John Pettit is the managing director of Playtech BGT Sports (PBS) in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. A veteran of the retail betting industry, he previously worked in a variety of board level roles at bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral where he developed an expertise in electronic betting and gaming machines. In an exclusive interview, Pettit gives us the lowdown on PBS’ innovative BetTracker product.
Could you tell us about Playtech BGT Sports’ recently-launched Bet- Tracker product?
How will it change the retail betting experience? John Pettit: We launched BetTracker as a way of providing the best of the digital betting experience to retail customers. The product allows customers to transfer their sports bets to their mobile devices after placing them in-shop, and then watch their bets progress and even cash them out outside of the shop. The product sits on the same platform as the terminals we supply to bookmakers throughout the UK and Ireland, so it is an easy-to-use solution that will improve the experience for those customers who don’t wish to register for an online account but would like to enjoy the convenience and range of features that digital betting provides.
BGT was acquired by Playtech last July. How has becoming a part of the Playtech Group changed the way BGT operates?
The acquisition has been extremely positive for us as we can now draw on a wealth of digital expertise to offer a fuller range of products, of which BetTracker is just the beginning. Obviously Playtech is a very successful company, particularly in the digital space, and combining this with our know-how and history in retail is an extremely potent combination.
What role are SSBTs playing in transforming the landscape of betting shops?
This year we will have rolled out a total of more than 30,000 SSBTs worldwide, so it is no exaggeration to say this is a revolution in the way retail punters are betting in shops. In their Q3s last year, Ladbrokes said SSBTs accounted for around 10 percent of total retail staking; with a margin of around 25 percent on these terminals, it is also far and away the fastest growing segment in the shops. Around 35 percent of our betting is in-play, which is a new sector in retail, and our typical number of prematch selections averages just over eight, so we can generate a margin of around 30 percent before entering the in-play phase. This all adds up to more gross win for operators. These terminals are providing a silver bullet for any retail business, big or small, that wants to grow incremental revenues.
Where do SSBTs fit into the broader omni-channel ecosystem operators have been building in recent years?
At its core, omnichannel should always be about providing the right product service and experience to the right customer at the right time. There is an expectation among customers – both online and in a retail environment – for a seamless service and user experience. Our products are achieving this by digitising the retail customer. It is the first time truly digital products are fitting naturally within the retail environment.
In what direction do you see retail sports betting heading in the coming years?
Retail still has an extremely bright future, as long it continues to embrace new technology and innovate. We’ve had people predicting the end of the betting shop for 20 years now, but I think SSBTs are giving them a new lease of life and expanding their appeal to a new generation of customers for whom selfservice retail is the norm. Our focus will very much be on creating additional products which will improve service. We are developing a series of new products, all running off the same back-end, that will give shops the freedom to offer their customers flexible service, whether that be SSBTs, portable devices or OTC solutions. Making the betting shop a welcoming and convenient environment to place a bet is absolutely critical.