The global pandemic hit the pause button when it came to land-based casinos, and live sporting events. But according to Aiste Garneviciene, COO at BetGames.TV, players have turned their attention towards live dealer games which mirror the ‘excitement of in-play action and the personalised element of human interaction’.

Garneviciene spoke to CasinoBeats about the changes in consumer demand for live dealer games throughout the lockdown period, and the need for synergistic partnerships when looking at long-term agreements signed over the last few months.

CasinoBeats: How has COVID-19 impacted the level of consumer demand for live dealer games? 

AG: We’ve seen an exponential increase in the demand for live dealer games since the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier in the year. With the pandemic pressing pause on nearly every sporting fixture out there, live betting games have provided a ready-made alternative for operators looking to re-activate sportsbook customers.

Although virtuals formed part of our industry’s initial response to the crisis, they have proven unattractive to inactive sports bettors searching for new entertainment. I believe this is because wins are RNG-based, which does not match up to the preferences of sports punters used to taking calculated risks on live action.

Instead, live dealer games have proved invaluable as an oven-ready alternative. Replicating the excitement of in-play action and the personalised element of human interaction, recent weeks have seen this promising vertical go from strength to strength. Not only that, but our product’s huge popularity across retail has meant that we’ve been a very strong driver to migrate sports fans online during lockdown.

“I expect most land-based and retail players to return to what they know when the circumstances do safely permit”

CB: What will be the lasting effects of the pandemic, and associated lockdown period, for the market?

AG: Without a doubt, our industry’s near-term commercial prospects lie with the online market. Although land-based and retail outlets will return to strength in due course, digital betting will be the only available channel for most markets in the coming months – especially in the Southern Hemisphere where we are particularly popular in markets such as Africa.

Having said that, I expect most land-based and retail players to return to what they know when the circumstances do safely permit it. With the pandemic continuing to rear its head across much of the globe, the question is when that might be. For now, it’s going to be all about migrating operations online.

CB: How has BetGames.TV adapted to any changes in demand, both from customers and operator/platform partners?

AG: Throughout the crisis, we’ve been proactive about helping retail-based partners transition to the online market – particularly in South Africa and Eastern Europe. We’ve seen a predictable uptick in online activity, which has been invaluable for operator clients looking to offset any retail losses.

For example, BetGames.TV is a valuable asset when it comes to cross-selling customers both to and from sport as we offer fixed odds betting formats with which bettors are very familiar. Successfully assisting partners in the marketing and promotion of our games is a win-win for the supplier-operator relationship, particularly at a time when retail and land-based outlets require alternative revenue streams.

We also know that extended, low-spend sessions are key to providing the entertainment that players are looking for at the moment, and we’ve optimised our products accordingly. This has been especially notable with our faster lottery draw times – which have now been reduced to four minutes. Accordingly, engagement has significantly increased for our partners, and we’re delighted to see that.

“You need content that can fit in seamlessly alongside a sports betting offering”

CasinoBeats: How do you set sensible longer term expectations for new partnerships that started in lockdown?

AG: It’s all about synergy. The resumption of live fixtures is welcome news for sportsbooks across the globe – as well as fans relishing their team’s return to action. For many operators, the bets they place will provide a much-needed source of revenue.

For that reason, when it comes to the new partnerships signed by a live dealer supplier such as ourselves, it’s key to provide products that complement the sports betting vertical, rather than compete with it.

To prevent your revamped casino suite from eating into sportsbook margins, you need content that can fit in seamlessly alongside a sports betting offering – and we’ve specifically designed our catalogue to work in this way. Sports betting margins will always be inherently higher for operators as they don’t carry the cost of using a third-party – and suppliers need to be keeping that in mind right now if they want to sit alongside sportsbooks in this ‘new normal’.