1on1 with Nathan Rothschild, iSport Genius – data and the regulators

1on1 with Nathan Rothschild, iSport Genius – data and the regulators

Thursday, December 15, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Working towards a more informed customer

An unmistakeable theme from this year has been the comments issued from the UK Gambling Commission addressing the issue of how it would like to see operators bringing to bear their best efforts in the realm of big data to combat the signs of problem gambling. The Commission is keen to see operators wielding the latest data analytics techniques in order to better understand and protect customers and one supplier that believes it offers just such a data-based solution is iSport Genius.

Fresh from talking to regulators as part of the recent International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) conference in Sydney, Australia, Nathan Rothschild from the company spoke to TotallyGaming.com about why the regulators see potential in harnessing data services such as his company’s product offering to better inform the sports-betting customer and potentially head off problem gambling behaviour at an early stage.

Totally Gaming: How did it come about that you were invited to speak at the regulators conference in Sydney?

Nathan Rothschild: I’ve been speaking at various events throughout this year talking about our product and at one of them Nick Tofiluk (director of regulatory operations at the UK Gambling Commission) came up to me afterwards and said he was very interested in talking further about how our product, and by extension other big data offerings, could mitigate harmful behaviour by giving punters more useful information about an event and hence meaning they were better informed overall.

TG: Do you think the Gambling Commission is right to identify big data as an area where the gambling industry could be doing more?

NR: What I am certain of is that by the further utilisation of big data, operators can be in a position to better understand the customer and their preferences when it comes to betting. Obviously, we are a commercial proposition – our product is aimed at increasing awareness of the trends for any sporting contest and giving the consumer bite-sized nuggets of information that might encourage them to make a bet. But we truly believe that such a bet will be a more informed and considered bet and I think that is what Nick picked up on and why he invited me to speak at the IAGR conference. We think that process of giving a punter more information ahead of a bet makes them less susceptible to addictive behaviour.

TG: Is this all about catering for sophisticated customers?

NR: No, not at all. The information we provide operators is layered or tiered. There are varying levels of information depending on how experienced the customer is. I think this is what Nick was particularly interested in; the system we deploy is nuanced and effectively segments the customer according to their interest and involvement. It’s personalisation made real and that makes the product very attractive for regulators who, from the conversations I have had with them, are interested in how data products can help in our understanding of player behaviour, right down to individual levels.

TG: How far down the road on personalisation do you think the industry has travelled to date?

NR: Not really that far at all, I have to say. I think the industry is really only seeing the tip of the big-data iceberg at present. I can become very animated when I talk about big data, but when we start looking at how the advertising industry is employing retargeting, I think it gives us just a hint about how your past online activity will determine the future of what front-end you will see. When it comes to betting and sport, there is so much potential in the data available that the one-size-fits-all desktop product that is currently the norm will soon be superseded by much more tailored offerings. The key here is mobile. This really goes hand-in-hand with the tiered approach; consumers will be able to swipe through data so offerings will need to be smart about giving the punter the information they need at the right time and in the right format. It’s about clarity rather than cramming information in and again, I think this is what the regulators are keen on.

TG: Can you see a day coming when regulators effectively mandate operators to offer services such as this to their customers?

NR: I’m not sure this is about the regulators determining exactly what each individual operator should do, but I do think they are exploring as much as the operators the potential benefits from greater use of big data and technology in the gambling space. After my presentation at the IAGR conference, where I demonstrated iSport Genius as part of my talk, the regulators in attendance were surveyed as to whether they thought operators should supply a minimum amount of data to customers and the majority agreed.

I was also able to have a number of conversations with regulators from all over the world about what we are doing at iSport Genius and the response was overwhelmingly supportive which was extremely pleasing, with a number of different jurisdictions inviting me to come and speak to their teams.

I think this goes to show how important creating a better-informed customer is to regulators. In the same week, I was speaking in Sydney, the chief executive of the Gambling Commission Sarah Harrison was making the point in a speech at its own Raising Standards conference that the Commission thinks more can be done to, as she put it, “put consumers at the heart of everything the operator does”. The Commission is clearly worried so I think operators need to be mindful in this area.

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