eGaming Review January 2014 - Page 37

Headed up by former 888 director of technology Gil Rotem, bet365’s gaming division is run from a separate office about 50 yards away from the main HQ building. In stark contrast to sportsbook, the operator’s gaming product consists purely of third party content, mostly from Playtech. But while almost all other multi-vertical operators have seen poker and bingo in decline during 2013, bet365 managed to post growth across all four. The full year results showed that poker and bingo net revenue grew by 10% and 25% respectively, while a strong casino performance saw overall gaming revenues grow by 35%. “We made a decision a long time ago that the right strategy for bet365 was to focus our in house software development on the sports product along with our complete back office,” says Coates. “Then on the gaming side to bring in and integrate the best third party suppliers. I still believe this is the right strategy.” Coates describes both bingo and poker verticals as “challenging” but says their performance has been “reasonable” given market conditions. And the company is making moves to ensure revenues remain at the very least flat. GIL ROTEM Improvements to the live dealer product have also been made, including the introduction of exclusive private area tables, allowing more tables to be available at peak hours and enabling blackjack customers to play more than one hand at once. Meanwhile, bingo has been enhanced by new minigames, the introduction of push messages on mobile to help with the targeting of promotional offers, and ongoing sponsorship of TV show Emmerdale. In poker, the launch of a mobile client on Playtech’s iPoker mobile network should boost numbers, with Rotem saying at the time that the mobile site encourages players to remain “inhouse” on bet365 tables rather than join outside networks so players can compete in “a much safer environment as we don’t have many sharks”. "We have significantly improved the network ecology for bet365 players and they are now benefiting from a better playing experience" “We have significantly improved the network ecology for bet365 players and they are now benefiting from a better playing experience which has improved the player value,” Coates adds. Bet365’s tendency to emphasise its sportsbook prowess is misleading given how successful its gaming business continues to be. However, its reliance on third party content could make it harder for it to differentiate its casino, bingo and poker content from competitors, who are increasingly highlighting the benefits of a unique product range. Time will tell which tactic wins out. “I CAN HONESTLY SAY THERE IS NO END GAME AT THE MOMENT...I DON’T THINK IN THAT KIND OF CONTEXT” - DENISE COATES, BET365 Group in the online betting stakes, but no one can say its brand hasn’t penetrated. “We feel [our adverts] are an important part of the marketing mix,” says Coates. But she adds that a noticeable increase in other operators’ running TV advertising – Betfred’s new £10m campaign among them – has caused the costs to rise and return on investment to drop. “In the UK, the market has changed significantly. Six years ago, when we started the ads, there were not many others doing it and prices were reasonable. Now t