Over the last 4 years since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018, casino operators of the United States have expanded to new markets and generated record-breaking revenue. In 2021, globally, the market size of the casino and online gambling industry reached a total of USD 261 billion. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected land-based gaming properties in 2020 and 2021. That’s why casino operators have been spending an enormous amount of marketing dollars focused on customers’ acquisition and retention.
To gain a deeper understanding of how casino operators can better communicate with players and deliver the world-class experiences that will inspire long-term loyalty, LaneTerralever, a renowned marketing and customer experience agency, partnered with Jefferies Group, an investment bank with a specialty in casinos, gaming, and leisure, to conducted a national survey of 1,384 casino players across all generations. The results were presented in the investigation Casino Player Trends Report. How Casinos Must Change Their Approach to Loyalty, Customer Experience & Online Sports Betting. Understanding How Player Mindsets & Expectations Differ Across Four Unique Generations. In this link, readers can get access to the complete data.
TRENDS, EXPECTATIONS AND IMPACTS
The text is firstly divided in three research areas: 1) Emerging Trends in Loyalty; 2) Expectations Around Customer Experience, and 3) Impacts of Online Sports Betting.
Regarding Emerging Trends in Loyalty, the study found many key identifiers surrounding players’ thoughts on loyalty programs. For instance, 67% of all players only belong to 1-2 casino/sports betting loyalty programs, while the rest belong to 3 or more. Besides, 87% of all players say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their favorite casino loyalty program, and 65% will visit a casino solely because of the positive perception of its loyalty program. About this, a well-designed player rewards program with targeted communications and a strong rewards mix will encourage repeat visitation, foster loyalty, stimulate play, and give an operator a competitive advantage aimed to get a larger share of wallet from existing players. In general terms, 57% of all players are engaging with their loyalty program at least weekly. This number varies depending different generations: Millennials are the most engaged (68%), followed by Gen Z players (63%), Gen X (56%), and Baby Boomers (33%).
When considering Expectations Around Customer Experience (online & in-person experiences), the report remarks that operators should create an exceptional guest experience instead of just a great customer service. Of those consulted, 59% of all players said they feel more comfortable betting online than in-person, while 64% prefer in-person entertainment. About technology, 74% of all players expect their favorite casinos to have a mobile app. Beyond receiving top of the notch technology, players are in search of a social experience. While Gen Z (49%) can be forgiving when they’ve had a bad experience, Baby Boomers (only 25%) and Gen X are less likely to give casino operators a second chance to get it right.
About Impacts of Online Sports Betting, the expansion of legalized sports betting in many jurisdictions of the United States has resulted in younger demographics taking part in this activity, becoming an increasingly important audience for operators to bring into the fold. When asked about what entices them to place a sports bet in-person, 48% of the participants of the survey answered “the ability to immediately cash out winnings,” and 31% responded “the experience of watching sports with friends/family/other players.” Besides, a great number of Gen Z (48%) and Millennials (36%) commented they have only bet online (never in-person), but they also indicated (70%) they are more likely to visit a casino in-person as sports betting becomes more accessible.
It’s evident that the typical sports bettor has a very different set of needs than the traditional slots or table games player. Though all expect to get the most from their rewards for their play, sports bettors, particularly those of the younger generations, are seeking social gaming experiences that casinos can’t miss on to retain them or even start to see the more traditional play from them. It’s having the right tools to meet sports bettors where they are that can help build improved player engagement, both online and in-person.
PLAYER INSIGHTS BY GENERATION
The report also tried to identify and understand primary demographics. Starting with Gen Z (18-25 years old), they prioritize the social experience over winnings. They’re choosing to play in ways that create or nurture connections and expect their casino of choice to adapt accordingly, rewarding them and tailoring their offering in favor of moments of engagement. For example, 31% use casino loyalty program rewards on friends and family (far more than any other generation), and 77% are more likely to consider a casino they feel wants them to live a sustainable lifestyle. For their part, Millennials (26-41 years old) have taken to sports betting with more fervor than any other generation and seem to be even more digitally inclined than their younger counterparts. 55% of them have placed a sports bet in a gaming app in the last 2 years.
When taking a look at Gen X players (42-57 years old), these older adults want an easy and frictionless experience, gambling both in traditional and digital settings. About numbers, 66% use loyalty rewards for additional play, 27% wish to be communicated with through text, and 61% prefer placing sports bets online/through a mobile app. Finally, Baby Boomers (58-75 years old) remain a consistent demographic for several reasons, including a disposable income and ample free time. More so than any other generation, Boomers are still looking for the best in-person gaming experience. Key stats of this group reveal 82% choose slots, 71% prefer to sign up for loyalty programs in person, and 40% say their favorite casino loyalty program is their local one.
G&M News asked Nick Dan-Bergman, VP, Marketing at LaneTerralever to share his evaluation on how to attract the interest of young gamblers who tend to have different preferences and disparate attention regarding the wide range of entertainment they receive. He declared: “Gen Z and Millennials are a growing part of the betting market, and while most spend their time placing bets online, there are ways to get them to visit a property in person. For this group, it’s not just about winning; they want to share a social experience with those closest to them. Our study found that 31% of Gen Z players use their rewards on their family and friends. In addition, when asked what enticed them to place a bet in person at a casino, Gen Z players greatly favored the experience of watching sports with friends and family, and the ability to cash out winnings immediately. Meanwhile, their top priorities when traveling to a destination casino are entertainment, dining, and nightlife. To set themselves apart from the competition, casino operators must look for creative ways to generate that atmosphere onsite. Some operators may consider bringing their experience directly to this younger demographic instead of making them travel to you. A great example of this is Barstool Sports, which has opened several branded sports bars/restaurants that cater to this younger demographic and will further embed their brand in new parts of their life.”
RECOMMENDATIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES
The report also offers a series of advices and discovers opportunities for casino operators to learn and take advantage of. Authors enumerate four Key Insights & Marketing Opportunities, which are the following:
1) The in-person & online experience are no different in the player’s mind. Casinos should take the best of both worlds and translate that into an all-around world-class experience. It’s just one experience representing one single brand.
2) True differentiation often begins with a look inside. No investment is too great. Operators must take an honest and transparent approach to their business and performance. They should stop focusing so much on their competition, and start taking advantage of opportunities within their control.
3) Achieve customer experience mastery by combining technology with a personal touch. Companies should keep things simple and provide their players with the seamless digital experience they have come to expect from the top brands they love. They have to drive loyalty by focusing on innovation to enhance guest experience.
4) Prioritizing employees’ experience will improve guests’ experience. A great experience starts with the employees. Operators should really know how valuable their employees are.
Talking about new ways of entertainment, such as Esports, G&M News consulted Dan-Bergman on the best strategies for operators to captivating young people (usually, non-gamblers) and bringing them to land-based properties. The executive stated: “As more Esports arenas continue to pop up, casino operators must realize that while the Esports crowd is generally from a younger demographic, their interests might differ from ‘typical’ Gen Z and Millennial. We know the Esports audience is highly competitive, incredibly tech-savvy, and has the endurance to hyper-focus on a game for hours. Casino operators must engage in a way that appeals to these unique tastes to entice this group. Consider implementing Esports-themed games or introducing them to fast-paced games that give them the same rush they are used to chasing. Land-based casinos should make this group feel heard when they walk onsite and remove any barriers or intimidation someone may feel when walking into a casino for the first time.”
For more information, executives can read the full report here.