Once the dreams of futurists, robot-driven betting is the reality that's fast approaching for online gamblers and sports bettors. In fact, with technology now gathering speed beneath the concept known as Moore's Law, online bookmakers like Paddy Power are already implementing technology.
These technologies include Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices, in addition to investigating what the (near) future has in store for the online gambling industry. Paddy Power recently featured at the Festival of Marketing where it unveiled eyebrow-raising plans to bring robotic technology and AI into their gambling business!
At the 2017 Festival of Marketing, Paddy Power's product innovation guru, Stephen McMeel, revealed the task given to him by the brand to a captivated industry audience. McMeel explained: 'To investigate the potential of advanced technology such as AR, VR, voice tech and blockchain.'
At the time, McMeel confirmed that Paddy Power had already been seeing what Amazon Alexa can do for the brand, which was described as a fun and interesting project. Indeed, because the technology is so new to the online gambling industry, he also noted that he doesn't have to worry too much about the return on investment.
According to McMeel, Paddy Power has always been a futurist bookie, having implemented plans to start using customer-facing technology as soon as it was viable. However, having already witnessed the limitation of concepts such as the Apple Watch when it came to making a bet, the firm has been well aware of the need to test more options such as Alexa before going to market.
With reference to voice interaction technology, there's also the issue of whether all customers will welcome such a debatable concept. The powers that be at Paddy Power are still discussing the approach for different platforms, such as land-based bookies, online bookmakers and on-course platforms.
Of course, there's also the need for discretion from Alexa – do parents want it talking about gambling to the kids? And what about the discreet win on the horses that has just been revealed to the mother-in-law? The full integration of Alexa will also be dependent on the capacity for Amazon to enable gamblers to win real money.
Paddy Power may rue the day that Alexa got into gambling, if she starts predicting winning betting tips. She has started voicing the firm's new 90-second news bulletin concept, hosting a horse racing and football podcast and providing a results update to gamblers.
When it comes to the tipping, she has also started providing a daily gambling tip, but it's not thought to be her own selection (or is it?) So what have the industry and customers made of the new technology? To find out, Paddy Power announced the launch of a PR campaign code named Future Fifty.
The not-so-secret campaign saw the firm send 50 customers, journalists and influencers an Alexa Dot to test for a 30 days. The key insights gleaned from the test revealed that the Paddy's Story news bulletin was the most listened to feature, but was trumped for popularity by the racing and football podcast.
(Alexa clearly needs to have a day at the races, since she struggled when it came to pronouncing race track Tipperary.)
As you can see, Paddy Power has made an exciting and progressive move into AI. Feedback-based improvements will see Alexa providing live commentary for matches, podcast coverage of more sports and live odds updates as the months roll on.
Interestingly, Paddy Power's research also noted that the flash briefings offered by Alexa were being used a lot first thing in the morning, when punters are keen to make betting decisions. There are of course going to be teething problems when it comes to online gambling companies using AI like Alexa, but the insights so far are fascinating.
The initial feedback suggests firms need to focus on what technology can do for their content and only slowly look at human beings trusting and wanting AI to take their bets. Ultimately, for the time being, if brands can find a way to make a task massively easier and faster for customers, then robotic technology can do wonders.
Paddy Power is expected be back with an upgraded version of Alexa (Alexa Skills) in early 2018, with McMeel having made an encouraging statement:
"Voice is a huge opportunity and will be massive in the future. At the moment nobody has got close to what voice can be and will be, there’s lots of potential there and it’s absolutely a journey worth taking."
In the future, gamblers can expect to see advanced technology on Paddy Power touchpoint interfaces and all over the brand's online and offline services. To check out the latest technologies at Paddy Power's online betting site, simply head there now and sign up for a new account!