Digital Signage Helps Transform UK Betting Shops

By Kevin Hilton

UK betting shops have had a major makeover in recent years, partly due to changes in the gambling laws and to the smoking ban. Gone are the gloomy lighting, basic decor, cigarette smoke hanging in the air, and an old TV set, replaced by modern furniture, coffee machines, and numerous video screens showing the races and text information, such as the latest odds and results. Despite these changes, shop windows continue to be dominated by old-fashioned poster-style signs, but even that is changing as digital signage is adapted to produce something more dynamic to pull in the punters.

Digital signage is now an established advertising medium in railway and underground stations, shopping centres, and airports, as well as a corporate communications tool for big companies. Alphameric Solutions, which supplies display hardware and software to bookmakers’ shops across the UK, is finding another use for the technology, adapting its Alboss III display system to create moving, quickly updated “posters” for shop frontages, supported by similar screens inside.

Alphameric, a certified partner of digital-signage-software developer Scala, is using that company’s products to promote events in real time to new and existing customers outside on the street as well as to those already inside a betting shop. This concept is undergoing a trial period with a large independent chain of bookmakers, which cannot be named right now for contractual reasons.

A number of individual betting shops have already bought the system, and Alphameric Director of Marketing Clare Barber hopes bigger names will be signed up in the near future. The system is a dual-channel network, comprising a 42-in. plasma screen that can be read easily in daylight fitted in the shop front and a similar display in a prominent position inside.

The window screen shows updated odds and other information, along with animations and video segments promoting races, matches, and services offered by the shop. The information carried is presented in short packages to grab the attention of passers-by. The in-store channel carries programming that is similar but, played to a more captive audience, is longer and features sports news and advertising.

Alphameric owns and operates its own betting shop, which was used to test the digital signage before it was installed elsewhere.

Barber observes that the technology gives bookmakers the opportunity to promote races and events further down the card, not just the one customers are betting on. “In today’s shopping environment, the ability to capture a customer’s attention is an important part of remaining competitive,” she says, “and bookmakers can now take advantage of the same marketing tools used by other businesses.”

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