Entertainment as a tool for engagement and retention sounds like a relatively simple concept on paper, but crucially generating the right balance, type and permitted form can prove to be a tricky balancing act.

Upon announcing steps being taken to drive real-time player engagement through the creation of an new engagement platform, Playtech stressed that a trigger point was in one of the organisations “key areas” of the casino environment.

Kevin Kilminster, Playtech’s head of live casino innovation, is keen to emphasise that the vertical should be careful not to stray from its roots: “When it comes to live casino, one of the things that has maybe been overlooked across the whole industry is we were born out of entertainment. If you go back to the 70s and the 80s, people on a Saturday would dress up in their suits and go out, and it was part of the entertainment.

“And what we’re looking to drive now in live, with the collaboration of our casino, is to give an entertainment portfolio. So when it comes to live we split it 50/50, half of the product is about pure entertainment, and this by nature will engage a customer.

“One of the things that has maybe been overlooked … is we were born out of entertainment”

“So, if you go back five or six years, in live it was very much a bit of a vanilla experience, you come in, it looked like a land-based casino and it felt like a land-based casino.

“But what we’re doing now is transforming that direction to make it game-show centric, engagement, entertainment and really give it that living experience.

“Arguably in live one of the most important assets we have is actually the presenter itself, they determine how the players enjoy the product, and also whether it’s a good experience or a bad experience whilst that person is there.

“What we’ve done over the course of the last few years, very much also moving into this year, is adapt our portfolio from being a very land-based being delivered online, to a very much millennial focused product.”

What are the operator objectives, acquire and retain efficiently, increase share of wallet”

One such example is the delivery of regional and seasonal content delivered across multiple gaming areas, with last year’s Halloween giving players “the choice whether they wanted to play from a slot perspective, or from a live perspective.”

With the line between live casino and other verticals seemingly blurring, Kilminster states that it’s cross selling, using iconic names customers know and can relate to, that could be crucial to player entertainment: “Coupled with that we have actually delivered products specifically linked, we delivered an Age of Gods and that for the player is really important, because historically what would happen is you would come in and you would have a decision, but now you have an option.

“Do I want to play it from a slots perspective, do I want to play it from an IG perspective or do I want to play it from a live perspective.

“And all of them, and even with bingo, they all directly link, and that by definition improves the customer experience, because now they have something they can associate to.”

Utilising such benefits was also lauded by James Frendo, Playtech’s director of casino, who was also keen to stress the importance of tools in the engagement platform currently in development: “What are the operator objectives, acquire and retain efficiently, increase share of wallet. What do operators get excited about, product and content, it all ultimately just boils down to that.

What appeals to the sportsbook player is the relevance”

“All of this in a climate that is around tougher advertising, tougher rules on affiliates and the operator being responsible on what the affiliate does in moving customers from side to side, increased bonus costs, tax on ggr, all of this is going on.

“So we needed to enable the tools to get to the player in a succinct way that will keep them in, and not impacting the bottom line by throwing more money at the customer.

“An engagement tool is the perfect vehicle to do that.”

Emphasising the importance of cross-selling from sportsbook into casino, Playtech’s stresses that certain licensees have as much as 80 per cent of their casino customer base originating from the sports betting platform.

Highlighting the dependency of such migration, it was with such issues in mind that Sporting Legends debuted, “specifically built around cross-sell.”

Frendo added: “What appeals to the sportsbook player is the relevance, and this where we started thinking of sporting legends. Building content that would appeal to those customers.

“As an example, in March we know spring racing is coming around the corner, you have Cheltenham and the Grand National, so we are building a game that links to those players, so they can be cross sold into the casino.

“We know that the average value per user of a horse racing customer is one of the highest compared to all the other types of sportsbook punters, so those games are built with a design feature that can maximise the time of those players coming across in a timely event, after races, between races, during breaks, these engagement messages would impact that.”