Dylan Slaney, SVP Gaming at SG Digital, talks about how online casino can bring in a different type of player to sports betting, before sharing his excitement over taking Free Rounds to the US and rolling out Jackpot Wars – a unique take on a jackpot product
SBCA: Can you explain the current state of play for regulated igaming in the US?
DS: The US has been really interesting. For the last four or five years, we’ve been live in New Jersey as the only igaming state, and towards the back end of last year Pennsylvania opened up and hopefully we’ll see two or three more states open up over the next 18-24 months.
NJ is doing fantastically well I think for everyone in igaming. We’re seeing record numbers including year-on-year growth. A little bit of news as well is that we’ve just come out of January with our record month across our platform and for our first party business as well, so we’re really excited to see the new states come on board.
We’ll be launching Pennsylvania probably during Q1, so we’re absolutely thrilled to be live in NJ and looking forward to continued growth throughout the next few years across the US.
SBCA: Picking up on sports betting, do you think the successful spread of this vertical has lowered the barriers for more states to regulate on the online casino side?
DS: Yes absolutely, I think when you look at the infrastructure that goes around setting up sports, with an account platform or the KYC, geolocation, responsible gaming/betting programs age verification, things like that definitely help from a time to market point of view for casino. And we’ve also seen in the mature UK/European markets that sports and casino are complementary.
We’ve seen in the US as well, even through the early days of sports betting being live in NJ alongside casino, it’s bringing in a new type of player. DraftKings has got a very different type of player to Golden Nugget, so we’re seeing that complementary balance where sports and casino can live side by side and really enhance the new player experience.
SBCA: How excited are you to go live with DraftKings in the NJ market?
DS: Super excited. It’s an announcement we made three weeks ago. We’re absolutely thrilled to be live with probably one of the leading players in the casino and sports industry in the US. We’ve now got over 100 games live with DraftKings over the last few weeks. I’m looking forward to continued growth and collaboration with the DraftKings team.
SBCA: Another recent rollout for Scientific Games in New Jersey has been with Free Rounds; can you tell us a bit more about this?
DS: It’s been a stable bonus mechanic in the UK and Europe for many years. We have about 40% of our UK and European operators using our Free Rounds product. We put that into the US early December and we’ve now got three or four operators that are using that on a continued basis, so we expect that to roll out, not only to more operators in NJ but then we’ll also go into Pennsylvania and other states where we launch igaming.
And we see it as a core mechanic of the platform, allowing players to use their free rounds on a wide variety of compatible games. As I said, it’s been around in bonussing from a UK and European point of view for many years, and we’ll see that continue out into NJ and other states.
SBCA: In terms of how it works as a bonus mechanic, is it just for your library of titles, or can it be applied for games that operators take across other aggregators?
DS: It’s a great question. Most free round products that exist in the industry only work on a set amount of content. As Free Rounds is a platform feature that lives on our Open Gaming System (OGS), it not only takes care of products that we build through our own studios, but also studios and partners that are integrated in the right way can also take advantage of our Free Rounds product.
Now in the UK and Europe we have something like 500 games that are already Free Rounds enabled across a plethora of different content – so not only our own content but people like Big Time Gaming are using Free Rounds as well.
We’ll take that same mechanic out into the US as well so it’s available on any game that’s live on our platform so long as it’s integrated in the right way.
SBC: Just a final question on Jackpot Wars; why is it such a big deal for the online gaming industry?
DS: Jackpot Wars is a new innovation we launched at ICE. It fuses the world of random number generator casino gaming with the social gaming world. What we’ve developed is a platform feature that will, eventually, sit across any game on our platform.
Essentially, it allows players to interact with the game like they normally would but then actually opting to win a jackpot in a very new and innovative way.
Kind of like a fusion of social gaming with RNG, players can then create their own robot, they can create their own features around the robot and essentially enter that robot into a tournament and into a jackpot system that allows them to potentially win a number of different jackpot prizes.