3 July, 2023

Imagine Live: The future of live casino

Matthew Charlesworth, Global CEO at Imagine Live, speaks to Gambling Insider about his passion for casino gaming, and the future of live casino for Imagine Live and the rest of the industry.

How do you plan on making improvements to live casino via innovation?

Our team has many years of experience working in the land-based casino, online casino and live dealer sectors of the gaming and gambling industry. That blend of skills and practical experience allows and complements our founding principle, which is to provide a fresh take on player-first casino experiences.

Therefore, from an innovation context, we have created an approach which includes our Imagine Live studio organisation. This allows our developers, designers, management, dealers, customer support and operations to work from a single location. From this, we have centralised processes, communications and marketing.

We support ideas from all areas of the business and operations that, in turn, facilitate natural improvements to the player experience and account management.

As a previous operator myself, one of the items I focus heavily upon is our back office. Previously, my first task in the morning would be to log onto the various suppliers’ back offices and check the previous day’s activities; and deep dive if necessary, so our back office is designed by users for users to get the information needed as quickly as possible, so that our partners can get on with the rest of their busy working day.

 Imagine Live has a fresh business psychology in how we consider the player and our people

How do you aim to put the player at the centre of the live dealer experience?

This is, of course, foremost in all suppliers' minds as they develop all elements of their business. As I mentioned, Imagine Live has a fresh business psychology in how we consider the player and our people. The casino is about many factors and components such as: product, service, game math, sound, visuals, etc. However, fundamentally, it is the emotional context and how you make the player feel when involved in the experience.

Our studio environment set-up allows us to be on the gaming floor both naturally and delivered digitally. This helps our collective team to observe interactions across all of the touchpoints, and to constantly learn and improve where necessary.

What are others in the market missing when it comes to live casino games?

Live dealers are a growing segment of the overall casino sector. The industry has made great strides and progress across multiple markets, with improvements in technology backbone services, helping to increase access to live casinos.

The sector has therefore moved beyond limitations in technology to player market access, and this next part of how the industry matures is around player experiences and personalisation around the content layer for that player. This is where Imagine Live is excelling, with recent examples being our robot player arm for mobile blackjack, which allows the player to experience different viewing; and it was met with great success at February's ICE London show.  

However – the question is – what is missing? Until the next genre of live games is invented, no one can say; perhaps the best answer is, what is missing is the next blockbuster or the next amazing piece of innovation? Then, of course, all other suppliers are also scrambling to deliver their competitive take too.

I eat, sleep and breathe casino and games

What different content experiences do you plan to make with live casino games?

Our core focus is to connect with our partners and players, providing a natural flow of marketing feedback. We want our partners’ players to discover and have unique experiences within our games.

The team works hard on not developing copy/paste games or functionality. Still, we understand a few non-negotiable core elements of the game that are required. Therefore, we describe our product as fresh and innovative. These are values that our whole team believes in, and is what we commit to delivering and beyond.

Content experiences need to make the player feel on an emotional level. Examples of this include ‘Dynamite Roulette,’ our multiplier roulette game and ‘Pirates Plunder.’ Pirates Plunder is a classic wheel-driven game show with bonus rounds and a new eliminator round, creating levels of player engagement within the game session, leading to excellent player interaction.

How closely do you watch other suppliers and their new content?

Firstly, I eat, sleep and breathe casino and games. My wife, a former croupier of 25 years in Las Vegas, is the same. We play card games almost every day (very competitively). We have our results history going back for the last six years! Sad but true.

If I know of new game launches (or a unique advertised player-enhancing experience), I will find time to check it out. Not so many suppliers still talk about their upcoming 12-month road map, whereas in the past (probably pre-2020), nearly all were quite happy and proud to showcase their future plans.

I think we all understand the reason for the new levels of secrecy, so it was incredibly refreshing to have (very) recently watched a 17-minute road map video delivered by a passionate, well-known CPO.