With the rise of a millennial audience and an increasing love for all things digital among players, casinos and developers are increasingly looking at new technology to refresh the games that we know and love. Once such company is Jackpot Digital, which recently launched an innovative new dealerless electronic poker table, known as Jackpot Blitz™.
And while it remains to be seen just how the global poker audience reacts to the lack of a dealer and playing with electronic cards, it’s hard not to admit that the new tables look pretty cool. To find out more about just what you can expect when they hit the casinos we spoke exclusively to Jake Kalpakian, founder and CEO of Jackpot Digital.
CASINOPEDIA: How do you think poker players will react to the innovative new dealerless tables?
JAKE: That’s the central question that everyone wants to understand, and why electronic table poker has not worked up to now. It’s true that most people would rather play with a dealer, real cards and so on, but, what we wanted to simulate the electronic poker experience with our product so it’s as if you were really playing with real cards and chips.
For instance, when the cards are dealt to you, you can ‘bend’ and ‘hold’ them, even though they are digital – you hold them as if you were holding real cards. Of course, you’re playing with real people, but it also simulates the chips, cards and more. Everything we’ve incorporated into the gameplay tries to simulate a real table game as much as possible, and it’s taken some really advanced technology to do so.
So far, people who’ve been playing it feel like they are actually playing at a live table, although there is no dealer. One thing we have noticed is that, when you go to a live table venue people are playing on their iPads online in between hands – they want action so they don’t get bored. With this table you can bet on blackjack, baccarat, horses or sports while waiting and order food and drinks. It gives players constant simulation.
“Everything we’ve incorporated into the gameplay tried to simulate a real table game as much as possible”
Of course, it will never replace the dealer, because some people will always prefer a ‘real’ dealer but the gap has shrunk significantly, and that’s twofold. Firstly, the gameplay feels like you are at a real table. Secondly, there are so many things to do to keep your interest.
This particular product is ideal for small and medium-sized casinos or specialty venues like racetracks or cruise ships. They might not necessarily be able to provide a full-time poker offering or staff a full poker room, so this table gives the flexibility not to have that but still offer great poker to players.
CASINOPEDIA: What about the social aspect? How do you think players will approach getting around a table without a dealer?
JAKE: Absolutely, you hit it right on the head. Tables have a social aspect to them. You’re playing with other people – of course – and you also get the benefits of speed, reliability, and efficiency from the operators’ perspective. We wanted to make the table player friendly so that players universally adopt the game, the table and the technology. It was all about simplifying it.
Alongside speed and efficiency, we wanted that simplicity so that players could understand and play the game without too much training. The game is very intuitive. When you sit down you see all your options, they are spelled out carefully for you so you don’t feel intimidated. At the same time, you’re playing with other people and getting the social aspect of the game.
The biggest comment we’ve had so far is that it’s a perfect combination of the social entertainment of playing with other people while, at the same time, not having to worry about certain nuances of the game. Everything is very simple if you are a novice player. If you are a professional, you’re able to do all the things you can do on a regular table – straddles, special bets, you can move the seats, etc.
“Tables have a social aspect to them… We wanted to make the table player friendly so that players universally adopt the game, the table and the technology”
CASINOPEDIA: How can players be sure that cards dealt by the electronic system are truly completely random and that games aren’t rigged in some way?
JAKE: The product still has to go through GLI testing, which is the industry benchmark standard, where they investigate the Random Number Generator and all the payout ratios and so on. It still goes through regulatory testing just like any other gaming product, whether it is a slot machine or a casino table game. It doesn’t matter what product it is, they all have to undergo regulatory testing.
Software will be tested, payouts will be tested, electronic capabilities and more. Every single aspect is tested by third party verification; it has to go through stringent government regulations so, there is no issue in terms of fair play.
If you’re in a licensed jurisdiction, our product has to meet those regulatory requirements. There is always some type of standard in any licensed jurisdiction, so no one should worry about the integrity of the game.
CASINOPEDIA: As you’ve emphasized, these tables offer a nice alternative for those casinos who can’t maintain a full-scale poker operation with human dealers. What about your company – do you plan on selling these tables, renting them out, or working out a different type of a compensation model?
JAKE: It’s a revenue share. We license the products for the revenue share. There are certain jurisdictions where we can’t take a portion of the wins, but we have to take a set monthly fee, which is fine as well. Old tables, current tables that are in the market place, we sell those. So, if there is a group that wants to buy older tables, we’ll sell those outright. But as far as the Jackpot Blitz™ games are concerned, we do licensing where it’s permissible, and where it’s not we do a set fee.
CASINOPEDIA: In your opinion, how much will technology change the general gambling and poker landscape change in the coming years? What can players expect to see coming out from companies such as yours?
JAKE: Electronic table games are taking up more and more floor space in casinos, even in larger ones. Players have more options to play, different variety of games and faster gameplay. People are increasingly comfortable playing these games because, as I mentioned, in licensed jurisdictions they go through a stringent verification process.
I think players are looking for speed and entertainment, and they don’t necessarily have to have a dealer in front of them. There’s always going to be people that like to have dealers so they can talk to them and just feel better with the human element. However, with millennials, the age of the internet and people adopting and embracing technology, players are becoming more comfortable with games like ours.
As long as they are in a social environment with their friends, and they have the regular fun environment of the casino people don’t mind sitting at the table playing with or against each other, and doing it through technology.
“Electronic table games are taking up more and more floor space in casinos, even in larger ones”
Quite frankly, electronic table games are one of the few bright areas in casino gaming where it’s actually growing and taking more and more floor space – I expect them to at least come close to taking half the market share of regular table games. For the operator, it’s equally interesting – they get more games offered to players, they make more money and the games are faster and more efficient.
I think it is a trend that’s going to continue and we hope to capitalize on that by building the best poker experience you can have.
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