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Susan O’Leary – Alderney – Back to the future

Susan O’Leary, Alderney

Susan O’Leary, CEO for Alderney Gambling, talks about her favourite new technology, and what impact it will have on the sector.

Travelling is a big part of my role as CEO for Alderney Gambling. While long haul travel does have its downsides, the upside is that I attend most of the industry’s conferences, from G2E Asia to the Georgia Gaming Congress via ICE Totally Gaming and WrB Africa in Kenya.

While attending these events, I often speak on panels and take part in debates, or can be found on the Alderney stand discussing the jurisdiction, making new connections and building on existing relationships.

I also take the time to meet with other exhibitors, share our experiences and learn from each other more about the ideas and technology shaping the future of online gambling.

What a bright future it is. One of the key emerging trends is automation, with developers and suppliers bringing a host of products and services to market that allow operators to streamline the day to day running of their businesses. One area of focus is sports betting, and the role of traders.

Most sportsbook platforms now boast powerful algorithms that can generate real-time odds for hundreds of markets across thousands of contests from matches and leagues all over the world. It is the driving force behind in-play betting, with odds and markets changing in the blink of an eye.

In some respects, we are witnessing the rise of the machines, with artificial intelligence and machine learning playing a more central – some say sinister – role in the behind the scenes tech powering most modern sports books. As computers become every smarter, their use will become more ubiquitous.

This also extends to blockchain, and the potential it has to fully automate banking and payments.

While learning more about these platforms and tools, I began to wonder what they mean for traders in the long-term. Will their roles become surplus to requirements; their duties taken over by machines? Or will the human touch always be required? It seems like more of the latter and less of the former.

While computers and algorithms do most of the heavy lifting, traders will always be required to check numbers are being crunched correctly and to be on standby to take over in the case of a malfunction or downtime. Traders are also required to devise bespoke markets, or one-off odds – something machines can’t do so easily.

When it comes to payments, transactions may become ever-more automated, but checks and balances will always have to be carried out using the human eye.

Operators will undoubtedly be keen to move towards fully automated systems; they allow them to drastically reduce staffing costs and, as the technology improves and algorithms become even more complex and intelligent, deliver a faster, more efficient experience to their players.

On the customer side, the industry continues to push the boundaries. A hot topic at the moment is voice activation, and how it can be leveraged to allow consumers to place bets without having to use their fingers. It’s early days for the tech, but already operators such as Betfred and Stoiximan are experimenting.

Voice activated betting makes it easier for punters to place bets, as well as communicating with bookmakers. The Betfred app allows players to request odds and ask for upcoming fixtures; this allows the operator to talk to their players directly and provide a truly bespoke service.

Of course, you can’t discuss the tech shaping the future of the online gambling industry without mentioning virtual and augmented reality. Suppliers are going all out for VR, with most putting the finishing touches to bold new games that move the needle in terms of tech, design, and player experience.

I believe VR will play a major role in the online gambling industry, simply because it offers consumers a more immersive, engaging and ultimately fun experience. Sure, it will take time for devices to become mainstream, but if mobile is anything to go by VR goggles will be found in most households by the end of the decade.

It is a very exciting time for the online gambling industry. The more I travel and the more I get to see what is in store, the more passionate and energised I become about tech, gaming and gambling.

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