iGB Diary: FOBTs and pokies, CIS nuances, Red trousers are back!, DFS ads, What's your %%FIRSTNAME%%?

16 September 2016

It's Friday so it's iGB Diary time! A busy one again this week as we look at differing approaches to betting and gaming machines in the UK and Oz, listen to the realities of doing business in the CIS, we just loooooovvvvve our f*****g red trousers!!, DFS big two go for the sponsorship (big) buck and %%FIRSTNAME%%: when mailshots just make you feel so valued.      

UK and Australia: bad comms & poor PR
This week’s announcement by the UK Prime Minister that the government will be carrying out an inquiry into FOBTs had anti-gambling campaigners rejoicing. If FOBT stakes are reduced (or worse from the industry’s perspective) as a result of the inquiry, groups such as the Campaign for Fairer Gambling will claim vindication. It will also lead to questions about the viability of many betting shops. But for all the flak FOBTs get in the UK, it seems to be the opposite in Australia (paywall). In-play betting is not allowed currently and is widely criticised by some politicians and journalists. Sports betting gets lots of negative press while gaming machines (or 'pokies', which we would equate to FOBTs), by and large, seem to carry on without too much distraction. This is despite the losses they generate from punters being much higher than those coming from betting punters. The figures speak for themselves: AU$11.6bn (€7.7bn, £6.5bn) in losses for pokies, AU$815m (€541m, £461m) for sports betting. So why the disparity in coverage and public attention, especially with the UK Gambling commission recently noting that in-play wasn’t particularly prone to problem gambling or integrity issues? Tax revenues might have something to do with it, as well as visibility, notably betting operators’ ubiquitous and aggressive marketing. Where the UK and Australian industries do have something in common is in the way they have handled these issues, which is to say, badly. Whether it’s full-on (i.e. excessive or aggressive) betting advertising Down Under or an inability to convey a convincing message about FOBTs in the UK, both sectors have failed to address those particular issues in a constructive way and may pay the regulatory price for it. The Times also put the boot into FOBTS this week (paywall).         

Nuances and pay offs
We heard some interesting insights into esports, DFS or football and betting sponsorships at the Betting on Sports Conference yesterday (the event concludes today). Our pick of the bunch though has to go to Sergey Portnov, chief executive of Ukraine-based betting operator Parimatch (no not the French gossip mag) for his talk on the ‘Nuances and particularities of the betting companies in the CIS market’ – rolls off the tongue that one. The reason Portnov was interesting was because he was blunt and straightforward. For example, to do business in the Ukraine, where his company is one of the market leaders, “you have to know how to swim in dark waters. If you can do that and negotiate the different obstacles you can do good business”. Dark waters, sounds a bit scary, probably is. Another good one: one of the problems with doing business in the region is the bus factor (the what factor? Explainer here). “Because if the founder of the company dies, the business is f****d,” Portnov said. And if you want to be able to operate efficiently, remember to be au fait with local police customs. With a picture similar to the one below, Portnov explained: “You can expect regular visits from the local police. Make sure you work with them because they can close you down and stop you doing business for three, four days at a time.” Yikes. Where’s your local bobby when you need him eh?        

Look at my f*****g red trousers!
Lots of swear words this week sorry about that, but hey it’s always good to let off some steam (f*** sake). Credit to Calvin Ayre’s Becky Liggero for spotting this one during yesterday’s conference. Aah, red trousers, there’s a fashion statement. Enjoy more red trousers at lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.com/   


DFS - an advertiser’s dream
A good piece on Bloomberg shows how DraftKings and FanDuel are evolving as businesses by attracting sponsorship funds to their DFS tournaments. The brands mentioned in the article (TGI Friday, Bud Light etc.) show how mainstream DFS is in the US… Which got us thinking (it happens), can you imagine something similar in the UK or another European market? Say: ‘Register for the dfs.co.uk guaranteed prize pool contest, sponsored by Carling lager’. In France you could have Eric Cantona booming down from billboard posters:  ‘Register for ze fantasyfootball.fr tournament, sponsored by Kronenbourg’s taste suprème.’ No doubt we’ll be proved wrong and a UK operator will soon be launching a major DFS contest with a major sponsor (DFS Sofas anyone? Sorry...) Anyway, for no particular reason here's one of Canto’s Kronenbourg ads.   


That personal touch
Final shout out this week goes to this binary options company for a brilliant mailshot, love the %%FIRSTNAME%% touch in the subject line, made us feel so valued, proper VIP treatment there. Jeez even the Diary would be able to get that one right (well, we say that...).

Have a great weekend!