Grosvenor Casinos and Evolution made headlines when they teamed up to create a dedicated live casino studio. SBC Leaders spoke to both to find out more about the project.

Live casino studios are delivering a new dimension to an operator’s igaming offering in what is a very competitive market space, providing online casino play with the look and feel of an in-person experience.

UK casino operator Grosvenor Casinos and games supplier Evolution are two companies in this space looking to stand out, as the operator launched its own live casino studio earlier this year in February, which is powered by the supplier’s EVO Casino.

Liam Wallwork, Chief Operating Officer of Rank Interactive, which operates Grosvenor Casinos’ online offerings, stated that the live casino launch exceeded their expectations and has helped the operator acquire new casino players.

“All the KPIs that we tracked and wanted to see increase have seen increases, but I think the most pleasing thing is that we’ve had new customers who hadn’t previously played live casino trying our products, and then actually sticking around,” Wallwork explained.

“We’re seeing lots of repeat play, which again, is a testament to the work the guys did on the studio.”

“The average player comes to our lobby some 10 times in a day”

Todd Haushalter, Evolution’s Chief Product Officer.

Evolution’s Chief Product Officer, Todd Haushalter, noted that a live casino studio stands out in a competitive online casino space with what it offers as players are constantly looking for something new.

He said: “It’s about a breadth of offering. Players come in, and they want to bounce around and try different games. They also want to hunt for hot tables. The average player comes to our lobby some 10 times in a day.

“They come in, they look for new games, they want to switch from one blackjack table to another, where they feel they’re going to be luckier or they can get the seat that they want. It’s really all about the breadth of offering, and that’s the major distinguishing factor.”

The player experience for live casino is “far more immersive and entertaining” according to Haushalter, which is why Evolution has concentrated on creating games with a focus on entertainment as well as gambling, creating a community-like experience with other players.

Wallwork remarked that to maximise the benefits of live casino, operators must put their own spin on their offering, noting that Grosvenor Casinos’ status as one of the biggest retail casino operators in the UK is reflected in its digital product.

“The studio gives us an opportunity to show customers that expertise and that heritage. Alongside our live and direct offering, which was created by Authentic Gaming, it starts to put together a wholesale experience of live casino that sets Grosvenor apart from anyone else,” he said. 

“Players are rightfully suspicious, it never feels good to lose, and when they lose, they are looking for some explanation other than bad luck”

Todd Haushalter, Evolution’s Chief Product Officer.

The Rank Interactive COO explained that its live casino offering has been so well received so far due to the dealers working in unison with the studio itself, interacting with the camera and customers as well as providing knowledge of the product.

Wallwork noted how the launch has fitted well with the operator’s rebrand in October, and Haushalter highlighted the importance of the right brand promotion for a live casino studio as well.

“You have players that are with you and live for a typical session of about one hour per day, which is a pretty long time,” Haushalter said. 

“During that hour, you can push your brand, which presumably your players trust more than others, and so while they’re playing blackjack and roulette, you’ve got dealers in your uniforms, you’ve got the studio outfitted with your colours with your logos, and it embeds the brand. It’s a one-hour advertisement for your brand.”

It’s this brand recognition and trust that the Evolution CPO spotlighted as something that cannot be taken for granted, as it’s something that can take years to build, but “can be lost in a single hand”. He added that this is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult for new live casino providers to gain a foothold in the market.

“Players are rightfully suspicious, it never feels good to lose, and when they lose, they are looking for some explanation other than bad luck,” he said. “This is why everything must be done in the most transparent possible way. You need to make a religion out of running the games in a mistake-free fashion.”

“It’s important to say that the experience customers are seeking from a casino visit and playing online are different”

Liam Wallwork, Chief Operating Officer of Rank Interactive.

Wallwork emphasised that having a great product is key to overcoming any hurdles with a live casino, alongside a portfolio of games that are also up to that same standard to show off who you are.

Grosvenor Casinos’ live casino studio is accompanied by its live and direct product that gives customers at home a chance to play casino tables in their venues, with play dictated by what’s going on in the venue at the time as everything can be seen or heard in-person is also replicated online.

Despite the growing live casino presence, Wallwork revealed that the offering is not having an impact on in-person visits. 

“It’s important to say that the experience customers are seeking from a casino visit and playing online are different, the growth of one channel doesn’t necessarily impact the other,” he said. “It’s a positive Grosvenor can provide both channels for our customers and they benefit from familiar tables via live and direct and the convenience of a single account and wallet.

“For us, it’s nothing but a positive if they’re using both, the ability to use the same products across both is again, a reason to play at Grosvenor. They’re very different experiences and our aim is to provide the best version of both.”

“We’re very serious about live casino”

Liam Wallwork, Chief Operating Officer of Rank Interactive.

As for the next step in live casino studio offerings in a competitive market space, Haushalter noted that as a supplier, Evolution has to “delight the players and the operators” which includes putting in “the hard yards and supporting old devices” that may only provide a small percentage of revenue, as well as providing lots of new and fresh content.

“You have to advance everything at the same time while staying ahead of advantaged players and cheaters, and you have to do this all around the world,” said Haushalter. 

“Every experience on every device has to get better, in every browser it has to get better. All the different game types need to have new and interesting features that satisfy hardcore players but aren’t so complex that they push away new players.”

For Grosvenor Casinos, Wallwork noted that it’s about building on the live casino products the operator already has and making them even better.

“It’s definitely competitive. It’s largely commoditised, so again, we’re ambitious, we think we should own this space, we know it best,” he said. 

“We’ve got bricks and mortar as well as products that others can’t replicate, in terms of our live and direct. And we think where we do products that others can, we can do it better and our studio is a good example of that. 

“For us, it’s about building on that. More studio space, on top of more live and direct products from more venues. We’ve got some interesting variants and features coming down the road, so definitely watch this space. We’re very serious about live casino.”