Simon Croft: Societal changes are driving live innovations

Much has been said, written and is still to be debated during the following weeks and months, and maybe beyond, regarding the current climate of not just the industry but society on a global scale.

Narrowing that focus, cross-selling and virtuals have formed a central theme of many discussions, however CasinoBeats was recently invited to demo a further such timely introduction over two years in the making.

Live Solutions displays a product offering that is very much a hybrid between RNG table games and live casino, designed with engagement at the forefront of end goal ambitions.

Following a meticulous process in aiming to get the product offering to its current capabilities, presenters with the offering also all work remotely anywhere they like in the world and not from studios.

Simon Croft, CEO of Live Solutions, delves into the inner workings of the introduction, placing safer/responsible gambling at the core and ensuring social elements remain a crucial aspect moving forward.

CasinoBeats: Thanks for agreeing to speak to us, could you begin by talking our readers through the Live Solutions offering and its USP/s?

Simon Croft: Live Solutions in basic terms is a casino table games platform provider, offering live video streaming for online players across a variety of the most popular casino games. These include Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and Craps, plus the likes of Fan Tan, Dragon Tiger and Asian Baccarat for our Asia-facing operators, but our technology and gaming experience is far more reaching than that.

  “THIS COMMUNITY LEAD EXPERIENCE PROMOTES STRONG PLAYER RETENTION”

Our RNG casino table games feature state-of-the-art video chat, allowing all parties involved the very best interaction and recreating the excitement of a real-life casino environment. Players and presenters can converse seamlessly during games, levelling up the traditional typing-based communication of other online gaming formats.

Players are made to feel welcome and comfortable by our live presenters, who host the live table games which are available in any language or currency. With more than 1800 table hosts, speaking 39 languages, we are able to cater for any jurisdiction and player demand. This social emphasis on our online casino gaming encourages the participants to interact and build relationships, something which cannot be realised through text alone.

This community lead experience promotes strong player retention. Through the use of presenter fan clubs and face-to-face video chat for VIP management, the divide between operator and player is broken down and made much more personable. Enhancing the customer involvement and reaching them on a level unseen with other formats available.

All our available card games are multiplayer and multi-handed, harnessed within our advanced HTML5 gaming interface which allows for super-fast loading and cross-device capability. Optimised for the best possible performance across lower-end technology and low data consumption situations, our software enables all players the optimum playing experience.

The Eye in The Sky, our all-seeing control room ensures everything runs smoothly across all games and encompasses our key focus towards social and gambling responsibility, as you would experience in a land-based casino. The face-to-face contact our presenters have with players advocates an even bigger opportunity to spot the warning signs and act accordingly without delay, protecting players before issues get out of hand.

“…THE IDEA OF A COMPLETELY DISTRIBUTED BUSINESS, VOID OF AN OFFICE, WAS OUR PLAN FROM THE OUTSET”

Our pit bosses cycle through all active tables regularly to ensure players and presenters are acting responsibly, plus all table participants have the ability to curb any video stream which automatically activates a table check procedure. 

CB: Many within the industry are anticipating that the COVID-19 pandemic is to bring long-term change, have current issues been factored in? Were such changing dynamics envisioned during the long process to get where you are now?

SC: The current global situation is unprecedented and will continue to disrupt the industry for the foreseeable future. This disruption, although catastrophic for many businesses has opened opportunities for others, such as Live Solutions.

Although we’ve been pushing the concept of live tables all along, this enforced change in society has created the ideal environment for our platform.

Nobody could have envisioned the position in which we all find ourselves, but the idea of a completely distributed business, void of an office was our plan from the outset. This has meant our business hasn’t skipped a beat and continues to grow without interruption.

Being 100 per cent online, from our staff, to our players and clients means the entire infrastructure of our offering can be accessed from home. Players can use any platform and clients can access the back-office control room from any location simply by hooking up to an internet connection.

These imposed lockdown restrictions across the world are forcing a complete rethink in how companies and people work. It’s inevitable that online businesses, such as ours, will benefit from this new thinking and new working practices.

“WE WANTED TO EMULATE THIS EXPERIENCE AND THE INTERACTIONS … AND BRING IT TO THE ONLINE WORLD”

CB: There’s numerous examples of firm’s aiming to recreate the look and feel of land-based casinos, but why did your focus enter around that of engagement with dealers and fellow players alike?

SC: People visit real bricks and mortar casinos not only for the thrill of gaming, but also for the community side. We wanted to emulate this experience and the interactions which take place and bring it to the online world.

It’s human nature to chat, to be personable and this is exactly what we’ve been able to build into our products. Live streaming means players can interact like never before at online tables. They can build a rapport with the presenter and other participants.

Our client’s VIP management is not a faceless bonus email, they are visible and approachable. Our client’s social and gambling responsibility is no longer solely reliant on the success of a coded algorithm, it is personal. One presenter monitoring 10 players is far more effective at spotting potential issues than any computer-generated assumption.

Those who believe that customers are solely there to play and try to win in this type of gaming genre are very wrong. Players are there to socialise, share their experiences and enjoy their gaming time with real people, not just randomly selected names on a screen.

CB: Responsible and safer gambling measures are of the utmost importance, especially in the current climate, how much of a part of Live Solutions do presenters play regarding those issues?

SC: Our presenters are our first line of defence. Face-to-face live streaming means everyone at a table can see and been seen by each other. The presenters can see the players at first hand, rather than simply seeing them as an avatar image and user account name tag.

“PRESENTERS ARE SPECIFICALLY TRAINED TO SPOT THE SIGNS WHICH MIGHT LEAD TO FUTURE ISSUES”

The ratio of presenters versus players has been kept low deliberately for this reason. On most tables this ratio is 10/1, but on our Blackjack table this ratio is even lower at 7/1. This enables close contact and a constant link between the table host and players for the duration of the session.

Presenters are specifically trained to spot the signs which might lead to future issues. If any concerns are raised, a simple escalation to our Eye in The Sky control room means the correct help and advice, which might be the difference between a player spiralling out of control, can be provided at the earliest opportunity.

CB: What further safeguards are in place across the wider product offering? 

SC: Aside from the Eye In The Sky technology and live presenter awareness, we also offer client operators the ability to push and pull data from our servers to assist with real-time RG interactions with players. 

For example, the platform casino back-end can automatically alert our pit bosses that a player is staking outside of their usual behaviour pattern using data from the operator. This in turn would trigger a welfare check with the player, utilising the 2-way chat functionality of the video streaming.  

This rapid response mechanism means operators and ourselves can act in real-time to alleviate a problem, as opposed to the rather laborious 24-48-hour timescales of other online gambling genres.

CB: How, for example, would a user displaying erratic behaviour be picked up and what action would be taken?

SC: Most likely the table host would alert the control room.The control room is the hub of everything and most notably our focus on responsible gambling. Once a presenter has escalated a concern to the control room it is investigated further, and details are passed onto the relevant operators.

In the most extreme cases, if no response is received from the operator, we can act ourselves by following a number of internal procedures which range from direct welfare conversations with the player, to removing the player from a table thus putting an immediate halt to an intensifying issue.