The past decade has seen a huge upsurge in new technologies and changes in product and content consumption – but has the betting industry caught up?
For operators that focus on or have a strong interest in horse racing, which of course likely means all betting firms, emerging tech solutions may bridge the gap between traditional wagering markets and the illusive hard-to-please Gen Z and millennial demographic.
After meeting Voxbet’s Managing Director, Jonathan Power, on the 42nd floor of East London’s Leadenhall Building at the WoTA Forum event, SBC Media gained insights into how the firm plans to appeal to these age groups with its voice-to-text technology.
Getting Gen Z on board
“Customers are already using voice technology, such as Alexa and Siri, and most use WhatsApp voice notes instead of sending a text message,” Power began.
“Most people under the age of 35 already use voice technology every day. We know that these people are going to need new ways of engaging, racing should leverage these people, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
If there is one group that horse racing has been struggling to reach out of today’s audience, it is the Gen Z and Millennial demographic – go to any betting shop, chances are customers in this age bracket will not be betting on equestrian markets.
Instead, football is the dominant betting product for younger consumers, providing quick entertainment to punters in the form of stats bets such as over and under markets, or goalscorer and scorecast options.
The trick to making racing appeal to Gen Z bettors, in Power’s view, is enabling them to make quick bets, in doing so appealing to a shorter attention span.
“Racing is a fantastic visual product and experience, and for many viewers everything they know about a horse is from its name,” the MD continued.
“If you can just speak that name and get a quick bet in 10 seconds before the race starts, I think that will appeal to the Gen Z and millennial market – and racing really must reach these groups.”
Investment and development
In the UK, Power noted that Voxbet aims to ‘modernise’ the current British way of betting, where most customers place a wager by the horse’s name, whilst in other countries people tend to bet by horse number, which requires them to re-engineer back from the horse name.
As well as appealing to younger demographics, the firm aims to draw in existing customers, who know horse racing and who they want to back, but want to get it done quickly – ‘they know their horses, know their tips, and they have information’, he explained.
Voxbet’s operations in the UK have included a partnership with the Tote – the company has partnered with the British pool betting system since its original identity of Onionsack, before the Tote was managed by was managed by Betfred in 2006, and recently renewed its partnership with the current steward, the UK Tote Group.
“We see the investment being made by big tech companies in voice technology in the billions, probably tens of billions” he continued.
“If you can understand the bet that’s been written you can understand the bet that’s been spoken, it’s the same underpinning but a very different user experience, and we thought that needed an upgrade.”
On the Onionsack rebrand, he continued: “Onoinsack was a long time partner of the Tote. We had relationships going back to 2006. It began with SMS betting then messaging from inside the Tote app, and are moving on with voice betting to implement that.
“Jamie Hart from the Tote has always been an innovator, and we’ve known a lot of people at the Tote for a very long time.”
A global outlook
Horse racing and tote betting is of course not just confined to the UK, however, having a strong following in numerous regulated markets – and Voxbet’s focus is only not just in these two areas, Power explained.
As well as partnering with the UK Tote, the company has been working with French pool betting operator PMU for some time. Power commented on the different dynamics between Britain and France in this regard.
“The UK Tote has underwritten a very different market, as It has to compete, and so they’re two very different organisations to work with for that reason,” he explained.
“PMU delivers a lavish amount of money to racing, they’re a hugely successful brand, whilst the Tote has to compete against the fixed odds operators, and so the culture is quite different.”
On the other side of the world, Power highlighted increased demand in Australia- whilst in the UK horse racing has struggled in some ways to maintain and expand its audience, in this market it is the opposite.
There is a ‘whole cohort of brands’ in Australia, he shared, which generate almost 90% of their revenue from horse racing, and public interest – including among younger consumers – is rising.
“What we can bring to the Australian market is that when you make betting easier people bet more often,” he added.
“We’ve seen that with text betting, the average number of bets are significantly higher than any other channel. It appeals to the customer who bets race to race.
“Australia is quite an interesting market, as uniquely horse racing is in significant growth over there. It is already appealing to young people over there.”
Meanwhile, Voxbet also maintains keen interest in the rapidly growing North American market, although Power noted that the firm had reduced its focus there when primarily delivering text betting due to geolocation requirements.
However, said requirements impact voice betting tech much less, the company is now stepping-up development of its horse racing product in the country, having just returned from a stateside trade show.
The group is also evaluating its language preferences to appeal to different national markets, offering English, French, German and Cantonese Chinese voice betting support.
Lastly, although – with the discussion taking place at the WoTA Forum – much of the conversation revolves around horse racing, this is not the only area of interest for Voxbet.
“All sport is a visual experience, the quicker you can make the betting experience, the better the customer experience,” Power reiterated. “Sports will be delivered later on as a unit, with different ones ranked per geography, like football, NFL, NBA etc.”