The past one and half years has posed serious challenges to the betting industry across the board, most notably the retail sector, with national lockdowns across Europe accelerating the consumer shift towards online verticals.
For the betting and gaming experts on the ‘Improving the retail betting experience’ panel – sponsored by Golden Race and moderated by Bettormetrics Commercial Director Paul McNea– at this week’s Betting on Sports Europe (BOSE) event, the development of an omni-channel offering will shape the future of retail sports wagering.
Detailing his experience with omni channel betting offerings, Carlo Di Maio, Fortuna Entertainment Group’s CEO Romania, highlighted the UK as being home to the best example of the product he had encountered.
He explained: “In terms of omni-channel, we managed to implement a new platform where we managed to have digital, especially within wallets, make that wallet available and those funds available all across the different channels – over the counter on SSBTs and also on digital.
“That experience, all the work and the trial and error in the first few months gave us the advantage by giving the customers a true omni-channel experience, a seamless experience in terms of products.”
Meanwhile, Jamie McKittrick, VP Commercial Operations at Kambi, detailed that by employing an omni-channel model the retail sector can retain many of the customers who are shifting or have already made the move to the online space, also with a focus on the British market.
“Who knows what will come out of the Gambling Act review, but if there is some kind of advertising bans, all of a sudden half of your brand equity invested 9000 times across every major high street in the UK is going to be a serious competitive advantage over people that otherwise would just be using TV, digital or other slightly more traditional media channels to try and acquire customers. I also completely agree that the increasing share of wallets from omni-channel customers is significant.”
“The people who want to have a spin on the roulette are still there, they just migrated to digital, so if you can use that omni-channel experience to capture a greater share of wallet, it’s a much cheaper cost per acquisition compared to some of the three, four or five figure sums you would have been looking at for the kind of pure digital acquisition.”
Examining the topic from the perspective of an independent bookmaker, Star Sports’ Head of Retail, Matt Davies, detailed his company’s implementation of an omni-channel strategy as it copes with the retail-online migration.
“We were actually very successful when we transferred our telephone business to online and we still have a very successful telephone business,” he remarked. “If we can get all three of those channels with the retail a big part of that we will be in a good place, and I’d imagine in two or three years time we will be somewhere we really want to be.”
Davies and McKittrick did find some areas of disagreement, however, as McKittirick highlighted what he believed was a downside to the provision of an omni-channel offering, which was that it could in a sense alienate some traditional retail bettors.
He argued: “The last thing you want to do really is take a retail customer that’s quite happy betting 20 folds on a football coupon or filling out a Lucky15 coupon or whatever else that might be, and move them to a different environment where you’re going to encourage them to operate at a lower margin. That’s probably one of the big risks.”
In response, Davies remarked: “I actually don’t see any downside of the omni-channel customer, so probably slightly disagree with Jamie. You get a reduced percentage of the margin but you get all of the business and you build relationships and loyalty, so I really don’t see too much of a downside.”
Lastly, Di Maio pointed out that when implementing an omni-channel offering, operators must be conscious of the different regulatory requirements and market environments in varying countries, noting that whilst in jurisdictions such as the UK online betting is a major vertical and can be provided in conjunction with retail, in others such as Romania this is not possible.
Both Di Maio and McKittrick, however, did observe that in this case Romania, among other countries, poses an opportunity for maintenance of a strong retail offering due to the absence of an online sector, whilst the latter pointed out that in South Africa “people are queuing around the corner to try and get into betting shops, the antithesis of what you see in many of the UK LBOs.
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