Online betting platform – choosing it the right way.

The world of online gambling is truly exciting. There is money to be made for owners of online betting platform and the opportunities are everywhere. Opportunity creates desire. There are companies that can fulfill it and there are companies that are B.T.N.A – big talk not action kind of type. I came to the world of gambling from finance and banking and, probably that is why always felt need for order and structure which this industry lacks.

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I will try to cut all unimportant stuff, so what you are left with is red mead of online betting platform decision making.

I lead a busy life and rarely have time to write anything over 100 words long, but today my friend introduced to me an investor who is looking for a company which can develop a betting platform from scratch. From the first glance it is a trivial matter, but after a lengthy conversation with that person, I understood, that for someone, who is new to the world of developing IT products the amount of information out there is overwhelming. And there are many of them, people who are in desperate search of simple to digest information on how to proceed with set up process of online betting site.

Today I would like to separate a signal from the noise and give a few clear instructions on how to make a good choice when it comes to dealing with the supplier/developer.

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One of the biggest problems that investor faces is that a sales representative of the company he is talking to does not have a clue about what technology is used to put the different pieces together, why it was used and what benefits or shortcomings it offers. In most cases all he knows or repeats like a parrot – “We are better than companies X Y Z because we offer more numbers, we cost less and we can give you better discounts”. If asked for more, the sales rep will drag a product owner to the table who also does not know much about technicalities and repeats same things in circles. And it goes on from one betting platform provider to another… You rarely get a chance to talk to the developer, partly because they are not available and partly because they are not skilled in explaining things in human language.

So… let’s start from the very beginning. You have money that give certain freedom and you have several choices:

  1. Hire developers for your company and build a platform yourself.
  2. Put efforts together — build some part of the online betting platform yourself and order other modules / backend from someone else.
  3. Order a complete product from a product provider.

Building a platform yourself is time consuming. For someone who has not been in this game long enough — it will feel like reinventing the bicycle or learning a new language. You will need to familiarize your developers with the specific lingo used by the world of bookmaking and sports betting professionals. But if you manage to finish it – you will become a truly independent person, enriched with new knowledge, the only downside – you still need to buy the feed of data from someone else and spend time integrating it.

So, coming to the second question – is it a good idea to split the task of developing a product between your developers and some other company? Definitely not – it is a very bad idea. First of all – the technology stack the teams are familiar with might be different. Secondly – all negotiations and meetings will drive you up the wall. The end result will be a half – baked product.

Now we came to the third question. Let’s see what pitfalls an investor should avoid when choosing an outside developer. In the world of online platform providers -there are different types of companies and I would differentiate them by following criteria’s:

  1. Jack of all trades. These guys are pure IT developers. Here I mean companies that can code anything for anyone. They are simply very good in spitting code. They are not necessarily familiar with the world of bookmaking and sport betting as such, but efficient enough and skillful enough to quickly absorb the knowledge and produce an average quality result. Pros: you will own the code and might even be able to resell it to other investors like you. Cons: all other bits like data feed (things like in-play and pre-match odds) should come from someone else and obviously for extra cost. Furthermore, these companies will not provide you such important thing in sports gambling as risk management.
  2. Busy buddies. Same thing as above, but the companies also specialize in developing online or land based betting products or betting solutions. Obviously this choice is somewhat better than the first one. In most cases, such companies buy a feed of coefficients from other providers, but split the cost between all clients who order online betting platform. Usually such companies have a long waiting list about which you know nothing at the time you place an order but will eventually find out after a company changes the deadline several time. Another thins – there is very little room for customization of your product because everyone gets the same thing.
  3. Scrooges. The companies that apart from selling betting solutions also run their own operations (be it online or land-based). In my view – this is your best bet. In most cases they employ their own professional teams of bookmakers, traders, risk managers, analysts who are responsible for calculating odds for sporting events. What it means – you are ensured that the feed of odds is of top quality, because the company is using it itself. The cons of dealing with such company might be a longer developing time since the developers have to pay attention to its own operations. But these guys are worth their salt. So my advice – chose the company with its own operations, stick to it — it is your guarantee that it will not disappear in a year time and that the data feed they produce is a top quality product. Most of such companies have very good Risk Management Tools which is immensely important to have if you do not want to lose money to people visiting your platform.

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Is there anything else that I possibly omitted or overlooked about online betting platform? Yes, and in fact it is one the most important thing that a Client ordering online platform should demand from the supplier and there is only a handful of developers or betting companies offering it. This thing is called Risk Management Automated System. Basically, only big companies with the vast operational online and land based business network as well as professional team of book makers and traders can provide it because it takes many years of hard work and processing big data to create the tools needed to run Risk Management. So, how the system works? During the match traders mark all suspicious bets based on the unusual patterns that they see (possible sure-bet, late bet, fix, palpable error or whatsoever). Then the information is passed to the risk managers who verify it — and feed the outcome of their judgments back into the system which in turn takes further necessary actions automatically.

Any good risk management system should be capable of doing following things: managing financial risks (let’s say if the player is losing, the risk management  system of online betting platform does not spend time on checking why he is losing, but if he is winning – it needs to impose certain limits on his bets and categorize the player according to his skill), managing gameplay risks (if the player is winning, it must define why – is it down to the skill the person possess or is there any suspicious activity involved) and managing miscellaneous risks (wrong account, web-money account not verified etc).

Based on its online activity and playing patterns, Risk Management System assigns a player to the certain category with different imposed betting limits and certain restrictions for each of the categories. The system stays alert even to the cases when a player sells his account to a professional sport – bettor who wants to abuse the company, the risk management system detects the change in patterns and blocks such accounts immediately. It might sound simple, but very few companies in the world of gambling possess good algorithms for doing it affectively within limited timeframe.

A good online betting platform should also be capable of verifying customers and protecting their private information. Therefore, things like IP control and verification, mac – address detection and hardware scanning is a must to have.

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What many Clients completely overlook – is the rising popularity of mobile apps – for both Android and IOS. Here investor has either a choice of native – based mobile apps (which means you need to order two separate products, one for each platform mentioned above), or you can take advantage of rapidly developing technology and opt for a hybrid app which is based on IONIC and APACHE CORDOVA. For the sake of keeping this article short I am not going into details of the benefits of having a hybrid app since I am sure, that you are quite able to do a bit of googling in your spare time.

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Being a developer as well as taking part in sales, I am often asked questions about developing online betting platform – what technology should be used to make a platform fast, easy to maintain and future proof. Although, being a big fan of MEAN stack, I would advise to use whatever technology your developers are most comfortable or familiar with. In most cases it boils down to what your team knows best, be it php, node.js, python or anything else. The reason I personally prefer MEAN stack – it is fast and it offers asynchronous execution which is good for handling many connections. And if data feed for sporting events comes in Json format (which most of good providers offer today), it means that using no-sql database such as NongoDB or Reddis will make your platform even faster, since the conversion / mapping of application objects to database objects is no longer needed. Another advice – do not get too excited with the cutting edge technology, bare in mind – you will need someone to support it and such people do not come cheap.

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As Jeffrey Gitomer points out in his book “Little Red Book of Selling”- “The information is here. The challenge has been laid down. The rest is up to you. I can bring you to the water, but I can’t push your face in it. You have to drink it one glass at the time”.

If you are still reading this, I hope the information about what kind company to look for when choosing your Developer for online betting platform was helpful. I know that even this much information will take you time to digest, but still, if you need more, please, send me an email to [email protected] and I will definitely get back with more!