SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital: The rise of live casino and the lessons to be learnt 

The rise of live casino has become a highlighted topic in the gambling industry particularly given its rise is prominence due to the global health pandemic reducing live-sport offerings and halting all retail.

However, online casino’s rise could also help retail in terms of using the technology available to enhance the land-based customer experience. Speaking at SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital’s on the ‘Live Casino: The path ahead’ panel, sponsored by OneTouch, Richard Walker, the head of digital table games at Rank Interactive, discussed the growth of the sector and the lessons that retail can learn from the online landscape.

He stated: “Obviously there is a lot more technology wise for digital gaming. Retail are trying to get there now, for example looking to use the Dragon Fire roulette with multipliers in. We are looking to launch something similar in retail and the demand for it online is massive. Retail is trying to catch online with their offering rather than the other way round.”

“We’ve had fantastic growth in live over the last few years, and obviously with Rank being a very heavy land-based business we see around 50% of our revenue come from the land based players who play multi channel coming in to play the live games. I have a lot of customers through our retail who play live, and they are playing everything from the classics all the way to the new games.”

The panel, which was moderated by Arjan Korstjens, marketing consultant at ExPlayner, also delved into the importance of localisation with the experts emphasising that despite the sectors growth it is imperative that the correct products are offered to customers in order to relate to regional nuances.

Ciara Nic Liam, director of product, games at Betsson Group, explained: “When we look at places like Asia or the African continent, and like America we definitely see an emergence of different pieces and what we really strive to do is make sure we offer the best regionally diverse content to our customers, whether that’s something in LatAm, specifically, or whether it’s a version of Turkish poker. 

“I think if you want to compete in a region, you need to make sure that you understand and you respect what the local games are and you try and compete on that front rather than just thinking that you know, European games are going to work in every region because we know that’s not always the case.”

One of the major topics being discussed was live casino’s significant rise in recent years with most of the experts pointing out that the emergence of ‘Game Show’ products played a huge role in captivating a new, and younger, audience. 

Rokas Benetis, head of live casino at LeoVegas, commented: “Game shows as a game type only appeared in this industry just a couple of years ago, with the evolution and launch of Dream Catcher being the first sort of non classical table game variant.

“The games themselves are sort of coming from popular TV shows. You’re currently on an offering where you have Deal or No Deal, Monopoly, you know, Dream Catcher and other games, which are on a different level in terms of player engagement.

“It’s more attractive to a wider audience and I think the players feel more comfortable on them because they’re much simpler to players or require a lesser knowledge level to play them.

“It really opened the door for a much wider player profile for live games. I know in the past when we see you know, the specific profiles tend to gravitate towards classical games like blackjack or roulette. But the growth in the last couple of years really came from game shows.”

However, not everybody was overly convinced that game shows are the way forward for every live casino demographic. Madis Raus, OneTouch’s head of product, in particular highlighted the hardcore customers who are used to more traditional games.

Instead, live casino’s need to double down their focus on localisation, as Nic Liam discussed prior, especially when land-based venues offer more of a localised feel than their online counterparts.

“I definitely see the game shows more appealing to the younger generation that actually are looking for this excitement, entertainment and also the community feeling,” said Raus. “I don’t think these game shows will attract those hardcore gamblers very well.

“What I see is that those, like regular guys playing in land based casinos, one of the things that they definitely might want is the localisation. Probably a Japanese guy doesn’t want to play with an English speaking dealer is one of the things and if we offer them the same local experience that they could get from the local casinos, this might help.”

Nevertheless, Nic Liam feels that game shows’ inception came at an opportune time for casinos and that even if it doesn’t indoctrinate the hardcore customer, it can be used to bring as new customer into more tradiaonly offerings. 

She said: “I think the piece worth pointing out as well is the emergence of those game shows came at a really great time when there was an enhanced focus on due diligence and KYC and people weren’t just trying to bring in large live casino VIPs that wanted private tables.

“People pivoted more to recreational players and their player base to make sure their casino was more sustainable. So people push these games quite heavily. 

“Actually, as we see, even with the streamer community, it’s a lot of predominantly strong, slot players that go on and play these game shows.

“What we then find is we try to up-sell them and cross sell them to other live casino games because a live casino customer in a lot of markets can be more valuable than a slots customer.”

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