This has seen the popularity of live dealer surge in recent years, with it now considered a vertical in its own right and one that has become highly competitive for operators, suppliers and indeed affiliates looking to drive live dealer traffic to their partners.
To learn more about why live content is in such high demand and what it means for casinos and affiliates such as the award-winning Bojoko, we sat down with Joonas Karhu from the UK-focused affiliate site.
iGN: Live casino content seems more in demand than ever, what are some of the causes behind this change in popularity?
JK: The rise in demand for live content aligns with wider consumer trends for social and interactive experiences. Even TV streaming channels are rolling out the option to have “watch parties” with your friends.
This demand has carried over into the online casino space, with players seeking experiences where they can chat with the dealer and other players, while also engaging with things like leaderboards – essentially, anything that makes their time at the casino more social.
Live dealer games have been around for a number of years now and offers an authentic casino experience where players can chat with the dealer and others and this social aspect is one of the main reasons why it has become so popular.
iGN: Does this mean operators have to stock live dealer titles in their online casino lobbies if they are to attract new players to their brands?
JK: Absolutely. It’s interesting because just a handful of years ago if an operator stocked live dealer titles it was considered a major unique selling point. Today, however, live content forms part of the core game offering, in the same way that slots and table games do.
This means that must differentiate themselves through the quality of their live product, which in turn means working with multiple providers and stocking titles that push the boundaries of live content. The result is a notable change in the quality of live content.
In the last few years, we have for instance seen live content go beyond standard table games to include gameshow titles, live slot games and a host of thrilling bonus features built into the experience.
Just about ten years ago the only real difference between online table games and live table games was the presence of a dealer, now it is an entirely different world.
iGN: Should operators consider making their live dealer section a separate vertical, the way many are treating online casino, bingo, and betting?
JK: At Bojoko, we certainly see live casino as being a vertical in its own right. I’d say that most operators do as well, just to varying extents. This is why they have dedicated live content teams tasked with curating the best experience for their players.Then you have the specialist live content providers using the latest broadcast and streaming technologies to continue to elevate the experience offered to players. To understand just how big the live casino sector is, you only have to look at Evolution Gaming and how it has been able to swallow up some of the largest slot studios in recent years.
It will be interesting to see how the live vertical evolves and whether we will see broad, established sub-categories emerge within live as we have with slots.
iGN: How can operators ensure they are in the driving seat when it comes to attracting live dealer players to their brands?
JK: Operators need to offer their players a stand-out live experience. This means stocking games from a wide range of providers and not being afraid to add never-seen-before live formats to their lobbies to see how they perform.
There are plenty of suppliers making moves in the live space and with lots of concepts to explore, whether that be combining slot streaming with the option to bet behind the streamer or rolling out live crash games.
They also need to consider how to engage new players, and dedicated live casino bonuses are a great way of doing this. That goes twofold when working with an affiliate partner such as Bojoko – the brands we partner with that allow us to offer an exclusive live dealer bonus often enjoy a much greater number of first-time depositors.
Our users are actively looking for great live dealer experiences, and providing offers that excite them is a surefire way for a casino to build up its player base.
iGN: Just how competitive is the live casino space?
JK: It’s fiercely competitive for both operators and affiliates. Bojoko’s live casinos have become incredibly popular with operators vying to be included on it.
This is because the cost of bidding on live casino keywords has skyrocketed in recent months and is now even more expensive than most casino-related terms. Our page dedicated to promoting live casinos ranks highly for these key terms, which means operators listed on this page engage players that are primed and ready to convert and at a much lower cost than PPC.
We are very proud of how well our live casino efforts are going, and it has not come overnight. It required the tireless work of a team of live casino experts, creating high-value, informative content that search engines look for when deciding where to rank pages. Of course, we are now in a position where we can drive significant traffic to our partners.
iGN: What role will streaming play in the live casino content space?
JK: Streaming will certainly play a role in the live casino space. I think some operators were a little spooked by Twitch’s decision to ban a handful of casinos from its platform last year, but there are plenty of responsible ways to leverage the streaming opportunity and use it to deliver new player experiences.
Online casino operators need to understand that the way in which players want to consume slot and table game content is changing, and while standard RNG slots will always have their place in the lobby, they really do need to focus on adding more live content to their offerings.
Those that do will undoubtedly be able to capture the largest share of the market today, and tomorrow.