G2E: “Convergence” offers opportunity for higher profits, more RG tools

October 20, 2023 3:08 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
October 20, 2023 3:08 PM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Operators who fashion an effective blend of in-person and online gambling can multiply some players’ lifetime value by a factor of six or more, according to leaders in the quest for digital convergence.

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The process also gives operators data to identify potential at-risk gamblers and help keep them from betting more than they can afford.

“It’s not just personalizing the products (for players),” said Pat Davis, president and CEO of British Columbia Lottery Corp., which operates a lottery, land-based casino, and online gaming in Canada. “It’s also personalizing how you provide them the right education (about responsible gaming), the experience, and in some cases, interceding, all based on data.”

He spoke Oct. 11 at a Global Gaming Expo panel discussion on “Digital Convergence: Bringing Land-based Games to the Mobile World.” Catherine “Cath” Burns, CEO of Anaxi, Aristocrat’s online gaming and customer-experience solutions business founded in 2022, and Josh Morris, Anaxi’s senior vice president and general manager for igaming product and technology, were also on the panel. Thomas Castleberry, Anaxi’s vice president of igaming sales, moderated.

Whether the term is omnichannel, convergence, or cross-channel, “it’s all about being obsessed with and focused on the customer experience,” Davis said. “You’re trying to enable those customers to interact with you wherever and whenever they want and have the experiences they want.”

Burn said convergence offers two benefits: It creates more value for players and uses the wealth of data from online offerings to personalize each player’s experience.

Morris said delivering the personalization that increases playing time is simple in principle, but difficult to achieve. One Anaxi technique is offering free-to-play games that reward players who use it consistently. “The lifetime value is probably about three times that of players who don’t engage with those mechanics.”

BCLC has seen even larger numbers. Despite employees’ worries that online expansion would siphon profit and visitation from land-based operations, the opposite happened, Davis said.

“This is additive. We’ve seen growth in both markets.” Among loyalty cardholders who play casino games both in person and online, the company’s profit was six times higher, he said. Among those who play online and bet sports, the figure was 13 times higher. Although lottery play is anonymous, the players who engage in land-based and online casino plus lottery would show another multiple.

Burns said land-based operations considering online expansion must protect their brand by making sure new technologies mesh with existing systems. “One key product links land and online and that’s loyalty,” she said. Bringing those platforms together to manage player data is critical, because operators typically have dozens of business platforms. “You’re adding that level of complexity with online and you’re trying to make it a simple, easy, seamless experience.”

She said regulations governing land-based operations can make online-gaming registration difficult for players. Consumers are accustomed to sites that automatically fill out standard data, such as address and phone number, but that’s often not available. The United Kingdom, other European markets, some Canadian provinces, and Australia allow digitized driver licenses, but the United States has been slow to adopt them. Another impediment is the reluctance to allow operators to use cloud services, instead requiring that physical servers be placed within their borders. “The security and safety in that (cloud) environment are as good as having it on your premises,” she said. “That technology is getting expensive. (Cloud service) offers a more efficient, effective way to have technology and hold your data.”

Morris said online games must be designed not only for usability, but also with a responsible-gaming perspective. “To share insights across land and digital to ensure that we can keep players safer is a huge opportunity for all of us.”

Davis said online operators should go beyond offering common player tools, such as time and budget limits, to incorporate tools to evaluate player behavior in relation to responsible gaming. “There are products we don’t market; there are player segments we don’t market to. We purposely make decisions that for us are about not maximizing profitability, but maximizing responsible growth.”