SBC caught up with Simon Westbury, Managing Director for Betting on Football 2017 (3-5 May) sponsor VSoftCo, to discuss his company’s approach to virtual sports betting, why he was attracted to the event and which parts of the Stamford Bridge conference agenda he is most looking forward to.
SBC: Having also sponsored last year’s Betting on Sports conference, what is it that attracts you to events organised by SBC?
SW: The attraction to us is the specificity of the events, there are lots of conferences that claim to be ‘must attend’.
However, these types of events apply a brush stroke philosophy, touching on lots of different topics and verticals but failing to address any particular area.
The events that Rasmus Sojmark and the SBC team put together are very specific in content and speak to the vertical that VSoftCo operates in. In addition to the conference focus, we also find the networking excellent and have managed to secure contracts from contacts we have made at the show. Put simply, it’s a win-win for VSoftCo – specific content and excellent business development opportunities.
SBC: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
SW: I am really looking forward to hearing from football stakeholders to understand their point of view on gaming and how the two industries can work together in closer partnership. We are also looking forward to exhibiting at the show, and I am delighted to confirm that VSoftCo’s exhibition stand will contain a penalty shoot-out simulator to allow attendees to prove they are better than England at penalties.
SBC: How can virtual sports betting and football stakeholders work better and more effectively together?
SW: This is an interesting area of discussion and one that VSoftCo has explored in detail in the last six months. The owners of VSoftCo also own Sheffield United Football Club (SUFC), so we have been able to work with the club to explore how we can improve our virtual products using real football. For the example, the main area we have cooperated with SUFC is using professional football players in our motion capture.
We have added over 800 new sequences to the game which will mean by the end of May, VSoftCo will be the only provider of virtual football to have a fully motion captured game using professional footballers. We are looking to deepen the relationship with the club. It has been suggested we look at Pro-zone stats the club use and use this data in our virtual game to ensure that we make our virtual football as real as possible.
SBC: What new technology do you feel will have the biggest impact on virtual sports betting?
SW: We are the only provider who uses real time technology, meaning that every game is a unique instance with over 2.5 million possible interactions per event rather than relaying a library of pre-recorded video clips. We have managed to use this technology to adapt to changes in football, for example within a week of the new kick off sequence occurring in real football we were able to incorporate the new kick off sequence into our virtual game.
Additionally, the real-time technology allows us to offer bet markets that other suppliers cannot. For example, our first goalscorer market is the most popular market with operators, followed by 1×2. The first goalscorer market is 30% of all bets we take and no one else offers this specific market. So, by working with us operators manage to gain 30% of bets they would otherwise miss out on.
So, the focus of VSoftCo going forward will be how to maximise our unique technology to maximise realism and betting opportunities for operators and players alike. We believe the technology and access to a professional football club gives us an advantage our competitors simply cannot match.
SBC: What key agenda, debate or discussion do you want to hear at #bofcon2017?
SW: Please forgive me for being selfish here, but I am really looking forward to the panel that I am speaking on. It is a panel that incorporates some of what I have spoken with you about.
The panel will address how virtual football can emulate the beautiful game and I am looking forward to pushing VSoftCo to the forefront of this discussion – the combination of our real-time technology which shows the whole match means we are in the best place to replicate real football.
Our competitors can recreate a highlight show such as Match of the Day, but we can re-create the excitement that goes hand in hand with watching a real football match in real time and not knowing what will happen once the game has kicked off. Combining this real-time technology to create unique excitement and betting markets others cannot, with the heritage of a professional football club, creates an offering no one else can compete with.