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The Future of In-Play

| By iGB Editorial Team
Peter James, Director of Product Marketing at OpenBet, on the innovations required to ensure live betting continues its remarkable growth.

There is no denying that in-play has completely revolutionised sports betting over the past few years. In a short time, live betting has gone from a niche product targeted at serious punters to the primary driver of revenue growth for most
sportsbook operators.

Ensuring in-play continues to develop and innovate will be vital to the overall health of the sports betting vertical, and despite its remarkable rise there are still plenty of opportunities for improvement.

Omni-channel approach

The land-based sector is one area where inplay betting has yet to reach full penetration. At OpenBet, we’ve spent the past few years building a comprehensive omni-channel solution which allows operators to overcome a number of the disadvantages which invenues faces when it comes to live betting.

Firstly, retail shops previously had a harder time displaying the volume of markets and price updates as efficiently as online. We are now, though, seeing considerably more screen real estate in betting shops and by linking directly to the omni-channel sportsbook and using intelligent screen management software like OpenBet’s ‘Promote’, operators can link the display of live pricing to the live streaming of video. This optimises the relevancy of the opportunities being displayed and can be
easily updated throughout the day to follow the sporting schedule.

With in-play, speed of bet placement is critical to ensuring the right price. By introducing a mobile element to the in-venue experience, bets can be placed immediately, rather than requiring slips to be hand-written and processed over-the-counter.

OpenBet recently launched a new invenue companion app which lets players build a bet slip on their phone before taking it to be scanned at the register or a selfservice terminal in the bricks and mortar venue. Prices can be locked in at the point of selection but players can still place their bet at the counter using cash.

When these advances are built into an existing omni-channel infrastructure, and supported by a single wallet via a product like our UNIFY solution it opens up new, engaging in-play possibilities to the in-venue experience.

Keeping it personal

While much of the focus will be on the omni-channel opportunity, there is room for in-play to grow online too. Personalisation will be a massive area going forward and it is of particular importance when it comes to in-play because of the hundreds of markets on offer.

We’ve witnessed something of an arms race over the last few years, as operators scrambled to produce the most thorough market coverage possible.

While offering an unprecedented range of betting opportunities has been a boon for operators, it has had the unfortunate by-product of making it extremely tough to present from a UI perspective.

To maximise the upside of this coverage, it is important to build systems which can prioritise markets for individual players, so their preferred live betting opportunities are served up quickly and efficiently. This has the benefit of increasing relevancy to a player, improving user experience and reducing navigation and bandwidth usage – all golden rules for a good mobile experience.

Moving forward

Cash out is another area which has really helped drive live betting’s growth and we will continue to see innovation around the product. Any way in which we can give players a greater sense of control and flexibility over their bets will be welcomed
by players – even at a price players prefer a payout to a complete loss.

Other innovations are tougher to predict. We have seen some operators experiment with virtual reality as a way of putting customers at the heart of in-play action. While the concept is certainly exciting, there are a couple of reasons it may be slow to catch on.

For one, we are still some way from mass adoption of VR headsets. But perhaps more importantly, most bettors find a thrill within the bet itself. Unlike other entertainment industries, immersion is not the end game. More encouragingly might be greater social integration, which could open up a whole new demographic of casual bettors to operators. In-play would appear perfectly suited to the fast-paced world of social media, but customers are still reticent to share betting habits.

Perhaps, though, we can take a leaf out of the more gaming and socially oriented DFS product. Competitions and leaderboards are also very popular amongst casino players, so maybe a route into this player base is via inplay
competitions running over the course of a weekend or sporting tournament.

Either way, it is clear that live betting has a bright future. But if operators want to maintain the stratospheric growth in-play has enjoyed over the past three or four years, innovation will be the name of the game.

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