Focus on AGS: AGS interactive boosts online slot offerings

April 16, 2024 8:00 AM
  • CDC Gaming Reports
April 16, 2024 8:00 AM
  • CDC Gaming Reports
  • United States

After a decade of legal online casino gambling in the United States, operators should concentrate on making their sites stand out to players, Zoe Ebling says.

“Now that it’s more established, the focus is not so much on player acquisition but on casino differentiation,” said Ebling, vice president of interactive for game supplier AGS. One way to do that is by spotlighting games that customers can play both online and at a casino, she added. For example, Caesars Digital and AGS recently partnered on the launch of Rakin’ Bacon Odyssey slot games that are available only at New Jersey Caesars Palace Online Casino and Caesars’ three land-based casinos in Atlantic City. It was AGS’s first omnichannel launch as part of an exclusive deal with Caesars. Caesars Digital also has launched real-money games from AGSi, the game maker’s interactive division, for online players in West Virginia and Ontario.

“In a lot of ways, it was making history for both of our companies,” Ebling said of the Caesars partnership. “We have quite a few games that have a land-online overlap. We can create a unique experience for our players.”

Online casino gambling has demonstrated its appeal since November 2013, when Delaware launched the country’s first regulated internet table games and slots. The American Gaming Association reported that igaming in the six states where it was legal generated $6.17 billion in revenue in 2023, a 22.9 percent increase from the year before. Last month, Rhode Island became the seventh state with legal online casino gambling, joining New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia. Nevada allows online poker but no other games.

“Online is a different business,” Ebling said. “AGS as a company is letting their interactive division work with a startup mentality” while offering a simplified way to get products to market. “Caesars was a great partner for us because they were equally committed to trying some different things.”

Ebling said the online Rakin’ Bacon Odyssey game is one of the company’s most successful launches to date, and the machines in the land-based casinos also are performing well. “They’ve proven there’s an interest from players to have this unique experience (of playing online and in person). It motivates them to engage with the casino in a meaningful way.”

AGS plans a thorough review of the Caesars project to understand what worked, what didn’t, and why. “I don’t think you’ll see any other supplier with this dedication to really understand what moves the needle,” she said.

The AGS omnichannel marketing strategy includes more opportunities for dual-site launches, Ebling said. One possibility is a launch party that invites players to the casino to celebrate their ability to play the same game online or in person. “We find that gets players out of their seats and into an environment where they want to play.”

Previously, AGS ported land-based slot games to online. With the recent addition of an in-house studio, the company now also designs games that can debut online and be adapted for in-person play. The process enables designers to test new features in an online game and get products to market faster than is possible with traditional slots, Ebling said.

“Our interactive-first content is resonating in North America,” she said, noting that the March 2024 Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Report listed five AGSi titles among its top 25 slots, including Platinum 8X8X8X at No. 2. Double Shamrock, an interactive-first game, was No. 14, with Rakin’ Bacon Deluxe Golden Blessings at No. 16, Gold Inferno at No. 21, and Mine Blast at No. 25.

Ebling said AGS goes beyond being simply a game provider by also providing account management and ideas that ultimately grow an operator’s business. “We’re able to bring well-rounded, quality products from multiple angles.”