Tobias Svensen, CEO of Casinogrounds talks to SiGMA News about what the latest trends in casino streaming
What's the attraction of watching someone else's games? Why do people watch casino streaming channels - is it for the entertainment value?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly why people generally enjoy watching others play games, however the concept has existed as long as the games have. In the world of electronic games it started in the Arcade halls, then at home with the Atari, and now lately has resulted in streaming services such as Twitch, which is used by millions. I look forward to taking part in the next innovation!
Casino streaming is popular for several reasons; entertainment/thrill of gambling without spending your own money, and some educational value about gambling in general.
What kind of demographic watches these streams, age, sex etc?
It's a very broad demographic, and it also varies a lot based on which streamer we are talking about. The majority of Casinogrounds' viewers are male 25-35, however it's a surprisingly high amount of 35+ as well. We also have female streamers - such as RoseyReels.
Slot streaming has raised a few eyebrows - why do you think people enjoy watching this?
In the early days of streaming (2015-2017) people in the industry thought I was crazy when introducing the concept. A significant portion of those who said: Who on earth would watch that? came back to me after checking it out and most ended up watching a lot longer than planned and had found it surprisingly fun. I believe our casino streaming community offers a platform where people with similar interests can share their experiences, wins, losses and knowledge in a separate and taboo-free space.
Would you agree that increased opportunities for social engagement and the transformation of social platforms into entertainment hubs has helped to facilitate the evolution of live casino games as a growing trend amongst a new generation?
There is no doubt that how the user behaviour of consumers has developed together with technology has created new opportunities and segments for our industry. I believe Evolution Gaming’s Game Shows is a clear response to the increase of video streaming’s popularity - a true game changer with the perfect timing.
Is the strong community aspect to streaming part of its appeal to players?
Casinogrounds.com like to believe we have the nicest and welcoming community of gamblers out there. Traditionally gambling online has been somewhat of a taboo, and people generally don't post their big wins/losses on Facebook. By participating in a gambling community, you have a safe zone where all the members share their passion for gambling, and you can share your experiences and get feedback from like minded people.
Which games are currently the biggest attractions?
Casino streamers compete to have the most interesting content constantly. This has made high volatile games a clear trend since the beginning. We also introduced Table Games Tuesday with Evolution Gaming and LeoVegas lead by our popular streamer Letsgiveitaspin with great success.
Are streamers still doing it for fun or have they become more business orientated? What makes a good streamer?
This varies a lot, but the most successful ones tend to be genuine gamblers with an entertaining personality. Casinogrounds' spends a lot of time evaluating streamers that want to take part on this area. A "business-first" streamer tends to fail in the long run as the audience tend to see through reactions that are exaggerated/fake.
There are also many streamers who buy followers/views and play with funds provided by the casino. My strongest recommendation for any operator considering a streamer-corporation is to check out their history on websites such as SocialBlade.com. Its fairly easy to understand that if someone gets 10,000 followers their first day on Twitch, that something is clearly not right.
This example is from one of the larger streamers these days, and when doing business with these you are supporting misleading advertising, unethical practises and on a general note these tends to have an unhealthy way of promoting in terms of responsible gaming. We take pride in both showing the ups and downs and being transparent about this with our followers.
Have tightening regulations and laws across Europe been a cause for concern for casino streamers?
Changing regulations is naturally something that causes concerns, but also opportunities. Casinogrounds takes compliance very seriously and we strive to follow all local regulations.
The casino streaming community has, in the past, cultivated a reputation for unethical behaviour. Has the casino streaming community matured and have more stringent regulatory changes had an overall positive effect?
In the early days casino streaming was completely new, and there was no experience in this. An unfortunate result was that some operators provided "fake money" to streamers which was not disclosed to the audience. There were also quite a few streamers with a "business-first" mindset who ended up sending the same group of players around to various operators on high CPA's.
I believe the strengthened regulations have had a minor effect in leading operators to being more careful with how their brand is protected - however there is still a long way to go with some recently respected brands taking on streamers I personally consider to be fraudulent and unethical. Casinogrounds and other streamers who care about the streaming communities are in contact with these operators, and most are complying with our requests to stop the co-operations.
Some critics contend that casino streamers present an unrealistic image of gambling as they are backed by deals and have access to seemingly endless deposit bonuses that regular players don’t. How much truth is there to this in your opinion?
There's definitely truth to this. When playing with endless deposit bonuses you naturally gain a statistical edge on the house which usually results in break-even or net-profit over time.
Our streamers are very transparent about this, educating the audience about how bonuses work and that the streaming bonuses gives them an advantage over normal players.
To further stress this we also start all our YouTube content with a reminder that the big wins featured are just a few game rounds of thousands and that the house statistically always wins. Gambling is entertainment, and we do our best to remind our audience about this.
Can you tell us a bit more about the measures Casinogrounds has in place to promote responsible gambling and protect potentially vulnerable players?
We have a custom e-training course about responsible gaming for all our streamers, to ensure they promote responsible gaming through their streams. We also provide various guides and tips on how to use the various limitation/self exclusion tools available. We've also paid for quite a few Gam-Ban licenses for members of the community who needed it.
Our Forum also has a dedicated section where problem gamblers, or people at-risk can open and share experiences and seek support or guidance.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
Keeping up with the ever-changing local regulations, an increase of unethical streamers promoting low quality operators with bad player protection and keeping up a healthy level of innovation within the sector.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
I believe we will see influencer marketing through casino streaming much more as it becomes mainstream. I suspect some bigger players from other sectors to look into casino streaming. I also believe there will be some interesting M&As in 2020 as a consequence of the current industry state with operators and affiliates struggling to meet expectations due to lower margins, more regulated and taxed markets - and finally the impact Covid-19 is having on the world and our behaviours is naturally something to monitor closely.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
Our industry is online, but the best relationships are still made face-to-face. The various conferences offer a great platform for meeting new partners, but more importantly a means to ensure your existing business relations is working optimally. All done in an informal setting with loads of fun news, innovations and activities to check out.
About SiGMA Expo:
The iGaming summit SiGMA is setting its sights on Asia. Our ground breaking Asian iGaming expo will be held in Manila, on the 8th & 9th of June 2020. SiGMA's largest venue to date will bring together high quality conferences and content, premium networking opportunities, and luxury networking event. 10,000 delegates from across Europe, the US, and Asia are expected to attend, making this one of the biggest shows to unite East and West in the region. To become a part of the fastest paced Asian iGaming event, book a pass or sponsor & exhibit.
For those planning to attend SiGMA Manila, AIBC Manila and ICE Asia at SMX on June 8-9th, this is the buzzing business environment to be expected: