SBC’s annual Betting on Sports event is now fully underway, with the biggest names in the sports betting industry in attendance. All eyes are on the latest innovation in sports betting, a vertical which has transformed leaps and bounds over the years with the emergence of disruptive technology, sophisticated mobile devices, data-rich products and increased regulations around the globe.
Established in 1946, the Gibraltar-based BetVictor brand is one of the most well-known across Europe and has always taken great pride in product innovation. Today we focus on BetVictor’s online offering and 15-year iGaming industry veteran Eoin Ryan, Director of Product at BetVictor, shares his perspective and insights in this interview for you to digest and enjoy.
Becky Liggero Fontana: Thank you so much for joining me, Eoin- its always a pleasure to chat with professionals with experience as deep as yours. To kick things off, what would you say is the biggest difference in the sports betting industry today vs. 15 years ago?
Eoin Ryan: The biggest difference in the industry today versus 15 years ago is the emergence and evolution of the smartphone. According to Statista, the number of monthly active smartphone users in the U.K. is predicted to surpass 53 million by 2022 – almost 82% of its population. That has, and will continue to have, a huge impact on our industry.
Even eight years ago when I first joined BetVictor, the desktop site was our number one priority and most of our transactions were carried out on that channel. At present, we are working on a plan to decommission our desktop channel and replace it with a responsive version of our mobile site, which highlights the shift in customer behaviour.
BL: I actually remember when we first started talking about mobile years ago and here we are today. Now lets talk about the launch of Smart Cards, an innovative technology that provides live horse racing updates to help punters make better-informed betting decisions in real-time. Can you tell us about the work that went on behind the scenes to make this happen?
ER: At BetVictor, we have real horse racing enthusiasts working within the product team, people who are passionate about our products and that are horse racing punters themselves. So, when there’s a gap in the market, we know.
The idea of Smart Cards came about when we started to realise the modern day horse racing punter wasn’t receiving the latest information in a timely manner. This is because tech suppliers that most bookmakers use weren’t making the data readily available to the public in an easy to digest format. Instead, punters were expected to rely on traditional racecards online.
We started talking to Timeform about this challenge and we saw that their Smart Stats product was very informative, dynamic and insightful – so of course it was something we wanted to share with our customers.
We set out to use their data, intermixed with our own stats and pointers and it resulted in something new and unique. We completely redesigned our racecards to put these smart statistics at the heart of it all. We truly believe we’ve raised the bar across the industry with this product.
BL: Big congrats on the launch! How would you say the appetite for this type of technology underscores the importance of data in the sports betting industry?
ER: The use of data and statistics within sports betting is hugely important and is in increasingly being expected by our customers, so it now underpins all that we do.
The most obvious example is the emergence of bet builder products. Most of the bets that are generated within these products are highly stat driven. Smart Cards, however, take quite complex data points, typically unexposed to customers on the racecards, and packages them up into stat-driven pointers and insights. All of which will help customers to feel more confident and informed when they are making their selections.
BL: In addition to launching innovative products such as Smart Cards, what are some of the other steps you’re taking at BetVictor to make your brand the number one stop for horse racing?
ER: For a number of years, a key focus for our business has been to become an industry leader in technology innovation, and we do this by leveraging our in-house developed products. When it comes to horse racing, it’s known that the sports betting product offering has remained fairly static, and as a result we’ve decided to invest in improving the customer experience for horse racing punters.
This is where our Smart Cards, Horse Racing #PriceItUp and Betfinder products come into play. And as part of this approach, we’ve partnered with jumps jockey Rachael Blackmore, flat jockey Nicola Currie and National Hunt trainer Jamie Snowden to tap into their knowledge and help amplify the reach of our brand and products.
BL: Outstanding. So how does BetVictor strive to differentiate itself from all the other sports books competing for market share, beyond just horse racing?
ER: We have a strong focus on product development, innovation and customer experience. Our apps are fully native (iOS and Android) and the experience of using them is superior to most other companies who have not invested in this area. From a technology perspective, we pride ourselves in owning our proprietary platform, which gives us the freedom and flexibility to build our own products, responding quickly to customer demands and industry trends.
Our brand is straightforward and professional – we are passionate about sports but providing our customers with a safe and entertaining betting experience is at the heart of our business.
BL: Passionate about sports- I love it. Thank you so much, Eoin and keep up the excellent work at BetVictor!