Much needed breathing space

Mark Robson, co-founder of Champions Sports, says the global sports shut down has given technology providers the time they need to push ahead with development and innovation

The past four months have undoubtedly been tough for the global gambling industry, with operators and suppliers facing unprecedented circumstances and challenges. But every cloud has a silver lining and the shutdown of sports events – and as a result, sports betting – has provided and unexpected opportunity for the sector to catch its breath.

Mark Robson-2018xAs a B2B technology provider, this has proved particularly beneficial as it has allowed us to focus on product development and shifting up a gear to accelerate our product road map.

Instead of using resources to ensure our technology is stable and working to its full capabilities all of the time, we have been able to redeploy resources to development and innovation. As a result, we have been able to build and deploy features and tools now that would have taken many more months to bring to market.

With sports now slowly returning, this means our operator partners can resume play armed with a new arsenal of products to offer to their players. The past few months have also allowed us, and I would imagine our rivals, too, to put their disaster recovery (DR) policies and procedures to the test in the real world for the first time.

Most organisations don’t want to test their DR plans in normal circumstances over fears they will disrupt the product and service they are providing and, indeed, because they might not work.

The pandemic took this choice away, forcing organisations to deploy their DR processes in order to ensure it was business as usual or as best as it could be, at least. For us, our DR plan worked like a charm, including product and service delivery, resourcing, employee availability, remote working and so on.

This has allowed us, and any organisation that enjoyed a similar outcome, to emerge from this period reassured and with confidence – something we have been able to pass on to our partners. This will prove key moving forwards and into the “new normal” as it has been dubbed.

Operators and providers really are going to have to come to terms with what has happened with the shutdown of sports and the lasting impact this will have.

While the return of sports and the opening of new markets will undoubtedly provide opportunities, player preferences and expectations have changed drastically. With huge numbers of people on furlough and some out of work as we move quickly towards a global recession, consumers will be incredibly careful with how and where they spend their money. Even entertainment giants such as Netflix are warning that their lockdown boom is not sustainable and revenue declines are likely.

Gambling operators must understand they are now competing with all entertainment options from Amazon to YouTube to Domino’s pizza.To do this, they will need to provide more than just the option to gamble and expand their offering to be a one-stop entertainment venue for their customers.

It is something land-based casinos in Las Vegas and Macau have done to great effect but has yet to be achieved in the online gambling world.

Of course, by working with the right technology partner, operators will be able to offer a best in class experience to their players and build out their proposition with new features.

The past few months have presented operators and technology providers with tremendous challenges to overcome, but the time to take stock will ultimately drive increased growth. It will take time for the sector to get back on its feet and return to the levels of growth seen in recent years, but opportunities are very much there for the taking.

Here at Champions Sports we have been encouraged by our ability to adapt to and capitalise on the impact of the pandemic and remain tremendously optimistic about the sector and its future.

Challenges still remain but we believe they can be overcome, and I believe that in the future we will be able to look back on this time and see that it was a catalyst for even greater success.

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