Paddy Power: Facebook sportsbook launch a “significant opportunity”

11th July 2013 7:46 am GMT

Paddy Power Online’s managing director Peter O’Donovan has described the impending beta launch of the first real-money sportsbook on Facebook as a “significant opportunity” but added that the company was mindful of the fact that sports betting in a social context is “yet to be proven”.

O’Donovan was unwilling to reveal its exact launch date, but said that the release of Paddy Power In-Play! was “relatively imminent”, in order to “road-test” the offering before the beginning of the English football season in August.

Speaking to Gaming Intelligence O’Donovan elaborated on the key features of the app. He explained the launch of its free-to-play social sports product Betdash had “certainly coloured” the company’s understanding of social sports and provided “key learnings” for the development of the real-money offering.

He revealed Paddy Power In-Play! would continue Betdash’s attempts to “gamify” betting, with players able to see one another’s activity while betting in-play, and make challenges against their wagers in a bid to “drive competition”.

“I think the focus of any social betting game is that it is actually social and we felt the best way to do that is to focus on in-running betting,” he explained. “That optimises and increases the value of customers betting and playing the game.”

O’Donovan refused to reveal the exact launch date of the product, but said that yesterday’s announcement was made prior to the launch of the game as Facebook due to make its own announcement at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona this week.

“We’re not trying to steal Facebook’s thunder in any way, but as a public company we need to announce this news on our terms,” he said.

The impending launch had been described as a trial in Paddy Power’s announcement because the operator wanted to “test and iterate the product” in beta before a full launch.

The beta launch will predominantly target Paddy Power’s Facebook following – the company has almost 1m fans on the social network – which O’Donovan said would be used to “road-test the product for any product enhancements or game engine changes” needed soon after launch.

Paddy Power In-Play! will launch in what is traditionally a quiet period for bookmakers to allow the operator to have the game “tried and tested” in time for the start of the Barclays Premier League football season, which begins on August 17th.

However, O’Donovan admitted that there are currently no plans to launch the product on Facebook Canvas for mobile, with the social network “to confine [the real-money gaming project] to desktop” initially.

“We built it with mobile in mobile in mind and if that becomes a possibility we’ll certainly look to take advantage of that,” he added.

Shares in Paddy Power plc (Co. Data) (LSE:PAP) are currently trading at €66.55 per share in London this morning.

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