Last week was a busy one for the iGaming industry, with EiG taking place Tuesday through Thursday and the Barcelona Affiliate Conference talking place Friday through Sunday, with a number of professionals attending both.
EiG was held in Berlin for the first time, a city whose vibe coincided with this year’s focus on freedom, forward thinking and innovation. The sessions all maintained a focus on these themes, featuring speakers from outside the iGaming industry and moderators from the inside with years of iGaming experience.
One of those moderators was Richard Thorp, a sportsbetting expert with an impressive CV including over twenty years experience in the industry. Thorp has recently been appointed as Business Development Director for FSB Technology, previously serving as the Head of B2B Operations for Racing Post, Head of Marketing for Better Bet, Sportsbook Manager for Blue Square and Shop Manager for Ladbrokes and Admiral World of Betting.
Thorp moderated EiG’s “New Technologies and how they affect the SportsBetting world session” and spent some time exploring the sportsbetting products on display at the event. With his wealth of experience in mind, I was curious to obtain Thorp’s feedback on the ideas shared during his session and where we are as an industry when it comes to innovation in sports betting.
Becky Liggero: Thank you for joining me, Richard and congratulations on your new role with FSB Tech, I think it will be a great fit. Can you start by sharing with us some of the biggest takeaways from the sports betting panel you moderated at EiG?
Richard Thorp: Actually getting to hold and play with Google Glass after all the hype was fascinating. It will be interesting to see how it will develop as a platform and you can see why Barry Orr rates it for his requirements on TV, but does it have any mileage as a bet placement tool? Could football stadiums and race courses become full of people tapping away on the side of their face?
I was intrigued with the conversation surrounding CRM development – at FSB we are investing in creating the best tools to make CRM a single person task, whilst generating better responses and making sure messages are targeted and reported correctly.
The Football Pools new MatchXtra product has potential, if it can truly prove to offer the best value…
BL: Agreed on the Google Glass, I am intrigued by this technology and how it will impact the iGaming space. What were some of the most impressive sportsbetting innovations that were on display at EiG?
RT: Actually there wasn’t that much that caught the eye at EiG regarding standout innovation. I would suggest the smaller companies and suppliers are leading the way, but unfortunately are not often in a position to afford exposure (other than through speaking positions or PR). Fresh 8 have a good product and it would be interesting to see how that develops.
RT: Mainly for the speed of bet placement – when customers have to communicate via other more traditional methods they need to be assured of a wifi or 3G/4G connection for a sustained period (logging in, finding the market, adding selection to bet slip, adding stake, placing bet, confirming bet etc) – the messenger app removes all of those steps because the customer just needs to type out a simple message with the bet details.
BL: Clarion put a lot of work into bringing speakers from outside the iGaming industry to EiG this year. What can the sportsbetting industry learn from other industries?
RT: Retail sites have spent years understanding their customer base, the habits and how to make sure they keep returning for more, offering certain customisation and allowing the user to focus on the things that matter to them.
BL: Adding on to that, why is it important for bookmakers to shift their focus from adding more & more markets to CRM strategies?
RT: Bookmakers rarely compete on price anymore and so the differentiation factor over the last few years that has been taken up by the larger operators is to offer thousands of in-play markets. This is supposed to suggest to the customer that the shop is well stocked and will continue to trade. The reality is they have simply created a very busy website that takes quite a while to navigate and is likely to be off-putting to the casual bettor. Clever CRM with an additional focus on customisation would make the customer feel like the operator cares just a little…
BL: As you said earlier, clever CRM is a big focus at FBS Tech and it sounds like you’ve got the right approach. From your vantage point, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for sports betting companies in 2015?
RT: Aside from the potential emergence of new and very large betting markets/jurisdictions – bookmakers in the UK should focus on getting their mobile platforms slicker and quicker – I like the fact that Skybet are adding TouchID to their app which is definitely the right approach.
BL: It really is all about mobile, isn’t it. Anything else that you wanted to add?
RT: If only someone could come up with a decent proposal for VR…
BL: Haha, yes- virtual reality was a big topic at EiG and certainly something to look forward to in the future. Thank you so much for your time today, Richard and best of luck with your new company.