New technology is empowering the customer, says Betting Shop Manager of the Year

New technology is empowering the customer, says Betting Shop Manager of the Year

Thursday, February 4, 2016 Totally Gaming
Matt Howe pointed to on--demand virtual racing and SSBTs as examples of future growth

The Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year believes that technological developments are helping to keep the retail sector at the heart of the gaming sector.

Matt Howe, who runs five Ladbrokes shops in Birmingham, started off as a cashier in his teens and has since moved through the management scheme. The 29-year-old told TotallyGaming at ICE TotallyGaming that if it wasn’t for the frustration of his five sisters banning him from watching sport on TV at home, he might never have entered the industry.

Howe, who won the award for his “excellent, friendly and professional attitude” while his Walsall Road shop was described as “spotlessly clean”, said that the retail sector has changed massively in his decade of his involvement, but added that the challenge remains to encourage growth while also concentrating on customer welfare.

“When I first started we just had three huge roulette machines,” he said. “Now the gaming technology has really changed with the all-singing, all-dancing FOBTs and SSBTs.

“We also really just had racing from the UK and greyhounds, but now we have coverage from all over the world and are open until 10pm most nights.

“We are doing a lot to minimise risk with the FOBTs. We were part of the trial for the £50 maximum and reached out to our customers to explain the changes so that they were the key decision maker.

“We feel we have the information that can help to identify problem gambling at an early stage. Our policy is to get to know our customers and minimise risk through interaction, particularly by identifying unusual behaviour.”

Howe believes that the growth of online has not diminished the role of retail, and that technological advancements mean that betting shops have remained relevant.

The expansion of SSBTs have been important in reaching out to data-hungry bettors more interested in screens than newspaper tipsters, and he has high hopes for the possibilities offered by the on-demand virtual racing product recently released by SIS and CORE Gaming.

“Retail is still massively important, and everything now is omni-channel,” added Howe. “Ladbrokes’ strategy is to encourage customers to move seamlessly between their online accounts and the shops themselves. Betting is 24/7 these days, and we try to cater for that.

The technology is changing all the time. The SSBTs that are coming out now will offer big changes as they appeal to a new generation of customers, as they can give so much information, statistics and tips at the touch of a screen rather than having to check out newspapers on the wall.

“We have virtual sports content through our channels, and I am really interested to see the possibilities offered by on-demand, virtual sports. The chance of offering customers an opportunity to bet at their leisure would be a very exciting development. It empowers the punter by allowing them to make good betting decisions without having to rush to place a bet.”

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