This month’s cover story on sports betting demonstrates once again that the best marketers will always win in the gaming industry.

And it was always so, wasn’t it? There has always been, and will always be, unregulated (also known as illegal) gambling options. Why back in the day did the pioneers of Vegas use hotel rooms and food-and-beverage as loss leaders, because they were nice guys? Some doubtless were, but it was about building loyalty, not just because there was another game across the street, but there were plenty of games back home, too.

With sports betting, unregulated offshore markets will be a formidable competitor. William Hill CEO’s Joe Asher’s example of bookies only settling on Tuesdays after an NFL weekend is classic. Monday Night Football was a way to get even if you were down for the weekend, and if you are a regular, you get cut some slack. Offshore operators are not limited in the bets they can offer, nor the terms, and identity verification is a relative afterthought. Regulated operators won’t be able to function that way of course, but if they understand what their valuable customers value, they are in a position to satisfy them in other ways.

That’s marketing, and we of course have a whole conference on that, Casino Marketing & Technology, which will be held at Caesars Palace July 17-19 (visit www.casinomarketingconf.com for more info.) Just to give you a flavor of what’s on tap, here’s a small sampling of the traditional and digital marketing topics we’ll be covering:

  • Best Practices in E-mail Marketing: E-mail marketing expert Tino Magnatta of GT Advertising will lead an all-star panel consisting of Lauren Westerfield, vice president marketing, Palms Casino Resort; Chris Jenner, vice president  e-mail and digital marketing, Caesars Entertainment; and Mike Donovan, vice president of marketing and hotel Operations, Lumiere Place Casino & Four Seasons Hotel St Louis. Topics to be covered will include techniques they are using with e-mail to attract new customers, increase brand awareness and retain existing customers, and how they are relying more and more on e-mail to cut back on rising direct mail costs.
  • 10 Things Your Players Are Trying to Tell You: No one has conducted more player interviews than Mike Meczka and his firm MMRC. In this session, he’ll identify 10 key points that players emphasize when asked to share their views on the full range of their interactions with casinos.  Joining him in the discussion will be Lennie Millette, director, casino alliances, M; Mary Loftness, principal, Profitable Customers; and Michael Ka’hanui, vice president marketing, Muckleshoot.
  • Can Slot Players Tell a Loose Slot From a Tight Slot?: Dennis Conrad gets the floor for a general session on slot pricing. Namely, can slot players tell the difference between a tight slot and a loose slot, if all else is equal expect for the differences in hold percentage? The implications for marketers are of course profound, not to mention the casino industry in general, which continues to wrestle with the issue of time-on-device and slot floor profitability. In this provocative session, gaming researchers and operators will share the latest research from the field of player perceptions of slot hold percentage, add their own real life case studies of situations when slots were measured and evaluated after being tightened or loosened. Joining Conrad in this discussion will be Buddy Frank, principal consultant, Slot Strategies; UNLV professors Anthony Lucas and Ashok Singh; and Mike Meczka.

Of course there’s a lot more: Pre-show workshops including Raving’s popular and indispensable Host Development Conference, which will be held July 16-17; Mobile Experience and Engagement Training (MEET), the industry’s first-ever dedicated mobile technology educational program, an all-day program led by mobile marketing expert Darren Withers, which will be held on July 17; an opening night reception on July 17, followed by two full days of concurrent marketing and technology sessions along with popular features such as the Lifetime Achievement Award Luncheon, which this year will honor  Claudia Winkler, president, G.H. I. Solutions; and The Romero Awards: Recognizing Excellence in Casino Marketing. Super Early Bird rates are valid until May 25, so please don’t dither; sign up and see you there.