We are a few days away from the ending of this year, a great time for self-evaluations, new plans and draft budgets for the year to come, as is always customary at this time of year with each company. This also a good time to stocktake on the betting industry which saw a significant evolution during these past 15-20 years.
The topic for this piece came to me a few days ago, as I was to take a quick look at my Bachelor’s Dissertation of 2005.
At the time, I boldly presented one of the first software applications used to register the tickets, to generate betting offers, to establish betting quotas, which I had helped develop as a software developer acting on the order of one of the first ever sports betting houses in Romania.
As I read these specifications, I was surprised to learn that some of the highly successful products/types of bets at present had been part of the Romanian offer ever since 2003 when this activity was, by reference to the current situation, in its pioneering stage.
Chance Bet -1
Does anyone know about the origins of the Chance Bet?
This type of bet is an essential item in the betting houses offers. It was first registered in 2003 in an attempt to draw to the betting house the betters used to the “pronosport” activity and to increase their chances of winning, although they used to play all the 13 weekly matches in the A Series Italian Football Championship back then.
The fixed-quota bets was largely unknown to the betters at the time, and the idea of a potential substantial win was very attractive, although the betters disregarded the fact that the chances of a win were slim due to the inclusion of all the 13 events.
Thus, while the potential gains were astronomical, most bets proved unsuccessful.
Due to a decrease in the betters’ appetite for gambling and their reverting to similar products offered by the state-owned organizer, I made the decision to also grant prizes to the betters who indicated correctly fewer results (12, even 11) than the 13 written on their ticket.
This was the birth of the Chance Bet – 1 and Chance Bet – 2 and of an upswing in the betting activity.
Where the better wrongly indicated one result out of 13, the Chance Bet -1 was the winner as the house offered 15% of the recalculated quota that did not include the quota of the lost match.
Where 2 out of the 13 results were wrongly indicated, the Chance Bet -2 was the winner and the better was entitled to 10% of the recalculated quota that did not include the quota of the lost match. Basically, you got your money back at -2.
We chose to promote the Chance Bet -1 type at the time, and the Chance Bet -2 got pushed into the background. This is one of the reasons why this type of bet still exists in the betting offers today, which I personally find more interesting, even now.
The Chance Bet-1, on the other hand, was a major success, and I was glad to learn that the whole market had accepted this bet which remained one of the most successful among betters.
Sports Bets vs. Slot Machines
15-20 years ago, only the major sports events were broadcast on television and were concentrated in a few days a week only, especially during weekends.
The betters visited their betting agencies, especially on Mondays when the quotas for the UEFA and the CHL events became available, and registered their tickets for the events scheduled to take place on Tuesdays (UEFA), Wednesdays and Thursdays (CHL).
On Fridays the winners claims their wins and registered their bets for the matches scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays (championship stages).
Every two weeks the mid-week matches were absent, which made the betters’ visits to these locations even less frequent.
The low attendance of the game with the sports bets was then, and still is, the opposite of a slot machine game which is based on sequence of images repeating within less than a second! (the customer learns if they won or lost as they press the button, unlike the sports events which require (at least 90 minutes, with events distributed across a whole week)).
This contrast, however, resulted in successful partnerships between the betting organizers and the slot machines organizers, some of which were the predecessors of the current associations.
These partnerships generated progress on the sports bets market as the operators understood the need for short-term advertisement, the gambling cycles being reduced dramatically by the introduction of the live bets in the offers, followed by the online dog bets, house bets or ball bets where bets may be placed every 3 minutes.
I am looking forward to the sports bets game reaching the one-second frequency specific to the slot machines games.
Meanwhile, at the pressure of the TV stations which paid ever larger amounts of money to FIFA for the rights to broadcast the football competitions on TV, this international body agreed that the matches were not to take place at the same time and on the same day and scheduled the weekly stages of the national championships since Fridays onward, the big games on Saturdays and Sundays, while the rematches were to be played on Mondays.
To the sports bets industry, this amendment had a positive impact on the frequency of the betters’ visits to the locations.
But, since the mid-day timeframe was still unappealing to the betters, this problem was solved by offering, every day between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., a 20% increased quota for the favorite of the day, a solution invented by me largely used still by the operators.
End of January 2012. The London gaming fair was taking place in the same location – the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
A betting software developer caught my eye, one which exhibited in a corner of its stand a tiny 1.90 m metallic robot to which betters could place their own betting tickets.
Unlike the operators in the industry, insufficiently involved, unable, most times, to understand their own activity and, therefore, unable to provide the betters with they information requested, this device offered, in a concentrated and easily understandable manner, all the necessary information and permitted the swift registration of the tickets. I quickly realized that tiny robot was the future of this industry.
As soon as I got back from London I started to work on this idea exclusively and to prepare a sports bets platform that would allow simultaneous bets being placed at the ticket windows as well as on terminals.
Once these terminals installed in the existing locations, the success of this solution was insured by its simplicity – the customers could easily receive quality services shortly thereafter. Shortly thereafter some other sports bets operator (the only one) followed in our footsteps, so we were able to develop in a consistent and healthy manner.
For approximately 5 years we were basically the only presence on a market, which allowed me to understand just what the Romanian betters’ needs were, to gain experience with these terminals, to know how to calibrate them accurately based on the Romanian market needs, to understand the betters and to fulfill their expectations, all this with a view to providing impeccable services and a complete gambling experience.
Of course, our 5-year head start in terminal operation gives us a significant competitive advantage against the companies which have only recently decided to provide this product to their betters.
In my 17 years in the gambling industry I had the chance to witness a series of decisive changes that influenced, in a beneficial manner, the way in which this activity is carried out and perceived by the outsiders.
The establishment of the National Gambling Office and the legislative amendments made of 2015-2016 are, by far, some of expected changes in this industry, which in brought new standards in the performance of this activity.
The new legislation, as adopted based on the transparent discussions between the authority and the professional associations, accurately reflects the regulatory needs of the operators and the betters alike and is a source of inspiration to other countries.
As an insider, I am thrilled to notice substantial progress being made in this industry in those over 15 years since I have been a part of it, and also to learn that there is still room for challenges and innovations in this field.
The substantial increase in competition in this industry is good for raising corporate awareness, for product diversification and for progress in this field.
Furthermore, the swift evolution of IT solutions is expected to create new opportunities for the risk takers. Our success relies on permanently undertaking such risks in order to identify the optimal solution for our customers who have benefitted from quality, flexible and constantly evolving services for over 10 years.
The key to success? Passion, dedication, innovation, respect for the customers.
We are committed to continue to enforce the same principles in the upcoming decades and to participate actively in the consolidation and the progress of our activity, by ourselves as well as by supporting the professional associations to which we belong.
To conclude, I would like to say I have always loved what I did and I believe there are still great challenges ahead for me and I am thrilled to have been part of this industry which grew up so beautifully since the beginning. I salute the Responsible Gambling initiatives, the existence of the ONJN (the National Gambling Office), of the associations of professionals helping with a smooth development, of the Casino Inside magazine, of all the people who chose to leave their line of business for the gambling business and to contribute, each, to the wellbeing and the progress of the gambling industry.