Inspired Entertainment President and COO Brooks Pierce "We are seeing very good growth in our virtual sports revenues and on our online and mobile slot games"

The coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellation of the NCAA tournament, the suspension of NBA, NHL, MLS, and Premier League games, the postponement of the baseball season, and many other major sports events around the world. Has this had an impact on Inspired’s Virtual Sports business so far, in terms of volume, revenue, etc.? Could you also compare this with your other commercial segments?

Amid the global sports events cancellation, the executive tells Yogonet that Inspired has boosted resources in specific areas of the company to deal with the "tremendous surge in interest" in Virtual Sports. With Inspired's products, Virtual Grand National will be shown on national TV in the UK in place of the real race, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Online and on mobile we are seeing very good growth in our virtual sports revenues as well as on our online and mobile slot games. Interestingly, we have seen enormous interest from operators around the world—and in the US, particular—to see how quickly we can get them live with our virtuals products. Our technology teams and commercial teams are working flat out to launch these products with customers who are in desperate need of content. The transition from live sports betting to virtual sports betting is very easy, and with 14 different sports to offer in many different bet types, we have something for every one of their players.

What are your expectations and outlooks for this in the short to mid-term? 

In the short term, we see growth potential online and on mobile from our existing customers who are adding more sports and more channels of virtual sports. In the mid- to longer term, we see virtual sports as a key product offering, since that is what we have seen in all of our existing customers’ markets. Players love the ease, the simplicity and the frequency of virtual sports, and it sits very nicely beside live sports wagering as a way to wager between live events or in times when there are not a lot of live events. 

Could you identify any differences, trends or patterns within each of the different sports virtual sports included in your portfolio? If that's the case, what could be the reasons involved?

Although it is early days in the launch of our basketball product, we have seen that jump to the top in performance with operators because of the worldwide appeal of basketball. We have two iterations of our basketball product, a North American style and a European style. Football (or soccer, depending on what market you are in) is still the best-performing product along with horse racing, but we are seeing both basketball and American football getting a lot of play, and some of our customers are doing fantastic numbers with cricket as well. We feel like we have a product for every customer’s interests. 

What are your specific plans, strategies and approach to leverage this unexpected lack of sports betting options worldwide?

We have boosted resources in specific areas of the company to deal with the tremendous surge in interest in Virtual Sports, including our commercial teams, our technology teams and our integration teams in our center of excellence in Kochi, India. Almost all of our employees are now working remotely due to the current circumstances, but the increased Virtual Sports demand is giving them all a big lift. Virtual Sports is probably the product that Inspired is most known for, and we all take pride in the amazing quality of our graphics and how real-looking our product is to the players. A perfect example that validates how real our product appears is the Virtual Grand National that will be shown on national TV in the UK in place of the real race which was cancelled due to the virus. Our teams really set the standard when it comes to the authenticity of the product. 

Could you share your assessment of some of your recent agreements, for instance, with NFL Alumni, Jaromir Jagr and Novomatic? Is the new global context changing the role of these partnerships in any way? 

I would say it is early days for all three of those, but the early results are very encouraging. Our Jaromir Jagr Super Slots game was our best-performing game in Sweden, which is not surprising in a hockey market like that. We really look forward to launching in other hockey hotbeds like Canada and the US. We will be launching our NFL Alumni game this spring with a very large customer of ours, and again we have big hopes for that product in the States as well as in the UK, which has become a very big market for American football. In terms of our Novomatic Technology Group acquisition, the integration of the companies has gone very smoothly and up until the closing of retail in the UK, we were seeing great results in the pub market, motorway services and holiday parks. We hope that it won’t be too long before those outlets reopen for business. 

What could you tell us about recently launched products such as your V-Play Soccer 3 game and V-Play Plug & Play solution? How will these adapt to the new circumstances, and what could make them stand out from competition?

We love the way the V-Play Soccer 3 game turned out, as it uses the latest and greatest motion capture technology. Many of your readers would have seen it in our booth at ICE, and the universal feedback we received was how amazing it looked. I’m particularly excited that we will have a women’s football version of this, as the popularity of the women’s game is going through the roof. In terms of our V-Play Plug & Play solution, it will be a very quick way for many of our customers to add the product seamlessly with little more than a wallet integration. The ability to provide online sportsbook and casino operators with 14 channels of our highest performing Virtual Sports content via a simple wallet API is a very powerful tool and vastly increases our speed to market. Our technology team has been working on this product for several years and we wouldn’t release it until it was just right, so we are proud of it and look forward to getting it out in the market as quickly as we can.