Lee Drabwell, PBS: Drawing in a customer base frustrated by the online experience

Following a record-breaking Grand National weekend for self-service betting terminals (SSBTs) from Playtech BGT Sports (PBS), which saw bets placed more than double over last year, the company’s Senior Commercial Director Lee Drabwell explains the reasoning behind their surging customer popularity…

SBC: SSBTs are proving to be increasingly popular with horseracing customers, why do you think this is the case?  

LD: We are finding that an increasing number of customers, both old and new, are enjoying horseracing on our SSBTs. Having good quality data at their fingertips and a quick transaction means they don’t have to worry about queues or missing the start of the race, which is always an advantage.

We’re also finding that our SSBTs are drawing in a far broader customer base to betting shops than ever before, especially for those frustrated by the online experience and looking for a new way to bet but unlikely to want to do so over the counter.

Our SSBTs bridge this gap, not only by providing shop customers with the digitised betting process they are accustomed to, but also via a dual screen user interface that is exclusively integrated with the Racing Post and all its unique data and betting insights – offering a betting experience that is unmatched anywhere else, both online and offline.

SBC: How do you attract a younger adult audience to bet in-shop and tempt them off their mobile devices?

LD: SSBTs allow the younger, digitally savvy customer to study the form, choose their selection and place a bet all whilst stood in front of an interactive 22-inch screen, rather than their 4-inch smart phone. Our terminals provide the digital experience associated with online, in a retail shop with the ability to place a full range of bets whilst using cash or card.

For most online customers, betting on their personal devices is a solitary activity, whether for racing or other sports, and the chance to have that same experience in-shop, while enjoying the shared experience of a live racing event is hard to beat.

SBC: How does the Grand National compare with Cheltenham, where the excitement is more spread over the entire week?

LD: I think Cheltenham served as a great primer for the Grand National. Both are more than a century old and are easily among the most popular fixtures in the annual racing calendar.

In general, we are seeing far more betting on horse racing than ever before, and while our retail partners have their own methods of marketing the big race, our SSBTs are certainly generating a lot of the interest off their own accord.

Every horseracing event on the calendar is seeing even greater numbers of bets placed on SSBTs, and this continued success is in turn bringing more customers into retail shops specifically to use our SBBTs and all the sports betting products available on them.

SBC: Is that something you prepare for in terms of terminal capacity, betting markets, promotions etc?

LD: Not at all. Our SSBTs are specifically designed to handle a high volume of transactions at the most demanding of times, as well as being fast, convenient and easy to use.

When it comes to managing the rush of punters drawn in by the excitement of the Grand National, our Racing Post features more than provides for this – it enables easy navigation for customers both old and new – allowing bets to be placed quickly and with ease.  

SBC: Is there anything you’ve learned from previous high betting volume periods that you’re looking to apply for future events?

LD: We’re always looking for ways to innovate around our SSBTs in order to ensure we can offer our retail partners higher customer engagement and revenues.

One of the best advantages SSBTs have is that they’re faster and more convenient than over the counter. We want to make sure it stays that way even during high betting volume periods.

Whether that be with cash or via our new contactless payment functionality being trialled by Paddy Power, our aim is to ensure that the time spent processing a transaction is short as possible, which is especially valuable when the start of the race may only be seconds away.

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