Mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is arguably one of the biggest challenges that the gaming industry faces at the minute with social distancing measures restricting the likes of live and land-based operations. 

The pandemic has, however, given live casino operators and suppliers alike the opportunity to become more creative in their approaches to reaching audiences, with some choosing to bring the live casino set-up to the comfort of their own home, while others have put pen to paper and secured new, more international partnerships.

Speaking as part of the Live Casino in Lockdown panel on day two of the SBC Digital Summit, Karolina Pelc, owner of Basic Strategy, revealed that a number of Asian operators have put their foot on the gas in terms of integrating new supplier partnerships at a speed ‘never seen before’.

She said: “I’ve personally seen Asian operators integrating new suppliers at a speed that I have never seen before. Other suppliers have been securing additional table capacity at different locations in Europe following the closure of the Asian studios. 

“Some have been entering into new partnerships. But also in the portfolio of the partners that we work closely with, there’s a range of products that are not dependent on a human hosting that product.”

One of the suggestions made for operators to address the void left from games which require a human to deal with the cards is the integration of RNG games onto their platforms. 

According to Sam Brown, CCO of Hero Gaming, the implementation of RNG could offer a short term solution to the absence of live dealers: “We’ve always seen popularity in auto-roulettes, which are very well positioned to take that roulette liquidity. On the game shows, it’s difficult to say whether RNG can perhaps provide the experience that people are after. But from a roulette perspective, RNG could cover a lot of the experience there.

“In light of the situation, we onboarded a couple of suppliers, possibly more hastily than we would have done had the situation not been as it is. One of the new products we’ve tried is this real dealer hybrid, where you’re essentially playing an RNG, but it is being presented by a pre-recorded live video.”

Richard Atkinson, head of live casino at William Hill, revealed that the ‘work from home situation’ has been used to continue engaging with audiences, which Pelc explained had previously been considered to be ‘rather impossible.’

“It’s similar to the real dealer product where you use an RNG, but the dealer is working from home. They use the picture screen of the dealer, so that they can continue to do the commentary. So you’re still looking at your familiar tables from games such as baccarat, roulette.” 

But like many sectors of the gaming industry, one of the challenges that also faces the live casino sector is the implementation of responsible gambling and player protection measures. 

With the world on lock down, and more people spending time at home, concerns across the industry have arisen regarding whether players could be considered at risk of developing ‘problematic behaviours’.

Pelc added: “With people being stuck at home, it’s important for both operators and suppliers to make sure that they really champion responsible gaming, and put a lot of effort into identifying problematic behaviours.”

Many have opted to follow the ten point pledge rolled out by the Betting and Gaming Council earlier this year, while Jeremy Taylor, MD of Genting Online, confirmed that they had turned up the dial on their measures.

He said: “This is an area which is of paramount importance anyway, and in terms of Genting specifically, it’s in the company’s DNA. We’ve dialled up a number of things already: we’ve put out banners in key commercial spots, which cover all relevant limits. 

“We’re emailing customers every fortnight during this period, as we feel that anything more than that would be too intrusive. We’ve also got a pop-up live, so for every first login of each month, there will be a pop up which points to the safer gambling advice available.”

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020 and features seven conference tracks, a virtual exhibition and virtual networking lounges, attracting an estimated 10,000 delegates logging in from around the world.

There is still time to register for the event, with company discounts available: