Paul Graham, Mark Jarvis: The FOBT ruling has been tough for independent bookmakers

Paul Graham

With the FOBT ruling coming into play earlier this year, the effect upon retail-focused bookmakers has been tough, with some having to close their doors for good.

In a chat with Paul Graham from Mark Jarvis Racing, he told SBC that the FOBT ruling has been tough on independent bookmakers, but that he hopes the new partnership with FSB will help grow Mark Jarvis’ online presence.

SBC: The FOBT ruling came in place a few months back, and we’ve seen a number of the larger bookmakers implement cuts / closing stores to offset the impact – what has been the effect on independent bookmakers?

Paul Graham: The impact to independent bookmakers has been hard. This is a difficult time for the industry and we still probably do not yet know the full impact of the decision. Without a doubt, shops are closing because of it and people will lose their jobs.  

As a company we have adapted as quickly and best we could given the unexpected acceleration of the implementation of the stakes cut. With our new website we are also adapting a model of assigning revenue back to shops.

This is something other bookmakers do not do. They push online hard because the overheads are cheaper. We are trying to tie online and our retail estate together as much as possible as they are both as equally important in delivering the service our customers deserve.

SBC: How important has it been to secure this digital upgrade partnership with FSB? And what are your hopes for this relationship in the future?

PG: We reviewed many suppliers before deciding to go with FSB. They have a great platform to build our digital ambitions on. The tech is right and the people are right. Mark Jarvis is a company with a long, respected heritage on the local High Street, being founded more than 55 years ago.  

FSB is a fast paced technology company. This actually makes us the perfect partners, bringing together our vast industry experience coupled with their cutting edge technology. The size of our businesses means we can move extremely quickly to adopt and try new features that other companies simply cannot implement at the same speed and smaller companies cannot support.

The winners will be our customers as they benefit from both innovation and customer service that is second to none. Our customers are loyal to our brand because they know what to expect: first class service from knowledgeable sports enthusiasts. We can now deliver the same with our digital presence.

Offering a refreshingly customer centric experience to people that want to enjoy fun sports betting, but not limited to our shops geographical spread. Our totally UK based Customer Service Team are there to help too.

SBC: Customers are tending to shift more towards a mobile-first approach to betting – how does Mark Jarvis plan to capitalise on this?

PG: Mobile betting has transformed this industry. The ease of placing a bet from virtually anywhere is great for customers and a challenge that all retail betting shops have to adapt to. We are embracing this and will soon be launching the new FSB Android and iOS sports betting apps, but we are also building a firm bridge between digital and retail.

Our shops are a place to watch sports, have a chat with a member of staff that knows you by first name and will make you a cuppa. We want you to pop in and say Hi. Customer service and relationships with customers is not dead at Mark Jarvis. We are not a faceless internet only company or Plc keeping shareholders happy. We will not employ chat bots on our new website at www.mjsports.bet.

When you deal with someone, it will be one of our employees.  If you place a bet over the counter or on your phone, our number one goal is that you do so with us because our brand matters. We stand out because we are not just “retail”. This is a niche industry where our customers matter to us, our staff matter to us and sports matter to us.

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