Mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is probably one of the biggest challenges the gaming industry faces at the minute with social distancing initiatives that limit the likes of live and ground operations.
However, the pandemic has given both live casino operators and suppliers the chance to become more innovative in their approaches to attracting customers, with some opting to carry the live casino set-up to the comfort of their own home, while others have placed pen to paper and negotiated new, more foreign collaborations.
Speaking on the second day of the SBC Digital Summit as part of the Live Casino panel in Lockdown, Karolina Pelc, owner of the Basic Strategy, disclosed that a number of Asian operators have put their foot on the gas as regards implementing new supplier partnerships at a pace ‘never seen before.’
She declared: “I’ve personally seen Asian operators integrating new suppliers at a speed that I have never seen before. Other suppliers have been securing additional table capacity at different locations in Europe following the closure of the Asian studios.
“Some have been entering into new partnerships. But also in the portfolio of the partners that we work closely with, there’s a range of products that are not dependent on a human hosting that product.”
The inclusion of RNG games on their platforms is one of the suggestions made for operators to resolve the gap left from games that require a person to deal with the cards.
The implementation of RNG could provide a short-term solution for the absence of live dealers, according to Sam Brown, CCO of Hero Gaming: “We’ve always seen popularity in auto-roulettes, which are very well positioned to take that roulette liquidity. On the game shows, it’s difficult to say whether RNG can perhaps provide the experience that people are after. But from a roulette perspective, RNG could cover a lot of the experience there.
“In light of the situation, we onboarded a couple of suppliers, possibly more hastily than we would have done had the situation not been as it is. One of the new products we’ve tried is this real dealer hybrid, where you’re essentially playing an RNG, but it is being presented by a pre-recorded live video.”
Richard Atkinson, head of the live casino at William Hill, revealed that the ‘work from home situation’ was used to continue engaging with fans, which was previously deemed ‘rather impossible’ by Pelc.
“It’s similar to the real dealer product where you use an RNG, but the dealer is working from home. They use the picture screen of the dealer, so that they can continue to do the commentary. So you’re still looking at your familiar tables from games such as baccarat, roulette.”
However, like other gaming industry industries, the introduction of responsible gambling and player safety policies is one of the problems facing the live casino sector too.
With the environment shutting down and more people spending time at home, industry-wide questions over whether players might be deemed at risk of developing ‘problematic behaviours’ have emerged.
Pelc added: “With people being stuck at home, it’s important for both operators and suppliers to make sure that they really champion responsible gaming, and put a lot of effort into identifying problematic behaviours.”
Many have agreed to obey the ten-point pledge carried out earlier this year by the Betting and Gaming Council, while Genting Online’s MD, Jeremy Taylor, indicated that they had turned up the dial on their behaviour.
He said: “This is an area which is of paramount importance anyway, and in terms of Genting specifically, it’s in the company’s DNA. We’ve dialled up a number of things already: we’ve put out banners in key commercial spots, which cover all relevant limits.
“We’re emailing customers every fortnight during this period, as we feel that anything more than that would be too intrusive. We’ve also got a pop-up live, so for every first login of each month, there will be a pop up which points to the safer gambling advice available.”