Gambling Insider spoke with Luca Galli, head of BDM for Pragmatic Play, to get his insight into the development of the live casino vertical and how operators can best utilise its increase in popularity.
What has been the secret to the success of live casino in recent years?
Live casino manages to take the enjoyable aspects of land-based casino games, with recognisable games such as blackjack and roulette, and combining it with the round-the-clock availability that online gaming brings.
The vertical has been so exciting as innovations within the space have allowed it to thrive, adding unique twists to traditional casino games, or adding completely new gaming types such as game shows. By appealing to different demographics with its varied gaming content, live casino pushes itself to more players than ever before.
Does it generally appeal to any specific demographic? Can it be catered towards certain demographics, such as younger players?
Live casino can offer thrilling new opportunities for all types of players, including those who have a preference to mobile, on-the-go gaming experiences, which they may not enjoy in a land-based environment. That represents a newer generation of players, a target audience segment that both suppliers and operators should focus on when building new products. That doesn’t, however, mean that the products are solely targeted at any specific demographic, but offers a suitable gaming experience for everyone.
How can an operator best utilise a live casino offering to increase acquisition and retention?
There are many ways an operator can use a live casino offering to increase its acquisition of customers and retain them, but the clearest avenue currently seems to be offering a genuine alternative to land-based gaming. By offering a recognisable gaming environment at roulette or blackjack tables in the comfort of players’ own homes or on the go, it can make up for the closure of gaming venues in certain territories.
With a familiar experience that can be enjoyed from anywhere, having quality live casino portfolios gives players yet more opportunities to enjoy what they know from mobile or desktop devices.
What has been the process of your own live casino offering’s development? When did you first realise the potential of live casino as a vertical?
Pragmatic Play’s live casino offering has been available to clients for almost two years now and has gone from strength to strength. With a dedication to creating optimal environments for live dealer games, we’ve managed to ensure consistent quality of delivery across all our titles. This, combined with thrilling products and games, has ensured we’ve generated significant momentum for our live casino offering.
We’re now offering nine live casino games, with our first ever game show, Mega Wheel, being recently launched. The vertical grew at a very fast pace and we’re proud to see how well-received it is within the market. The potential of it has always been there, but we think Pragmatic Play can add value and create exceptional live casino experiences, which is why we entered the vertical.
What are the most important markets for live casino right now around the globe? And which markets have potential for live casino in the future?
Each market has different tastes, but the growth of live casino with some of our partners in regulated European markets has been very exciting, so – clearly – the appetite for these titles remains vociferous.
All markets have the potential to be exciting regions for live games, but our focus has clearly been in European territories. This isn’t to say we are limited by this, having deals in place with multiple operators across the globe to take our live content. We’ve developed greatly in LatAm and Africa, two markets with huge potential for all verticals.
What does your own live casino offering provide which perhaps other competitors might not?
Our live dealer titles combine cutting edge technology with multiple 4k camera angles, as well as immersive sound systems with highly-trained dealers. From faster-paced types of gameplay, , easy bet functionality and history, or Asian-inspired products such as our Mega Sic Bo, the attention to detail in building every game ensures players know they are enjoying a “Pragmatic Play” live casino experience.
These are features to expect from any reputed supplier, but Pragmatic Play differentiates itself through consistency in terms of quality, as well as technical features. We only use the very best equipment on the market and make sure that we keep players engaged through the products’ key properties, while improving player retention for our operator partners. We’re also fostering operator customisation, giving them a chance to adapt our products to their brand requirements.
Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the progression of the live casino vertical in any sense?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedent landscape to adapt to, and while it presented some challenges, it also gave live casino as a vertical the opportunity to act as a genuine alternative for some bettors. With a worldwide sporting shutdown, bettors looked for different gaming opportunities closed to fixed odds, and the products offered in the live dealer vertical would be fit to this type of gambler. Many players also turned their faces towards Bingo, and that’s where Pragmatic Play steps in as a multi-vertical supplier. We’re a one-stop-shop for operators who want to adapt to the ever-changing iGaming market.
Have you seen any increased/decreased interest in your live casino offering during the pandemic?
Our live dealer offering has been growing in popularity since launch, but with the advent of the pandemic, operators have started exploring the possibility of extending their product portfolios. By having more content, they are better protected should another sporting shutdown occur. Our live offering continued to thrive during the pandemic, proving itself as a reliable additional revenue stream.
What is your expectation for the future of live casino? Do you expect it to continue its rise in popularity?
Live casino as a vertical has enjoyed a greater focus in recent times and we see innovative, exciting titles added regularly. With games that can win lucrative amounts in shared environments, or games that stand completely outside the traditional staples, such as game-show style titles, there is a breadth of content to choose from that previously hasn’t existed.
The expectation is that live dealer games continue to rise in popularity for the foreseeable future, and we’re ready to lead the way on that front.
From a technology standpoint, what is next for live casino? Will new technologies such as VR have some role to play moving forward?
As there are so many directions live casino can go in, it is inevitable new technologies will be involved. Virtual Reality could be a thrilling role in creating immersive environments, while updates in audio or visual technology will allow us to create even more engaging games. The only limit that will be put on live casino will be by providers and operators themselves, in what should be a very exciting future!