Loyalty programs have existed at casinos and poker tables long before these were available online. These programs allow players to get money back in the form of gifts, bonuses and many other benefits that continually change as the years go by. The more play and the longer the players stay with the same casino, then bigger and better rewards, and benefits that the casino will be offering. This is the basic principle of Player Tracking Systems or loyalty programs, as they are commonly called. Nowadays, these programs are widely used as a form of advertising and as a marketing tool.
WHAT IS A PLAYER TRACKING SYSTEM OR LOYALTY PROGRAM?
A Player Tracking System is a reward program for players who maintain loyalty to the casino by continually going back, therefore players will enroll to obtain a benefit from it. These systems can be presented to players in many ways, such as VIP Programs, Loyalty Programs, Rewards Programs, VIP Rooms and so on. How each program works is up to the individual casinos and will depend on what is allowed in the jurisdiction if the casino market is regulated. The most typical form of operation is the one where the player simply collects points while playing casino games. These can then be exchanged for cash, bonuses, appliances and, sometimes, even vacations or luxury cars.
Another type of loyalty program is based on a trend that has grown in popularity in recent years and that is the gamification of these, which is nothing else that the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with games offered in the casino. The programs can be based around leveling up, unlocking new levels or stages, as if it were a video game. This encourages the player to play more and more to get better rewards in the next level. Many casinos take this and other ideas and make them their own, which is why the number of loyalty programs has grown so much between 2019 and 2020.
The last type of loyalty program we’re going to talk about is one that the players must apply for to join. These programs are a bit stranger to see these days, but they are usually reserved for those casinos that are more upscale. These casinos usually put prerequisites such as a certain amount of money and/or play before a player can join them.
HOW DO LOYALTY PROGRAMS AND BONUSES WORK?
Before joining a VIP club, it is important for the players to understand how it works. Usually, there are two models that could be adopted by loyalty programs. Of course, some casinos prefer to combine the two and have a loyalty program that is a mix of both:
Model 1: This type of loyalty program distributes points for each bet placed in the sports section, table games or in the casino slot floor. The more bets, the more points that are accumulated. Players can exchange these points for promotional prizes, bonuses, or other rewards.
Model 2: This type of loyalty program has several VIP levels and statuses. As the players move up in VIP status, they will find more and more bonuses for loyal players. Among the benefits, there could be special financial privileges for players who have obtained a certain level of VIP status.
What types of loyalty bonuses can players find in land-based and/or online casinos?
We can mention three types: a) Reload Bonuses: This type of loyalty bonus is reserved for those who make a deposit. The amount of the bonus depends on the amount the players load into their player’s account; b) No Deposit Bonus: This is a bonus that can be unlocked without having to make a deposit. Although it is very popular, it is very difficult to get, as sometimes it could be randomly awarded or there are certain criteria to meet, and c) Free Play: This bonus is also known as non-cashable credits that can be used to place bets without risking your own money.
What are the best casino rewards/loyalty programs?
Well, that’s up to personal preferences. Obviously, there are some programs that reward players more than others, but they all work pretty much the same. The main reason why casinos use these programs is to establish certain collaboration with the players and make them feel important and rewarded. Some loyalty programs focus on giving back free credits and bonuses, while others give players entry to a round of Slots Tournaments or other entertainment events at the property.
The benefits of casino “cash” back bonuses, if allowed in the jurisdiction
It is not uncommon for casino loyalty programs to contain bonuses that may represent a “cash” back bonus, that is nothing else than non-cashable credits for play. We could even say that this is one of the most common elements of loyalty programs. These cash back bonuses ensure that there is some return to the players, even at times when the slots are not paying out as much and based on the amount of money that players have invested.
Some cash back bonuses allow players to withdraw a percentage of the amount of money lost in a certain period established by the program being used. This amount of non-cashable credits is returned to the player’s account, although usually with some wagering requirement.
The benefits of using Player tracking systems
Using productive and valuable casino management software is imperative when the operator chooses the system to be offered. This not only properly quantifies the points accumulated for each gaming session and for each player, but also provides the basic statistics for analysis of Player Management (CRM), Promotional Campaign Management, Analytics and Visualization. Unfortunately, the cost of such systems and information could be a bit high for many small and medium-sized casinos, especially due to maintenance costs. In other cases, those in charge of the deployment of the system, due to limitations on the regulations and technology allowed in the market, only use 10-20% of the capacity of such software, leaving its use relegated to assisting in the preparation of daily management reports known to all, but which only serve to develop more and more promotional campaigns and not always to increase marginal revenue.
WHAT’S THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR PLAYER TRACKING SYSTEMS?
There are several jurisdictions in the U.S. and the rest of the world in which manufacturers and developers of players tracking systems need to go through a regulatory approval process before deploying the systems in any of the properties. These regulations are not as stringent as the ones that are applicable to slot machines; however, due to the liability and the risk for players to feel cheated at any given point, it is important to review some aspects of these systems prior to them being used in the casino floor.
One of the most popular standards widely applied is the GLI-18 Standard for Promotional Systems in Casinos. The regulatory requirements start with the review of the software and hardware infrastructure in the laboratory, all the way to the deployment of the system in the casino to ensure the communication between all components is accurate. The most relevant information to evaluate will include proper configuration of different promotions, reconciliation and audit traceability for all promotional transactions, proper handling of error conditions when the promotions are running and proper award advertisement and notification to all players.
In addition to the aspects that are seeing by the players, there are other management elements that will require full visibility by the regulatory bodies, such as the modifications of critical parameters within the system after the promotions have been established and made public. It is important for the operators to ensure that any unauthorized transaction within the system can be fully identified and that it is always traceable. And ultimately, but probably a priority for the operators, is the minimum requirements for the creation and protection of player accounts, as well as the generation of reports that can be utilize for marketing or operational purposes.