Continuing our series of interviews leading up to the Apps World event, ME talked to Ian Macleod at Paddy Power's about the mobile special projects division and its exciting new gambling app.
What does the special projects division do?
It's a fairly new division that aims to enhance Paddy Power's market share and expertise through new product offerings, new customer propositions, new brands and new approaches to the market. We're set up to really focus on innovation and differentiations to existing products.
We act like a start-up, with a heavy focus on experimentation and try to generate learnings for the rest of the business. And the latest product we've been responsible for is new mobile real-money casino called Roller Casino – it's a standalone business, it doesn't play off the Paddy Power brand.
What's different about Roller Casino?
It's an iPhone and iPad only native app, so it's been developed from the ground up. We took the decision to not do what a lot of the industry is doing in terms of porting over their desktop offerings, we took the opinion that apps are at the heart of what customers want in terms of mobile; the research we have done shows that customers engage and interact better with native apps so we really wanted to start from scratch, take on all those learnings and build a casino product form the ground up.
It's the only real-money casino that's been designed exclusively for iPhone and iPad.
Is all focus on Roller Casino right now, or are there already plans for the next special project?
There are a couple of new projects that we're starting to establish. There's one coming down the line which will be a brand-extension of an existing Paddy Power offering, but I can't go into too much detail about that, but it does sit in the gaming offering and has a distinct casino feel to it.
The division was set up to really have the expertise and knowledge to be aware of where the market is going and spot opportunities, so the obvious things like social, mobile, tablet and interactive TV are all things that are on our horizons at the moment.
What made you lean towards iOS for Roller Casino?
iOS is about giving the customers what they want, and from a tablet perspective, the iPad is the most dominant tablet, and for the product we wanted to create, we felt it could be achieved best using iOS. And there's also the regulation issue with Google, so if we went down the native Android route, we would have to find new ways to distribute as we wouldn't be allowed on Google Play due to the gambling stance Google has taken, so obviously being able to get onto the App Store gives us a huge advantage and the platform suits perfectly what we're trying to achieve in terms of providing the best product offering we can as a mobile casino.
You've been working on Roller Casino for months and months now. Are you nervous or excited about the launch?
Excited, and we've got some really exciting plans. We're working with Somo on a very extensive advertising campaign and there's going to a promotion where one person will be given the chance to, potentially, win £1 million. One person will be given the chance to make one bet on roulette, choosing one single number, and if that number comes up with one spin, then they're a millionaire.
It'll be hosted within a Facebook app, so anyone over the age of 18 will be able to play.
You mentioned Google's position on gambling apps, did any other challenges present themselves during this project?
Obviously gambling is tightly controlled, but as a division of Paddy Power we are fully licensed so have all the relevant permissions.
Apple obviously look at gambling apps in a little more detail than other apps, so our approval process was longer than my experience of launching apps.
Where do you see the mobile gambling market going?
There's a consensus that mobile gambling is going to explode. For once, gambling has been a little slow to adopt a new technology, gambling is usually at the forefront of most tech innovations, but we know the industry is heavily moving towards mobile.
We've seen that in financial results from Paddy Power, William Hill and others, mobile is taking a huge share of the profits, so it's only going to one way and the product offerings are going to continue to evolve and improve and as customers integrate mobiles and tablets even further into their everyday lives, gambling as a form of entertainment will evolve too.
You're a panelist at AppsWorld this year, will get the chance to see other businesses while you're there?
I hope so. I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. This year's takes place just two days after the hard launch of Roller Casino so it's going to be an interesting few days. We'll see how the day pans out but I definitely intend to get about and listen to a few other sessions and hearing what the rest of the industry is up to.
Apps World takes place at Earls Court in London on October 2nd/3rd. Find out more here.