Social Gaming: A Casino's Best Bet
Gabriel Cianchetto, President, Market Development of North America, Greentube Internet Entertainment
It’s no secret that the casino industry is in the midst of a tectonic demographic shift.
Older casino players who were content with slot machines and traditional table games are leaving the casino floor as their discretionary income diminishes over time.
The next generation, however, isn’t content with traditional casino fare. Young players may have discretionary income and an appetite for amusement, but the vast majority of Millennials and members of Generation X look to the Internet and mobile technologies for their entertainment.
The good news is that much of that Internet and mobile entertainment mentioned above has already been purpose-built to drive younger players to your door. I’m not talking about real-money play that requires licensure and regulation, but rather Social gaming. For casinos, social gaming is legal (all 50 states permit social casinos without licensure) and wildly popular (according to SuperData Research, approximately 35.4 million Americans already play social casino games).
Additionally, a recent report from Eilers Research stated that the global social casino games market will reach $2.6 billion with 31 percent year-over-year growth. Regardless of your casino’s size, you will want a piece of this rather large pie. Social casinos can do far more than build brand awareness among existing and potential players. A well-constructed social casino platform operating on a freemium pricing strategy can raise considerable revenues. Best of all, an online social casino can engage players anywhere in the world.
For social casinos, more games equates into more time spent online
Some small and midsized casinos mistakenly believe they can’t afford a reputable social platform. Others can’t sacrifice the manpower to run one. Finally, some rightly refuse to surrender their valuable and confidential player database to larger software companies who, ultimately, will treat them like just another account and co-opt their data.
The good news, however, is that if casinos take the first step toward adopting a social casino– and if they demand a little respect along the way–cost and confidentiality will no longer be a concern.
So, what are casinos are missing out on when they fail to launch a social gaming platform?
According to SuperData research, 82 percent of social casino gamers have visited a land-based casino within the past year and 60 percent have visited within the past six months. Meaning:
• Millions of players prepare for their next visit to a brick-and-mortar casino by visiting a social casino online
• Many players willingly purchase credits in order to elevate their play, generating revenue for a casino without the operator ever having to provide physical services such as food or hotel
• A dynamic social casino gaming platform can ensure that players remain active on its site at any time and on any device, keeping players engaged with the casino’s brand and generating, through accumulated points and various incentives, excitement about returning to the casino floor.
Every casino can–and must–have a branded social casino online. Those that don’t are literally leaving money on the table. Therefore, let’s talk about how your casino can navigate this new industry.
Your Brand, Your Players, Your Platform, Your Marketing
A scalable social casino platform can be affordable, but it won’t be cheap. Why would you allow the provider to co-brand your site if you’re paying the tab? Your social casino should have a customized virtual lobby that replicates the look and feel of your casino. Just as important, you need one-of-a-kind player engagement through “magic moment” redemptions that replicate real life experiences on the casino floor. Finally, in terms of customization, your platform should have direct-to-player marketing messages that your in-house marketing team creates and issues via the platform.
No More Shared Databases
These days, providers no longer need read/write access to your casino’s proprietary database of players. Platforms nowadays should have a consistent and simple API for integration. The important considerations is who owns the players, who can market to your players and where are you sending your players to?
Seamless Integration with Your Existing Loyalty Program, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Payment Processing systems.
This one is a no-brainer. If your casino already has a viable loyalty program, KYC and payment processing system, then your social casino platform should integrate with minimal effort.
For social casinos, more games equates into more time spent online. Your social casino should offer exciting, entertaining and engaging games that draw players back through your doors. While you don’t necessarily need to have the same games on the casino floor as on your online social casino, a social platform is a great opportunity for the casino to introduce and test new games, ideas and concepts to their audience. The trick is to offer game content from multiple publishers on multiple devices to help ensure wide scale play.
With the right planning and infrastructure, a social casino can compliment your real money platform by allowing younger players to familiarize themselves with new games and refine their skills. Once a player develops confidence, it’s far easier to offer them an incentive to migrate from your social platform over to real money play at your property.
Like it or not, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Younger players demand digital engagement before they leave their homes. Social gaming is the bridge.