Unmanned bookmakers: the future of retail?

In recent years, the Irish retail betting market has faced a fair share of problems with the 2% imposing a turnover tax of over € 2.5 million, the lack of central gambling regulation and the recent closure of all nonessential stores.

But despite these obstacles, fixed costs have remained stable (and in some cases have increased).

Colm Finley is the founder / director BetXS - subsidiary company Orchadia Systems ... He told SBC News that between 85-90%, spending on 'traditional' stores is fixed, but an increased focus on variable costs could help bring a breath of fresh air to the terrestrial sector.

He said, “Needless to say, self-service stores operate at a much lower cost compared to their traditional, staffed stores. What has happened in Ireland and the UK over the past 10 years or so is that as fixed costs rise, some towns and villages do not have more population to support high fixed cost stores.

“If you look here in Ireland, you are not allowed to work alone because you have to give your employees breaks after every three hours of work. After five hours of work, they are allowed to take a full hour break for lunch. As a result, you cannot manage the store alone.

“When you then apply this to the quota of hours that the bookmaker can open during the week, you really need four or five work units to keep the bookmaker running. From an Irish point of view, this is € 100,000 - € 110,000 as a fixed cost to maintain.

"When you then pounce on € 47,000 in media fees, money to be paid to landlords, and all the other fixed costs associated with a staffed shop floor, your fixed costs exceed € 200,000 with little variable costs."

He shared that moving to automation and “using efficient and reliable technology” can help reduce the risk of human error - at a cost of approximately 35-40% traditional stores. These costs are expected to come down even further, Finley continued, thanks to negotiations with copyright holders such as SIS and TRP .

“With BetXS running between 35 - 40 % of base cost, and further down to levels where we have a proper revenue / turnover share agreement with rights holders, these costs will come down even further,” he continued.

“What happens then is that these remote communities will be able to take back their bookmakers. In terms of horse racing, this is great news. Expected revenue in terms of horse racing and treasury revenue fell to zero. But we're going to turn those zeros into something. "

Now all BetXS stores are open in Rathcoole, Kilbeggan and Ballivor remotely - with video surveillance, shutters, security systems, displays. and indicator lights are controlled by a fully automated solution, and all bets are placed and settled through Self-Service Terminals (SSBTs).

Finley believes that without the transport of goods, Ireland's onshore sector can fully benefit from the deployment of automated bids. bringing with it a range of benefits for local communities.

He added: “We have no freight traffic. Bookmakers fit this model so well. Let's say if I had a store in Caersiven on the Kerry Circle, that store just had to open tomorrow - I don't have to bring horse races there, unlike grocery stores, which I don't have to unload a refrigerator full of merchandise.

“Broadband broadcasts content from any race track or soccer field and delivers it to these remote locations. The lack of transportation of goods is great, and it makes bookmakers much more adaptable to automation - it makes bookmakers much more viable. "

When Regarding Responsible Gambling, the founder of BetXS addressed the need for advanced facial recognition and artificial intelligence technologies to determine and verify a customer's age.

SSBT equipped with high definition biometric cameras that require single sign-on for players who look under the age of 25.

Finley also outlined a self-exclusion gateway system, whereby this data is then distributed across all Orchadia Systems stores - which could help reduce levels of gambling addiction.

“Safer gambling is where I truly believe Orchadia Systems is in a completely different league from the way we do business today,” he said. ... “In my experience as a seasoned bookmaker, I have received these self-exclusion forms from clients who no longer want to bet. It is not a good thing for the client to endure.

“We used to hand out a sheet of A4 paper on which the players had to put their name, address, etc. Then they had to attach a copy of the passport photo that was attached to the form. This will force people to refuse to provide this information. This is a very intrusive act, especially considering how difficult it is for people to admit they have a gambling problem.

“At Orchadia Systems, players can self-exclude through their mobile app. They don't need to talk to anyone. What's better is that it will subsequently be deployed to chain stores running on the Orchadia Systems platform.

"This means that the buyer can call the bookmaker in John o'Groats, self-exclude, hop on a plane to the Land's End, enter the bookmaker and also self-exclude instantly."

Reaffirming its conviction that responsible gaming is at the center of attention, Finlay continued to discuss the company's plans to impose budget, time and sports restrictions.

He explained: “Where we are even more important is that we are not limited to just self-exclusion. During the development process, we are working on the introduction of budgetary restrictions. If a player gets paid Friday night, they go to the pub and try to get some winners back, but by Saturday morning they can spend their entire paycheck.

“We plan to give clients the ability to set limits - whether it's budget, time, or even sports. These are the tools the industry really needs.

“Self-exclusion is not a viable solution under the current system. ... Orchadia Systems is committed to changing this by creating an appropriate, meaningful and safe gaming environment for players across Ireland, the UK and around the world. We do not stop here in Ireland, we go even further - this is what we are striving for. "

It is increasingly likely that bookmakers' fixed costs will increase in 2021 as a result. Due to the pandemic, the prospect of creating automatic betting points may become a cheaper and easier way for operators to access their audience.

From a bettor's perspective, these stores have the potential to completely transform the customer journey with increased uptime and easy-to-use SSBTs that meet their needs. a tech-savvy player.

As the retail sector hopes to recover from the events of 2020, unmanned automated bookmakers could become the "new normal."

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