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GOODBYE 2018…


Paddy McDermott Digital Performance Director, SportCaller


What was great about 2018? From a SportCaller perspective, 2018 was the year in which investment in our core platform was both justified and entirely critical in allowing us to meet client demand. This enabled us to deliver a total of 11 new free-to-play (FTP) games for nine clients and in 14 languages, all of which launched within a two-week window. The pace at which games developed, from concept stage into a full-functioning product delivering acquisition-and-retention results for our operator partners, meant that we were able to retain the majority of those clients as long-term partners, and win new ones with our provable metrics and positive word of mouth. Indeed, the fact that we enjoyed much of this success and growth around the World Cup (always a major revenue-driver) has seen our partners buy into those results and incorporate FTPs as a key component of their overall strategy up until 2020. It was a whirlwind ride, and a hugely vindicating experience for our fast-growing company.


What were the main challenges facing the industry in 2018?


The speed with which this industry naturally evolves, coupled to its inherent levels of competition, ensures that it is an ongoing battle to stand out from the crowd and grab attention. As a result, offers such as “bet £10 get £60”, or “25/1 will there be a corner?” have become increasingly common. However, they are obviously very costly to operators, especially with respect to abuse from multiple account- openings, not to mention the type of “carpetbagger” player these offers attract. Needless to say, these tantalising bonuses have never presented the industry in the best light anyway – especially at a time when it’s facing a public backlash from the prevalence of FOBTs and the overabundance of TV ads. Happily, in this reactive environment, free-to-play games have defined another path to market, accurately profiling potential audiences. FTP not only provides a cost-effective route to new account acquisition but, in the case of ongoing games, also helps to reduce churn, thereby becoming an essential tool for CRM teams.


What are you excited about for 2019? Aside from the obvious opportunity that the U.S. now presents, there are two key areas in which SportCaller is keen to see evolve in 2019. Firstly, we look forward to seeing Free-To-Play become as much a part of the industry portfolio as more established channels – such as casino, games and bingo. With its flexibility of game types and the wide range of events on which its games can be run (far beyond traditional betting events), belief grows that FTP could be


112 JANUARY 2019


the product which finally bridges the cross-sell divide between sports betting and gaming. Secondly, we are excited to be in the vanguard of FTP’s evolution in terms of the product offered. Delivering a unique product in Beat The Drop (which turns the tables on the traditional operator-customer dynamic by giving customers their winnings up front) for Paddy Power Betfair constituted a new direction for us, and has proved a huge success for them. We can’t wait to collaborate with new and existing clients as we continue to drive innovation in the sector through 2019 and beyond.


Any personal New Year resolutions you’re happy to share? As we all know, fortunes and resolutions can prove a fickle thing. So, this new year I’ll probably just be thankful for the good luck we’ve enjoyed and the fun we’ve had working hard in this industry at a consequential time. It’s hard to beat getting out and in the thick of the action, however, so catching the bus from Dublin to Punchestown races with for the Moscow Flyer Hurdle is a low-bar but achievable resolution!





The damaging legacy of FOBTs needs to be overcome


ANDREW MORGAN ”


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