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Jacob Lopez Curciel – OPTIMA – Developing an In Play horse racing product to capture the eye

Last month, SBC Events marked a landmark year in horse racing with a dedicated full day conference track at Betting on Sports, held at the Olympia Conference Centre in London.

OPTIMA - In Play betting
Jacob Lopez Curciel, Optima

As part of the ‘Betting on Racing’ track, the ‘After the off – Opportunities in live betting’ session facilitated a high-level discussion around the opportunity to engage new punters with an in play horse racing product.

Just a few weeks after the event, we caught up with Jacob Lopez Curciel, CEO at OPTIMA and a key speaker from this session, to build on the insight he delivered to a packed room of delegates at #boscon2017.

SBC: Do you think the horse racing industry is missing an opportunity to engage punters with live betting products?

JLC: The horse racing industry, as any other, needs innovation to keep the business interest up and to continue attracting new customers. Live betting and the user experience around the live betting will attract the interest of existing and new customers. If the user experience is good, the customers will use the services.

SBC: Do you share the opinion that the speed and accuracy of live data represents the biggest obstacle to its successful adoption?

JLC: Not the biggest, and not the only.

First the customer experience, how do we drive enjoyment and eliminate frustration completely from the user journey to play “real time betting” on horse racing. What plus is the customer going to get in his experience to capture his eye and his time. A challenge that each operator has to shape and evolve, probably iteratively.

Speed and consistency, both together, between data and video streaming, which requires systems and resources that are now becoming available at consumer level and in previous years were not readily available, a challenge that definitely we have the technology to resolve now.

SBC: From an integrity perspective, do you think there is any chance of varied in-race markets such as first to fall or leader after first furlong?

JLC: Transparency is the key. If parameters can be monitored in real time, it is more likely that competitiveness and integrity will be better and those markets could have a chance, some of them I doubt will be possibly suitable for betting without full transparency in real time, however I don’t think In Play betting must be thought only around new markets as it is often the case, In Play betting is more about the user experience and extending the times for betting than adding new markets.

SBC: What can horse racing learn from in play betting on other sports?

JLC: Only very low % of all markets offered get bets, quality more important than amount

Real time data is equally or more important than live streaming for the customer to enjoy and for the operator to maximize the product quality and profitability.

Technology used must be the right one, proven and stable, or In Play betting could cause serious damage to a business and its reputation.

SBC: Can you trade in play horse racing algorithmically from the data? Or does there need to be a human influence too?

JLC: A hybrid is required. 80/20 automated vs human interaction.

There are many situations still that cannot be properly assessed and processed specially in situations of low liquidity no matter how much data you can process in real time.

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