Variety, data analysis and an aggregator’s “duty of care” were all key topics in the SBC Digital Innovation – Casino panel session titled ‘Beyond integration – adding value through aggregation’. 

The conversation kicked off by diving into the recent evolution of aggregation, with an abundance of companies extending their offerings beyond a slot-heavy portfolio. 

Aaron Lowe, Director of Casino at Soft2Bet, suggested that, with a flurry of new and varied products being offered by aggregators, these companies are responsible for being “faithful to the studios that they are bringing onboard”. 

“Studios are ever-enhancing their own offering, with toolsets, features and engagements,” said Lowe. “It’s really important that the aggregator ensures that they honour that when they then offer content out to the operator. There’s occasions where this doesn’t happen, and it’s a shame because it’s the players that suffer.”

While describing slots as “the biggest product in the industry”, Cecilia López Boronat, Brand Manager & Head of Operations at Lottofy, explained that a varied content offering is an ultimate necessity, naming bingo and scratch titles as “top games in some countries” that need to be considered by aggregators. 

Another game format that continues to pop up in the majority of online casino platforms is crash games, with most aspiring aggregators ensuring that they can offer the format to maximise the potential of their offering. 

Lourdes Lopez, Head of Casino at Rivalo, compared the simplicity of crash games to that of popular mobile games that dominated the mobile market, suggesting that this simplicity is a key factor for the format’s success. 

“the aggregator has a duty of care to be extremely careful when managing expectations”

Aaron Lowe, Director of Casino at Soft2Bet

“Overall, crash games are very simple games, but that is not a bad thing,” she explained. “At the end of the day, our players are mostly playing on mobile. Crash games are not just simple games, but they are games that have been initially designed with a mobile version in mind.” 

Looking into the partnerships formed between aggregators, suppliers and operators, Lowe explained that transparency is essential for ensuring a smooth integration process, stating that there is a “duty of care” for aggregators in these collaborations. 

Lowe said: “Just because you can get a slot provider from one aggregation point, doesn’t mean to say they’re going to continue releasing content through that channel, so that needs to be transparent. 

“Not everybody’s been in the industry for years and years to know what to expect, particularly with start-ups. The aggregator has a duty of care to be extremely careful when managing those expectations.”

Meanwhile, Boronat suggested that a reference of scalability can offer true insights into an aggregator’s performance, emphasising the importance of informing operators on upcoming features, entries into new markets and other progressions. 

She then touched on the importance of keeping player satisfaction at the forefront of these collaborations, with a “really smooth and collaborative relationship” needed to ensure the best needs of the player, as well as each company, can be met. 

Conveying the performance of an aggregation platform constitutes several levels of analysis, with Lowe naming quarterly performance reports as a significant indicator of an aggregator’s success. 

Having been questioned on the importance of data for aggregation companies, Lowe explained: “For an aggregator of size that is serving multiple operators within a market, one thing that we do is use quarterly performance reports with our suppliers. 

“As a supplier logging into a back office, this information can be available as a dashboard, showing how you’re indexing versus how another provider is indexing. You don’t know who the competitor is, but you get a nice idea of how well you’re doing based on the surfacing decision you’re making.”

Listing other useful analysis tools, Lowe continued: “There are some fantastic parts of the ecosystem with risk-analysis tools, which are really encouraging. Having these tools sat within your aggregation platform can help those start-ups, telling them to avoid these games for bonuses, and to use these instead, for example. 

“These companies can’t afford risk management, they can’t afford a fraud department. An aggregator can really step up by dealing with these guys and there’s loads I’d love to see when I log into that back office.”

Lopez reinforced that this information is crucial for an aggregator, both in terms of proving their performance to satisfy their operator partners as well as for discovering where there is room for improvement. 

The panel was then probed by a question from the audience, asking whether the nature of aggregation is leading to a more homogenous online casino industry, with more and more platforms offering an almost identical portfolio. 

Responding to this notion, Boronat suggested that this is certainly a possibility as “most aggregators have similar content” and is something that needs to be kept in mind when doing business with partners. 

Lowe also suggested that the “threat of homogeneity” is actually a good thing for the industry, claiming that “becoming samey” is driving innovation within the aggregation sector. 

“That keeps us on our toes,” Lowe continued. “I can play the same slot across 75 different operators in the space of an hour and a half, but one of them might give me a life-changing prize, or lead me to a new adventure. 

“I’m glad they are [becoming homogeneous], and I hope they do sit on their laurels and become stable because it gives us a chance to stand-out amongst the rest with the tool sets that we have.”