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Are Slots Still As Popular As Before? Complete Analysis By SOFTSWISS

In an analysis of which online game suppliers have become the most successful in recent times and which games are the most popular, SOFTSWISS, a leading crypto gambling provider based in Malta, was kind enough to offer all-inclusive ecosystem of end-to-end software solutions and share important insights into the regional markets. Additionally, the analysis below is introduced according to data from the SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator covering H222 and H123.

Europe

are-slots-losing-popularitySlots stay famous in Europe, although they lost almost 5 p.p. throughout the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023. However, regardless, their market share still surpasses 80% when looking at the other games. Contrary to this, the card games category enhanced its position by nearly 4 p.p.

Furthermore, the best 5 most famous game categories went through little changes in the second quarter of this year. The total wagers amount in the craps games category saw a slight growth, increasing 2.7 times compared to the former quarter. This increase in performance was ranked a number 5 for this type of game when looking at the best rankings, replacing the casual games category.

As for the most famous games throughout 2022, there are Midas Golden Touch, Big Bamboo and Gates of Olympus. Relatedly, the environment of the best games showed important quarter-to-quarter variations.

And finally, the most famous game suppliers for Europe are Amusnet (EGT), Evolution, Relax Gaming, Amatic, BGaming, Push Gaming and Pragmatic Play. However, their ranking had subtle quarter-to-quarter changes.

Asia

As for Asia, the best 5 most famous game categories have shown a steady trend since the last quarter of last year. Slots occupy an important position and their market share surpasses 80% in relation to other categories. Regarding most famous games, Gates of Olympus held the top spot in the fourth quarter of last year and has managed to maintain that position ever since. However, there’s another famous game, Bonanza Billion, which has seen fluctuations in its rankings within the top five, which started from the end of 2022. The total wagering amount of Aviator doubled throughout the first half of 2023, making the game the leader. Contrary to this, the once famous game, Hot Fruits is no longer a top game and lost its popularity throughout the second quarter of 2023.

Furthermore, when it comes to the most famous game suppliers in Asia, it needs to be pointed out that Pragmatic Play, BGaming and Evolution have been fighting relentlessly for positions among the top five during the last 4 quarters under consideration. Amatic and Play’n GO gave up their positions in the rankings to Amusnet (EGT) and 1spin4win and Amusnet topped the list in the second quarter of this year.

In this regard, the Head of SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator, Tatyana Kaminskaya, said: “The popularity of the Aviator game can be explained by simple interface and fast payouts. What sets it apart even further is its distinctive gameplay mechanics, which significantly differ from other crush games in the market. Notably, Aviator provides players with the illusion of “control” over the game, adding an extra level of excitement and intrigue.”

LaTAM

As for Latin America, the best 5 of the most famous game categories have stayed the same as last year, with slots leading the way with a 60% market share. Among the most famous games in the top five are: Roleta Brasileiri – 8.27%, Aviator – 5.97%, Gates of Olympus – 5.24%, Sweet Bonanza – 3.44% and Crazy Time – 3.14%.

Also, Aviator jumped to the top in the fourth quarter of 2022, meaning that it saw an important growth in the total wagers amount, almost 170 million more, compared to the former quarter. This achievement moved its supplier, Spribe, from 10th place in third quarter of last year to the fourth in the second quarter of this year, eliminating Play’n GO from the top five. Other suppliers, notably BGaming, Evolution, Playtech and Pragmatic Play stayed in the top five with slight change when it came to their rankings during 2022.

Moreover, the best 5 most famous games account for nearly25% of the total wagers amount across every game in Latin America. However, in Asia and Europe, it accounts for nearly 10%. Also, one more significant market trend is the bypassing of roulette slots, and the rising demand for live games.

On that note, Regional Business Development Manager at SOFTSWISS in LatAm, Carla Dualid, said: “Players in Latin America in the context of online gambling may differ from players in Europe in several ways. Most Latin American players bet through mobile devices and prefer online play. Local casino slot players tend to place small but regular bets, which distinguishes them from European online casino players, who, in turn, bet less frequently, but wager larger sums on slots. Speaking about the LatAm market, we should keep in mind that Brazil is the most active player in it. Such factors as economic potential, increasing Internet penetration, mobile accessibility, and regulatory changes are making the Brazilian market more attractive for operators.”

Source: “Are slots losing popularity”. European Gaming. October 3, 2023

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Light & Wonder Bringing Willy Wonka, Other Warner Bros. Classics to Online Slots

Slot machine behemoth Light & Wonder announced it expanded an agreement with Warner Bros. to bring more of the entertainment company hit movies to the gaming firm’s portfolio of online slots.

Willy Wonka
Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Light & Wonder is bringing slots inspired by the movie to internet casinos. (Image: Delish.com)

Las Vegas-based Light & Wonder will work with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Themed Entertainment to introduce more internet slot titles that are themed with Warner Bros. movies. The menu of movie-inspired slots will start with Willy Wonka: World of Wonka, which has long been a favorite among slots players at land-based casinos.

The long-term agreement will see Light & Wonder’s in-house game development teams leverage a series of highly successful brand licensing offerings from its long-term partner Warner Bros. Discovery Global Themed Entertainment, with titles across a range of verticals set to hit regulated markets worldwide through the OPENGAMING ecosystem,” according to a statement.

Financial terms of the expanded agreement were not disclosed. Light & Wonder has previously offered Willy Wonka-inspired lottery tickets in some states.

Wizard of Oz on Deck

Light & Wonder will roll out the internet version of the Willy Wonka: World of Wonka slot game in the US, UK and Europe. The company added other Willy Wonka-inspired online slots will be developed in the future.

As for other Warner Bros. movies that could be leveraged for iGaming content, “Wizard of Oz” could be on deck behind “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

“Light & Wonder is also set to bring another land-based hit, The Wizard of Oz: Road to Emerald City online as part of the global rights agreement, with additional branded games from the Warner Bros. Discovery portfolio to follow,” added the gaming company. “As with the Wonka titles, more hit Wizard of Oz games are planned for release across 2024 and beyond.”

The press release didn’t mention other Warner Bros. content that could eventually be used for themed slots, but the entertainment company has a rich content library including Batman films and Looney Tunes cartoons, among many more.

Why It Matters

News of the expanded Light & Wonder/Warner Bros. agreement comes at a time when iGaming operators are increasingly looking to bolster their slot portfolios, and that includes leveraging established and unique content to appeal to bettors.

That’s a practical approach because slots are higher-margin games, and players are usually devoted to particular brands and titles. As such, there’s an increasing intersection between online casino operators and slot machine manufacturers.

For slot machine manufacturers such as Light & Wonder, there are obvious benefits to boosting exposure to the online casino market. Notably, iGaming is projected to grow more rapidly and deliver better profit margins over the long-term than brick-and-mortar casinos and sports wagering.

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Three Online Slots Made with AI Assistance

three_online_slots_made_with_aI_assistanceThe casino industry online and on land has been using artificial intelligence (AI) for quite some time now. However, with the advent of Generative AI across several models, the term with broad meaning can now be used to generate images directly from text prompts.

With competition for your gambling dollar strong, and an ever-increasing number of people around the globe partaking in risk-based entertainment along with a variety of other reasons we’ll look at as this report progresses, it comes as no surprise that AI-generated images have found their way onto slot reels, albeit only on virtual online slot machines at this point.

April 2023 saw the release of at least three online slot titles with imagery created by or with the help of artificial intelligence. The three pioneering companies and titles we’ll cover here are NetGaming (Wild Buffalo Bonanza), Endorphina (Joker Ra), and BGaming (Alien Fruits). And while there could be more (disclosed or undisclosed) we’ll focus on these games as they all came out about the same time and have been heralded in the press – or at least press releases – as innovations and game changers.

Click on the following links to see release notes and details of the following slot titles developed with AI-assisted imaging:

Wild Buffalo Bonanza (released by NetGaming on April 13, 2023, to Whitehat Gaming operators and globally on 4-27) See here.

Joker Ra (released by Endorphina 4-27) See here.

Alien Fruits (released by BGaming on April 13, 2023) See here.

A Little Background on AI in the Gambling Industry

One of the most obvious ways AI has been used in the gambling world is for security Facial recognition coupled with AI has been used to identify card counters, self-excluded gamblers, banned cheats, and organized criminals from land-based operations. On the negative side, it has been used in whale playgrounds like Macau to identify high rollers in order to target them for casino profits through various tradecraft.

On the online end of things, AI can analyze data on player patterns and habits and when an aberration occurs even real-time play can be examined more closely by the machine or by operations management. If it appears the purported gambler is not behaving like the known player, steps can be taken to prevent fraud including theft from the player or casino such as money laundering.

AI is also used more extensively all the time in jurisdictions with robust player protection frameworks to identify problem gamblers and either intervene automatically or by alerting staff who know what to look for, what type of questions to ask, and which actions to take to protect vulnerable persons.

Artificial intelligence has been used by companies big and small in all online markets analyzed. There isn’t much public domain information available but reading between the lines can be productive when the story seems to be the same or similar if what is seen in the gaps is the same across multiple platforms, markets, and jurisdictions.

In a nutshell, the most obvious use of AI in online casinos is in collecting data on players’ behaviors and then shaping the online experience to give gamblers the most satisfying experience possible without affecting the odds or any other element of a fair game.

Understanding what type of slots most appeal to a certain player and then making similar titles with some of the same or similar maths or mechanics will allow the operator to further define what the player is after. Was it simply the buffalo theme or was it the risk and reward factor? Was it the fact there are two bonus rounds or the possibility to buy one of the bonuses?

Just a Few of the Things Affected by AI

These are but a few of the elements that can be sussed out to deliver a better player experience. A better experience means more intense engagement and deeper engagement means longer playtime. Since the House always wins in the end (or at least can maintain an edge until time guarantees it if players don’t quit while they are ahead), the longer a player plays the more they will lose, on average.

The type of bonus you use most often, the sort of wagering requirements you normally accept, whether or not you are more apt to take a once-in-a-lifetime huge cashout type offer or are simply happy to greatly extend playtime and are willing to accept a huge percentage match in exchange for liberal terms and a maximum cap on how much you can win – these can all be handled by AI. In fact, they are and have been for nearly a decade in some instances – but again – it’s not really something that operators or marketers want their competitors to know or even their players – that could take the fun out of it for some.

While many things are accomplished by algorithms or outright AI in the background, none can change the end result of games like slots. Well, sure they could, but not in a way that matters. Regulators such as the BGC, (UKGC) not only require a game to have a stated or “theoretical” RTP (return to player percentage) they also require the actual RTP to fall in line with that given number.

How long (how many iterations or spins) it takes to reach it, how long it stays at that point, and how often and far it deviates over the course of time are simply matters of volatility rather than payback percentages and that is taken into account as well. If it takes a low variance title 400,000 spins for the actual RTP to arrive at the theoretical RTP number – and stays within the standard deviation (say 5 points above, 5 points below, or anywhere in between) for 95 out of 100 simulations (5% confidence interval) then it would appear not to matter to the regulator just how that occurred as long as the maths are solid.

By the same measure, players shouldn’t care how it occurs as long as it occurs – and – each spin has the same chance to produce any given result.

Thankfully, there aren’t any games that mess around with the maths that are written in stone. There was one product on the market several years ago that was really a scratch card but looked like and behaved like a slot machine. The problem with it was that as soon as the “jackpot prize” was awarded – once out of every million interactions – it was no longer available to be won until “all the tickets” were sold – or every spin needed to award each and every prize was executed. The developer responsible for that type of game changed methods prior to being awarded a license in Great Britain.

AI could handle every element of all of the inner workings of a slot game and even come up with new mechanics that nobody has tried so far. It’s entirely possible that there are labs undertaking the challenge right now. However, the first AI-generated slots were strictly garbage – even though high-quality clones could be created today with the tech.

Garbage in – Garbage Out

In 2019, Ars Technica reported on a duo of developers who created a robot to create mobile slot games in 2013. The experiment created over 1,500 junk games with minor variations in theme and changed perhaps one image to match the theme. The games, available on Google Play, are all dead now and the duo credits their junk with helping “train” Google algorithms to recognize and remove certain types of apps.

According to Ars: “In their GDC presentation, <the devs> mostly left the data up for people to peruse in a laughing manner, but also with a human angle about the costs that might arise if you chase such a robo-generated app dream with profit, not laughs, as the goal.”

The direction today’s developers are taking in an increasingly competitive marketplace seems much better – the images are stunning and on point and the game maths and mechanics are still, presumably, human creations. Where AI-assisted game development goes from here is anybody’s guess.

Source: Here’s How Casinos Are Using AI, Medium, May 31, 2021

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New Online Slots – BGaming, Gamzix, Wazdan, Lady Luck, Playson, Red Rake Gaming

new_online_slots_bgaming_gamzix_wazdan_lady_luck_playson_red_rake_gamingWith so many new studios out there and the legacy brands working overtime to compete for player spins, each week sees well over a dozen new game releases. Today’s players simply have to click on a title at one of their favorite gaming portals to be the first in their circle to try a new game.

In the not-too-distant past, each and every online casino was simply an extension of the game developer with one site carrying Microgaming titles exclusively and others that carried only Playtech, Realtime Gaming, or Cryptologic games, etc. – there were no multi-software online casinos and in order to download a new game at a Microgaming site, players had to completely reinstall the Viper download client and every element of each game. Thanks to innovations such as instant play via HTML5 those days are long behind us now.

Today’s games can be built with pre-existing modules on Remote Game Servers (RGS) and deployed as soon as they are certified. In some jurisdictions such as in Spain, after winning a supplier license, a developer like Play’n GO can self-certify each new game in that market and release it across its entire network of games without the need for regulator by regulator approvals.

Raft of New Games to Play

Today we’ll look at a few fresh releases from BGaming, Gamzix, Lady Luck, Playson, Red Rake Gaming, and Wazdan.

BGamingAlien Fruits

Look for groundbreaking AI-generated graphics in this game with refilling reels and a chance to win up to 15,000x. You’ll come along with fruit characters as they hunt down jelly letters in this intergalactic thriller for energy.

The game launched across the SOFTSWISS network and other operators carrying BGaming titles. Alien Fruits features a maximum win of €180,000 at full-tilt betting.

Yulia Aliakseyeva, co-CPO at BGaming, said: “As a leading slots provider, we are delighted to add Alien Fruits to our portfolio of more than 100 creative titles. We are especially excited to introduce AI-generated graphics – just one example of BGaming’s innovative approach to slots development.”

Land four or more Scatter symbols (spaceships) to trigger the free spins bonus and the fruits will traverse galaxies to carry you into the free games.

Players will in most markets also have access to the Bonus Buy feature to cut to the front of the line (for a price) and play the bonus game whenever they feel like taking a chance.

Random multipliers ranging from 2x to 100x take the game to new heights.

GamzixWolf Story

Wolf Story is set up as a 5-reel, 3-row slot with 25 fixed paylines. Game icons depict members of the animal kingdom and symbols like Scatter and Moon provide more: Scatter symbols trigger Free Spins and Moons are a portal into the Bonus Game using the Gamzix Hold the Spin mechanics.

There are four jackpots available and you’ll need to collect 15 Moon symbols to have a crack at the Grand Jackpot.

Wolf Story has a fairly high RTP at 96% and a max win over 5000x.

Alexandr Kosohov, CEO of Gamzix commented: “Every slot is a combination of visual representation and a perfect mix of available features. It has to catch attention from the first sight and leave a player intrigued until the very last spin. This is what we were focused on while creating Wolf Story. You’ll see a lot of animated elements, changing backgrounds and features, like Mystery Coin, that reveal the final result only when time comes. Wild and mysterious, isn’t it?

Lady Luck GamesPopeye

This highly anticipated release from Lady Luck Games is officially scheduled for its global launch on April 20, 2023 – however, word has it that it could be released into select regional markets before rolling out over the Lady Luck distribution network.

Popeye was created in collaboration with King Features Syndicate (Hearst Communications), a comics content company and animation studio first launched in 1914 and the home of iconic characters such as Flash Gordon, Beatle Baily, Hagar the Horrible, and of course, Popeye.

Some of the regional releases include The exclusive regional releases include partnerships with Danske Spil for players in Denmark, Novibet which caters to Greek players, Tipobet365 active in scattered markets globally, Betsson, and White Hat Gaming for players in the UK.

We are excited to bring our captivating and immersive Popeye slot game to a global audience through these exclusive regional launches with leading brands in the industry. We believe that our engaging gaming experience, combined with the strong market presence of these leading platforms, will be a winning combination for players worldwide,” said Mads Jørgensen, Co-Founder, and CEO of Lady Luck Games.

Global Release date: April 20, 2023
RTP: 94.0% | 96.1% | 88.0% depending on the market
Layout: 5×3
Volatility: Medium
Lines/Ways: 20
Hit frequency: 29.8% | 29.7% | 30.4%
Max win: 5100x bet | 5500x bet | 5300x bet
Min/max bet: €0.10/€100.00
Languages: EN, RU, TR, ES, IT, DA, ZH-CN, TH, KO, DE, EL, NL, RO, SV, KA

PlaysonGiza Nights: Hold and Win

This game is feature-rich with semi-complicated mechanics that will keep new players enthralled with mystery and discovery as well as bring back seasoned players for years to come. Set up as a 5×3 slot with 25 paylines, it promises to take players on a journey to one of the Seven Wonders of the World and set off to find treasure in the mysterious ancient town of Giza.

The Boost feature collects the value of accumulated moon symbols and awards them to players instantly. It can also award one of three jackpots if the proper symbols land on the reels on the same spin.

The bonus game is powered by Playson’s popular Hold and Win mechanic which resets the number of available respins to 3 with each new Bonus, Boost, or Mystery symbol that appears in the feature. The bonus game plays until the player runs out of chances or fills the 5×3 grid with bonus symbols which will award the Grand jackpot worth 5,000x your bet.

The Mystery symbol can also change into a Mini, Minor, or Major Jackpot symbol during the bonus game. These will appear after a Boost symbol is landed or they will be revealed one at a time when the respin bonus is completed.

Land three scatters to trigger or retrigger 8 free games with only top-paying Bonus, Boost, Scatter, and Wild symbols being collected.

Tamas Kusztos, Chief Commercial Officer at Playson, said: “Giza Nights: Hold and Win is a great addition to our library, adding the allure of Giza to our Egyptian-themed series of games.

“The Hold and Win mechanic is a player favorite and with the Boost feature integrated, they’re sure to have a thrilling time when they explore our bespoke gameplay offering.”

Red Rake GamingRamses Legacy

There must be dozens if not tens of tens of Egyptian-themed slots out there but it remains a popular genre as developers add their own twists to the highly visited theme. Red Rake is no exception. First launched in 2011 the studio plied its trade in the social game realm before taking on the more serious role of becoming a BMM-certified real money game provider.

Ramsey’s Legacy is a huge slot in many ways – the first way that jumps out is the One Million Ways to Win feature, but the minigame and free spins also loom large for players who enjoy total game immersion when they play.

Go to the doors of Ramses’ pyramid and watch a wall raise with each win and reveal more rows of symbols. When a pyramid appears on the reels it will be added to the progress meter which triggers the minigame when it gets filled.

In addition to the minigame, there is a free spins bonus round with 8, 12, or 16 free games for 3, 4, and 5 scatters respectively. The game screen starts out with 4 rows on the reels and with every win 2 more rows are opened up.

The game was released across the Playson network on April 13.

WazdanHot Slot™: 777 Cash Out

Wazdan had added its eighth game to its top-performing Hot Slot series with Hot Slot™: 777 Cash Out.

Andrzej Hyla, Chief Commercial Officer at Wazdan: “We are delighted to share the latest addition to our Hot Slot™ series, bolstered through immersive new mechanics that provide endless entertainment and massive win potential.

“As the first game of a new quarter, we wanted to release something for our partners to be excited about while building on the momentum of our ever-popular series.

Like all games in the Hot Slot series, this game melds a classic retro theme with Wazdan’s innovative modern mechanics.

However, this game introduces a new feature with the Cash Out symbol. Players can use it to collect prizes including jackpots through Wazdan’s player-engagement engine.

Cover all of the reel positions with jackpot symbols to win up to 1,500x your bet when you win the Grand Jackpot.

Players can double up their bets to enable the new Chance Level mechanic which increases the chance of landing jackpot symbols.

Wazdan prides itself on catering to individual players’ wants and needs through its Freedom of Choice™ Suite which allows players to customize their game experience in various ways, providing a sense of ownership and increasing player retention and loyalty.

Source: Embark On Space Odyssey With Bgaming’S Alien Fruits, European Gaming News, April 13, 2023

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Florida Puts the Squeeze on Illegal Slots

Florida regulators are ramping up enforcement against illegal slot machines at adult arcades, TCPalm reports.

Florida illegal slots
Slots and slot-like machines are illegal everywhere in Florida but for the Seminole reservations and select pari-mutuel venues in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. (Image: Nevada Independent)

The recently formed Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) wrote cease-and-desist letters to at least six arcades in Tallahassee last week. The letters warned them their operations were illegal and that they would face large fines unless they shut down.

FGCC Executive Director Lou Trombetta told TCPalm that his organization is beginning to close the arcades in coordination with local law enforcement agencies.

Florida Politics reported that staff at one venue, the MVM Arcade on Apalachee Parkway, escaped via a back exit when FGCC officials and a Leon County deputy sheriff knocked on the door last week.

The door was eventually opened by an oblivious gambler, who also quickly made himself scarce when he realized what was going on, leaving his credits in the machine.

Rise Since Pandemic

Slot machines are illegal in Florida outside the Seminole Tribe’s six Indian reservations and certain pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Since the pandemic, there has been a marked increase in new arcades springing up in strip malls or in vacant stores throughout the state, although exactly why is unclear. Nor is it clear how many such operations currently exist in Florida.

The Seminoles have long complained that the state doesn’t do enough to combat gambling operations that it believes transgresses its exclusivity on casino gaming. Until the creation of the FGCC in 2021 as a condition of a compact with the Seminoles, there was no state agency dedicated to monitoring and enforcing the law against illegal slots operations.

Last July, the state budget began allocating funding for the commission. Trombetta said he’s currently recruiting 15 law enforcement officers who will focus on shutting down illegal machines in coordination with local agencies. The FGCC website has also begun to collect consumer complaints about the operations.

They don’t play by the same rules,” Trombetta said of the illegal operators. “It’s very unfair to the good players in the business.”

He noted that unlike legal operations, the arcades lack consumer protections, including rules about mandatory payout percentages, which is a minimum of 85% in Florida. Moreover, they may not pay state taxes and could be contributing to organized crime, he warned.

Allied Veterans Scandal

The last major crackdown on illegal gambling machines came in 2013 after the legislature banned sweepstakes machines and cafes.

The effort uncovered a $300 million racketeering, illegal gambling, and money laundering operation linked to Allied Veterans of World Inc. The organization ran sweepstakes cafés throughout Florida, but prosecutors said that very little of the $300 million in revenues from these businesses went to veterans.

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