If you have read much of this site or others like it, you will be aware of some of the different platform providers who supply the framework for the betting websites we all use.
These companies don’t just build the framework and the ‘engine room’ of the website though, they also offer betting features and other add ons which can be ‘bolted on’ to the package if the betting brand wants them, they might even handle payments and support.
The fact that there are so many betting brands and relatively few platform providers means that betting websites can all start to feel familiar, you might have noticed this yourself. The design between two seemingly unconnected sites might be almost identical. This will be because they are both using the same platform provider.
But what about those sites that are truly unique? Those such as William Hill, Bet365, and BetVictor. Why have they chosen to do it themselves, and what are the benefits of doing so?
New Independent Platform Betting Sites
Why New Bookies Use Platform Providers
Every new business in any industry has to deal with start up costs, and if they are too high they could make the venture not worth pursuing at all.
This could be the cost of the real estate, signage, and stock for a new clothes shop, or the cost of a complete new set of tools and a van for a tradesman branching out on his or her own.
For an online bookie, start up costs come from:
- The website
Branding they can do themselves relatively cheaply, with marketing afterwards to let people know that their business exists. Licensing can be trickier especially for those with no background in the industry, there are a lot of checks and processes to go through not to mention the license fees.
Drawing up odds needs to be done by experts, and experts are expensive. Hiring odds compilers or traders is an added expense on top of your day to day staffing costs.
Lastly, the website is the biggest challenge. It needs to be capable of an awful lot more than a standard website that allows customers to order items and pay for them.
It has to constantly update thousands of different markets across multiple sports and fixtures, be able to process payments from different sources, check for suspicious activity as per the license conditions, track each customer’s activity and deal with offers, and so on and so on. To create a site that could do all of this yourself would cost millions, which is money that a lot of start up bookies just don’t have.
It would also take a long time to get all of this in place, and a new business needs to start trading as soon as possible in order to bring in income. This is where platform providers spotted a gap in the market.
Platform Provider Solutions
Platform providers realised that wannabe bookies were a bit stuck here, so their business model was to get almost all of these elements in place and offer them all wrapped up as a single package tied neatly with a red bow.
All the brand needs to do is market their site and the platform provider will take care of the rest. Even the license in the case of white labels.
This allows a new brand to get up and running in a very short space of time, with enough flexibility to offer their own margins on the various different markets, as well as choose from a few different website designs. They can also decide whether or not to include, for example, live streaming or a bet builder. It all depends on what they want their site to be and how much they can afford to spend at the outset.
It’s a bit like bolting on extra data to your mobile contract; you have the basic product but you can choose to enhance it to make it more powerful and capable of a greater number of tasks.
Why do Some brands Choose to go Independent?
The platform provider route sounds appealing, right? So why do some brands eschew the idea? Well, working with a platform provider does have its limitations.
For a start you are limited to designs and features that they have come up with, which means layout and general site operation and navigation are on the platform provider’s terms, not the betting brand’s.
The brand also has to rely on traders who do not work for and have not been hired by them to handle the odds. There is also less room for flexibility here; even though a brand can manage their own margins when working with a provider the odds are still coming from an outside source, whereas if a company hires their own traders they can handle their odds and offers etc in any way they want. There is no compromise.
It also gives the brand freedom to negotiate their own deals and licenses with outside companies, for instance those providing live streaming services, stats, or games if their is a casino attached.
This one actually works both ways, because a huge company like Bet365 might well be able to broker a better deal themselves given their power in the industry, whereas a smaller brand would have no hope and so the fact that this is all done for them by the platform provider is great news.
Finally, on a much simpler level, if your brand can stand out in a crowd by having a bespoke design it is not only more interesting and appealing for the bettor but it is a show of strength as well.
Third Party Features
There is a kind of half way house in all of this too.
A big betting brand that wants to add a casino, for example, might decide to run their sportsbook independently but go to a provider for the casino site, especially if it is not going to be a major focus for the brand, just another income stream.
Looking at it from the opposite angle, a smaller brand might have its own license and support team but need the platform provider for everything else.
This ‘pick n mix’ approach means that a provider can in effect be all things to all people; it can be a complete turn-key solution for a box fresh brand that needs the full package, or it can offer specific products to older brands that just want a couple of extra features which they don’t have time to develop themselves.
Platform providers design their products for easy hassle free integration which means it’s almost as simple as plugging them in and hitting play a lot of the time.
I said that it can cost millions to create a bookmaker site from scratch, and that’s true, it can, but it doesn’t have to.
These days, as technology surges forwards and today’s cutting edge is tomorrow’s old hat, everything is becoming cheaper. This means that a new brand could technically create their own platform much more cheaply than a few years ago, and we are already seeing this happen.
One of the brands on this site, Kweef, is a shining example, and Tonybet is another smaller brand that developed their own platform rather than buying one in – they have even licensed it out to another brand, 22 Bet, becoming something of a mini platform provider themselves.
Of course, these newer independent sites aren’t the behemoths that the likes of William Hill and BetVictor are operating, but they don’t need to be to start with; the product range isn’t as wide and the sportsbook is a simpler offering which doesn’t need to do quite as much.
Looking ahead, with the UK Gambling Commission looking into potentially banning white labels in time for the new gambling act (that’s a whole other article), smaller brands could be much more inclined to opt for an independent build since they will have to do some of it themselves anyway.
This is not yet confirmed, but it paints a picture of the direction this aspect of the industry is going in.