Live casino’s place at the igaming table has seemingly been moving from strength to strength in recent times, despite the impact of the current climate, with numerous organisations opening up to the sector and new studios increasingly cropping up across a number of jurisdictions.
Two specific examples come in the form of Evolution Gaming and Genting, with the former enduring consistent growth on a global basis and the latter aiming to strengthen its position in the aftermath of last year’s €15m purchase of live gaming specialist Authentic Gaming from LeoVegas.
Following the purchase Jeremy Taylor, managing director of GentingBet, told CasinoBeats that a key part of the firm’s digital strategy is the growth of its ‘live from’ casino offering, as Genting strives to utilise the power of its worldwide land-based casino estate to bring “truly unique experiences” to online players.
However, with a history steeped in land-based real-estate, should, or could, live casino be doing more to embrace new technologies? And how much of a role does this play with regards to innovation within the sector.
“In the early years of live casino there was a real lack of player trust”
“Innovation is crucial to the development of the live casino sector,” Amy Riches, head of marketing at Evolution Gaming, asserted.
“Each company should look at new ways to anticipate and prepare for new and emerging technologies, something Evolution has always strived to do. From looking at product launches in recent years and at our product development roadmap, we have embraced these new technologies in the sector.
“Our chief product officer spoke about how gambling should be entertaining enough for every type of player; therefore, the industry needs to innovate and adopt new types of technologies to attract more than just experienced casino players. Live casino is evolving with virtual reality, scalable options and multipliers not available in land-based casino games.”
She addressed perceived difficulties in cross selling individuals from other sectors into live: “At Evolution we honour the classic games while also enhancing them,” said Riches. “For example, slots, bingo and first-time players alike are being attracted to the extra thrilling opportunities presented when RNG-based multipliers are blended into the gameplay of these classic games.”
Chris Worthington, head of casino at GentingBet, agreed that new and emerging technologies could play a pivotal role in the future of live casino: “In the early years of live casino, there was a real lack of player trust due to the fact technology wasn’t advanced enough. There were low definition cameras, poor-quality audio and slow internet connection, so it meant that players didn’t really trust live casinos and they didn’t have the best start.
“However, 20 years on, technology has now moved on with high definition cameras and faster internet connections, all of which allow for a seamless and immersive customer experience, as if the customer is playing at the live table itself.
“And with the advancement in mobile technology, it is always going to play an important role moving forward. For example, looking at the option of using ‘voice activated commands’ as opposed to ‘prompting buttons’ is something that I believe live casino should embrace moving forward.”
“We are always looking at new technologies to differentiate ourselves”
He went on to emphasise that the company’s strategy of utilising its global estate as streaming sites ensures that Genting proceeds with a USP that stands the firm on the precipice of surefire success: “At GentingBet, we are always looking at new technologies to differentiate ourselves in the product offering, in what is a highly competitive market place,” he said.
“One of our unique selling points is our range of dual play tables for roulette and baccarat, which means our players are allowed to play on our tables from our land-based casinos, as well as online.
“This means that our customers get the real sense of being immersed in the land-based casinos from the comfort of their own homes. What’s more, we actually stream these tables from our flagship casinos in Birmingham and Manchester, and from our high-end casinos that we operate from casinos in Mayfair, London, such as Crockfords and The Palm Beach Casino.”
Riches took a different tack when discussing Evolution’s current, and future, manoeuvres within the space, pointing to the “commercial success” of its Lightning Roulette game that leverages RNG technology, as well as its growing game shows category which aims to shift the focus to putting entertainment at the heart of games.
Commented on the Monopoly Live title, Riches stated: “The game blends RNG, live gameplay and augmented reality to immerse players in a multi-layered live casino version of the world’s best-loved board game. It has now beaten all previous in-house records for a game and attracted huge numbers of new players to live casino, many of whom had never played a live casino game before.
“What drives us is creating games that players love”
“At ICE 2020 we introduced 12 more brand-new products, including our first ever bingo-style Mega Ball game, and the most fun game yet in live casino, Crazy Time, which mixes virtual reality, RNG, slots style elements and more bonus games than ever.
“New technologies are embedded in all of these new games, but technology plays a subservient role. What drives us is creating games that players love. If we can use new technologies to deliver the fun and entertainment in the slickest and most impressive way possible to the widest range of players, then great. Every component of the game has to work hand in hand to deliver a fantastic gaming experience.”
With global ambitions evident across both organisations, certain industry buzzwords spring to mind concerning the strategies of both Evolution and Genting – personalisation and localisation.
What challenges exist in meeting the differing needs of users across jurisdictions? And how key is it to achieve a tailored product to meet the needs of players in a variety of regions?
“Having the knowledge and understanding of the markets is key for a successful online casino across multiple jurisdictions,” Worthington noted. “For example, in Western Europe, games like blackjack and roulette are the top performers, but when you compare that to the Far East, baccarat is incredibly popular.
“And then when you compare this with Latin America, there, the simpler the game, the more traction it will take. So there, roulette is the main game but lottery is also in high demand.
“Innovation is crucial to the development of the live casino sector”
“Ultimately, it’s all about looking out for that one game that will appeal to the particular market. Finally, as a responsible operator, we always put that at the forefront of our concerns, the need to consider all of our compliance and licencing regulatory concerns in each individual market to ensure that our customers can play in a safe and responsible way.”
Riches picked up the debate when looking at the US, a key target market where the firm’s footprint continues to expand, when discussing how the group is meeting the needs of players across the country and tailoring the product to suit them.
Launching a New Jersey studio in Atlantic City during 2018, the process to build a similar entity in the neighbouring state of Pennsylvania has begun, with launch subsequently delayed given the health crisis, and agreements with new operators for that state have already been struck.
“In terms of meeting players’ needs in the US, we have a multi-faceted approach,” Riches continued. “Firstly, we select games from our portfolio that we know are well-suited to US players. In all markets where we operate, we pride ourselves on having a strong understanding of player needs and local gaming customs.
“Often, we will modify the game to suit local rules or local player preferences, or both. Sometimes that involves creating a very specific game, such as our American (Double Zero) Roulette. In other cases, it might involve just some small tweaks to the rules of an existing game.
“On top of that we have also included US-specific and US-inspired games in our product development roadmap. The dice game craps, for example, is an important strategic release and another global first for us.
“Evolution Live Craps is the first ever live online version of this extremely popular dice game. We’re also adding an RNG version of craps to our first person gaming range, complete with a Go Live button that will take players straight to the live table.
“Overall, our US licensees and their players have access to an exciting and fast-growing games portfolio that is very much tailored to their needs.”