Independent bookmaker Howard Chisholm believes that staff training is one of the most important parts of the business these days. In an interview in this month’s Betting Business interactive, Chisholm revealed that the constant evolution of the betting shop environment means that staff need to be kept up to speed.
Director of North East betting chain Chisholm Bookmakers, Chisholm explained: “The last few years have shown that technology moves at an ever increasing pace. It’s no longer sufficient to look at updating systems every five to ten years. If you are not constantly reviewing the changes in the market place then within a very short period of time you will be left behind.
“When introducing new technology training of staff is all important. Modern systems have so many facilities available that comprehensive training is now a necessity. It’s surprising how often we hear bookmakers say ‘we’ve taken on experienced staff from another bookmaker so they won’t need any training’. However often the other bookmaker used systems from a different supplier and the staff just don’t know how to operate the new systems.”
As one of the directors of the Bookmakers’ Technology Consortium, Chisholm is aware of the pace of development. One of the most recent technological changes has been forced on bookmakers with the new ‘£50 journey’ regulations on gaming machines requiring any player wanting to spend more than £50 a spin to either do so by staking via the counter, or by using a registered account.
Chisholm believes that bookmakers have risen to the challenge to implement this seamlessly by the allotted deadline. “The £50 journey has involved a lot of work by both the gaming machine suppliers and by bookmakers. The pressure to get this right has been felt all across the industry. The new functionality on the machines has operated well and staff training has been generally well received.”
He added that the new restrictions have also been noted by the customers, although not always favourably. “The outstanding challenge has been educating the customer about how the gaming machines now operate. Obviously, those in the industry are all well aware that the reason for the £50 journey is to better protect problem gamblers but, of course, the vast majority of our customers are not problem gamblers. Some customers have been annoyed at the changes and complain about interference from the nanny state, but most just reluctantly accept that they need to jump through a few more hoops if they want to play spins of over £50.
“In the end most have opted to just play for stakes up to £50 rather than go through the palaver of opening an account or visiting the counter to load cash.”