Inspired Entertainment was formed in London in 2002 as a mobile entertainment technology provider. Over the ensuing decade, it specialized in server-based gaming and became a pioneer in virtual sports betting. In 2016, it was acquired by Hydra. Lorne Weil, the former chairman of Scientific Games, was appointed chairman, and Brooks Pierce was named president and COO. With vast experience with gaming suppliers, Pierce has been able to raise the visibility of Inspired in the gaming industry and expand the reach of the company to include iGaming, lotteries and more. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at G2E in Las Vegas in October.
GGB: What drew you to Inspired Gaming?
Pierce: A couple of things. First, in my past, I had looked at the company and saw the technology and products and thought it was really interesting. And then when Lorne Weil, who I had worked with for 24 years building Scientific Games, became chairman of Inspired, it was an attractive opportunity.
I knew they had a very well developed business in Europe, but virtually no business in North America. I thought it was a great complement to my skill set and background since I had spent the majority of my career in North America. And quite frankly, starting from a zero baseline in the world’s largest gaming market is always attractive.
How does virtual sports betting work? Is it RNG-based?
Yes, that’s exactly what it is—like a ball drop in keno or a slot machine. But the outcome is displayed in high-tech, ultra-realistic fashion. So what would essentially be shown as a reel spin on a slot machine is displayed as a sporting event—horse racing, football, auto racing. It’s a slot machine pull but highly entertaining at the same time.
How do you work with all segments of the gaming industry—casinos, sports books, iGaming, lottery?
It’s great because our content is ubiquitous. So it’s not only the geographic disbursement of the business but also in all the different segments. Our customers can be as diverse as William Hill and the Pennsylvania Lottery. So every prospect out there is a potential customer for us.
How do you work with lotteries?
In Pennsylvania, we have a deal with Scientific Games, which is the central system for the state lottery. If you go into a bar or a restaurant, there will be three screens. We have two for our football and car race games, and Sci Games has the third for their keno game.
But the lottery is an important vertical for us. In Greece, we have the best-performing slot machines, as well as 100 percent of the market in virtual sports.
Doesn’t the legalization of sports betting make virtual sports betting less popular?
No, quite the contrary, actually. It’s a very complementary product. In every market around the world, our product is offered wherever sports betting occurs. Typically, what we see is that virtual sports are about 15 percent to 20 percent of what’s bet overall. And from the operators’ perspective, it’s (viable) product at all times because this is simulated and not on a schedule. If a player is betting a live football game or soccer match, it’s something they can play while awaiting the outcome of the live games. And while the hold on live sports betting is something around 5 percent, the hold on virtual sports betting is significantly higher than that. So it’s really complementary, not competitive.