On-Line Live dealt Gaming expert interviewed by CSP
Marcus Honney brief Bio:
Based in Malta since June 2010, and prior to that working inside the gaming industry with many of the World’s largest suppliers, Marcus has held senior positions with NetEnt, Novomatic’s Extreme Live and also with Betsson Group as Head of Casino Live.
Firstly thank you for being willing to share your thoughts and expertise with us today, and for the readers, the idea for this interview evolved from meeting up with each other at the recent SiGMA 2016 show held at the Eden Arena, inside the Intercontinental Hotel here in Malta, last month.
Studio Dealt Casino Live Feed.
Q. In your experience and opinion, what makes a studio casino feed format superior and differentiated from another supplier?
It’s most definitely the dealers and their training, basically Dealer proficiencies.
When the NetEnt Live studio was created, one of the key elements was to have the dealers trained to actual casino live gaming levels of skill. This was so that they could interact with the players, just as if the player was playing in a real bricks and mortar operation. Now, several years later, many of the Live dealt Roulette and Blackjack games supplies have upped their dealing standards to enhance the customer experience. Evolution has especially improved in this area.
Next after the Dealers would be the actual variety of of live dealt games on offer. A few years ago the main source of feed was definitely Roulette, and though this game is still the corner stone of gaming revenue, we now have better Blackjack product. Common Draw and Multi-player for example, Baccarat and more recently the Poker derivatives.
Now more operators are in the field of supply, we are also seeing ‘Price Point’ coming down and becoming more competitive. This is very true with the newer smaller suppliers, who can supply feed at a much lower and more nimble manner.
Different Casino Live Feeds
Another critical choice element for the operators is now becoming evident in regards to their customers geographical locations. Live feed suppliers of Baccarat (Punto Banco) can now see their feed is much more in demand from the Far East players, whereas Roulette is still the strongest in the European and South American markets.
Finally, what’s becoming more important in this rapidly growing and competitive supply chain is innovation on the games. For example Extreme Live Gaming introduced the ‘Golden Ball’ event to provide more inter-activity with it’s players. This proved very positive, and really there needs to be more ‘JackPot’ style developments added to maintain and promote player activity.
Q. What ‘Technical’ factors may determine an Operators choice of Live Feed Supplier?
Quality of the Audio/Visual and Data feed is always a critical though great content can go some way to counter this. As NetEnt proved in the early days of it’s operations.
A major factor though will be the reliability of the feed, after all players want to play. Once the stream is solid then the operator must look toward the Dealer/Player engagement factors versus cost.
From an Operations side however, statistical analysis tools are really important. Being able to see when, where and who is playing. How much and for how long is vital for the Player development teams and Marketing departments. Some suppliers have these better arranged than others, and in the internet area the feed back that the tools provide is critical.
To explain more, in the ‘old days’ the casino live manger could directly watch the players play and move about the gaming floor, as could the Slots managers. Simple things like unco-operative dealers or machines directly under an air-conditioning vent, would determine if the game or machine was played.
The on-line managers do not have that option; so all the available data capture points need to be utilised correctly to provide that vital ‘feedback’. After all, the Studio feed supplier is trying to re-create the actual casino excitement for the players, so the same applies also for the Managers to be able to satisfy their players needs.
This fits directly into the Cross-over and Promotional benefits that the Business Intelligence tools provide. The Statistical packages will drive all of this. So the suppliers need to keep improving and evolving their Statistical Tools accordingly.
The next question has already been answered in part above; however, the focus of the question is toward future growth in the business.
Q. Live Dealt Roulette is rapidly becoming one of the most popular studio dealt games, what do you see as the future for this casino experience?
The continued improvements to bandwidth, and broadcast qualities overall, means the future has got to be coming from Live Bricks and Mortar Casino Operations. Now the larger casino live operators are using the studio feeds themselves, they will become increasingly comfortable with the concepts, and their managements will understand the potential profits and revenues that can be generated from the on-line market.
All of us are increasingly accepting that we are under CCTV watchers all the time now and with the newer players interacting socially on-line via their mobile devices and now even through Virtual Reality; it is just a seem-less integration of the two formats.
So the Off-Line casinos future players will expect an on-line interactive presence, and the on-line players will equally not expect that the off-line players they can see at the tables do not interact with them. Virtual Reality and Mobile social gaming interaction are going to drive the two parts together, where the operators like that or not.
What about some players wanting to ‘book a table’ at a casino live, so they can play as a group? These players are used to the large group games, and they will expect these offerings to be available in the future when they want to gamble. Social Gaming is now about people wanting to play games together. When they have the money and the urge, it will become gambling socially in the casino but on-line.
Q. Marcus, you’ve helped guide the product and their developments for three large suppliers now here in Malta.
Do you think the market is today ‘just for the big boys’?
Entry to market costs are increasing it’s true, though from a technical aspect the costs are coming down. For example HD cameras were very expensive, but now they are are becoming very affordable for even the smaller studios.
Specifically I think the smaller studios will find market share in niche areas. Take ‘MediaLive’ studio, they are very focused on the Italian market, and as an Italian expert supplier they are doing very well.
Other specialist studios are coming to market as well. Last week at the SiGMA 2016 show there was the ‘HollyWoodTV’ studio, presenting the ‘Cleopatra Lounge’ games. Very unique, very high quality sets and broadcasts. Definitely there are markets for these smaller suppliers, and currently many of the newer operations are coming from the successful Affiliates. So that link to certain groups of players might be continued through with smaller studio suppliers developing.
Q. You mentioned SiGMA 2016 just now, and that has just finished. It seems everyone thought it was a great success. You have been to all the SiGMA shows and you have witnessed it evolve and grow. What would you like to see for SiGMA 2017?
More Live Dealt tables of course!!
Seriously, there were some studio tables here this year. LuckySteak had a very innovative stand with lots of interaction. Which is what their business model is all about. LuckyStreak are at the forefront of gamification and player personalisation features. Also present was HollyWoodTV, who I mentioned earlier; but the other operators seem to think their product is only for the big shows, this is a pity, I’d like to see more studios represented next year.
Of course with more Live suppliers present the show would need more space, but the guys at SiGMA are a smart bunch, so I reckon they’ll manage.
Just before the Malta SiGMA show I was a speaker at the Barcelona one day Live Gaming Summit conference. Personally I’m not too sure as to why Spain was the host for this conference, as in my opinion Malta would be a better fit. Perhaps that could be held here the day before the main SiGMA show next year.
I would also like to see more Business Intelligence companies and even debates on the importance of these sources. Finally, to tie up some of the points I’ve made before. Now the Live Studio and Casino Live games are coming closer together, also the Players are getting a much closer game on-line to the actual Live Casino experience. Perhaps it’s time to get the casino live Tables experts into the mix; there’s a lot of information out there off-line right now, it might help everyone to bring it on-line.
Play Live Casino, Play Poker, Play Live Sports.
SiGMA 2017 – coming to a Remote Gaming Operator near you soon…………..