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Svenska Spel to Join Lotteries Entertainment Innovation Alliance

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Svenska Spel to Join Lotteries Entertainment Innovation Alliance
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Swedish state-owned gaming operator Svenska Spel has signed an agreement to join Lotteries Entertainment Innovation Alliance AS (LEIA).

LEIA is a Joint Venture Company between Danske Lotteri Spil, Française des Jeux, Norsk Tipping and Veikkaus, which was established in the year 2018. The lotteries are working together to share resources in order to build a wider and efficient digital gaming offer, allowing these lotteries to address some of the common main challenges in the digital space, and foster open innovation. The aim is to develop liquidity games and to offer an enhanced range of games to the consumers.

“Svenska Spel is really happy to be a part of LEIA and look forward to a long-term strategic cooperation which will benefit both Svenska Spel and LEIA,” Patrik Hofbauer, President and CEO of Svenska Spel, said.

“We are really pleased to have Svenska Spel onboard as it will strengthen the Alliance to achieve its targets,” Olli Sarekoski, Chairman of LEIA and CEO of Veikkaus, said.

“We have worked hard the last two years establishing the venture, connecting the lotteries to a common marketplace for provision of games and we are well on track with our business plans. Svenska Spel accession into the venture will contribute with a broader portfolio of games, increased innovation power and further economies of scale effects,” Morten Eriksen, CEO of LEIA, said.

Industry News

Real Dealer Studios: Offering a fresh spin on classic roulette

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Real Dealer Studios: Offering a fresh spin on classic roulette
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Shane Cotter at Real Dealer Studios walks us through the groundbreaking new release, Volcano Roulette, and discusses whether classic table games need a makeover for today’s online audience.

Roulette is probably the most timeless casino game out there. Here’s what happened when we gave it a couple more balls. And a volcano.

The game we’re now launching is Volcano Roulette, and it’s fair to say that it’s a huge departure from what the industry is used to. The first thing players will see is the sleek, steampunk environment and a roulette wheel with that smoking volcano right in the middle. The game’s visuals, compared with typical RNG games, are several steps ahead thanks to the Cinematic RNG technology that Real Dealer invented. Essentially, this means the game was built on video that was produced the same way Hollywood films are made.

As cool as this game looks, it’s really the mechanics that set it apart. In every round, once the spin starts, one or two glowing lava balls can randomly shoot out of the volcano to become part of the action. These extra balls increase the chance of hitting a straight-up bet. If the player does land any straight-up bet, a special sequence starts where the numbers on the wheel shift, steampunk style, into multipliers. Then another lava ball erupts out to pick the multiplier for the straight-up bet win. These multipliers can be as much as 333x and apply to all straight up bets that land in the round. That means the player could win up to 999x their bet.

An eruption of innovation

What sparked this game’s theme is once again related to Cinematic RNG. We’ve got this amazing technology that gives us a huge amount of flexibility. It lets us make hyper-realistic looking games with any kind of action and put them in any setting we choose.

So one of our designers got the idea to have a roulette wheel where the numbers could drop down, shift, flip over and pop back up with different numbers, all of which would happen in an old-fashioned, mechanical looking way.

We were also having ongoing discussions about how to revamp the process of releasing the ball onto the table. And after a few sessions at the drawing board, we had the great idea of including a volcano.

Between the steaming volcano and the mechanical action of the changing numbers, the steampunk theme basically chose itself. Our 3D designers then set to work creating all the mechanical lightbulbs, cogs turning and all these different dials that give the game its character.

A degree of familiarity

Volcano Roulette is obviously a huge departure from what long-time players are used to. The challenge with revamping a classic is ensuring that when you innovate, you retain those elements of the game that the players love. That’s a balance that I believe Real Dealer Studios has managed to achieve.

That brings us to the question of whether online roulette needs a makeover. And the answer is both yes and no. As you can imagine, different players are after different experiences from the games that they play. Some prefer the classics while others want something completely new.

When this table game first moved into the digital space, it started off as a computer animation. It later improved, but still has that animated RNG feel. Later live games came in and have gained their own following. But for existing table game players used to that classic bricks-and-mortar casino feel or just looking for something higher quality, there was nothing out there.

Seeing this, we developed cinematic RNG to deliver a much better online experience, with enhanced audio-visual quality and heightened gameplay compared to other table games you find online. I wouldn’t call this a makeover – it’s getting back to what this game is all about and doing a better job of it in the online environment.

Of course, there are other players who are expecting new twists to the game. The key to catering to these different demands from players is to have an extensive portfolio that spans multiple themes and includes a range of features. Some might be done in classic style and include a dealer, others might be automatic and have multipliers.

Attracting new audiences

Where a full-fledged makeover becomes useful is when you’re trying to cross-sell table games to the larger pools of players coming from sportsbook and slots. The challenge here, however, is that each of these two demographics requires a completely unique approach.

To reach sports bettors, for example, we have created games that tie into real-world sporting events. Just last year, we had Hockey Fever Roulette which was launched for the Ice Hockey World Championship in May. The game was set in a man cave loaded with fan memorabilia and had rock music playing in the background. It was everything you would want in a hockey-themed game.

That was then followed by Rugby Fever Roulette, which was launched ahead of the Rugby World Cup. We wanted to make this game more personalised for each player, so we built a feature where players could choose between dealers and switch the visuals and thematics to match their favourite team.

Obviously, attracting new audiences was a major focus for these two games. But creating sports-themed titles also provided our operator partners with an opportunity to work our games into their event promotions. So, it had marketing benefits too.

Engaging with slots players is a completely different ballgame, however. Traditionally, there isn’t much cross-over between slots and table games. We therefore had to find a common ground between the two verticals. This is where slots-type features like multipliers, collect features and unique designs came into play. Cinematic RNG has really helped us here, letting us create some fantastic mechanics and immersive designs catering to the slots crowd.

Recently we took an even bolder step into the slots realm by partnering with the producers of an enormously popular slots title, 9 Masks of Fire. Our roulette version of the legendary game became an instant hit.

As 2024 progresses, we have plenty more titles in the pipeline which we are confident will offer a new spin on the classics and continue to drive engagement with players. Stay tuned!

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Industry News

Cheltenham and Grand National 2025 start now

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Cheltenham and Grand National 2025 start now
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The madness of Cheltenham and Grand National has been and gone. Congratulations on surviving; you’ve made it through and live to fight another day. So, what’s top of the agenda for today? Preparation for the 2025 edition’s of the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, of course!

Here are the six key planning and strategy points to consider in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success next spring.

The work begins now

Yes, Cheltenham 2025 is a long time away. But everything is fresh in your mind as of this moment. Many of the changes you may end up acting on could take a long time to execute, and there’s undoubtedly going to be countless foreseen and unforeseen priorities between now and the end of the year. Start now whilst 2024 performance is fresh in your mind and fresh within the wider business psyche. Keep the festival mindset running for as long as possible to maintain momentum and get flying out the stalls.

Involve all parts of the business

This is not just an exercise for the IT department. Every relevant stakeholder from around the business should be represented. What were customers saying to Customer Services? How did Trading cope when their bet tickers slowed down? What offers and promotions did Marketing take note of that they would like to offer next time? Bring in stakeholders from all business arms to create a holistic view of where the opportunities lie and what challenges need to be overcome.

Look at the data

Get hold of all of your performance metrics from every component of your systems and take the time to do a deep-dive analysis on those numbers. If you haven’t got all the metrics that you’d like to have to hand? Well, there’s your starting point for the list of ‘things to fix immediately’.

Be honest with yourselves

Getting business involvement, analysing all the data, and prompt planning is all well and good. But if you’re not going to be brutally honest with yourselves as an organisation, it may be all for nothing. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge everyone’s hard work and remember all the things that you did right. But you also have to be your own harshest critics about what didn’t go so well and what could be improved on. There’s really no point in doing all this if you’re not going to seriously challenge yourselves to do better.

Next year won’t be the same as this year

You’re going to be delivering a various new features and functionalities, as well as making many changes to your internal systems over the next twelve months. So the technical landscape that 2025’s Cheltenham Festival and Grand National inhabited will be very different to the one just gone. How will that fancy new bet builder widget in development hold up under the unique stresses of Grand National day? What will your new AI recommendations engine do when everyone’s betting on just one event? You don’t need to answer these questions right now, and it’s highly likely that you won’t be able to answer all of these questions now. But you need to bake in consideration of Cheltenham and Grand National to your non-functional requirements for every change you make in the coming months.

Get a high-level plan diarised

You need to start now but you can’t finish now. This is something you’re going to need to come back to periodically until those Cheltenham gates open. It’s a simple but powerful scheduling task: put the key staging posts in relevant team’s diaries now. You don’t want wake up in a cold sweat one morning in January realising that you’re two months out from the Greatest Show on Turf and haven’t made notable progress on the fixes required from this year’s festivals.

 

By: Graham Cassell, Partner at Circle Squared

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Compliance Updates

Bet on Compliance: Navigating the Stakes with the UK’s Affordability Checks

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Bet on Compliance: Navigating the Stakes with the UK's Affordability Checks
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

By Isabelle Zanzer, Senior Regulatory Compliance Specialist at ComplianceOne Group

Feeling like the deck is stacked against you with all these talks of financial checks in gambling? Wondering if this new game plan will leave your privacy on a losing streak? If so, no need to bet on uncertainty anymore. We’re here to deal you in on the UK’s latest gamble towards responsible betting. Let’s shuffle through the details and lay our cards on the table, as we make sure you’re holding a winning hand in understanding what’s in play. Ready to roll the dice and dive in? Follow me.

On July 26, 2023, the UK Gambling Commission launched consultations on proposed reforms in the Gambling White Paper, focusing on areas like direct marketing, age verification, game design, and financial risk checks. This article delves into the latter, highlighting new financial vulnerability and risk assessments to safeguard customers.

The UK’s consultation introduces two checks for gambling: light-touch financial vulnerability checks and detailed financial risk assessments. The first tier of checks is designed to identify financial vulnerabilities such as bankruptcy orders or significant debts, using publicly available data. The second tier involves enhanced financial risk assessments triggered by significant losses, requiring more comprehensive scrutiny of a customer’s financial situation.

Thus, in simple terms, what is going to happen at the heart of the UKGC’s new measures are two-tiered affordability checks designed to assess the financial vulnerability and risk of consumers engaging in online gambling. The first tier involves unintrusive checks that will be triggered when a customer reaches a specified net loss within a rolling period, using publicly available data to identify potential financial vulnerabilities. To dive a little deeper, this check will be conducted if a customer either has net losses of £125 in a rolling 30 days or £500 within a rolling 365 days. It would need to include “at a minimum a customer-specific public record information check for significant indicators of potential financial vulnerability”, including whether the customer is subject to things such as a bankruptcy order, county court judgment, or individual voluntary arrangement. Net loss would be defined as loss of deposited monies with an operator, not counting restacked winnings or bonus funds.

The second tier represents a more detailed assessment of financial risk, which is activated at higher loss thresholds. A comprehensive financial review is required for gamblers with significant losses, examining their financial data including credit status and spending. If third-party data is unavailable, operators may directly seek customer consent for access, ensuring a thorough understanding of financial health.

The gambling industry’s reception of these checks has been cautiously optimistic, particularly regarding the initial, less invasive tier. However, the prospect of more detailed financial assessments has sparked debate, not only among operators but also among consumers wary of privacy infringement.

As the UK gambling sector adapts to these new regulations, the challenge will be to strike an optimal balance between safeguarding consumers and maintaining the operational viability of gambling platforms. The pilot study represents a critical step in this process, offering valuable insights into the practical implications of affordability checks and the potential need for adjustments in response to industry feedback and consumer concerns.

The outcome of the pilot study and subsequent parliamentary debates are pivotal in shaping the future of affordability checks in the UK gambling sector. As operators, regulators, and consumers navigate these changes, the overarching goal remains clear: to foster a safer, more responsible gambling environment that protects consumers from financial harm while ensuring the industry’s sustainable growth.

Striking the right balance in the new UK gambling regulations is like walking a tightrope. With the introduction of light-touch and in-depth financial risk assessments, operators may face the challenge of protecting players without overstepping into their privacy. These two-tiered checks aim to shield those at risk, using both public data and deeper financial insights.

The key here for operators will be to navigate these waters carefully, ensuring player safety while keeping the game fair and enjoyable. Now, when trying to find a balancing act, we need to consider the following:

  1. Regulatory Compliance Risk: Reviewing the existing practices against the UKGC’s affordability check guidelines, identifying discrepancies, and recommending changes to align with the new regulations.
  2. Data Privacy and Security Risk: Evaluating the ability to handle and protect sensitive financial data in line with GDPR and other data protection laws.
  3. Operational Risk: Assessing the impact of the new checks on daily operations and customer interactions.
  4. Financial Risk: Analysing the potential financial implications of the affordability checks on revenue and customer base.
  5. Reputational Risk: Considering the public and customer perception of the affordability checks, especially regarding privacy concerns, the key here, like in all relationships, is communication. For example, it is estimated that just the very highest spending 3 percent of accounts would undergo financial risk assessments. Most financial risk assessments – at least 80 percent – would be carried out through credit reference agencies. The checks are expected to be frictionless and not interrupt the customer journey unless concerns are raised. It is estimated that a further 10 percent of risk assessments will be done through limited data-sharing through third-party open-source banking, which is similarly straightforward from a customer perspective.

Finding this balance involves a tailored approach as one offered by ComplianceOne group, whereby operators can personalize checks based on individual player profiles, ensuring those at higher risk receive the attention they need while others continue to enjoy their play with minimal interruption. It’s about creating a safety net that catches those in need without trapping everyone else in unnecessary checks. The key to a winning strategy is the execute this balance, and understanding what is at stake: Reputation, Sustainability and Trust.

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