In the run up to Betting on Football, we were catching up with our sponsors – one of which was FSB. In a chat with their Business Development Director, Richard Thorp, we spoke about the synergistic relationship between betting and football, and how operators should try to offer a differentiated local product.
What are you looking forward to at Betting on Football?
With a thrilling combined crescendo playing out for both the current Premier League campaign and the European Cup competitions, Betting on Football provides a timely reminder and also a think tank for how the industry can best provide operators and players with engaging, innovative betting experiences across these revenue-driving events – alongside many others of course.
Betting on Football also offers some great networking opportunities with senior peers to discuss some of the most topical and pressing issues. Whatever’s on your mind: post-PASPA stateside, regulation closer to home, player engagement, retention strategy, acquisition and bonusing alternatives, football-betting impact, social media marketing… it’s fantastic to trade thoughts on broad plans and specific innovations with other industry leaders, in order that we might converge on the best route forward.
What are you promoting at Betting on Football?
At FSB, we’ve enjoyed some great partnerships of late which specifically speak to the Betting on Football audience. For example, we recently deployed our definitive sportsbook and trading tools for the UK’s foremost pools provider, The Football Pools, a household name which has been at the bedrock of football betting for 95 years. FSB’s flexible solution seamlessly integrated with the core Classic Pools football offering, as well its fresh products like ‘Footie5’ – a brand new free-to-play, five match score-predictor game.
It was a real fillip for our platform to be selected to engage with a football-loving, betting-savvy audience. And indeed, this trend is being extended across different countries and operators as we expand our global footprint from initially UK-centric roots – from Blackbet’s successful rollouts in Africa, to specific sportsbooks in Germany and Australia, not to mention installing a recently-launched sports-betting area into a big casino in the Philippines. We’re also showcasing our new generation of self-service betting terminals (SSBTs) which are taking the UX to new heights.
I think the main thing is our platform is just very modular. So, when we’ve gone into Africa for instance, it’s been very necessary to be able to swap in and out different components and capacities. Our platform is now setting the tone for online sports betting, driving the sector forward via innovative features across online, mobile and retail. Chiefly, it’s very light to deploy into multiple territories.
What industry innovation will capture the most attention in 2019?
When it comes to football, operators who can sustain a competitive product suite and a differentiated local offering will be well-placed to capitalise. It’s got to offer personalization preferences and run off a mobile-first mindset, too. Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with innovating internationally, as long as your journey to market adopts a local product and voice. The market provision itself, of course, must be deep in every game, above all in-play. Indeed a higher-margin, quick-strike strategy still seems to be the best route to maximizing the player betting cycle, and FSB’s unrivalled in-play football betting algorithms allow our customers the chance to harness the best product on the sophisticated igaming landscape.
Do you expect strength of retention and market innovation to slow in the absence of a major football tournament?
While there may be no year-defining event, such as last year’s World Cup in Russia, on which operators can hang their acquisitional hat, there’s still the African Cup of Nations and two World Cups (cricket and rugby) upcoming fast. Therefore, there’s plenty to innovate for and plan around. After all, they say necessity is the mother of invention, so perhaps the absence of a tentpole tournament could actually drive innovation and creativity!
Sure, these events may not sport the mass-market appeal to drive significant growth in market share. However, in the aggregate, the collective needs of such events show the importance of a flexible, modular and responsive sportsbook solution across all channels which can adapt to divergent tastes and territories.
How can betting and football stakeholders work together more effectively?
Football has long held a synergistic relationship with the betting sector, and I can only see that being refined and enhanced over time, particularly from the point of view of responsible gambling and regulatory compliance. Available as a fully-managed service or an enterprise solution, our system allows partners to use FSB’s software platform to run their own business with total peace of mind. FSB provides brands with everything needed to run a responsible sports betting and gaming business, complete with full reporting, social responsibility tools, bonusing tools, segmentation, payments and data analytics.
If you could attend one sporting event, what would it be?
The Cheltenham Festival. That shouldn’t even be a question. Each and every year it delivers – invariably, in my case, when fuelled by alcohol to grease the wheels of conviction when it comes to punting. Its inimitable atmosphere is driven by that rare combination of fantastic sport allied to a collective unanimity.
As opposed to the more tribal set-ups of most sporting events, no matter which horse you’ve backed or whether you’re British or Irish, we all cheer the pulsating finishes and want to them to come home safely up that famous Prestbury Park hill. Cheltenham is as unique as the natural amphitheatre in which its staged.