The 98% return to player project that offers a strong USP in today’s regulated markets

Thu, 03 Dec, 2020

Kindred Group was awarded two significant recognitions by the EGR Operator Awards 2020: Mobile Casino Product of the Year and the prestigious Casino Operator of the Year. We spoke to Kindred’s Head of Casino, David Robertson about the challenges of creating a unique selling point for Casino product and how it turned out to be an award-winning success story.

David, congratulations on winning two awards at this year’s EGR Operator Awards. How does it feel?

Thank you very much. It feels great to have taken home two awards. Mobile Casino Product of the Year and the prestigious Casino Operator of the Year. I say prestigious as it’s been Kindred’s ‘white whale’ when it comes to Casino awards. It’s the one award we’ve not had in our trophy cabinet until now, and I couldn’t be prouder of Kindred and everyone involved.

What did the judges have to say in their feedback?

We were over the moon to hear the judges make special reference to our 98% return to player (RTP) project. It’s been over two years in the making and is the project that required so many internal and external teams involved to get over the line. Speaking for myself and many people at Kindred, it’s a project we’re extremely proud to be part of, so for it to be recognised like this is a great achievement.

Tell us more about this 98% project and why the judges made a big fuss about it?

The concept itself is rather simple: we chose 10 popular games that had an average return to player percentage (RTP%) of 96%. We then worked with the game suppliers to have the mathematics of the games changed so that the return to player percentage was 98% instead of 96%. In short, we took popular games and increased the payback exclusively for our players.

That sounds like you created a very strong unique selling point (USP), right?

Yes, exactly. Having a strong unique selling point in today’s landscape can really make or break many companies. We worked exceptionally hard on the marketing for this product, but it essentially came down to “You love this game, we have it with 98% payback, whereas everyone else has it with 96% payback… why would you play anywhere else?”.

How important is a USP like that in today’s markets?

It’s incredibly important. Especially within recently regulated markets that have restrictions on bonuses and activity. A need for a strong USP with low/no bonus cost within heavily regulated markets is where this idea was born. The project really touched upon Kindred’s strong efforts in responsible gambling and sustainability, as we fundamentally increased the payback to our customers, whilst also supporting RG research and initiatives to minimise harm. 

Did you have any concerns with increasing the USP?

Yes, there are always concerns. Firstly, halving our margin means we needed to double our turnover to break even. The original titles that we converted, such as ‘Twin Spin’ and ‘Dead or Alive’ already had a huge amount of activity, so there were concerns with picking HUGE titles for this project. We stuck with Kindred’s customer-centric strategy and went with the titles we thought players want most. The risk, if you can call it that, paid off and we exceeded our expectations. The other concern was whether players would understand what 'increasing RTP' meant, or whether that’s very much an expertise area of knowledge. We, therefore, worked a lot on the marketing messages, and it worked out perfectly.

How much of an effort was it to get a project of this size across the line?

Wow, it was a lot! We have 1700 employees at Kindred, and it feels like everyone had some type of awareness or involvement in this project. It really does show the success that companies can achieve when everyone gets behind the project and helps deliver innovation to our players and the industry.

Has this project had an impact on the industry, as well as the players?

I really hope so. I hope it’s shown operators that reducing the return to player percentage (RTP) isn’t the only option out there. Increased regulation over the recent years has unfortunately left some gaming companies no choice but to lower the RTP of their popular content to 96% - 92%. This, of course, gives companies short term financial gains, but it’s not putting the players and their playing experiences first. It’s now more common than ever for game suppliers to create slot content with multiple RTP options, giving operators the choice to put a new game live with 5 different RTP options. This means that it’s common for one player to enjoy a new game at Unibet at 96%, but then play the exact same game at a different site at 92%, then again at 94%. The industry is not aligned at the moment.

Thanks for this interview, any last comments from your side?

I just want to say how thankful we are to EGR for recognising this project, but also to everyone who has been involved in delivering this innovative project. It really has been a team effort that everyone should be very proud of.

Finally, I know we have concentrated on the 98% project for this interview, but there have been so many more exciting achievements within casino at Kindred that we’ve not touched upon. This year, 32Red continued to deliver a phenomenal product to our UK customers, our Unibet US brand is picking up great momentum, and our latest pay’ n play casino brand Otto Kasino has exceeded expectations!