Live dealer games have taken off in South Africa because they offer something different that really appeals to a new generation of players, according to Dean Finder, CEO of Evolution Services SA.

Talking to CasinoBeats ahead of his participation in the SBC Digital Africa conference on 30 – 31 March, Finder explained what the next developments in live casino are likely to be and what Evolution Services SA (the joint project set up by Evolution and its subsidiary Ezugi) has planned in markets across Africa. 

CasinoBeats: How have you found your experience of working in Africa’s markets? And how do they differ from some of the world’s more established gaming markets?

Dean Finder: I guess most people view Africa as one market, while in reality it is very different. For example, South Africa, West Africa and North Africa are completely different when it comes to language and flavours. Each area is unique and different from the other, so you cannot have just one strategy for Africa.

From mobile usage, payments, type of phone devices, retail licensing, satellite infrastructure – Africa is different in so many ways that describing it would take a while.

The closest market that can be compared to more-established markets is South Africa.

As a group, South Africa is a highly-regulated market compared to the rest of the continent, with nine regional gambling boards that often apply the regulations in their own unique way. 

South Africa is very similar to the other mature regulated markets in terms of regulation, certification and the sophistication of the operators that know their stuff well.

There will always be a place for retail and we see it as an excellent opportunity”

CB: Which countries are currently the main markets in Africa for live dealer games and which games are most popular in them? And how do the player numbers compare with products such as online slots and virtual sports?

DF: The main markets we currently focus on are South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana. Live dealer includes not only table games, but also game shows and lottery-based draws – the latter have proved to be even more attractive than virtuals as an additional product within betting shops.

Live dealer games are very popular in South Africa and this continues to grow over time. They offer exactly what the new breed of player is looking for: big payouts, instant gratification and no need for cumbersome knowledge or studying to participate. 

CB: Are live dealer games solely a product for online operators in Africa, or is the bigger opportunity within the retail betting and land-based casino sectors?

DF: They are definitely not confined to online! Ezugi has already proved the concept with its state-of-the-art approved retail cashier system. In South Africa, it has been running successfully for over four years in Betting World, one of the largest retail operators in the country and across Africa. For the South African retail market, operators prefer desktop POS, while in Africa EPOS is the preferred method for that market. Ezugi supports both. 

There will always be a place for retail and we see it as an excellent opportunity, alongside online. Accordingly, we are upgrading our retail offering this year by adding four new games to our flagship lottery product Bet on Numbers, which runs 24/7 every three minutes. Golden Balls, Bet on Roulette, Ezugi 20, and Evolution’s classic game Dream Catcher will soon be added.

CB: The regulatory position for online gaming in a number of African countries remains unclear. Given the right changes to regulation, which are the next big opportunities for online casino operators and games suppliers?

DF: With our live dealer games and tables live and thriving in South Africa, and soon to roll out more aggressively across Africa, the next big thing is slots. 

Live casino as a genre has developed beyond table games”

With Evolution acquiring the world’s leading online slots providers, NetEnt and Red Tiger, we are poised during Q2 of 2021 to switch on the slots offering to our existing operators. We’ll also provide an integrated one-stop-shop supply of slots and Ezugi and Evolution live dealer games via our seamless API wallet integration to new customers.

CB: What do you think the next major developments in live casino products will be?

DF: Live casino as a genre has developed beyond table games. With 5G mobile networks and a post-COVID world that is now used to video, I guess we will see more video interaction within games. Game shows have taken an important part in our product offering and soon slots will become much more live and interesting.

Evolution Services SA already has all the land-based casino operators as customers via their online sportsbook. We envisage that as these operators look to consolidate operating costs, there will be a major migration from land-based players to online.

Furthermore, we are in mature discussions with a land-based casino to partner with them for an over-the-table roulette game and other traditional casino games, which we can broadcast across the world to our player network. This will be a first from a local perspective, where a gambling board will endorse and license the concept of two local licensees taking a product worldwide, however, with a portion of the GGR taxes accruing locally.

CB: What are you most looking forward to at SBC Digital Africa? 

DF: First and foremost, it is always good to attend SBC Digital Events in order to learn and catch up with what is going on in the market, check out competition, and hear of the new start-ups. 

In addition, we’re looking forward to showcasing our retail and online offering to the broader African market, to meeting and greeting potential customers, and partaking in an interesting and hopefully enlightening panel discussion.

Dean Finder is set to take part in the ‘Live Casino: The Path to Regulation’ conference session on 30 March, the opening day of SBC Digital Africa. He will be joined on the panel by Sean Coleman (CEO, South African Bookmakers’ Association), Lee Zama (CEO,  Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa), Quinn Olive (director of marketing, SuperSeven), and William Bolton (reporter, gaming publishing – G3 Magazine).

Ezugi will be among the exhibitors at the event, where it will showcase its range of games and technology for both online and land-based operators.  

Register for a free access pass to SBC Digital Africa, the premier online casino and exhibition for the African gaming industry, here.