nspired’s Virtual Sports platform and its Virtual Football game will arrive soon in Italy and China, respectively. What do both these approvals mean for your business?
Both Italy and China are key markets for Inspired for a number of reasons. Sports and sports betting are a big part of Italian life and, therefore, we predict Inspired’s Virtual Sports will be at least as successful as in the UK – where Virtual Sports account for 10 percent of all betting revenues.
We have retail, online and mobile contracts signed with nine of the major concessionaires, and will be going live in over 12,000 venues and 30 websites imminently – now that we have AAMS certification and have entered the final phase of testing. This is an important market for us and we are very focused on delivering success for our Italian customers.
Inspired is one of the three major VLT suppliers in Italy and recently announced the installation of its VLT products in Lottomatica venues. Also, being able to offer Italian concessionaires our world-leading Virtual Sports is an exciting opportunity to strengthen our position in Italy as a key supplier to various channels of the market.
In China, Inspired’s Virtual products are approved by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and deployed in China National Sports Lottery venues. They are therefore a Government-approved and operated lottery product that is offered to players alongside traditional lottery draws.
Inspired’s Virtual Motor Racing is live in 1,700 shops in Hunan Province (known there as Lucky Racing) and Virtual Football has just received National approval from the Ministry of Finance and will launch first in Jiangsu Province, the largest sports lottery market in China with a 14.6% market share. The opportunity for our Virtual Sports in China is huge – the whole Chinese lottery market was worth RMB262 billion in 2012 and we have plenty more Virtual Sports products to offer.
What are the particularities of the Italian market? And what is the potential there for a company such as Inspired? Can you easily replicate the model that you offer in the UK?
Every gaming market is different and we always tailor our products to the local legislative requirements and local player tastes. For example, in Italy we are supplying horse trotting as an extra sport because of its popularity in Italy and focusing a lot of effort on football as it represents over 90% of the live betting revenue.
We will launch initially with 8 sports: Horses, Trotting, Greyhounds, Football, Cycling, Tennis, Motor Racing, and Speedway. We will analyze the performance of the sports and continually enhance the graphics and range of bet markets on offer. We will also look at live sports betting trends and develop new sports especially for Italian consumers. We have a lot of experience in doing this but do not rest on our laurels, which is how we have remained the global leader in Virtual Sports for the past 12 years.
We provide our Virtual Sports in 16 different languages and, of course, all our sports in Italy will have Italian real-time commentary and text. We can also customise backgrounds with operator branding and can even use real stadiums as the backdrops, if the customer has special sponsorship rights or owns a particular stadium. Our products are highly customisable, but still consistently familiar to players.
On China, what has been the experience for Virtual Motor Racing / Lucky Racing? What are the expectations for Virtual Football?
Lucky Racing sales have totaled over us$ 132 million since its launch in 2011. It has been very successful and Lucky Racing bets now make up 36% of all lottery sales in Hunan and 1.1% of all national sports lottery sales. The expectations for Virtual Football are high because it’s one of our most popular Virtual Sports, football is popular in China, and Jiangsu Province is the largest sports lottery market in China with a 14.6% market share.
Why do you think these products meet both the demands of operators and players? Is there a growing global potential for your Virtual Sports platform, and if so why?
For operators, whether government-owned lotteries, private lotteries or betting companies, compliance is most important and Inspired’s Virtual Sports products are fully compliant and approved by the UK and Alderney Gaming Commissions and are GLI tested and approved - unlike many competing products.
Our Virtual Sports are totally secure, and proven to generate over 100% more revenue for operators than competing products (based on commercial trials). Operators also appreciate the unique level of flexibility we offer when it comes to scheduling events and managing RTP levels across venues and channels.
For players, it’s the hyper-reality graphics that look extremely similar to live sports and the range of betting markets on offer that make these products so compelling. Players can bet on the next virtual event, which feels like a very instant product when the events are scheduled back-to-back, or they can place a bet on a future race and find out the result at a later time, which feels more like a traditional lottery game. It’s just great fun for lottery players, and both novice and expert sports betters.