New Jerseyans will be the first to benefit from the latest product in a stepped-up US online casino live dealer competition. On July 18, Playtech announced its “live casino game show” reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The product, Adventures Beyond Wonderland (ABW), has live dealers interacting with augmented reality versions of Alice’s friends.
Playtech (Playtech PLC 460,20 -0,13%) is the underdog in a race for US online casino operator contracts for live dealer services. Evolution (Evolution AB (publ) 7,56 +1,61%) is the US live dealer leader.
Plus, newcomers are eager to take market share away from both companies. StakeLogic will enter the US market in April 2024 through the Bally’s Corporation (Bally’s Corporation 10,25 -2,47%) online casino site debuting next year in Rhode Island. Also, representatives of Light and Wonder (LnW) have long mentioned the company will offer online casino live dealer games. An LnW (Light & Wonder Inc 93,65 +2,91%) representative didn’t immediately return a request for comment from Bonus about the expected launch date.
So it’s no surprise that live dealer competitors are introducing games and features to differentiate their brands.
Online Casino Live Dealer and Alice
Enter Alice’s friends.
Yesterday, Playtech announced New Jersey online casino gamblers will see “a unique theme park player experience” while playing ABW. That’s because it “combines a revolving studio, augmented reality, and in-game hosting with real-time elements to create an immersive experience.”
Perhaps most notably, the live dealers look like characters from Carroll’s book.
Riffing on Playtech’s slots game, Adventures Beyond Wonderland: Magical Maze, the live dealer game puts a money wheel front and center.
Playtech describes the basics of the live dealer game:
Players place bets on numbers and bonus features. If the wheel lands on a “Mystery” segment one of two bonuses is triggered – Walter the Caterpillar blows a bubble or the March of the Card Soldiers commences, where players pick a card for extra Multipliers.
In one of ABW’s game experiences, a teapot rotates as bettors play Magic Dice. The tea party setting for the red-and-white dice game lends a visual element to the chance “to move up the game grid.”
How It’s Going
Today on Bet365 Casino in New Jersey, ABW was the second-most popular live dealer and table game. Blackjack outranked ABW in both categories.
As expected, ABW wasn’t live on PlayGunLake today. That site is Playtech’s Michigan online casino partner for live dealer games.
Part of that may be that Playtech will have to build its game to meet the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) specifications. Evolution’s game-creating partner, Galaxy Gaming, has already told Bonus each state regulator has different game requirements.
Live Dealer Bettors Will See More New Games
Most online gamblers only know Evolution in the six states with live iGaming marketplaces. (Nevada only offers online poker.)
Those states are:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
That’s because Playtech only offers online casino live dealer products in Michigan and New Jersey.
Meanwhile, StakeLogic may only offer blackjack, roulette, and baccarat when live dealer launches in Rhode Island.
Still, there seems to be evidence that Evolution feels the online casino live dealer competition is approaching.
However, Evolution didn’t answer questions from Bonus about ABW.
We are currently in a silent period ahead of our earnings report.
So looking back to March 14, Evolution CEO Martin Carlesund told investors the company will launch more than 100 games this year, with most of them debuting toward the end of 2023.
A highlight during the quarter was the launch of our first timed jackpot functionality in parts of North America. It is a new concept in the region that adds to the excitement for players.
Then on July 13, Evolution introduced Lightning Dice in New Jersey.
This appears to mean competition benefits bettors in terms of game diversity. However, research shows live dealer games may correlate with a high risk for addiction – second only to slots.
Live Dealer Games Generate Revenue
On March 14, Carlesund said Evolution’s revenue from live dealer games in North America rose 56% in Q1 2023 vs. Q1 2022. Worldwide growth due to live casino betting was only 36%. Globally, live dealer generates 84% of Evolution’s $481 million Q1 2023 revenue. He said the rest of the company’s income arrives via random number generator (RNG) games.
So even with a handful of legal online casino states and Ontario, North America is Evolution’s No. 3 revenue-generating region, behind Europe and Asia.
Playtech doesn’t separate out live dealer income but calls it a “strategically important” part of its $708 million B2B gambling revenue in 2022.
Unanswered Questions About ABW
In yesterday’s ABW press release, Playtech Live CEO Edo Haitin said:
We are proud to deliver the first true game show experience in the American market. Live Casino is not just part of the gambling industry, but also part of the entertainment industry – and it’s here to stay. In the current gaming landscape, players rightfully expect and deserve cutting-edge, experiential content that provides enjoyable moments of entertainment.
So that statement raises the question of whether ABW live dealers will be actors. That hasn’t been a requirement before. (Despite Evolution’s North American CCO Jeff Millar characterizing live dealer as entertainment in competition with Netflix.)
Plus, adding actors to the streaming content raises questions about possible conflicts with the strike by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).
However, Playtech didn’t respond by presstime to questions from Bonus about online casino live dealer competition, as well as ABW.
So Bonus still has no word on whether ABW bettors can expect to see the Cheshire Cat.