6 November, 2023

Roundtable: What is the latest in the world of live casino?

Industry experts answer Gambling Insider's burning questions on everything live casino, including TVBet, LuckyStreak, Evolution and Atmosfera

Peter Korpusenko is the of CEO of TVBet, a TV-games provider that offers live betting products for sportsbooks and casinos in the form of software integration. He also founded the company in Warsaw in 2017.

Ady Totah is the CEO of LuckyStreak – a business he co-founded in 2014 and is an online B2B live casino provider of live dealer products and casino aggregation solutions.

Todd Haushalter is Evolution Chief Product Officer, he has worked at the company for eight years and worked for MGM Resorts and Bally’s before that. He is responsible for the overall product and marketing strategy, as well as the chief inventor, motivator and activist for the games.

Yury Ermantraut in 2017, Ermantraut began his career in the gambling industry and progressed to the position of Director of Business Development at a betting company. In 2020, he founded the Atmosfera project, where he serves as the face and the visionary leader responsible for the development of all departments.

What innovations have been made over the last decade that have most impacted the live casino industry?

Peter Korpusenko: The iGaming industry, in particular live casinos, does not stand still and moves forward with technology. I believe that the live casino industry has been most influenced by the development of high-speed internet, as well as an improvement in the approach to filming and production.

If previously we could watch videos on the internet in a maximum resolution of 360, today players can play “live”, chat with dealers and at the same time have a high-quality picture in full HD.

Smartphones and the mobile internet also do not stand still, which allows players to join the game anywhere at any time and makes the industry, in principle, easily accessible and flexible. We are moving forward with the world.

Ady Totah: Technology has been the biggest factor driving change – and growth. Improved bandwidth connectivity, across the world, across all devices, has driven a step-change in volumes and game design.

Particularly so for live casino providers given video’s higher bandwidth requirement. LuckyStreak’s intelligent streaming detects a player’s connection speed and adjusts stream definition to the optimal rate for their device and location.

We’re building our games entirely mobile-first and our recent upgrades are designed for mobile portrait mode, exactly as your phone intended. Adding ever-improving connectivity, enables us to add more interactive and engaging features, like collapsible roadmaps, scrolling bet selection and enhanced chat features.

Todd Haushalter: Without question the biggest innovation in live casino is the advent of the game show. This has been the biggest innovation in the gaming industry in the last decade and took the industry in a whole new direction.

An entire generation of players who would have never played classic table games are loving the likes of Crazy Time, Lightning Roulette, Mega Ball and others. Almost all live providers have begun making game shows of some sort and players love the thrill of betting small with the chance to win big the same way they can on slots, but with the fun and trust of a live dealer experience.

A quick glance at YouTube will show thousands of videos of players enjoying their favourite game shows. Dare I say it is still early days in the era of the game show too. There is still much more to come.

Yury Ermantraut: Typically, when we talk about innovation, it's easier to grasp changes that are visible to the eye. However, in my view, recent innovations predominantly pertain to the technical aspect.

They may not be prominently visible, but they are highly noticeable to us as providers and owners of software aimed at reducing content delivery costs and streamlining video encoding and decoding processes.

What do you do to enhance user experience online?

Peter Korpusenko: We are constantly working on our product, interacting with it from the player's perspective. Thus, with each modification, the interface of our games becomes more intuitive, more convenient and offers a wide selection of betting opportunities with high odds.

Bets can be placed both before the game and during the live. Moreover, we use a multi-level jackpot system in our games, thanks to which players can receive additional money prizes. Beautiful picture, intuitive interface, exciting and simple games, as well as additional prizes - all this makes players choose our games.

Ady Totah: Good products and good people are central to giving users the very best gaming experience. Our games are in the midst of a major upgrade in design and playability – blackjack and baccarat are already live and roulette is coming next.

This includes a significant advancement in our gaming UI, seamless camera switching for a clear view of the game and designed to be played in mobile portrait mode. Furthermore, we hire well.

Our games presenters are the very best: friendly, engaging, entertaining and well trained. We have a great culture that encourages us all to give our very best.

Todd Haushalter: There are so many things. The ultimate user experience is our goal for all our games. In recent years, many of our most successful games have focused on entertainment value as much as the gambling experience.

That entertainment focus has paid dividends, because our live game shows and other unique titles such as Lightning Roulette and Crazy Time have mass-market appeal and have redefined live casino.

But right across the board our games are created with unique, innovative, interactive features, exciting multipliers, bonus rounds and bonus bets, personalisation, dedicated tables, native speaking dealers and game hosts and more.

Yury Ermantraut: We not only focus on analytics, but also closely observe how users engage with our product. We track the most popular areas for them, what they pay attention to, which buttons and features are in their focus.

We actively play games, immerse ourselves in gaming and form our own expectations of what might be crucial, exciting, and unique for the user. This approach is a hybrid that combines our accumulated experience, extensive data on player behaviour, and the refinement of decisions regarding the game interface and features.

What markets are key for live casino and what are the hottest emerging markets?

Peter Korpusenko: Well, all markets where gambling is regulated will be interesting for live casinos because this is a separate category of games that attracts players' attention from all over the world.

The main thing in this category is the huge history of the casino, the recognisable attributes and methodology of the game - they are a comfortable anchor point for a beginner and a pleasant bonus for an experienced player who wants to transfer experience from offline to online.

Also, along with sports betting, live casinos have been actively developing in Latin American countries. Considering that more and more countries in the region are opening their doors to the world of gambling, the demand for sports betting is expected to increase, as residents of Latin America are avid fans of sports, particularly football.

But at the same time, they also have become interested in betting on other game types, such as live casinos, increasing the demand for our product.

Ady Totah: We serve players and operators across the world, meaning we have a 24/7/365 operation in our Riga studio. Western Europe, CIS, Asia and Australasia are key markets for us.

As may be expected, baccarat is particularly strong in Asia and our recent upgrade provided a major step-change in gameplay and user experience, this is being reflected in player volumes in the region – they clearly approve.

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to say that the LatAm region is a growth area for us, while Africa is presenting some significant opportunities. We will soon have MGA recognition, which opens new European opportunities for us.

Todd Haushalter: We continue to see growth opportunities in all regions. Europe and Asia are our largest markets, arguably because players took to live casino earlier there. Both regions still have huge potential.

North America is a big one – we’re building growth as each new jurisdiction opens up and as we expand our games portfolio in jurisdictions where we are already live. Latin America is strong, too.

Player numbers keep increasing and we’re expanding with studios in Argentina and Colombia. Brazil is also performing really well. Games such as Mega Ball are super-popular there and we’ve also increased our selection of native Spanish and Brazilian-Portuguese speaking dedicated tables.

Yury Ermantraut: The gambling market should always be divided into developed markets, emerging markets and markets with potential. Among the most active markets that currently have a lot of attention are Latin America, particularly Brazil, which is about to introduce new gambling regulations.

It's also essential to mention the US, a massive market that, I believe, will become one of the largest in the world in the long run. We keep an eye on developments across all these areas and strive to work in both the present and the future.

Is it becoming more difficult to stand out and differenciate from competitors?

Peter Korpusenko: You know, our market is highly competitive and indeed, as we see years later, it is difficult to ‘survive’ in it. Every year, dozens of new brands and hundreds of new exciting products appear, making challenges for existing companies.

Therefore, to stay afloat, you need to be constantly on the move and in trend. You need to create something new but most importantly take care of the interests of your players, namely improve the interface and user experience, delight players with bonuses and our partners with the depth of the opportunities.

The symbiosis of attention to business and the player is the core of the long-lived iGaming market.

Ady Totah: Mark (O'Donnell, our Head of Marketing) will tell you that differentiating our proposition and being known for something is critical in this market. There is a lot of competition and some big players who are investing in new game types and variants, new studios and sets.

Our focus is on producing the very best versions of the games that players play the most, that generate the largest volumes and most revenue for our customers.

We are continually making them better, more playable, engaging and entertaining; with promotional, reporting and back-office tools to help our customers get the best out of them, to offers players the very best and most rewarding experience. That's how we differentiate ourselves.

Todd Haushalter: We don’t think in terms of what others are doing, only about our players and operators and how to make products they will love.

That can take many forms, honouring and updating the classics (our modern baccarat formats such as Lightning Baccarat, Golden Wealth Baccarat and Prosperity Tree Baccarat are good examples), or creating unique, all-new titles such as our live game shows.

The widest selection of great games to excite, entertain and engage and with a laser-sharp focus on quality and detail. That’s what we’re all about. Our aim is always to continue to widen the gap between Evolution and its competitors.

Yury Ermantraut: In the market, new participants, our competitors, emerge every year. On one hand, it may seem that finding your uniqueness becomes increasingly challenging, but every time I realise that there are still many opportunities for individual self-presentation.

Yes, it requires a bit more effort and attention, but this competition also forces you to think very carefully, thereby stimulating you to discover your niche and be distinctive. I enjoy working in a competitive market, and I hope we also encourage people to pay attention to us.

How can live casino aid operators in targeting traiditional and land-based players?

Peter Korpusenko: Fans of land-based casinos often come to land-based points for a special, colourful atmosphere and communication with the dealer and other players. Today, technology has reached the point where communication with a dealer can be achieved via online chat in the game while building beautiful studios for this game or detailing and rendering casino rooms on Chromakey can create a casino atmosphere.

However, it is not necessary to attract land-based players to live because you can bring live to land-based casinos and I’d like to note that TVBet is a specialist in this. Thanks to our technology, we successfully integrate our live games into land-based points around the world, even in regions with poor internet.

Ady Totah: Live casino games are the closest thing you’ll get to a land-based casino. It’s the most authentic experience and technology is driving on improvements like pin-sharp high-definition streaming (LuckyStreak games stream in 1080p HD), interacting with the dealer and fellow players through chat, moving from table to table in our casino lobby.

Players can see the cards being dealt and for some that offers a higher level of comfort. We help operators satisfy the requirements of these discerning in-real-life casino players, with gaming experiences of the highest quality.

Whether our own games streamed from our Riga studio or playing in real-time alongside players at our land-based casino partners. Any land-based casino can extend their brand online and serve their players 24/7/365 through our Lucky land-based technology solution.

Todd Haushalter: The same way we always have – offering games that are highly enjoyable to play, with all the traditional aspects players find in land-based casinos, but also with new variations they will love. 

Also, as a general rule we try to always offer better odds than land-based casinos. There’s a symbiosis between online and land-based. They’re not meant to be at odds with each other – they’re complementary partners.

As one grows, so too should the other. We can offer land-and-online operators ways to maximise this, such as cross-incentivisation and our Dual Play tables, where online players can play alongside land-based players at the same table.

We also have our DigiWheel brand, which invented the world’s first rotating HD digital gaming wheel, and adds greater diversity to our offering for both online and land-based operators.

Yury Ermantraut: I'll be honest, it's difficult for me personally to answer this question. As a live games provider, I have limited experience and understanding of how casinos should attract players from offline to online.

But, speaking from my personal experience, I love offline games, and nothing can replace the thrill I get from playing at a land-based casino. I would like to see both these directions continue to evolve, each with its advantages and spices for players.

In that case, we can all be both participants and players, enjoying the best of both worlds. Best of luck to everyone!