The post-Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) environment is very much in its nascent stage, providing unique opportunities for land-based casinos and i-gaming operators in the expanding U.S. sports betting market.
Since PASPA’s May 2018 repeal, the number of states with legalized sports betting markets has grown to over a dozen—Indiana being the latest with its launch in September. About half of all “live” states have launched mobile offerings to complement their physical sportsbooks, although various state restrictions do apply.
With an increasing number of states seeking to pass sports betting legislation and trends in emerging marketing technologies, there’s reason to view the vertical’s future in the U.S. with optimism. An example of this potential is seen in New Jersey, where according to the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) over $3 billion has been wagered in sportsbooks post-PASPA—80 percent of which resulted from online betting.
Land-based casinos can benefit from this market evolution, which emphasizes a customer-first approach and nurtures a solutions-oriented landscape. Online sportsbooks seeking to differentiate themselves through product development and customer engagement will provide templates for casinos striving to build their own online presence.
If successful in optimizing their digital channels via enhanced acquisition tools and strategies, land-based casinos can amplify brand reach and drive traffic to their brick-and-mortar properties, whether they currently have a sportsbook or anticipate the introduction of one in the future.
ONLINE SPORTS BETTING ON THE RISE
A byproduct of the evolving U.S. market is the formation of partnerships between key industry players. In 2018 for example, MGM Resorts International became the first operator to partner with the NBA across its land-based and digital sports betting offerings in the U.S. In August, the NFL expanded its existing game data deal with Sportradar to include live data distribution to sports betting operators.
Partnerships of this nature represent an opportunity for superior information sharing and marketing strategy development. They also create the need for, and support the development of, innovative tools that can change the way customers are engaged.
Embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and automated solutions, 1Click Games, a supplier of sportsbook and casino software, introduced an automated retention tool for promotional communications on various channels in August. The product plans and personalizes content for individual consumers. Solutions like this facilitate the adoption of automated technologies, which encourage brand loyalty and the incorporation of unique experiences.
The Oregon Lottery, which currently operates over 2,200 video lottery terminals across the state, is an operator that recognized technology’s benefits and took action to expand their existing product offerings. In July, the state lottery announced its plans to test and launch mobile products through a native app and professional sports betting platform called “Scoreboard,” which will allow players to bet on professional football, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and NASCAR.
The adoption of new technology can help casinos in newly regulated markets take a preemptive stand in contending with future competition from multiple sources. For example, populous jurisdictions like Illinois and Pennsylvania may risk becoming saturated due to coinciding product expansion across both offline and online channels. The spectrum of outcomes can be seen more clearly when comparing the FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, which amassed nearly $67 million in revenue between January 2019 and July 2019, with Illinois’ 3 percent drop in revenue last year across its existing casinos.
Considering this potential challenge, forward-thinking land-based casinos will likely find value in exploring technological investments, thus welcoming innovation by reinventing existing processes.
BRANDING & COMMUNITY BUILDING
For any business, staying ahead of the competition requires showcasing its unique selling points. This can be partly accomplished by leveraging the appropriate digital tools, which are made even more effective in the hands of experienced stakeholders, allowing operators to penetrate untapped markets.
Each casino target audience requires a tailored approach that addresses unique custom insights, demographics, psychographics and output channel. Millennials are one such community, requiring their own dedicated strategies and resources. A 2018 report by Rymax Marketing Services emphasizes the potential of using interactive experiences and loyalty programs to attract Millennials. According to the report, “To ensure that Millennials are drawn to the casino floor to play more slots, it’s essential to offer games that are more interactive, that require a mixture of skill and luck, while providing a social aspect that is reminiscent of video games.”
An example of focusing on an improved user experience can be seen with i-gaming operator ComeOn, which developed a responsible gaming tool last month, backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The tool tracks player data, detects potentially harmful patterns and flags those threats. Emphasizing player well-being, the tool also provides customized feedback in order to encourage responsible gaming.
Cultivating a strong sense of brand loyalty and ensuring a more meaningful consumer experience requires building a community that recognizes and shares the values and vision of one’s brand.
Although sales are an important element in generating revenue, in the long run, engagement will be its driver. Quality engagement can be generated through meaningful content, loyalty programs and responsiveness to consumer feedback. Those consumer insights, paired with innovative tech, may very well determine the evolution of the land-based casino sector.