Online slots remain the dominant product in online casino, but despite a huge number of titles available to players, there are no guarantees that growth will follow, says Pavlos Sideris, director of Double Up Media.
New products such as live casino and innovations such as Megaways have proved very popular with players in recent years, but the volumequantity of content that is produced by online slots developers points to the popularity of the product and its prevalence in the industry.
But in a way, the huge quantity of slots titles available to players also points to key challenges for both operators and content producers. Fand for the purposes of this article we are going to focus on one supplier, the live casino market leader Evolution.
Evolution launched nearly 20 years ago with a focus on live casino and in 2022 the group is, by far, the largest supplier of live casino products to operators worldwide and continues to record seriously impressive growth.
In the nine month period from January to September 2002 its operating revenues increased 36.5% to €1bn, EBITDA was up 38% to €729m and its profits were up 43% to €620m, while in the third quarter revenues were up 37% to €378.5m, EBITDA increased 35.3% to €261m and profits rose a very impressive 40.5% to €221.3m.
Such numbers testify to the huge growth Evolution is enjoying and during its most recent call with investors, CEO Martin Carlesund pointed out that the group’s biggest issue currently was getting staff on-boarded and trained quickly enough to meet demand for its live casino products.
Importance of online slots
The importance of online slots in the UK online gambling market is also clear when looking at the industry’s statistics. The UK Gambling Commission’s figures for the sector show that online casino games generated £4bn in gross gambling yield, with online slots generating £2.9bn of that total.
At Double Up Media we are also keenly aware of the segment’s importance. Our leading affiliate websites are NoWagering.com, which focuses heavily on slots bonuses and free spins, while our website Slot Gods is the go-to source for players who are interested in discovering and playing the best and newest online slots titles.
Slots growth target
Despite Evolution’s strong third quarter results, the group said it remained unhappy with the contribution from its online slots/random number generated (RNG) divisions, with revenues from its RNG units increasing 11% to €68m in the third quarter, but on a pro-forma basis RNG/online slots growth came in at +2%.
Commenting on the figures, Carlesund said: “This is not yet satisfactory. We have delivered too few slot games during the past period, however we remain fully committed to the target of double-digit growth.”
For Carlesund the solution is to produce more content on a more regular basis. The idea seems to be that a high quantity of live online slots products in the market will translate into more casino players playing them.
Carlesund also commented on Evolution’s One Stop Shop (OSS) platform, which enables operators to tap into Evolution’s B2B services and features through a single access point. Its RNG sales and revenues are also tied to that unit’s performance.
“We continue to see great potential in the One Stop Shop and are now focusing on accelerating rollouts” of new titles,” he said. His comment implies that the group hasn’t (yet) maximised its B2B sales funnel that will see more of its clients take up both live and RNG offerings through the OSS.
Evolution has in the past few years acquired some of the most well-known online slots developers in the industry such as NetEnt and Red Tiger Gaming in 2020, Big Time Gaming in 2021 and, most recently, NoLimit City.
Carlesund also commented that one of his biggest challenges is organising the group’s teams to work in the most efficient way possible, but with such resources at his disposal it seems surprising that it still isn’t producing as many slots titles as it would like.
In fairness to Evolution, the issue also potentially relates to its focus on live casino. The vertical attracts many more VIPs and high spenders and it’s worth wondering how many of the operators that sign B2B agreements with it are focused on online slots.
In addition, it is not a casino content aggregator that brings together a large number of slots suppliers and makes thousands of titles available to operators from a single integration.
The group’s comments about online slots however point to a contradiction with the theory that the more content is brought to market as quickly as possible, the more volume it will generate from players.
Digital slots targets
It’s difficult to know why its players don’t play as many slots games as Evolution would like, but it’s worth remembering that some of the most popular slots have been the same for many years (i.e. Rainbow Riches, Gonzo’s Quest), while suppliers such as IGT and Light and Wonder make the most of tying in their most well known land-based titles with their online offerings.
When Evolution acquired NoLimit City, Carlesund said: “We want to hand over the best content in the world to the end-user.” However, an obvious point to make is that when large quantities of content are pushed into the market, questions about differentiation, standing out in a crowded field and quality vs. quantity also come up.
Evolution is a hugely successful company in its own right and it may seem churlish to nitpick about its online slots, especially when they are not its core product. But having acquired four or five slots developers in the past few years and made a point about strongly growing that vertical, industry observers will be closely watching to see if Evolution can reach the slots targets it has set itself.