How did you first get involved with the gaming industry?
I initially got involved in 1999 as a trainee shop manager in Glasgow. After a few months I applied for a job through the in-shop ‘What’s Happening’ magazine for an advertising position in the Ladbrokes Head Office in London which I was fortunate enough to get. I remained at Ladbrokes for the next seven years in various sportsbook, casino & poker positions.
What attracted you to this sector?
I landed in this sector as opposed to being attracted to it to be honest. After 13 years in the sector it is the speed of change that keeps me motivated; if you sit still for just five minutes you are suddenly a year or two behind your competitors. As Betting and Gaming is such a popular pasttime for so many people the demand has created a fantastic, challenging and hugely competitive industry.
What were you doing prior to the gaming industry?
I worked part time alongside my studies with some kitchen, bar and warehouse work that helped me through my five years at University. My first full time position was at Ladbrokes Head Office. I’ve remained in the industry ever since.
What are you responsible for in your current position?
I am responsible for the eGaming business at Bet Victor. It has been an incredible few years as we’ve continued to introduce new products and our suppliers have continued to raise the bar, ensuring our products are very competitive. This in turn has enabled us to positively impact on our customers to further improve their gaming experience.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time?
The introduction of online casinos to traditional sportsbooks over 10 years ago made an enormous difference, changing the entire focus of the industry. The industry very quickly realised how important this product was going to be to any successful online bookmaker.
More recently the technological advances in mobile devices are having an incredibly exciting impact. The BetVictor Mobile products, sports and casino, have delivered huge incremental growth over the last year and there is so much more in the pipeline.
What are the biggest positive factors for the sector right now?
The amazing technological advances in mobile devices have allowed suppliers and operators to deliver magnificent casino products to the customer’s phone. The BetVictor Live Roulette offering on the iPad really does emphasize what can be done now on these devices. The suppliers need to maintain this development and deliver not just first rate web products to the operators, but everything now needs to be device agnostic.
And what are the negatives ones – the obstacles to growth?
As ever, development resource – we have developed our gaming products extensively over the last few years and have a lot of work scheduled for the next 12 months. However, I don’t think in an industry like this you can ever have enough development resource to enable you to move as quickly as you would like to. The increase of more regulated markets makes growth through new territories a lot more challenging. The whole process of gaining licences is so complicated, time consuming and costly it is inevitably slowing this area of the business for the industry as a whole.
Looking at your entire career, what do you think was your smartest move?
Without question joining BetVictor back in 2007. At the time the Casino and Games products were old and tired and it was a great opportunity for me to develop those products and to change the whole make-up of the brand. Victor Chandler is a very well respected figure in the betting industry, mainly Sports and Horseracing, so to bring the casino products up to a strong position and for the brand to be recognised for gaming as well as sports has been very rewarding.
And dumbest one?
Looking back it doesn’t seem so bad especially now with our modern daily offers and incentives around horseracing. Back in my early Ladbrokes days, signing off the adverts in the Racing Post, I made the terms on the first race of the Cheltenham Festival 1/4 odds first 4 instead of first 3. The favourite came in 4th and I had a lot of people, none more so than the horse traders, baying for blood. We honoured the 4th place to customers who phoned in but it didn’t end up as expensive a mistake as was initially calculated. These days offering enhanced place terms across the festival is fairly standard but back then place terms were not messed with, especially around a make or break event like the Cheltenham Festival.