Bringing loyalty to sports betting

It’s more than a New Year, it’s a new decade… what will it bring?

January 22, 2020

Paul GordonAs you make your personal resolutions and business plans for 2020, take a moment to reflect on the incredible past decade and what the new one might hold.

This past decade we saw:

  • The impact of legal sports betting on the gaming landscape;
  • Tremendous expansion into new markets;
  • Operator consolidation;
  • Technology that drives consumer play and interactions on the gaming floor; and
  • The desire for greater amenities and services outside of gaming.

The casino business looked much different 10 years ago, so we have to think about what it will look like going forward.

Now, you don’t have to be a futurist scholar to draw a few conclusions with certainty:

  • The appeal of betting will continue to be core to the casino business;
  • The desire for a sense of community will remain strong;
  • The player will seek additional services; and
  • Most importantly, online will be an increasing percentage of gaming and needs to be incorporated into player loyalty.

Player loyalty is the critical piece of the casino success and point of differentiation.

Look at the impact of sports betting and the volume that was generated in New Jersey alone. This gaming option has virtually no differentiation on property or on the web as the odds on the sporting events are consistent by provider. As the odds move up and down, that change is reflected on all betting vehicles. So how does the property or online entity create a unique draw to using them for that sports betting?

Incorporating player loyalty into sports betting and creating a unique association will be the biggest initiative in the new decade.

Now many casino operators will say that there is very little profit to spend against sports betting, but that is somewhat shortsighted and here are a few key reasons why:

  • Sports betting is bringing in new players and initiating trial of other games to a new audience. Initiating trial by incorporating rewards that cross over from sports betting to traditional gaming and ancillary services will create differentiation and loyalty. It also helps to fund the sports betting piece.
  • Themed loyalty that plays into the sports betting player that creates an opportunity for experiential promotions to draw the player onto the property. We create promotions by brand, category and theme for some of our top clients. Play-ups, bulk giveaways and events are very powerful. We recently had some former sports athletes at an event with a headphone giveaway. The players had a memorable experience with the sports celebrity and the product provided trophy value that has years of memories tied to the product. That is a very efficient expense that creates loyalty. And from NFL, NCAA, MLB, UFC and all other sports, it is a 12-month calendar that can be planned out, announced and drive play.
  • The ability for player hosts and casino management to use the loyalty program as a way to greater define the needs of their players and create a stronger relationship to drive play.
  • It flows efficiently over onto property sports and online betting.

At G2E 2019, there were more startup online sports betting companies than ever before. Some will be successful, but most will not. That is the reality of any “gold rush” business opportunity. But this process can be disruptive to the end product, which is sports betting.

The largest casino operators that offer online sports betting need the loyalty program. The new online providers that survive will need it too. Our research shows that 94 percent of players want to be in a rewards program and the number is even higher if they feel that the program thresholds are attainable. Meanwhile, 89 percent of players stay loyal to casinos that “get them” and understand what they are seeking in rewards.

That goes back to our segmentation and concentration strategy. Define each player group and concentrate on the rewards by each segment. Over 90 percent of players will recommend the property or site because of the loyalty program.

Be prepared to take advantage of the coming changes. Understand the player and anticipate the changing landscape by creating a unique player loyalty program.

We wish all of you a very successful 2020 and, more importantly, a very successful new decade.


This article originally appeared in Casino Journal.

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