Jason Foster is Head of iGaming at US based Chalkline Sports, a media technology company that powers platforms for communities and marketplaces of sports bettors.
Jason has more than 20 years’ experience in sports betting operations and online sports betting technology and has worked with sports betting operators around the world. Some of Jason’s previous achievements include being the co-founder of South Africa’s first online bookmaker and a former General Manager of Sun International’s sports betting division, Sunbet. Other than gambling industry knowledge, Jason has extensive mathematical and statistical training.
You were the co-founder of South Africa’s first online bookmaker, how have online sportsbooks evolved in South Africa ever since?
Foster: In a single word: mobile. Ten years ago, when we founded Volbet (later Sunbet), it was a big deal to simply take a bet online. It sounds a bit silly today, but that was the reality in 2008.
Today, Africa is a case study in mobile growth. The proliferation of mobile devices and connectivity on the continent is creating opportunities for digital inclusion, financial inclusion and innovation. The average person spends hours each day on their phone.
The impact on sports betting has been seismic. 75% of all online bets in Africa are taken on a mobile device.
This past summer, we ran World Cup 2018 programs for several clients in South Africa. Over 90% of all engagement was on a mobile device. We expect these percentages to hold strong or edge up as the overall size of the online betting market continues to grow rapidly.
Chalkline Sports utilizes powerful Artificial Intelligence to generate content for bookmakers, how prevalent would you say AI is starting to become in the gaming sector?
Foster: As an industry, we’ve only just begun to tap the potential of AI. Many operators are using AI-enabled applications (like their CRM tools) that have AI-driven components. In the sports betting space, many operators work with risk-management tools that use AI or machine learning. However, we’ve only started with AI. Five years from now, when we think about gaming and AI, the response will be much more elaborate.
You recently spoke about giving customers what they want at Gambling Indaba, what do punters really want?
Foster: At Chalkline Sports, we think about what punters want in three ways:
Simplicity. Punters want simple, fun experiences on their phone, and they don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring things out. Facebook is easy. WhatsApp is easy, everything should be simple. No matter how complex the technology behind any application, the product must be simple to use.
Personalisation. Give punters what they care about. If you’re a serious rugby fan, you should first get info on Super Rugby. If you’re an EPL fan, you should get information on your favourite team. If you’re a casual fan, you should get the most popular games that day.
Games. Punters want fun, and different types of games are changing the online experience every day. There’s more to sports betting than straight bets and parlays. Virtual games, lotto plus sports betting and season-long jackpot games are all examples of where the gaming world is going.
Can you give us any hints as to what you will be presenting at the BiG Africa Supershow this year?
Foster: Yes. The emergence of mobile technology and data has created opportunities for operators that they can take advantage of to build and retain their customer base now. We’ll have a few case studies from forward-looking operators around the globe that will demonstrate the benefits of this approach.
What do you look forward to by being a part of the 6th Annual BiG Africa Supershow?
Foster: African gaming is evolving rapidly. BiG Africa is a key a part of the growing conversation. The opportunity to meet and engage with operators, vendors, regulators and stakeholders is why we’ll be there.