Editor’s Note: This is part 3 in a three-part series focused on changing trends in the casino gaming industry. Part 1 focuses on merging esports and casinos. Part 2 focuses on socialization inside the casino, skill-based gaming, and selling experiences as opposed to offering traditional gambling.
We live in a connected world. From social media and the internet to mobile devices and apps, people these days are with their most liked brands, tools, games and people on a near constant basis. Yet, casinos are not always as connected to their customers as they could be and older infrastructure can make it hard to adapt to the times.
At GiGse 2016, industry leaders and experts came together to discuss what casinos of the future will need to stay competitive and thrive in an increasingly technological world. Among the things discussed were new technology and infrastructure – as well as some ideas on changing the casino business model altogether.
One of the most repeated words mentioned when discussing new technology was “data.” Several speakers mentioned the need for casinos to better understand their customers – with data being the holy grail for understanding what makes people on the casino floor tick.
Anton Dobrosevic, vice president of gaming at Growth Advisors, said that casinos could use data to enhance experiences for customers. Matteo Monteverdi, vice president of global product marketing at IGT, echoed the sentiment saying that casinos need to get more in tune with big data and use it to fine-tune their games.
Above all, both noted, casinos need to use infrastructure and technology that allows them to capture as much user data as possible and test out different ideas.
When it came to infrastructure, the need for mobile seemed paramount. MGM Resorts Executive Director of iGaming Lovell Walker and OneLive CEO Michael Jabara detailed plans to bring mobile to MGM casinos in a big way – paving the way for players to compete in tournaments, play skill-based games, and interact with the casino and each other across all MGM properties on mobile devices in realtime.
“There’s no question that (mobile) is the most underutilized gaming device today. The on-property potential of a mobile device is the single biggest untapped revenue opportunity,” Michael said.
Patrick Nichols, senior vice president of strategy and business development at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, noted that currently the Cosmopolitan casino pays more to audit mobile gaming services than they make on mobile gaming – but that once the sign-up process was streamlined it should be easier to grow customers on mobile.
An increased need for fiber, WiFi, and other infrastructure to make it easier to adapt to new trends was also mentioned when it came to updates that are needed for the digital age. Matteo noted that technology will be updated at an increasing rate, so it’s important to build things in a way that makes everything easier to certify.
Michael noted that OneLive uses cloud-based providers to avoid infrastructure costs and suggested casinos use suppliers who get both land-based and mobile technology. Others added to the sentiment by suggesting that, if casinos can’t build what they need, they should look into buying up companies who have what they’re looking for – while keeping in mind that if they plan to fully integrate a company into their own, they should make sure both companies are similar tech-wise.
Investment and Innovation
Discussion about upgrading infrastructure and purchasing companies brought up numerous ideas on investment and innovation. Matteo noted that you don’t need to use the latest technology to innovate, you simply need to be thinking of new ideas – something the casino industry currently isn’t doing enough of.
Numerous speakers noted it was a good time to buy into social casino and daily fantasy sports – though Pierre Cadena, vice president of corporate development at Caesars Interactive, said that those looking to acquire or jump-start their social casino product should do so sooner rather than later because the space is consolidating.
Pierre also noted that it can take too long to build out new tech and ideas, while buying companies is easier. James Kosta, an operating partner with Signia Venture Partners, suggested that casinos invest in things that are far reaching rather than things that simply extend their current business.
James also said casinos should consider making even small investments into things like syndicates – which will allow them to access new companies, tech, and ideas without a lot of risk. The best place for businesses to look for new ideas and innovation, James said, is at their own employees – suggesting that businesses invest in employees who are leaving to start their own companies.
Changing business models
Along with investment and innovation comes changing business models. Anton envisioned a future where casino floors become a “starvation business” that are only used to bring traffic to a casino’s peripheral businesses. Anton also suggested that casinos need to understand and adapt to trends and changing mindsets on business – noting that company hierarchies are changing and becoming flatter.
Of course, being the casino industry, new business models and ideas often have to go through regulators. Anton said casinos should talk to regulators about opportunities and ideas and noted that regulators depend on casinos to stay informed. Salim Adatia, vice president of igaming and Canadian services at GLI, said regulators need to engage with casinos about new products and ideas and how they fit into current regulations – and that regulators need to be able to adapt quickly to changes.
With all the changes undergoing the casino industry – from infrastructure to innovation and beyond – Roberto Coppola, Director of Market Research & Consumer Insights at YWS Design & Architecture, offered some timeless advice: “Don’t alienate current customer bases. Use a segmented phased-in approach (for new demographics).”
At the same time, Roberto added, casino mainstays needs to do away with their “us vs. them” mentality and embrace new industry players such as esports and daily fantasy sports – and learn from their successes. “Recognize that businesses are always changing.”