iGaming operators learn lessons from Europe casino industry
Europe shows what the nascent U.S. real-money online gaming marketplace could become in terms of product offerings and systems technology
U.S. gaming operators are still all agog over the potential of online sports wagering and rightly so… this new arm of legalized wagering could mean millions of dollars in additional daily revenue and thousands of new customers for domestic casino enterprises.
Cast an eye over to Europe and you’ll find local operators are equally sanguine about the prospects of online sports wagering in the U.S. and other worldwide markets. However many would likely point out that the real online bread winner in Europe is for-money casino gaming, which, according to reports, currently out-earns sports wagering and continues to grow in popularity each year. Indeed, the demand for online, real-money casino wagering is such that suppliers are working hard to meet the constant demand for ever increasing amounts of new compelling game content.
Some think the U.S. online gaming market could eventually head in this direction.
“Europe, as the undisputed real-money gaming leader, will certainly have an impact on the global iGaming market; how the impact of individual markets switch to more regulation will be an interesting factor,” said Bryan Bennett, senior vice president for AGS Interactive. “As the U.S. market gets off the ground and the global appetite for real-money gaming continues to grow, mobile content, market-specific content and an overall demand for better content with all the same play mechanics you find in land-based casinos, will absolutely be key to the industry’s overall success.”
And in one very important aspect, the nascent U.S. online market may be ahead of Europe—the tie-in between real-money wagering and land-based casinos is strong, something this is very much not the case in many overseas markets. “This is a unique opportunity for U.S. online operators to leverage their land-based player databases and sophisticated marketing programs to reach players both in the casino and online and capitalize on a 360-degree view of the player,” said Bennett. “And because there is such a strong crossover in land-based and online play in the U.S., we see online content and math models doing better and earning more in the U.S. compared to Europe.”
It is anticipated that operators will take advantage of the complementary nature of land-based and online gaming by implementing a one-card or one-accountsolution. It is also expected that land-based operators will leverage their player’s club to reward players for their loyalty across land-based and online, and use player’s club account integration for a 360-view of their players whether they are in the casino or playing via online casinos. This single view of the player could help land-based operators drive players back to the casino as well as create a more personalized experience for each player.
Player expectations have continued to change, and today’s digital entertainment industry has not overlooked this. Features such as personalized offers, recommendations and frictionless payment are all being incorporated into next generation platforms to better meet player needs.
“When I look to the future of digital gaming I anticipate we’ll see an increased level of personalization, similar to what one may encounter in the eCommerce space,” said Chris Boni, vice president content for IGT PlayDigital. “Data-driven functionality that enables real-time communications such as game recommendations and flash sales will continue to have a place in the digital gaming experience of the future. Additionally, I think both operators and players will develop even more acute gameplay preferences, making items such as content localization and personalization fundamental to the player experience.”
Of course, for this version on a real-money online gaming marketplace to develop in the U.S., more jurisdictions must first legalize online wagering beyond sports betting. Pennsylvania has recently taken the plunge and it is expected more states will follow as sports wagering raises general awareness about the profit potential of for-money casino game offerings.
In anticipation of this expanded market, online, real-money game and system developers are already flooding the U.S. market with product that has been battle-tested in Europe and elsewhere. What follows is recent news, placements and new games from some leading online suppliers.
AGS recently entered the real-money online gaming space with its acquisition of Gameiom Technologies in June 2018. Currently the company is licensed with the UK Gambling Commission (GC) and Gibraltar for online gaming, and it is pursuing additional licenses in 2019.
“We have a robust and highly secure game aggregation platform and have partnered with about 24 third-party game content suppliers to offer access to more than 1,000 games through our remote game server,” Bennett said. “In the first quarter of 2019, we will launch our own AGS game content, proven to perform in hundreds of land-based casinos, through our platform as well.”
AGS’ game aggregation platform delivers the breadth of content that operators require to keep their libraries fresh and engaging to players; as a result, the company reportedly continues to partner with tier one suppliers such as Gaming Realms, Ainsworth, High 5 Games, Reflex Gaming and others to provide the high-performing content that online operators seek.
“And just as we strive to do in the land-based space, AGS wants to be the easiest company to do business with for our third-party game suppliers and for our operator partners,” said Bennett. “Our open aggregation solution makes it easy for new suppliers to make their games available, and it is equally easy for new operators to gain access to our high-performing titles through a simple integration process.”
One UK operator sold on the AGS online product approach is The Rank Group, which recently tapped AGS to provide third-party slot content aggregation for real-money wagering for its iconic brands Mecca and Grosvenor Casino. Under this agreement, AGS’s iGaming Platform will provide The Rank Group with a seamless aggregation solution and access to AGS’s full library of content partners, including more than 600 games from best-in-class game developers, according to a press release. A large library of AGS games, designed by its global in-house creative studios and proven in land-based casinos, will soon be available as well.
“AGS’s game library has a lot of content that we previously didn’t have access to,” said Bhotesh Maheshwari, head of product for The Rank Group. “Their wide variety of games, coupled with our extensive player base and broad reach, will help ensure that we continue to deliver an outstanding player experience that consistently engages our customers.”
As a leading end-to-end solutions provider, IGT PlayDigital offers a robust for-money online gaming portfolio that is live in more than 15 jurisdictions throughout the world. The company’s online game content library, delivered through the PlayRGS which references its remote game server (RGS), includes180-plus active titles spanning slot games, video poker, bingo, progressives and more. PlayRGS is just one component to IGT PlayDigital’s complete “go digital” offering that supports all its customers’ digital gaming growth opportunities of today and the future.
“The digital gaming industry is experimenting with several buzzworthy technologies such as 3D, virtual reality and skill gaming,” said Boni. “That said, it remains to been seen if these new technologies will truly impact growth for the digital gaming industry, or if they have the ability to attract a broader demographic of players to traditional casino gaming.”
For IGT, the company reportedly views omni-channel gaming as a key driver of future growth. Its Powerbucks product that is live in Canada is one example. Through IGT-only technology, the Powerbucks product joins jackpot liquidity across the land-based, online and mobile versions of a game. This “industry first” product line is continually found on lists of top-performing games in multiple Canadian provinces.
“Given the size and scale of IGT, we have more gaming licenses than any other supplier in the industry,” said Boni. “Our industry access and experience positions us to deliver an elevated level of service and partnership to many of our customers.”
IGT’s content is another meaningful differentiator for the company. “Not only do we own the largest and most established content library, we can leverage top-performing games from our land-based portfolio and port them to digital environments,” Boni said. “Our customers report that many of their highest performing IGT games are many of the same titles that excel in the land-based casino environment and achieve ‘Proven Performer’ status. For example, Elephant King, Ocean Magic, Solar Disc and Golden Egypt are among our strongest performing games from PlayRGS in 2018—all of which also excel in traditional casino environments.”
Everi Holdings, the casino gaming industry’s only single source provider of gaming products and financial technology solutions, is now delivering a comprehensive portfolio of interactive gaming products with the launch of its Remote Game Server (RGS) which it unveiled at last October’s G2E show in Las Vegas.
The RGS is a platform to develop and distribute new games with a strategy that allows operators to launch land-based, online real-money, and online social gaming channels with higher visibility and promotion, according to press materials. Everi will leverage its existing land-based portfolio to offer more than 50 titles on its RGS in 2019 to support the company’s interactive gaming strategy focused on exceeding expectations by replicating Everi’s premium land-based gaming experience for online players. The RGS was recently launched to support online social gaming opportunities and will soon be available to licensed online real-money gaming operators following approval by independent gaming testing agencies and regulators.
“Everi has an expansive library of tier one content that we can now bring directly from our land-based game development process to our new RGS,” said David Lucchese, executive vice president, digital and interactive business leader for Everi. “While we are still early in the rollout of our interactive solutions, our capabilities and success in this segment continue to improve at a significant clip with Super Jackpot Slots, already a top-rated, full-featured online social casino offering. We also have a tremendous library of high-performing stepper games that we are now leveraging including the successful launch of the High Rollin Vegas Slots online social casino. To date, our social and real-money interactive offerings are top performers and the launch of Everi’s RGS will be another catalyst as we ramp our activities. Our library uses proven land-based math models and themes that players love to play in both the three-reel mechanical and video multi-line games. Players connect and engage with Everi’s deep library of games and it’s exciting to be able to unlock this for online operators.”
Lightning Box is a leading multi-channel supplier of video slots to the betting and gaming industries. The independent studio, based in Sydney, Australia, provides high quality gaming content to land-based, online and social casinos around the world.
Recently, Lightning Box agreed to supply its content to online operators in North America via an expanded deal with SG Digital. The supplier’s games will go live in New Jersey in an initial roll-out early in 2019, according to a press release. Among the titles that will be made available to mobile and desktop players will be Jackaroo Jack, Respin Rhino, Astro Cat and the forthcoming Stellar Jackpot Silver Lion.
“This partnership with SG Digital will allow us to build on our already strong U.S. land-based footprint with new exposure to players in online casino, both in New Jersey and up into Canada,” said Peter Causley, managing director and co-founder of Lightning Box. “This will kick-start a mutually beneficial commercial relationship in the coming months as we expand on our content provision. It will also hopefully provide the springboard for further roll-outs as and when more U.S. states regulate. SG Digital are perfectly positioned to help us expand our market presence in North America.”
“Lightning Box’s gaming content is a proven performer for us in online casinos in Europe, and we look forward to working together with them in North America as well,” added Dylan Slaney, senior vice president of gaming for SG Digital. “This deal is a great reflection on the global opportunities we can offer to our content partners. Adding their fresh, quality games will help us provide our customers with more varied content to entertain and engage their online customers.”
Earlier this year, Lightning Box cemented its position in online social casino in the U.S. by signing an agreement with Penn Interactive. They are also integrated with social pioneers High 5 Gaming. In addition, they are active in the U.S. land-based casino market, enjoying successful commercial relationships with Incredible Technologies and Everi.
Founded in 2011, Quickspin established itself as a leading development studio for real-money and social casino gaming and was acquired by Playtech in March 2016. Slots from the Swedish specialist Quickspin, are now live in Italy’s regulated market with Pokerstars, one of the leading online brands globally. Players have access to a number of the company’s titles, including Sakura Fortune, Dragon Shine, Phoenix Sun, Wild Chase and Second Strike, with more to follow in the coming months.
Recently, Quickspin launched its latest pioneering industry loyalty tool, Quickspin Challenges. Designed as a customer retention tool available to operators, the tool enables an additional level of gameplay for players on top of Quickspin’s existing titles, according to press materials.
Both engaging and immersive, Challenges in essence are a mini-game displayed on top of each slot, with the extra level of gameplay fueled by the outcome of spins from the game below. The player’s aim is to guide an in-play character through a maze to a final prize, allowing participants to unlock prizes as the path through the maze is generated—even if they might not hit that final big win.
“We are absolutely delighted to launch Quickspin Challenges,” said Daniel Lindberg, CEO of Quickspin. “We’ve designed the retention tool to offer some extra excitement with our slots, and hope that it will give our players the chance to enjoy playing them that extra bit more. Challenges will add another layer of entertainment on top of your usual gaming experience. Gamification is the future of our industry, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of this trend. Stay tuned for lots more exciting developments from us in 2019.”
Challenges has been launched on Dwarfs Gone Wild and Goldilocks and will soon be available on all Quickspin games. Its launch caps a successful year for Quickspin, including the release of celebrated titles Dwarfs Gone Wild, Eastern Emeralds and Ark of Mystery, as well as following in the footsteps of the launch of Quickspin Tournaments earlier in 2018.
BetConstruct is an award-winning developer and provider of online and land-based gaming solutions with development, sales and service centers around the globe. The company’s innovative and proven offerings include an extensive range of products and services, including sportsbook, sports data solutions, retail solutions, RNG and live dealer casino, virtual reality (VR) casino, poker, skill games, fantasy sports, social platform, SpringBME (business management environment) and more.
Recently, BetConstruct unveiled Jackpot Engine, the latest enhancement for its Casino Suite offering for B2C operators. Jackpot Engine elevates the player experience by allowing operators to charge every spin a player makes in the casino with an excitement of hitting the jackpot, according to a press release. Jackpot Engine randomly triggers a jackpot for any set of BetConstruct’s third party integrations within company’s gaming catalogue of 5,000 slots. It also can provide up to 10 different jackpot levels, displayed in the casino lobbies and inside the games on all channels including web, mobile and native apps. With jackpots featured in Casino Suite, operators can have the overall average bet increased in their casinos.
“The simple concept of our new tool will turn out to be a game changer,” said Edgar Mkrtchyan, gaming group product manager for BetConstruct. “For our partners, Jackpot Engine is a way forward in the increasingly diversifying world of casinos where players come for life changing spins.”