Bringing together the digital and physical worlds

Written by Dominic Le Garsmeur

Dominic Le Garsmeur, VP Product – iGaming at Light & Wonder, explains how the land-based industry’s embrace of digital enhancements can be of great benefit to players and operators alike.

Digital and land-based convergence has been a key driver of our strategy for years. Players can already enjoy the same great games in the land-based arena and on the move on their devices. We know those players who do enjoy playing across channels are worth a lot more compared to players who only play in one place (our initial insights suggest around 30% more). With our rich portfolio of land-based games we have gained powerful insights into how content can transition to digital, taking the essence of the casino game cabinet with its curved screens and high-tech audio and distilling it into a mobile gaming experience.

Succeeding in delivering cross platform content has become about more than just replicating great games on a small screen. We have taken successful digital mechanisms and adapted them to work with our iconic gaming brands. A digital-first mechanism such as Megaways has been successfully implemented on our brands that originate in the land-based sector. 88 Fortunes Megaways has been hugely popular in North America, getting players to trust and enjoy a new (to many of them) game mechanic alongside one of the most trusted slots brands in the market.

But true convergence is about going a lot further than good game conversions – digital technology will revolutionise the casino experience over the next few years. There are some big questions we at Light & Wonder are asking ourselves: How can we bring/introduce digital ways of thinking into the world of real-money gaming? How can we increase the thrill and wonder of our casino players through digital technology? What does the casino of the future look like?…

Ask operators about the digital advances they want to see and the response that generally comes back revolves around the unified wallet, and a single account used across all channels certainly makes sense. Ask players and they tell you they want a lot more. They are seeking a richer gaming experience, with the enjoyment shared and multiplied between friends; the convenience of a wallet is great, but not at the top of their list. Fundamentally, we see convergence as the delivery of a digital mindset into the casino player’s experience.

Getting operators on board with the idea of a great player experience powered by digital benefits all stakeholders. Consider this vision: a group of friends arrive at a casino resort and embark on a slots contest through a virtual leaderboard on their phones, with the winner claiming a free meal at the casino’s top restaurant.

When someone hits a big win the whole group is notified – they even see which machine their buddy is playing on in the real-time interactive map, with a video of the crucial moment available to watch and share on social media with a single click. In the background, the unified wallet smooths out the experience, allowing play from the casino floor to the poolside.

Whilst some of our most forward-looking operators want to see new digital experiences implemented quickly others are more cautious, especially those tribal and regional operators who need time to adapt to these new products. There will also be many operators who aren’t in iGaming states thinking “this isn’t for us”. But we’ve seen digital technologies transform almost every industry and ours is no different. It’s up to us to highlight the opportunity that is here for everyone – we can deliver fantastic digital experiences into the hands of their players while they are at the bar, at the machine, or in their room.

Folks from the digital world don’t often appreciate how deeply involved Light & Wonder are with casino operators at a systems level. We provide not only game cabinets but are a leading supplier of a whole range of casino management systems. We are running the loyalty program tools, machine management systems, digital signage, and a host of other systems core to helping casinos create thrilling experiences. Understanding how to get games into the hands of players when they are away from the floor, and how to target them with marketing and promotions across the whole operator estate, provides us with a powerful 360-degree view of the patron. The depth of knowledge provided by this business feeds straight into our ideas for new digital tools.

Fundamental to our recent rebrand is the concept of placing the player at the centre of everything we do. Together with our operators we want to enhance the enjoyment of gaming and iGaming through digital technology – something that will have a hugely positive impact on the bottom line. We are only at the early stages of this journey and as both a supplier and as players we are so excited to see what comes next!

October 27th 2022