“We are definitely industry pioneers”

Amy Riches, Head of Marketing at Evolution Gaming.

(Exclusive interview).- Evolution Gaming talked with Focus Gaming News and proved why it’s one of the world’s leading companies in the iGaming sector.

Evolution Gaming is positioned as one of the leading iGaming companies of the international market. Amy Riches, Head of Marketing at the award-winning company, shared a detailed assessment on their success and the upcoming proposals to keep expanding their presence throughout the world.

Evolution was named Live Casino Supplier of the Year at the EGR B2B Awards for the eighth consecutive year. What makes the company so dominant in the market?

In the 10 years since Evolution was founded in 2006, we have focused on operational excellence, customer optimisation, product innovation and ensuring a scalable, reliable solution of the highest quality for our licensees. That has brought us to the point where we are able to offer the best technology, the best trained dealers, the best games and playing experience, and the greatest flexibility to deliver what operators and players want.

There is an increasing number of Live Casino providers in today’s marketplace as the barriers to entry have lowered. But our extensive experience, resources and our investment in continued innovation and improvement does set us apart.

Getting to the point where you can deliver true operational excellence and all the other things that mark Evolution out as a leader — and being able to deliver this from our own studios, from on-premise studios and via Dual Play tables in land-based casinos — does not happen overnight.

Today we have 200-plus tables operating across our seven European studios. We also have a growing number of Dual Play installations in land-based casinos.

We are also fortunate that we work with a number of leading operators, so when new markets regulate we are in a strong position to enter these markets and offer first-to-market advantage.

Our extensive experience, resources and our investment in continued innovation and improvement set us apart.

We have always focused on what the operator is looking to achieve and what players demand. That’s essentially what our focus on ‘customer optimisation’ is all about.

With Evolution, operators have so many options to differentiate their Live Casino product – dedicated tables and environments, dedicated dealer teams that get to know players, native speaking dealers, live promotions at the table that can be linked to key calendar events or to promotions and attractions in the land-based casino.

Not only that, but our licensees have access to an amazing portfolio of games. This includes exclusive games that are the result of our agreements with partners like Scientific Games — titles such as Live Three Card Poker and Live Ultimate Texas Hold’em for example. The portfolio also includes unique Evolution titles such as Baccarat Control Squeeze and our new Dream Catcher Live Lucky Wheel.

We continually push boundaries in terms of product innovation so that we can take the player experience to new levels. Examples of this include our award-winning Immersive Roulette, our Baccarat Squeeze options, as well as Dream Catcher, the first title in our brand-new game category Live Money Wheel. It was a momentous launch for us because Dream Catcher exposes Live Casino to players who don’t play usually table games and therefore don’t play Live Casino. There are millions of slot, bingo, and other players who we are reaching out to with this product.

Our competitors frequently look to replicate these games, which is further evidence of our leading the way in Live Casino. We are never content to sit back so, yes, we are definitely pioneers.

The games catch the eye initially, but there are so many things behind the scenes that continue to widen the gap between us and our competitors, such as our Game Integrity and Risk operations, which give operators significant peace of mind. Again, new providers cannot fully replicate those systems and that level of experience.

The agreement with Nederlandse Loterij was described as part of Evolution’s strategy to provide solutions in all regulated markets. Which other countries is the company targeting?

The agreement with Nederlandse Loterij again highlights Evolution’s strategy to be provider of the best solutions in all regulated markets. We are delighted to be working with the largest gaming operator in the Netherlands with huge reach across the country — and an organisation committed to contributing to a happy and healthy Dutch society. We are confident that we will further enhance the wide range of games on offer for safe and responsible play.

We will continue to strengthen our general position in the European market, while monitoring developments, as we always do, in re-regulating markets. We have a proven track record of being first to market in new markets, so naturally we will be looking to extend that record. We view our continued growth confidently, with good opportunities to further widen the gap to our competitors, through our strategy with its clear focus on profitable growth. To support future expansion, we intend to start the establishment of our third major studio in Europe during the year, which like our production studios in Riga and Malta will be able to serve multiple markets and customers.

Back in April, the company announced it would build a new state-of-the-art Live Casino studio in Canada, the first outside Europe. Does the company plan to reach other continents after this venture?

Our new Live Casino studio in Canada marks our eighth studio and is a very exciting period of growth for us and is our first major expansion outside of Europe. Our new studio will be in the New Westminster Vancouver area of British Columbia and will provide Live Casino games and services for BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation) and we expect to launch before the close of 2017. It is an agreement of high strategic importance to Evolution and the start of a potential expansion in North America. Canada is a regulated market, where each province has its own gaming and lottery operations under government management. The studio is initially being built for BCLC, but with the intention of serving other provinces over time.

Otherwise, the land-based casino market will continue to be a key focus area for us. We’ve already talked about how we are extending our Dual Play portfolio to maximise the convergence opportunity for land-based casinos and online operators. Convergence will be an important area for us in 2017.

We are proud of our record of helping our licensees achieve first-to-market advantage in new markets, and I would expect there to be more exciting news in this area as the year progresses.

In parallel we will continue to strengthen our leadership position generally in the European market. We will do that both with pure-play online operators and with land-based brands looking to create a seamless brand experience for players, whether they choose to play on-premise or online.

As always we will monitor developments in re-regulating markets. We are proud of our record of helping our licensees achieve first-to-market advantage in new markets, and I would expect there to be more exciting news in this area as the year progresses.

What’s your assessment on the global gaming market? What regions do you consider to be the most attractive in the short term?

From our perspective it’s doing very well. Live Casino continues to grow and strengthen its position among operators as well as players. The opportunities can be very exciting, as Live Casino is one of, if not the, fastest growing verticals. We continue to gain more operators, to sign new deals, to open more and more new tables for existing clients and to generally widen our portfolio of games and exclusive content.

Are we going to see any new moves like the introduction of Evolution’s Progressive Jackpot with the Jumbo 7 Jackpot to its Casino Hold’em game?

This year has been an exciting year in terms of product releases and demand for our products. The two unique Progressive Jackpots available on Live Casino Hold’em and Live Caribbean Stud Poker respectively have been key additions this year. The Jumbo 7 Jackpot-enabled version of the popular Poker-based game launched with an initial Jackpot fund of 1 million seeded by Evolution. With the player volumes we see on Casino Hold’em this could potentially grow to be bigger than all of the online progressive slots combined. That sort of money makes playing the game a lot more fun, and that is our mission with this Jackpot version of Casino Hold’em.

Likewise, our new Dream Catcher game appeals to a whole new player segment. We see Dream Catcher broadening out the market for Live Casino in 2017. The new game has been developed specifically to expose Live Casino to a new type of player, particularly slots and bingo players who don’t typically play table games. Dream Catcher is a different kind of game.

What are the company’s plans for 2017?

A key focus for 2017 is the extension of our Dual Play portfolio to maximise the convergence opportunity for land-based casinos and online operators.

Mobile is another area where we think there will be exciting activity, it continues to be key driver of growth. We have completed the rollout of portrait view gaming on smartphone. We feel this could be another incremental revenue earner for operators. When players have full choice to play games just the way they want on smartphone, there is a greater likelihood that players will enjoy ad hoc gaming sessions whenever they have a spare few minutes.