Having launched new horseracing specialist online bookmaker Black Type, Richard Thorp FSB Technology Business Development Director details to SBC the challenges of bringing a specialist operator to market.
Competing against legacy betting operators for a mature but stagnant audience, SBC asks what new dynamic can Black Type bring to horse racing consumers?
SBC: Hi Richard, as a platform provider what drew FSB Technology to Black Type as a project and new client?
Richard Thorp: I think the intention to actively promote horse-racing initially caught our eye, as we’ve always taken great pride in being able to offer that properly. But it was their desire to offer decent prices and stand a bet that was particularly refreshing. They have a customer-centric focus which is a perfect fit for our modern CRM tools, and are far keener on keeping customers than chewing them up and spitting them out with some of the crazy acquisition offers that are in vogue elsewhere. They also liked our facility to offer a hybrid trading solution which allows them to look after all the major markets for mainstream UK sport leaving our traders to monitor other markets including the in-running.
SBC: From platform development perspective how do you effectively build and cater for a horseracing specialist bookmaker?
RT: Black Type do not see themselves as a horse racing specialist bookmaker. It has always been part of their plan to offer a full sportsbook run along similar lines to their racing product. Racing was chosen to introduce Black Type to the UK market as it is a sport that has been neglected by most major bookmakers for a long time. The initial response to Black Type has been extremely positive and they have exciting plans over the next few months including introducing greyhound racing and taking control of the pre-match sport where I know they are committed to offering very competitive prices.
It helps that we have all of that capability in-house and the heritage from the UK industry which means we understand the requirements off offering horse racing properly. We have very modern technology too, which puts some of the legacy providers to shame. The combination of good technology and the technical expertise you’d expect from a team based exclusively in London is a winning combination. The guys behind Black Type are former Kambi traders they know what they’re doing on that side of things. They weren’t short of options either and them also being London based helps. The two teams are working closely together and are bouncing off each other. Their skills and input has allowed us to concentrate on the other parts of the mix that we do well.
SBC: As a betting platform provider, were there any concerns partnering with a specialist ‘single focused’ bookmaker?
RT: None at all. We knew it would be successful from day one – and we haven’t been disappointed by the figures. There are a lot of people who offer horse racing. Just look at Oddschecker. But there is a decreasing number who are doing it well, and by that I’m including the big beasts of the industry. Fewer and fewer of them are prepared to offer a decent bet. There are so many fed-up customers who have awful UX when they do have a bet and are offered irrelevant and ill-timed offers when they don’t. The type of free bet on Manchester United to win a corner – but only if you’re a new customer (maximum stake £5) – marketing is driving people to sites like Black Type. They purposely streamlined the racing to make getting a bet on a simple process once again and I know they will be doing similar with the main sports markets that punters want to bet on.
SBC: Will Black Type try and make horseracing wagering more appealing to a wider audience? Is this in their interest?
RT: I don’t think they’re on a mission to evangelise horse racing; I don’t think they need to do that. There are enough people out there who like to have a bet on horse racing and who are getting a poor service elsewhere to sign-up without needing to appeal to everyone. Don’t forget the platform also offers all the other sports you’d expect from a modern managed platform, and will soon include casino games. The point is the trading philosophy and desire to give people a good betting experience – not just the first time, but every time – goes across the whole site.
SBC: How do you see your partnership developing with Black Type from its initial stages?
RT: I think it will grow very nicely, particularly as we head into the autumn and winter and sports which appeal to UK punters like Darts and NFL come to the fore. As I say, we’re already seeing some very healthy numbers and they will only grow again once Cheltenham, the Grand National and Royal Ascot come around. I’d also like to think it will encourage other people looking to set up their own sportsbooks, perhaps with a niche focus themselves, who are looking for a platform that is flexible enough to handle something different instead of churning out cookie cutter sites with broad brush marketing offers. We might even bump into a few of them at Betting on Sports!
Richard Thorp – Business Development Director – FSB Technology