Live Casino during the pandemic17th December 2020 10:24 am GMT
Playtech Live Casino managing director Edo Haitin reveals the challenges and triumphs of this exceptional year
Playtech has managed to keep its live casino open throughout the pandemic but that has not come without its challenges. The company’s live casino hub is in Riga, the capital city of Latvia, where employees are obliged to wear masks but at least they can come into work. It is an odd sight seeing the dealers behind masks but, as live casino managing director Edo Haitin says, you can still see those wrinkles around the eyes that betray a welcoming smile.
In Madrid, the studio was locked down for a few weeks but Playtech’s continuity measures ensured that operators were not without a live casino service during the vital lockdown period, when customers were stuck at home.
“The reliability of the live gaming product really proved itself this year. We saw late night television shows being suspended in the US but live gaming was dealt 24/7. It provided escapism for players,” says Haitin.
The Playtech MD is proud of his team. Indeed, he is a passionate supporter of live casino, full stop. He goes out of his way to praise competitors (although not by name) for the way they have operated this year.
He says that casino dealers have provided a valuable entertainment experience with a personal touch that has helped build a community for players - many of whom will have felt isolated during the pandemic.
“I think this year people came more to the live products to interact with the other players, to socialise. I think the chat was a place that people felt they could express themselves, they could get some support, they could see that other people are also a bit bored at home, to find somewhere they could interact, and the virtual space definitely provided that,” says Haitin.
Playtech does not break out figures for live casino but the “significant momentum” around live casino was one of five highlights that were picked out for the H1 financial report to the market. Operators such as bwin, Betfair and PokerStars have added branded tables and exclusive games to their live casino operations.
“A lot of operators have noticed that online gaming sites could be better differentiated if you have your own offering. While it is more challenging to do that with other verticals, here we can tailor the studio and the game for the brand itself and for its strategy,” says Haitin.
In a further sign of the growth of live casino into an entertainment product in tune with the times, Playtech has expanded the experience. Games such as Adventures Beyond Wonderland bring lo-tech mechanical wheels to a hi-tech digital product. Furthermore, its live slots showed that Twitch streamers are not the only ones that can build a community of slot players.
“We are still in the early days of the live casino industry. We will see more aspects of online gaming going live,” Haitin adds.
This year it brought bingo to the live casino. The company’s football related games open up a completely different demographic. During Cheltenham week the team brings in a horse racing expert to work with the dealers. This blurring of the boundaries plays to Playtech’s strengths with its mighty IMS platform providing a backbone that can allow different products from different verticals to merge together.
“I am very excited about the roadmap for the next two or three years,” concludes Haitin. “We are looking at what we can do. We are challenging our imagination and our creativity in really bringing new things into live.”
Technology is revolutionising the live casino arena. Its potential is limited only by regulations. It is a product that crosses the lines between television, social media, skill gaming, games of chance and gambling. Evolution Gaming remains a formidable competitor but with Haitin’s passion and enthusiasm guiding Playtech’s efforts, the next few years should see each of them scaling new heights. The competition can only be good for operators and players alike.