I can’t believe how much technology has changed in less than a decade. 

I started my career in casino digital programs with casino direct mail and e-mail marketing back in 2003. It wasn’t until 2009 that I was able to solely focus on e-mail and text messaging for casinos. To date, I’ve worked with over 100 casinos on their e-mail and text messaging programs. It wasn’t boring. I’ve been served demand letters threatening law suits against my clients under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by troll law firms, seen incredible results from player responses to text message offers and implemented the first location-based text message programs in the casino industry.

One-too-many text messaging is quickly going away, but the threat of TCPA lawsuits, along with complex guidelines by the cell carriers, has made managing traditional short code text message programs tedious; making text messaging a potential opportunity and financial drain, especially when compared to the relative safety and expense of other direct marketing programs. What text messaging has been morphing into is convenience and utility messaging versus the old, “Text in the keyword REWARD to 777777 to receive your reward!”

Take a look at what a player receives when joining a typical short code text messaging program:

Casino Gaming Location Alerts: Entertainment Offers & News. Reply YES MM/DD/YYYY (Birth Date) to share UR phone location & get recurring autodialed marketing offers. Deny? Reply NO. Consent not a condition of purchase. Text HELP for help. Msg&Data rates may apply.

Does this opt-in message program sound appealing? Not really. It sounds like we are committing to a legal agreement and it’s off-putting for sure. Unfortunately, the laws have given consumers the right to seek damages for receiving text messages and we all pay the price as marketers for the abuse of consumer trust. 

Fortunately, all is not lost for casino short code text messaging. Some recent breakthroughs include:

  • Micro Gaming Technologies (MGT) built functionality into their Open API that allows the kiosk to become the controlled point of entry. The kiosk is a unique signup point for SMS compliance, in that we know the person signing up is on the property, swiped in with their card, entered a pin and can view on a screen where the transaction is recorded… it is evidence that the legally required information was presented. Connecting the MGT kiosk to a text messaging platform opens up the real-time rewards and incentives that players crave via simple text messaging. Player cell phone numbers are verified instantaneously and text messages are received within seconds of opting in on the kiosk. As soon as the “Yes” response is received, the player can then be rewarded for joining the casino text messaging program right there at the kiosk. This is to date the most responsible way for a casino to drive legal and compliant signups for casino text messaging programs.
  • The world of artificial intelligence (AI) is changing and evolving the way that players and guests interact with the casino. Achieving true one-to-one communication requires a brain and conversational language. There are more and more AI messaging platforms on the market today and some are newcomers to the casino space. 

BEYOND THE APP

Using SMS text messaging to engage players is still very relevant to your casino. If you are willing to put in time and expense, you can drive players to react to offers with as much as 50 percent response rates and those that opt-in to receive text messages tend to be every reactive and loyal. That said, many casinos are hanging up their short codes for the promise of a mobile app experience for players. But many casinos who build out their casino loyalty mobile app struggle to get 20 percent of their player base to adopt the app within the first year. This leaves a massive gap for the 70-80 percent who do not care to engage with the casino this way or don’t feel comfortable with a mobile app experience, giving up privacy through location sharing.

Text messaging combined with AI is the way hotel guests from the Las Vegas Strip to New Jersey have shown the most willingness to engage. This messaging experience allows guests to check in, check out, order up towels, make dinner reservations and get the Wi-Fi password through a blend of AI and the human administration of a guest experience platform. For the casino player, there will be a similar experience; one where they will be as comfortable with AI as they are with their dedicated casino host. Obtaining comps, points balances, checking into drawings, learning about new promotions and an endless set of other interactions will be driven through text messaging. Most casinos have thousands of un-hosted players that want attention and will reward you for giving them personal service. 

It’s crazy to say that text messaging will be the most used method of one-to-one communication, but this is already being shown in the hotel space through virtual assistants like “Ivy,” who has a 40 percent engagement rate across multiple hotels including 12 Caesars Entertainment properties. A mobile app experience for your players and guests is a vital piece of the overall guest experience, but it will be just as vital to support your service gap with text messaging AI in the years to come.