Evolution Gaming has just lost its effective monopoly on live dealer casino games in the United States. Its first competitor will be Playtech, which has launched its live dealer product through online casino operators in Michigan and New Jersey. The technology provider made the announcement on Christmas Eve.
Aristocrat offered $2.9 billion, but Playtech announced today that it will postpone action on that offer until Groundhog Day. In the meantime, Playtech is in talks with JKO’s leadership.
Playtech’s entry into the lucrative live casino market is likely to impress these suitors, with Evolution reporting in its October earnings report that high demand for live casinos grew by more than 53 percent in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the third quarter of 2020. This includes Evolution’s global operations, not just those in the U.S. online gambling market.
However, Playtech will not be Evolution’s only competitor. The two companies may soon face additional competition from Scientific Games (SG), which announced in November that it was acquiring Authentic Games to enter the U.S. live dealer market.
In addition, Playtech’s leaders went beyond flipping the switch to activate the program’s live-hooker gambling studios in Atlantic City and Schofield, Michigan.
Both facilities represent Playtech’s first entertainment-driven live casino product in the U.S. and the next step in Playtech’s strategic expansion in the U.S.
Playtech’s share price soared from $12 to $18.33 when news of Aristocrat’s takeover bid broke. Then, when JKO announced that it was entering the market in November, the stock reached $22. As of today, the stock is trading at $19.11.
Playtech’s live dealer games are already very popular
As of today, Playtech’s Live Big Shot and Roulette games are 2 of the 6 most popular pairs of games played on Gun Lake, based on a ride with Michigan’s online casino operator Parx Interactive.
Also today, New Jersey’s Bet365 listed live roulette as the number one player in its new online casino product. According to Playtech, the operator launched a live dealer product in conjunction with Play Gun Lake.
Playtech calls this game the Bet365 highlight Quantum Roulette Arcade.
As a key game in our multiplier roulette portfolio, Quantum Roulette is tailored to the U.S. market and designed to create a new arcade experience. It’s a double-zero auto roulette table with a new 1,000x multiplier, the first real-time multiplier roulette variant to launch in both states.
The games available on Christmas Eve include: Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Full Gamble Blackjack, allowing an unlimited number of players to play.
Following the initial product launch, additional products will be introduced, including a sports-driven environment, a new arcade experience offering new ways to participate in live casinos, and the introduction of some of our leading live game shows.
Playtech’s Live Dealer History
While SG is coming, Playtech and Evolution may enjoy their duopoly for a while. Establishing a live dealership studio will take time beyond what is needed for regulatory approval.
In Michigan alone, Playtech’s work to launch Live Dealer began about a year ago, and in February 2021, it announced a partnership with Parx. The following month, it revealed that it had secured a lease on the Southfield property and would build a state-of-the-art studio in this suburb 20 minutes northwest of Detroit.
At that time, Playtech partner Parx had not yet received approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to launch its online casino gambling. In April 2021 the MGCB gave that approval to Parx and the Michigan Potawatomi Indians to operate the Gun Lake Band of Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan. From that day on, it still took Playtech about eight months to start handling hand and spin roulette bets.
Today, MGCB Communications Specialist Mary Kay Bean told the Online Poker Report.
Playtech initially offered live dealer games through the Gun Lake Tribe’s online casino. Parx Interactive is the platform provider for the Gun Lake Internet gaming site, which is operated under the Play Gun Lake brand.
The initial live dealer games offered are Blackjack, Full House Blackjack, Baccarat, American Roulette and Quantum American Roulette.
Playtech received approval after meeting Michigan’s Internet gaming regulatory requirements, including an on-site review by MGCB staff.
More states coming soon
Despite the complexity of the process, Playtech plans to replicate it according to each state’s specifications.
Back in March, Shimon Akad, Playtech’s Chief Operating Officer, stated.
The new Michigan studio is the first step in our Live expansion in the U.S. as we look to offer Live studios in all regulated states.
If it does roll out in all regulated states, that would include two states – West Virginia and Connecticut – and even Evolution is currently inactive.
On the operator side, live dealers are no longer a matter of product differentiation, but more of a requirement. Online casinos without live dealer games still exist, but they are becoming fewer and fewer every day. Today, for example, PointsBet Casino announced its addition to the New Jersey roster. For now, its selection includes only Evolution games, so it’s just a coincidence that the timing coincides with the launch of Playtech.
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