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The rise of the live dealer

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Cole Rush talks to Authentic Gaming’s Dagmara Boer, Head of Marketing and Strategy Execution, and Jonas Delin founder and CEO about the challenges and opportunities in creating and supporting a full-fledged live dealer product.

In key US markets such as New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania, online casinos are already gaining traction. Under the umbrella of online casinos, there is a unique segment that continues to gain traction with players as they warm up to playing online: Live Dealer.

The game has been popular in overseas markets for a long time, and is now gaining traction in US markets. The providers are developing a deep understanding of the US player’s expectations for a live-dealer game, and they innovate to exceed them.

Authentic Gaming has been in the live dealer business for a long time. Light & Wonder recently purchased the company and the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved it to provide live dealers in Michigan.

Global roots, local flare

Authentic Gaming offers live dealer games on many international markets – an unquestionable advantage for a firm looking to apply its knowledge in the US.

Bator says, “We provide premium interactive live streaming games from both land-based casinos and studios.” Our live casino games are available on over 300 websites.

Bator notes that Michigan is only the start of Authentic’s US mission. New Jersey will follow soon.

Authentic Gaming not only offers games in different countries, but also tailors their experiences according to each market. The first step is the library of games.

Bator explains that the company has a wide range of live dealers, including a variety of roulette, blackjack and baccarat tables.

Authentic’s extensive library allows it to produce localised options for players that are relevant to them.

In our Michigan studio we currently have 11 games that are networked. We will invest heavily in 2024 to enhance our portfolio, adding big-brand game shows as well as several customized offerings.

Jonas Delin is the founder and CEO of Authentic Gaming

Delin says that localisation doesn’t only involve language.

He says, “We take great care to meet the preferences and needs of our local players.” We pay close attention to every detail, including the preferred side bets for blackjack in a particular region, and video streaming infrastructure local to that area, among other things.

This is the final product. It takes hard work to get here – with a diverse, robust and scalable portfolio of live-dealer games.

The Fresh Perspective

Live dealer games may seem obvious, but they are different. It’s not the same to launch a table game or card game that is fully digital.

Delin is in agreement, pointing out the importance of a product-specific approach.

Live dealer games can offer a level of fun and interaction that is unmatched. But the core of the experience for players, particularly in classic games such as blackjack or roulette, comes from the increased level of trust they bring. As they say, “Seeing is believing!”

Live dealer games are popular because the players feel that they “feel real” and not like other digital games. Live action enhances player-casino connection.

What is the result? A steady uptick in live dealer engagement.

Delin tells us that “live casino has become a central part of operator’s product and marketing strategies.” This is due to an increase in the number of people who are playing live games. Live dealer accounts for around 50% of the overall casino market in some countries, but only 20% in others.

Delin believes that the majority of markets are somewhere between 20% and 50% in terms live dealer contribution. As new games and formats are introduced, the demand for live dealer gaming increases.

Delin says that the demand for table games other than blackjack, roulette, and baccarat is increasing.

Launching a live-dealer game is not as easy as pushing a button and offering a game. A multi-talented and agile team is needed to bring this unique vision into reality.

Parts that move

Delin says that the major components that contribute to the overall player experience include a powerful engine capable of handling thousands concurrent players, 4K video streaming that is available 24/7 for the player, an attractive UI with audiovisual and sound technology, and presenters who are service-minded and energetic.

When you zoom out and examine all the different parts that are required to create a game with a live dealer, it sounds more like an award-winning Broadway production than a game at a casino. This is by design. These games are the closest thing to being in a real casino without having to be physically present. They need to look great. It is essential that the show goes on without any hitches.

Bator’s description of how to run a live dealer studio is eloquent in demonstrating this attitude.

Bator advises: “You should create an environment that is visually appealing.” Second, the way the camera fits in with the user interface is important, because it will determine the end-user experience. Online games have presenters instead of dealers, which is what you would find in brick and mortar casinos.

Delin admits that “it’s not an easy feat, but the combination of technology, capability and people makes live casino exciting.”

Live casino games don’t happen overnight. Delin says that the real work begins when the game is live.

The development of our player experiences never ends.

The whole deal

The presentation is an important part of the evolution of live dealer games.

Bator explains that “land-based dealers and online presenters are two different jobs.” Dealers in land-based casino undergo intensive training. A major component of this work is the handling of cards and chips, as well as counting them and making payments without mistakes.

Comparing that with the online world, it requires very little of the same skill set. Information is fed from an operator’s system to the player via a screen. There are no real chips in roulette – but the player must still spin the ball.

Bator continues, “With cards the main objective is to correctly place them, while all game steps and counted are read on a monitor.” While game-playing skills are essential, charisma, charm, and personality are the most important elements to being an effective presenter.

Online presenters are more like TV hosts whose job is to create a relationship with players and make sure they get the best experience.

Live Dealers are now adopting new formats that suit the presenters’ charisma.

Next frontier

Dagmara Bator, head of marketing and strategy execution, Authentic Gaming

The live dealer operator knows how to play all the popular games: roulette, blackjack, baccarat and more. New games have entered the arena and are redefining what is possible at a live dealer casino.

Bator believes that live slot games can be a difficult topic. Over the last few years we’ve seen failed releases trying to combine slots with live casino and new releases still exploring and test potential winning solutions.

Authentic Gaming is dipping its toe in the water with 7’s On Fire Live. The players can bet numbers or symbols, and win as much as 10,500x their stake. Bator claims that the game is engaging.

Game show formats, however, are growing in popularity.

Bator believes that “game shows” are the fastest-growing trend. Bator says that any game with a high winning potential, and one which has a strong community feel, will win.

From here, it’s only up

Live dealer is growing despite its limited availability. Live dealer is a growing trend in the US, despite its limited availability.

Bator states that the US live dealer market is still a young one. The standard live dealer offerings still dominate the GGR. “Playing blackjack online can still be a novelty for American players.”

Authentic Gaming, and its rivals, aren’t afraid to try new things.

All live dealers have been working together to improve their services and platforms over the years. It is important to keep up with the latest technology in live streaming.

Authentic Gaming knows that throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks is only going to get you so much.

“Every market differs,” Bator says. Now, the focus is on nitty gritty. What are the American players going to like most? What about the players from Michigan, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania?”

The answers to these questions may inspire new products and ideas that could become live dealer games in the future.

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