William Hill Taps Into Tech City Talent Pool To Improve Mobile Betting

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

Follow on: Google +

William Hill opens Tech City development centre to keep up in the online race

William Hill hopes its new development centre in Tech City will allow it to attract the mobile development talent it needs to react to changes in the betting market as online gambling becomes increasingly important to bookmakers.

The company is eighty years old this year and is the UK’s largest bookmaker with 8.6 million customers, but says it cannot be complacent in an incredibly competitive market.

It says the new development centre will allow it to improve and expand its portfolio of online and mobile services, to increase and retain its customer base.

Importance of mobile

William Hill store“It’s obvious that technology is becoming increasingly important to us,” says Andy Lee, managing director. “It is no longer acceptable for us to react to changes in the market.”

“No one knows what’s going to happen,” predicts Finbarr Joy, chief technology officer, who says that William Hill will be challenged in the next few years by new devices and applications such as wearable technology.

William Hill’s Sportsbook application has been downloaded by more than 1.3 million iOS users and generates £23 million in turnover every week.

Lee says the company is ‘mobile first’ and says its applications must be the best on the market so its customers, who have a limit on how much money they can spend, continue to use its services.

Tech City talent

The firm currently has more than 500 IT staff around the world in Leeds, Sydney, Las Vegas, Tel Aviv, Gibraltar, but says it has arrived in Tech City to tap into a different skill set.

“We did a lot of research, we recognised a lot of places, but we believed the talent pool here was at a level we want to be at,” explains Lee, who says it currently has 20 employees working at the centre and is hoping to recruit 20 more.

Its new development centre will focus on recruiting people in the mobile app industry with transferrable skills rather than those with experience in the gambling sector, says Joy, who professes a desire to tap into the ecosystem of Tech City.

william hill ios app

“You can live and breathe tech here,” he says, explaining that many of William Hill’s suppliers are located in the area and that senior management had made a number of journeys here from its Wood Green headquarters.

Death of the betting shop?

While William Hill is the UK’s largest bookmaker, it is only the third largest online, and hopes to increase its share of the market significantly. retail (betting shops) continues to remain a vital part of its business, but the company hopes that there will be more overlap between the digital and physical betting worlds in the near future, with location specific offers and reward an example of increased convergence.

It doesn’t believe the end is nigh for the betting shop, saying gamblers like the sociable atmosphere, free teas and coffees, tips from fellow gamblers, video walls and –most importantly- the thrill of winning money among other people.

But despite the ongoing importance of physical retail, gamblers can place bets 24 hours a day on the web, something which William Hill is thankful for during the football World Cup, which this year takes places in Brazil and sees some games kicking off after midnight. And no amount of free tea and coffee could get TechWeek to go to a betting shop at that time – even if they were open.

Are you a tech Olympian? Find out with our sporting IT quiz!