The online casino vertical is helping a lot of sites get through COVID-19, but not all casino products are doing exactly the same, and they all face changes as a result of the pandemic. On the second day of the SBC Digital Summit, a pair of panels took a look at how casino products are doing.
First was a discussion on Live Casino, moderated by Karolina Pelc, owner of Basic Strategy, with panelists Tim de Borle, COO of Napoleon Sports & Casino, Sam Brown, CCO of Hero Gaming, Jeremy Taylor, Managing Director of Genting Online, and Richard Atkinson, Head of Live Casino at William Hill. Live casino has the unique iGaming problem of how to run a stupid with social distancing and quarantine in effect.
For Napolean, de Borle noted that they had to implement distancing and cleaning standards at their studio, not because the government demanded it, but because their dealers would have been terrified otherwise. Ultimately though, the company was able to maintain the business, albeit with reduced capacity.
Pelc commented that she’s heard much the same from many of her clients. But not all stuios have remained open, as Taylor noted that for Genting, the operator took the proactive decision to close studios when clubs closed.
For those that can continue to run studios, Brown noted the emphasis is on converting players to scalable products. Blackjack tables are unsustainable, but games like Baccarat or Lightning Roulette are great for having many people play at the same dealer. He also discussed hybrid products, but noted that the stickiness hasn’t proven to be there with them just yet.
Other innovative products might pave the way though. Game show offerings, and other random number generator (RNG) products, have already gained some appeal. And Pelc questioned if Zoom meetings might inspire more social offerings, like craps you can enjoy with friends. Brown was skeptical that any company could pull that off in the near future.
Later in the day, a panel moderated by James Bennett, Director of Square in the Air, looked at “Marketing Slots in the New Environment.” Panelists Jan Urbanec, CEO of Endorphina, Neill Simpson, Brand Director of William Hill International, Ross Parkhill, Managing Director of Rizk Casino, and Tobias Svensen, CEO of Casino Grounds, talked about the upswing slots have seen in recent weeks.
Unlike other products that have seen so many difficulties in recent weeks, slots has the opposite problem of managing all of the growth it’s currently seeing. Each panelist noted an uptick in acquisition, growth in gross gaming revenue, and a higher number of spins, if not an increase in bets. But the key is how to market these offerings without getting on the wrong side of lawmakers and regulators.
Parkhill noted that atleast from his side, nothing much has changed in marketing. “I don’t think it’s the time to spam players.” Simpson agreed with that, adding “You’ve got a new players coming to casino that you may not have seen before. You don’t want to be over aggressive.”
There was some discussion of how to convert sports bettors over to slots offerings. While some of that will happen naturally, the panelists noted that sports bettors may not be inclined to play slots, preferring games with more longevity like Live Casino.
Bennett asked Svensen if he’s seen anything new coming from slots suppliers. But with the pandemic only being more than a month in so far, he said the biggest change has been about following guidelines, and not over bonusing.
That became a big topic of discussion. All of the panelists agreed that the slots industry has gotten away from using bonusing as its primary marketing tactic. Simpson said that the focus is now about selling the brand and providing a great experience up front. Parkhill agreed, noting regulators frown on bonuses, and it’s a good idea to get away from them and push the games. “The games will bring players in.”
Ultimately, the words shared by Svensen summed up what’s happening with slots right now, perticulary in the moment of Covid-19. “The future is definitely going to be focused a lot more on content,” he said, and the future is coming faster now that we’re in isolation.
There are many great insights to be gained about how to best navigate this current crisis at the SBC Digtial Summit. You can still register to see what you’ve missed, and check out the other great speakers who will fill the rest of the week.