LIVE BINGO


Marked increase in live game product offering across all gaming verticals over the past couple of years


With more and more homes in the UK having faster broadband connection and a host of companies offering cost effective live streaming to gaming operations, the industry has seen a marked increase in live game product offering across all gaming verticals over the past couple of years. Lee Knott, Head of Marketing Services at St Minver investigates.

THE GROWTH IN LIVE streaming began within the casino space offering live blackjack and roulette in an attempt to recreate the experience and environment that a casino player would be used to either at their local casino or in Las Vegas.

This vertical has pretty much snowballed from there. So what of the Bingo industry? The offline version of the game has traditionally centred round the caller who, in some bingo halls, enjoyed minor celebrity status. The rapport with the customers and the bearer of the winning number on a full house which could make the person's evening (or year) meant they were more of a host than a caller.

Currently, the bingo industry is seeing more brands utilising live bingo with varying degrees of success. The appeal is there for all to see. Firstly, it provides the user with a face from the brand which they wouldn't normally see with an online business, giving them reassurances that the site they are playing on is legitimate. Secondly, it appeals to users who are more used to the traditional game of bingo where you would have a caller in a hall - remember that we are seeing a marked increased in the silver surfer demographic.

Whilst many bingo sites have gone down the live caller route as their main USP or as an additional vertical on their product offering, skins such as ChitChat Bingo and Littlewoods have a live bingo room with a host rather than a caller. Even with the advancement of bandwidth, lags on calls and the displaying of bingo numbers mean that the experience with a live caller can still be a bit clunky. With a host or, to a certain degree, a live bingo caller, the focus is on the interaction with the players and the opportunity to be even more personable, welcoming the player into the room, giving shout-outs for hirthHavs. etc. Whilst a brand cannot be built by one individual (there may be a certain Fox who disagrees), one or two hosts who provide the players with some light relief or some adult conversation at the end of a busy day can only help in building brand loyalty.

The subject of localisation should also extend to verticals such as live streaming, however, when a business decision has to be made, budgets always become a factor with many companies opting to outsource this to providers in Eastern Europe. Whilst there may be an appeal for a certain type of casino player to have a glamorous blonde from another country dealing their next winning hand, the same cannot be said of a bingo player who would like to relate to the person at the other end. It is all about knowing and understanding your customer and what they want.

"Live bingo provides the user with a face from the brand which they wouldn't normally see with an online business, giving them reassurances that the site they are playing on is legitimate."

Companies such as GTECH G2 - who saw early success in its bingo live room - have moved many of their headline promotions to this room, such is the response from the players and their enjoyment and interaction with the host and other players. Live streaming has also been extended to promote game releases such as the recent Chippendales Slot, where guest appearances from the Chippendales themselves nearly took down the live streaming feed due to the number of players clambering to get a glimpse of them - god knows what would have happened if they had not been fully clothed.

With the speed of technology-continuing as it is, the sophistication of live streaming in bingo can only advance, and the possible up-sell a host can provide in the room. A good example of this is prior to a big ticket game, the host could show a 30 second video clip of the Caribbean holiday that is being given away. The possibilities for live streaming are endless and with the future in TV. 3D means it is only a matter of time before the strap-line "Play bingo/casino/poker in your own home" is a reality, almost..
 
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