spot pricing errors with bookmakers regularly. We understand which events bookmakers want to take bets on, and avoid recommending bets on any prices which are simply incorrect or palpable errors.

Our aim is to take on the bookmakers ‘fair and square’. For example, bookmakers have to offer odds on every race, whereas we will only make selections when we identify a genuine value opportunity that our members can readily access.

Margins for operators have never been tighter and we’ve proven so far that we can find an edge for punters. So you are right, Erin! My allegiance has certainly moved to be firmly on the side of the punter, versus the bookmaker in this venture.

SBC: In your opinion, what would you say are the biggest challenges facing UK-based punters at the moment?

The landscape for UK based punters has changed markedly in recent years, driven largely by regulation and legislation. The changes potentially provide challenges for all bettors from the daily recreational player to the professional gambler.

Account restrictions:

In recent times many long term recreational punters have reported a sense of frustration at impositions being placed upon their leisure activity. After years of recreational betting they suddenly find some of their bets being restricted especially by digital bookmakers with no credible explanation offered to the customer other than ‘trader decision’. Bets they used to be able to get without a problem are often now only offered to restricted stakes even on high profile events with huge betting turnover.

Also, many marginally successful punters can no longer access the mainstream UK market at all as accounts are also often heavily restricted after minimal activity or a single winning bet.

Of course, customers who solely try to bet on ‘arbitrage’ positions or palpable errors on a bookmakers site deserve to have their accounts terminated. But many genuine customers appear to be penalised for using their skill to win often modest amounts from bookmakers.

We know bookmakers don’t want large winning accounts nowadays. However, previously, the information from shrewd customers was valued by smart bookmakers to make better and stronger prices for their companies. Nowadays, policies appear to have changed to remove these customers or restrict their business to minimal levels so they cease trading.

Regulatory pressures:

Additionally, all customers are impacted as bookmakers have been forced to react to regulatory pressure.It’s often very laborious to simply open an account and deposit funds as Know Your Customer and Source of Funds checks have to be passed. Each operator seems to have its own interpretation of the regulatory controls rules and this makes operating an account at all often difficult.

Customers, quite rightly, are reluctant to send in bank statements proving a source of funds or to answer intrusive questions on a phone call from someone they do not know.

Many customers, who have held accounts for several years with a clear pattern of behaviour are suddenly being requested to prove they can afford their gambling.

At CBC, we absolutely understand and support initiatives to keep gamblers safe from harm, but the way this has been implemented at many bookmaking firms leaves significant room for improvement in our view. The Gambling Commission appears to share our view given the large fines imposed on operators recently and licence reviews initiated.

As a consequence, some former professional gamblers see providing information to City Bet Club as an expert analyst as a new income stream for them. This is a highly beneficial consequence for CBC and our members as we can access insight that was formally not available in the marketplace.

SBC: Safer gambling has obviously been a major focus for the industry in recent years. How is City Bet Club ensuring that its members are best informed on the responsible gambling tools and services available to them?

We take our responsibility to inform our members on Safer Gambling initiatives very seriously indeed.

It’s critical to us that members enjoy their experience and bet within their means. Of course, we intend to assist our members to bet profitably but we can’t guarantee the success of any recommendation we make for a single bet or sequence of bets over any timescale.

Customers using our service will be shown how to gamble in a fun and recreational manner. Our picks are selective and we take top prices only, with the largest bookmakers, on the highest profile events. We always encourage modest stakes and have devoted a significant part of the website to advice on Safer Gambling.

Further, we positively encourage our members to engage with their bookmaker to understand the tools that are available with each bookmaker to ensure they stay safe.
This can include deposit limits, session time limits, loss limits and the like. The bookmakers have a responsibility to keep their customers safe and we encourage all City Bet Club members to use the tools available and deploy them at their chosen level with their bookmaker.

We also include advice on what a member should do if they stop enjoying their betting activity or find it impacting their life in any negative way whatsoever. We point them in the direction of where to seek professional help if their gambling becomes a problem.

SBC: It’s still early days for City Bet Club, but what can you tell us about any future developments for the service?

Our core product is our Club Membership. This gives members all-access to our daily Horse Racing service and our selected Sports insight, all for only £20 a month. We believe this is affordable and accessible for our target market and are confident that we deliver exceptional value for money.

We will continue to enhance the core service with more content on major events. Currently we release our daily selections at 0930am. However, markets are released on UK racing on the evening before the race. There is often incredible value in these early prices as advised by our experts but you need to be quick to snap up the value as the markets are highly volatile at this time.

We are working on an expanded product focusing on this opportunity, as an add-on service for the future and look forward to updating members on our plans.

We understand the sports betting calendar very well and of course know which events customers like to bet on most, we aim to cover these big events with expert insight – this will all be included within our Club Membership service.

Now, I can’t tell you too much more about new innovative products as our competitors may be reading this… some of them have certainly registered to enjoy our excellent free trial service. We are not surprised as since our live launch in mid August we delivered over 15 points profit at over 30%.

SBC: And finally, you’re currently up and running in the UK. But looking to the future, are you looking to expand into new markets? If so, can you give us a sneak peek into where we might see City Bet Club next?

As a team we agreed the UK was our target market for a horseracing and major sports advisory release.

We did a soft launch into South Africa with an in territory partner under a different brand. We purposely chose an overseas territory initially, and many valuable learnings from this are now applied to our UK launch.

Commercially, we are exploring many options, the South African market is an interesting expansion for us, we have a long established network there. Further to this, we’ve already had preliminary discussions with contacts in the USA. This would be a totally different product set to the UK but is firmly in our scope for City Bet Club.

As a business model, there are many exciting revenue opportunities for us to pursue, including content creation, advertising and affiliate partnerships. Our goal will always be to put our Club Members first. We will always aim to offer tremendous value to our customers.

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