Come On Down: Online Casino Game Shows Draw An Audience

Christian Holmes

online casino roulette game show

Spectators have long reveled in watching contestants lose their minds when hearing their names precede the words, “Come on down. You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right.” Now, those same viewers can have similar experiences right from their own homes via their favorite iGaming provider.

The “game show” genre of online casino games was explored during a presentation during the recent SBC Digital Innovation event, which delved into the past, present, and future of game show content.

For the iGaming consumer, the game show experience can be as simple as playing a live game of roulette. The host narrates the game as it is played, builds anticipation for the wheel’s spin, and talks about big wins when they happen. Their main job is to immerse the audience in the game and keep them playing.

Many major iGaming operators in North America and abroad, such as bet365, BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings, offer all sorts of live games. Customers would not be hard-pressed to find a live dealer experience in blackjack, baccarat, and video poker.

But it’s game shows that are poised to be the next wave taking the industry by storm. 

What are ‘game shows’?

Instead of signing up to go to Jeopardy! or The Price is Right in real life, customers can hop onto most online casinos and play a game show. There is a lot to choose from, and every operator has its own spin on things. 

One popular game show that most operators offer is called Dream Catcher. It is a game inspired by money wheel games at physical casinos and TV game shows. For example, think of the bonus round on a Wheel of Fortune slot where the players get to spin the wheel. In this game, the players have to choose a number they think the wheel will land on before each spin. 

Another offering that seems to get a lot of love in the live casino scene is Monopoly Big Baller. It is comparable to a game of bingo, and most online operators offer this game show. 

A common thread in all these games is charismatic hosts. They have the charm of a TV host but are very versatile in their approaches. The rumor around town is that many of these hosts will be converted into AI (if they are not already).

The future of game shows

Back in 2017, iGaming operator Evolution Gaming took a chance on the game show concept. Since then, the popularity of game shows has skyrocketed. That said, is it just a fad, or did they really find something?

During the discussion at the SBC Casino Digital Innovation Conference, Graeme Powrie, EEZE’s chief commercial officer, said game shows are “here to stay.” From his perspective, game shows are a good complement to what he calls “wheel games.” Many game show creators have been trying to crack the code that creates a product that matches the “wheel games,” but try as they might, developers have mostly struck out.

Powrie and his team have been working on adding customization to game shows that do not have wheels to help the customer become immersed in the experience. Those customizations would “localize” the game. A good American example might be a game show in New Jersey that is centered around a local legend like the Jersey devil, or a specific game show in New York state (if and when it legalizes iCasino) that has a Knicks theme.

Making game shows easier to understand

Entain Head of Live Casino Graciella Anthony said that what she has seen in her experience is that game shows have become somewhat “complicated for the customer.” Meanwhile, wheel games are easier to understand for the average customer.

Nevertheless, Anthony has seen encouraging signs within the last year. Developers are simplifying the game shows, and the games have become more customer-friendly.

Natalie Berenato, a casino product manager with Spreadex, agreed that game shows’ overcomplication was holding them back. “Everyone wanted to be revolutionary,” she said, but simplicity sells, as in almost any business that provides products or services to customers. Just listen to Nirvana; simplicity breeds appreciation.

Both Anthony and Powrie agreed that customers are coming to relax and blow off steam. How can they do that if the game requires them to jump through hoops to understand its function? Customers are more likely to go and play poker or a slot before they learn something new. Not to mention, the average attention span is shortening in an age ruled by TikTok. 

How can game shows get better and still stay simple?

Powrie told the panel that he thinks game developers can innovate by keeping a game 60% familiar while spicing things up with bonus rounds and maybe looking into some sort of bonus buy-in.

The idea is to build on that concept with wheel games. Customers know what they are, and they like them enough to try something new. Since the wheel game formula is easy to understand for the average bloke, slightly deviating from the more popular offerings and creating something new shouldn’t turn players off. Instead, it could build on an already solid offering, which is why EEZE, the company Powrie works for, is investing six to seven figures in research and development.

A challenge hindering the introduction of new elements to these games, though, is the new responsible gambling rules and regulations cropping up around the world. In the U.K., for example, bonus round buy-ins are no longer available.

Something Berenato brought up was limiting bonus rounds and building the anticipation for them, as sometimes they happen so often in a game that customers become numb to the onslaught.

How that could be done was up for debate.    

Fixing the smaller things with AI

What’s a discussion these days without consideration of AI’s impact? As Powrie said, “AI has become a big ‘buzzword’ everywhere I go.” Most conferences he has been speaking at discuss it extensively. 

The panelists suggested AI will help with practical things like the overall graphics of the game, keeping the chat engaging, and making sure the hosts do not sound like those a player will hear in a sports video game, repeating the same thing over and over again when a certain scenario happens. Not to mention, AI can help to create translations and closed captions so the consumer can understand what’s being said if the host is not speaking in their native language.

AI will also help developers, also known as suppliers, to get new products to the market quicker.

Based on what the panel had to say and what Casino Reports was able to corroborate through its research, these game shows that casino operators are offering are becoming a more noticeable part of the market.

The game shows often appeal to a different demographic of customers. So they may not overtake slots and table games, but, rather, as Powrie said several times through the panel, they may prove effective to complement them.