Ice 2017: exhibition reveals exciting future for online betting

Rob Mabbett: the Betting Shop Manager of The Year on Ice

PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS Exhibition reveals bright future for online betting By Rob Mabbett 4:33PM 7 FEB 2017

Betting Shop Manager of The Year Rob Mabbett with the first of his daily diaries from the Ice exhibition at the ExCeL in London.

THE enormity of this event struck me immediately, and the ExCeL proved a huge venue ablaze with various screens displaying the very latest in video gaming content.

A quick look round to gain your bearings is advised – it is helpful to locate the Racing Post Cafe (S2 – 230) and work things out from there. The SIS stand is alongside.

Ice is huge on a truly global scale – in fact 150 nations are represented here with one catchphrase: ‘A billion dollars worth of ideas in one room'.

It was not even 9.30am (the show opens at 10am) and already I was laden with gifts, magazines and guides to the event – plenty to take in and absorb!

Virtual reality

My first port of call was a press briefing from gaming company NetEnt CEO Per Eriksson, who gave a talk about their future products, including the continued development of virtual reality gaming.

Keen to sample this technology for myself I gave it a go and played a virtual reality version of Gonzo's Quest. I was given a VR headset and some speakers and was instantly thrust into a 360 degree slot game. The graphics were outstanding and I soon forgot about what I must have looked like to others as I became immersed in it.

I was presented with a large wall of tumbling blocks – these were the reels of the slot game. If I was fortunate enough to get a winning line those blocks would explode and be replaced giving me more chances to win. To my right a parrot would swoop down and encourage me to gamble winnings, to my left Gonzo would run around collecting ‘my' coins in his hat after I had struck a large win.

Speaking to Simon Hammon from NetEnt I wondered how this product would fare in betting shops and was pleased to hear that he was positive about the potential. It really was a fun experience.

Betting Shop displays

Strolling back to the Racing Post Cafe, I obviously declined offers of free tequila (it was still only 10am!)

Eugene Delaney of the Racing Post then demonstrated the various ways the paper is planning to deliver sports information to its customers. To complement the traditional paper displays I was impressed by the information screens on display. These used different animated characters to depict which sport was involved. Particularly good was the greyhound character with his sheepskin coat and flat cap!

These displays contain information in simple form, without the need for a lot of studying, and will appeal to younger customers and for those who live life at a quicker pace. Interactive touch screen displays were also on offer, allowing the customer to toggle through a range of features.

This was a really easy, user-friendly way to keep on top of races coming up. Also excellent is the Bet Filter for horses and dogs which allows the user to whittle down the field by sorting through top jockeys, in-form trainers, tipster picks and course form amongst other things – and all at the touch of a button.

All in all a great package and a great advert for responsible gambling by ensuring the customer has all the information they need to make an informed decision.

This is my first visit to Ice but the presentation of the stands was stunning. I particularly like the BGT one. Its self-service betting terminals are increasingly popular in shops and open the door to betting on more unusual sports.

I was tremendously impressed with the balance transfer to mobile function. This enables the user to print off their betting slip and scan a code on it using their mobile so they can ‘cash out' after the betting shop has closed. Useful for sporting events abroad that are taking place outside of trading hours – a prime example being Sunday's Super Bowl.

In-play innovation

My next point of call was the SIS stand and I was excited to hear about their development of in-play betting on horse racing. It was also great to see some familiar faces at the stand from the Betting Shop Manager of the Year competition such as Charlotte Coumbe and Nigel Boardman.

The extra dynamic that betting in-play would give to horse racing sounds thrilling. Trackers in the saddle, which are picked up by sensors around the track, make sure every movement is covered. Then, complex algorithms, taking into account masses of information as well as input from traders, formulate an in-play market. All of this happens in a matter of seconds. Not something that is easily transferred to the betting shop, but with the strides forward that I have seen in the last five years watch this space!

My next job was to dash round a few more stands before the day ended, including the GBI Racing stand where Hayley Turner was making an appearance.

Read my blog on Wednesday to find out what else I've been up to.

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