New Casinos UK hosts Alistair Sparrow in an exclusive and rather extensive interview where we asked several questions of how the landscape in the 2017 online casinos will look like. Being the casino manager of some of the leading casino brands in the UK, 21 Casino, Amsterdams, Fruity Casa and Play Grand, Mr. Sparrow elaborates on crucial matters that will certainly appeal to all online casino players. Stay with us and read about the perspective of what the future of internet casinos will be in 2017 as it concerns new brand releases, Gamification, Live Casinos, game features, banking methods, game developers and many more. Be sure that you will find his statements more than interesting. A big thanks to Alistair Sparrow from Net Gaming Solutions.
#1. How many new online casinos with UK license do you guess that will be launched in 2017? Will the trend of mass production of new casinos continue?
Personally I don’t think that there will be as many casino’s popping up this year as there were last year, at least ones with a UK license. I can’t say the same for those who just possess a Curacao or MGS license though. It’s not as easy as people think to run a profitable online casinos in 2017, there’s a finite amount of players and the more casinos that launch, the stiffer the competition and the more difficult it becomes.
Also with companies owning a few different casinos, ourselves being one, there becomes a point where you just start cannibalizing your own traffic and start fighting for the same number of players and advertising space. Having said that, we will be launching our 5th brand this year, and there are plans for a 6th in the pipeline.
I’m of a similar mind to the above when it comes to gamification and Live Casinos being on the rise this year. I’d say no, I think the market has become over saturated with gamified casinos, they are all starting to become very similar and casinos need to start differentiating themselves. I also don’t think live casino will be on the rise; I don’t think the few online casinos that focused on Live Casino in year 2016 as a priority had as much success as they might have imagined.
#3. Will Apple Pay, PayPal or any other new payment method manage to break into the UK online casino market in 2017? Which was the most popular payment method for your casino in 2016?
I think the UK market is fairly set with its payment methods for 2017, most of our UK casino players use their debit cards and I expect this to be the case for quite some time. I don’t think Apple Pay will break into or have much effect in the UK casino market nor will PayPal. I’d say it’ll be debit cards, credit cards and e-wallets as the top 3 money transfer methods for the UK market in 2017.
#4. Many new software developers are entering the casino market on daily basis. Will that trend continue in 2017 and are there any exciting game developers that you think will become the stars of 2017?
My tip for one of the game developer stars in 2017 will be Blueprint. It’s a subsidiary of Mercure Gaming and we recently integrated them to our sites and have huge success. The UK players especially like them as they are available on the FOBTs in UK betting shops and not many other online casinos have them.
#5. What will be the hottest thing in casino games for 2017? Any particular function or a totally new game category, like virtual games and e-sports?
I think casino is simple really, most players love slots, and I don’t think virtual games or e-sports will become too big in 2017. E-sports is of course becoming a giant in its own right and there is a nice market for betting on these events with various sports books, but it doesn’t really translate to online casino.
#6. Which are the most 3 popular online slots in your online casino? Is there any particular reason for them being so popular?
At the time of writing this our most popular slot is Thunderstruck II, the reason behind that is fairly simple, we recently launched Microgaming as a provider and initial results suggest we will do very well with this addition. Followed by Secrets of Christmas and Silver Lion, both new games, and obviously, Secrets of Christmas has been popular due to the festive period.
We are fortunate to have some very big players over our casinos. I say fortunate but I don’t really mean it as we treat our VIP players exceptionally well. But our biggest single spin win that most players will be able to relate to was a jackpot on ‘Super Lucky Frog’ where a player hit the jackpot for €38,185.26! Not bad for a €10 bet!
#8. What to expect when it comes to the bonuses? Will that be any changes on the welcome packages? Any new bonus or promotion that will rise during 2017?
I think welcome bonuses are all fairly uniformed right now, Free Spins or Free Money and a Deposit Bonus. One addition I thought that was quite nice last year to a few casinos was the wager free spins. One way we have separated ourselves from the pack is that most of our free spin offers are available to be played on all NetEnt online slots that support free spins (apart from bloodsuckers) and not only the generic Starburst you generally see.
I think a lot more countries will follow suit and legislate the market. I think this is a good thing, the industry is fairly new but is maturing fast and with more legislation it becomes much fairer and safer for the players, and that’s what gambling should be, fun, fair and safe! In Europe the big one at the moment is the Dutch market which is being legislated, this is especially relevant to us given the majority of our player base on Amsterdams Casino is of course Dutch.
In Northern Europe I can’t see much change in the near future, Finland, Norway and Sweden will still remain big markets for us. Norway has really taken off since we implement Ocha Pay, which is a payment method that is essential for Norwegian players.
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