The need for speed

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Speed and sports-betting are obvious correlations, particularly when it comes to in-play, but the degree to which the industry is keeping up with current trends in app design and usability is variable, according to the founder of SnapBet.

Peter Gough, the chief executive of Fenway Games – the company behind SnapBet – suggests that looking across sectors at the music streaming services can provide an interesting perspective on how the gambling industry is facing up to the task of engaging with the consumer.

A recent article about Spotify on Pitchfork made the point that the emergence of music streaming services, and Spotify in particular, is changing the way the consumer is listening to music. “The article pointed out that with tens of millions of songs just a few taps away, artists must compete or be skipped,” says Gough. “This has a resonance for sports betting where instant betting in concerned.”

Gough points out that it’s an easy observation to look at how technology is affecting our lives with regards to speed.

“Ecommerce and connected devices are transforming our day whether we are shopping, travelling or consuming content on the fly,” he says. “I’m a gaming, tech, startup founder so I like to feel that I am clued up in terms of having the latest apps on my phone, browsing TechCrunch daily and reading all the relevant blogs from VCs. However, the deeper you look into how speed is disrupting some industries the impact appears more drastic.”

The music industry would appear to have a particular resonance. Much has been made of how disruptive the emergence of streaming has been to previous music industry economic models, up to and including the digital download market.

But Gough points out that it is the way that the demands of streaming are now beginning to affect how the basic product is produced is what has caught Gough’s attention. “It’s about the delivery of songs,” he says. “It blew me away that songs are now being structured with hooks embedded much earlier in the song to catch attention right away because royalties on Spotify, for instance, only kick in after 30 seconds.”

Regardless of the arguments regarding legacy technology stacks in gambling and the issues that have bedevilled any when it comes to time to market for products and innovations, the industry needs to be aware of the degree to which consumer demand is being driven by what is happening elsewhere in the digital economy.

“It’s all-encompassing,” says Gough. “The way you view your team at the weekend is going to be a totally different experience. The way we consume sport is not just watching the game on your tablet, that’s just the beginning. VR/AR will propel the velocity of this change.”

The impact of speed
It is sure to change the way that gaming products are presented, Gough suggests. “Gaming sites need to be easily accessible, and almost entirely from a mobile device,” he says. “The user interface needs to enable bets to be reviewed and placed with ease, and that’s definitely not the case right now.”

Gough pointed out that when he started working on the SnapBet prototypes, the only thought was about how time compression was affecting sport and would surely impact the gaming activities that surround it. “Fantasy football was moving from season long competitions to monthly, weekly and now daily, and 20Twenty cricket becoming ever more popular,” he says.

SnapBet is all about predicting what happens in the next 60 seconds of the live football match you are watching. “We have some great UI that utilises the latest mobile functionality with players uniquely ‘swiping’ their bet into the centre of the screen and watching it count down. Alerts and vibrations inform the player of their successes and losses.”

Gough claims the engagement this drives is “phenomenal”. “We have created the opportunity for a player to pick up the phone during a game, lock in a bet which begins that exact second, and get paid out within a minute, not have to wait until later that evening.”

SnapBet isn’t the only product working in this area. Gough mentions the startup mobile bookmaker Bookee, which is gaining many plaudits for its own ‘swipe-to-bet’ product, and also mentioned the Free Postcode Lottery site. “I’m far from being a millennial but my customer expectations are pretty similar, and I am sure I’m not alone,” he concludes.