iGaming Business magazine Sports Betting Focus 2017 - Page 21

Commercial Feature Sports Betting Focus 2017 SHAPING THE FUTURE Inspired’s Steve Rogers looks at the exponential growth of virtual sports into the digital realm, which shows no sign of slowing down. Virtual sports have proven hugely successful in retail but how has the product evolved for the digital market? It’s unsurprising that we’re seeing more and more virtual sports adopters in the digital space as players favour the convenience of playing from smartphones, tablets and PCs. In response to this, Inspired has evolved existing products and developed new ones to appeal to digital players. Inspired’s suite of Rush Virtuals Live on-demand and in-play products have been specifi cally developed for mobile platforms, and are aligned with the evolution in sports betting over the past 2-3 years. There’s no longer a need to wait for a matchday or scheduled virtuals event when players can access thousands of virtual sporting events across the globe wherever and whenever they want. We’ve also recently launched our suite of Rush Go! products, which combine the excitement of virtual horses and virtual dogs with casino-style gaming for quick and easy fun via casino and games Tabs. Rush Horses GO! and Rush Dogs GO! are the fi rst ever virtual sports products developed specifi cally for non-sportsbook bettors and again exemplify the ways in which Inspired is creating a product portfolio which offers consumers a choice of games designed to suit their preferences and lifestyles. How has Inspired responded to a wider growth in mobile activity? A signifi cant advantage of having an omni-channel offering is that players can bet on their favourite games in retail venues, on mobile, and online, making the customer experience a consistent one across multiple channels. Mobile gaming is undoubtedly a signifi cant growth area in online betting, and via the Virgo™ RGS, licensed and hosted in Gibraltar, Inspired is supplying HTML5 content to leading UK operators including William Hill, Gala Coral, Bet365, and Betfred. Popular slot games from retail have been introduced to Inspired’s mobile portfolio, with more exciting content planned for release this year. In virtuals, the Rush suite of on-demand products offer mobile customers the option of placing pre-match and in-play accumulator bets across single or up to eight matches, alongside a full league and season format. The new Rush Go! suite of games offers a different style of bettor the fun of casino-style gaming combined with virtual horses or dogs. What developments can we expect over the next fi ve years? Is there anything that stands out in particular? Virtual reality is something to be hugely excited about. Virtual sports already involves elements of the technologies used to create these products, but the line between virtual and reality will become less distinct in the future as graphics become more sophisticated and devices allow for an ever more immersive player experience. Imagine riding a winning horse around Aintree or shooting hoops with Shaquille O’Neal. Personalisation of betting experiences will become more advanced, be that players customising their own sports teams, or the devices on which they’re playing. eSports are huge right now with Millennials, and there is certainly opportunity to leverage the idea of digital social interaction and apply it to virtual sports. Imagine players across the globe virtually competing against each other, with the ability to bet on and back themselves. Lottery will also evolve in order to compete with the more sophisticated and exhilarating offerings now available to players, but into what exactly it’s impossible to say. The future of the gaming industry is a hugely exciting one and Inspired is looking forward to help shape it. How has customer demand changed? What do customers now want? Customers are increasingly looking for instant entertainment, and this is where on-demand virtuals really come into their own. Rather than having to wait for a specifi c match day, or scheduled virtuals event, players can now access thousands of virtual sporting events at any given time across the globe. Creating a product portfolio which offers consumers a choice of games designed to suit their needs is key – from casual bettors to serious sports bettors, Inspired has developed product variants to refl ect different requirements. In a world now dominated by celebrities, it was a natural step for Inspired to use brand collaborations to generate interest in new products. New Rush Basketball which features Shaquille O’Neal exemplifi es how ‘celebrity’ endorsement can elevate the profi le of a product. Do you think that virtual sports offer you a unique opportunity to fi ll a sports betting void in America? There are undoubtedly huge opportunities in North America to drive revenues for operators and offer US players a brand new, unique betting experience with virtual sports. While we’ll never replace real-money sports betting, we’re creating the most realistic and immersive virtual sports content on the market which will appeal to mobile, online and venue gamers Steve Rogers is CCO Digital Games at Inspired, and has over 15 years’ experience in the virtual sports sector. Prior to his current role, Steve Rogers w as COO of Red Vision, which was acquired by Inspired in 2006. iGamingBusiness | Issue 105 | July/August 2017 | 81