Former breakdancer and now LuckyStreak’s Head of Studio, Kaspars Berziņš, gets called out, so let’s check out this b-boy’s moves…
The past few years have seen live dealer casinos become the fastest growing sector in gaming, thought to account for over 30% of worldwide stakes. Driven by a combination of ever-improving internet access and evolving product quality, the sector is clearly focused on entertainment, with the top providers establishing state-of-the-art studio facilities, with professional presenters and dealers, delivering slick and exciting live versions of traditional RNG games and proven table favourites, alongside unique ‘gameshow’ experiences.
LuckyStreak, established almost a decade ago, is a provider of premium live dealer casino games and also a gaming content aggregator. The hub of the company’s activities is its studio in the Latvian capital of Riga, home to a team of over 200 dedicated specialists. The Head of Studio in what is effectively ‘Mission Control’ is Kaspars Berziņš. Who better to have a throw down with than this former ‘b-boy’ whose job it is to keep this super crew on beat?
Power to the people
“That’s some introduction!” says Kaspars. “But the fun element is important because we believe that what makes LuckyStreak stand out is our culture and working environment, our friendly and flexible approach, and the fact that we actually listen rather than just hearing.”
The corporate vision that LuckyStreak has is to be in for the long haul and become known not only for its quality products, but also as a company dedicated to the success and wellbeing of both its own people and its business partners.
“We constantly strive to deliver high quality products and services, and productive and positive working relationships. It is that simple,” says Kaspars.
“We have produced and streamed our own, original live dealer casino games from our purpose-built Riga studio since 2015, and managing this process is critical to delivering the best possible user experience.
“We put power in the hands of our operator customers, with bespoke promotional tools, a comprehensive back office and numerous customisation options. The result is a prominent position and share of play when alongside other live casino providers and high volumes and revenues for our operator customers.”
If you build it, they will come
To many people, live casino gaming is still a fairly ‘new’ phenomenon. So what actually goes into building and establishing a studio-based business?
“Firstly, the people. Dealers and game presenters are the player’s user experience in a live casino, but there are many more people who make the magic happen. And, as we all know, from a business perspective, people buy people.
“It is important for our people to see their Head of Studio, as a person who is approachable and here for them. At the end of the day, our business is about people who, with our support, are encouraged and allowed to maximise their talents and realise their ambitions.
“I believe that building the right team, with the right blend of knowledge, experience and personality, gives us the tools to achieve everything else.”
Obviously, this team comprises those in front of the camera but many more whose work is behind the scenes. Like a Formula 1 team, everybody knows who the drivers are, without necessarily appreciating the roles played by the hundreds who put them on the track.
“The game presenters and shufflers are the public face of what we do, and they are key to our success. But every employee in our organisation has a key role and contributes to our weekly, monthly and annual results.
“Ours is a complex process, involving technology, licensing, regulation, logistics, marketing and other disciplines, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So commitment, a team mentality and a positive working environment are essential.”
The product will always be King
This commitment to corporate differentiation is so positive but, alongside this, the product will always be King, as LuckyStreak’s studio head is well aware.
“We recently released a major upgrade to our live Blackjack UI, improving user experience, with a focus on mobile first gameplay and the launch of mobile portrait mode. This will very shortly be followed by Baccarat in this new format and then soon after, Roulette.”
Picking up on this shift towards mobile-friendly content, which is now probably ‘mobile-first’ for the majority of players worldwide, Kaspars lets us in on his thoughts about wider industry trends and potentially exciting concepts.
“Moving forward, we will see more games oriented towards simplicity and entertainment. More and more people want to open up their browser and just dive in! There is a movement away from activities such as passively watching television, to activities that enable users to interact and have the ability to affect.
“Developments such as VR and AR becoming more widely available, and hosts commenting on the progress of a game where each participant can affect the outcome based on their actions in the virtual environment, and also communicate directly, will take on a far more significant role.
“How this all evolves further will depend on the emerging technology. Products such as Apple’s Vision Pro might not yet be for casual user, but it will evolve and present new possibilities for gaming and entertainment.”
A true team dynamic is the key to success
A graduate of the University of Latvia, Kaspars Berziņš has worked in the iGaming industry for the past 10 years. At LuckyStreak he began as Floor Operations Manager, moving through almost all operational roles, before becoming Head of Studio in May 2022.
In this role, he realises that his priorities can vary in size and importance. As he says, “I have learned that no subject is too small, the small details that sometimes people don’t pay attention to end up being the things that turn out to have the biggest impact.”
But, once again, people remain at the heart of everything that he and LuckyStreak set out to accomplish.
“It is interesting that when you step into a new role, the lessons and experiences from previous roles allow you to understand the next chapter. This helps you to be a part of the wider team, and not just the person with the big the title.”
In a world where so many leaders preach this popular mantra, and yet fail to practice it, it is refreshing to see such attitudes in action.
“My eyes light up whenever I see an opportunity to improve the lives of our employees, whether by growing the business or improving our studio. Because this has a direct link to the quality of our output and the service we provide.”
Having grown up with ambitions of being a professional breakdancer, and even teaching breakdancing for a while, Kaspars’ career aspirations included acting and event hosting before his business degree pointed him towards the banking sector. With several changes of direction to call upon, the influence of LuckyStreak’s co-founder and CEO, Ady Totah, is of huge importance.
“Ady’s impact on my career has been hugely significant. One of the main lessons I have learned from him is that going that extra mile on the human side can make a person to see that our workplace is a place where people genuinely care for each other, and genuinely want the company to succeed.”
In an industry that is so frequently unpredictable, LuckyStreak is a company that both welcomes and rises to the challenges this dynamism presents, as Kaspars confirms:
“It is impossible to catch a train when it has already left the station. People’s needs and views are constantly changing, and the challenge is to try to remain one step ahead. And from a business perspective, as we grow and evolve, we must never lose sight of ‘why’ we are here, doing what we do.”
The next chapter in the story
As the remainder of 2023 unfolds, it will be fascinating to discover what will see from LuckyStreak, and how the wider view of the brand and its products will develop. Kaspars Berziņš again unveils his positivity.
“We shall continue to roll out the UI upgrades on our games and work on our promotional tools, with some great jackpot and reward features planned for later this year.
“As well as or live products, we are also an aggregator, with LuckyConnect providing over 2,500 casino and slot games from a network of 40+ leading developers, and we anticipate strong momentum in this area.
“Finally, we are also considering an entirely unique proprietary game, which we plan to start work on before the end of the year. But you will have to ask us more about that closer to the time!
“In summary, I believe that our brand will become larger, and people will speak of LuckyStreak more often. We have a strong product, a strong story and are investing in all areas of our business, our brand being one.”
Sadly, Kaspars has put his breakdancing days behind him. These days he enjoys running, audiobooks, psychology and has taken up disc golf… previously known as frisbee golf. When viewing the wider world, he says he is concerned by how many young people seem to want to quit after their first failure, not yet realising that failure is necessary in order to learn and develop.
“Even in my current position, I experience failures. These are not nice, but they allow me to be smarter next time. And I would not be talking with you if I had given up after my first failure!