Playtech BGT Sports (PBS) was showcasing its latest product range at the recent ICE London exhibition.
We dropped by the busy stand to speak to John Pettit, PBS Managing Director in UK, Ireland, Asia and Australia, about improvements made to the company’s SSBT offering, new displays for its ‘OTC’ coupons and further planned developments ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
SBC: How would the reduction in stakes for FOBTs impact the use of SSBTs?
JP: First and foremost, we want a healthy betting shop. A healthy betting shop is good for the SSBT. The more customers that are in the shop, the more shops are open. With our own product, we are advocates of responsible gambling, so we need to make sure that there is a correct balance.
Within all of that, if there is a change in FOBT stakes, I think we are in a good position. A lot of FOBT business should stay FOBT business, but the one correlation is football. Although our terminals offer the full range of sporting content, football is the principle product, generating around 70% of turnover. So, if there’s one product in the betting shop that should benefit, you would think it would be SSBTs, because of the known crossover between SSBT and football, and football and FOBT.
SBC: Can you explain the level of personalisation that the new ‘OTC’ coupon gives operators?
JP: For personalisation, we recognised a few years ago that we had to provide more personalisation opportunities for the bookmakers. As much as a one-size fits all worked for us, it doesn’t work for bookmakers, so if you look around the stand today, our mantra is differentiation but working on a single version of code.
So, whatever is developed for one area, one jurisdiction or one customer is immediately available to other customers. For example, everything we’ve done for OPAP is available in the UK. Everything we do is through configuration, and what that configuration allows us is a much greater level of personalisation for each of the operators.
Every terminal here is operated from the same software stack. What we have is hundreds of thousands of configuration settings, which allow operators to get that level of personalisation and differentiation that they all crave. The OTC coupon is just another example of that process, but there will be more coming in the next six months.
SBC: And can this personalisation be refined on a shop to shop basis?
JP: Yes, because we come from a digital background, unlike most things in the betting shop which have been analogue pushed into digital. We started with digital, so it can be configured on a minute-by-minute, terminal by terminal level.
You could have a front screen changing at 7pm to show the football, and then change it back at 10pm. The CMS system allows you to modify things by terminal. We call them nodes. Not only is that for the presentation, but for other things such as bonuses, offers and concessions.
SBC: Do you monitor data on what your clients are doing, in terms of how they are utilising this opportunity to personalise their SSBT offering?
JP: We do some of it, but what we’ve tried to do is build a tool for the operator to use themselves, because if we do it all ourselves, it kind of puts you in a very difficult position. Obviously, we want every operator to make as much money as possible, but we recognise the need for confidentiality, so what we want to do is build the infrastructure that will enable the operator to be successful.
We want to be partners with our customers and operators, so as and when we see good ideas, it is always in our interest to share them where the IP in the idea is ours. There are also things we look at ourselves, especially because for some of our customers we offer almost a fully managed service.
For some of the independents, we do almost everything for them. So, we learn that we have done ‘x’ here and it’s had this response. This customer has done this, but this one hasn’t, and there’s been a change in the performance. You get a tremendous amount of insight with such a configurable platform.
SBC: Bet Tracker is now available to both iPhone and Android users on the Google Play store for the first time. Can you talk us through some of your other recent product developments?
JP: From a product development perspective, we spent a lot of time with OPAP, but in the last six to nine months we’ve really started looking again at how we can maximise the UK product, especially with the World Cup coming up. There have been three or four key product developments that you’ll see hitting the market in the next six months.
The first one that has just gone live is Lottoland, which is the ability to place a lottery bet across numerous regulated global lotteries, meaning you can win huge prizes such as £100 million in a betting shop.
Following that, we’ve developed a Match Acca; imagine Sky Bet’s RequestABet on a terminal, where you can add multiple selections from the same game to create an in-game accumulator. That has been built with the World Cup in mind. It’s the same as RequestABet except it’s real-time so as you keep adding a selection, the returns on that in-game acca update immediately.
For example, England to win, Kane to score the first goal, over 3.5 bookings and over 10 corners. That’s a bet you will be able to do using a real-time algorithm that calculates the price. We’re working with a company called Algosport – the algorithm determines how much are these markets related and how this impacts the price.
For example, Argentina are 10/1 to win the World Cup next summer and Lionel Messi is 10/1 to be top scorer and therefore the double is 10/1. As this is a related contingency, the answer is no because obviously, if Messi is the top scorer, Argentina’s chances of winning must be greater than that (or less than 10/1). Match Acca allows you to build your own related contingency bet, increasing interest and excitement (not to mention operator margin) in a single match.
We also have a development to Bet Tracker, which will go live for the World Cup, whereby you can build your bet outside of the shop – a bit like the old paper coupon which you took to the pub, had a chat with your friends and asked what they fancied. Here, you build it on your phone, which automatically tells you what the odds are, then you come back into the shop and transfer the bet from your phone onto the terminal.
This should be ready in time for the World Cup, which is so important for us because it’s such a communal experience that gets people talking outside of the betting shop – they still get the anonymity they want, but their out-of-shop experience can then be transferred into the shop.
Anonymity is key on the retail side, but we also know that retail customers like digital devices and innovation, so what we’re trying to do is build products that bring digital and retail anonymity together.