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Kevin Smith

Migration to Internet Pays Off so Far for A-Bet-A

11 March 2002

After years of imprinting the brick-and-mortar betting industry in the United Kingdom with its software, A-Bet-A Technology Limited recently turned its focus to the online world and is eager to sign new licensees.

The company, founded more than 12 years ago to supply the needs of the U.K. betting industry, started out designing software to manage call centers and licensed betting shops. The original software was geared at credit card processing and other back-end operations for bookmakers.

When the company started there were nearly 12,000 betting shops in England; that number has shrunk to 8,500.

The company initially developed stand-alone, self-service terminals that could be placed in betting shops. Over the last couple of years A-Bet-A turned its focus to its main business, which was developing solutions for call centers.

Nearly two years ago A-Bet-A developed a system that merged its call-center technology with an Internet-based system that provided backend technology for online operators.

Steven Latter, founder and consultant for A-Bet-A, said the change in focus was a result of operators' demands.

When bookmakers started moving offshore for lower betting duties, A-Bet-A swooped in. As more and more of them turned to the Internet, the company morphed its software for the online world.

"We had some existing customers in the U.K. who turned to other locales like the Isle of Man and Malta for lower taxes," he said. "We were servicing their call centers so it was easy for us to start servicing their Internet operations too."

Latter said all of the company's technology, from retail cash to currency exchange systems and management solutions, can be integrated to the Internet.

In particular, A-Bet-A was able to use its U.K. location to carve out a niche in Ireland.

"We are the product of choice in Ireland, both North and South," he said. "We service more betting call centers in Ireland than any other technology supplier."

Included in this stable of bookmakers is Ireland's most known betting shop operator, Paddy Power.

Latter said A-Bet-A gained a stronghold in Ireland by word of mouth. Having successfully penetrated the Emerald Isle, the company used that leverage as a springboard for getting into other areas around the world. The company now has licensees in Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Russia, Belgium, Germany and Latin America, according to Latter.

But A-Bet-A isn't standing pat. Latter said the company already has more than 200 licensees, both online and offline, but it's hoping to add another 100 by year's end.

A key to A-Bet-A's success has been its ability to change with the times, and that won't stop now that the company offers an Internet platform. Latter said in addition to already offering spread betting and handicapping services for bookmakers, the company is developing and plans to launch an exchange betting platform in the second quarter of 2002. He said the plan came more out of a demand from consumers (through operators) than anything else.

"I think there is quite a sophisticated constituency out there that understand how they can take advantage of being both layer and backer, or one or the other," he said. "One of our strengths has always been that in an industry that has so many individual ways of working and accounting for business, they can carry on in whatever way they have been when they choose us."

Another selling point for A-Bet-A, according to Latter, is the financial transaction support built into the software--something that's an advantage to Internet operators as well as call centers and self-service betting shops.

"We have the expertise in house to do all the bank validations," he said. "We work with seven or eight different banks with all their different protocols and we can accommodate all of those for online authorization."

Another popular feature to the A-Bet-A system, according to Latter, is the regular updates in the system that licensees get. He said giving customers constant upgrades and new versions of software has benefits to both the operators and to the supplier.

"We like having everyone singing off the same song sheet," he said. "It makes our support much easier that way."

A-Bet-A has proof through its number of licensees that it's on the right path. The company caters to any bookmaker, whether it is a "one-man-band" operation with one shop and a four-person call center or a 128-seat call center. Latter said the A-Bet-A system is already in place managing all varieties of operations. Now that they offer solutions for online operators, there isn't a bet A-Bet-A doesn't have covered.

Migration to Internet Pays Off so Far for A-Bet-A is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith