“Social distancing is here to stay” and “Grandma is streaming on her phone.”
Those are just two of the many realities that slot operators need to consider post-COVID casino. The comments came from the panel “Trends To Create a High-Performing Floor and Better Player Experience” at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Conference” on Wednesday.
Panelist Bryan Brammer, an analytics specialist at Raving Consulting, said that greater spacing of slot machines due to virus restrictions validated the idea that players prefer better separation from other guests, regardless of a threat of COVID spread. He added that it was one of the factors resulting in fewer machines on our floors post-COVID, but a surprising increase in spend and time on device.
Joseph Nayguonabe, CEO at Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, said that we need to be aware of changing technology trends and be willing to explore them, despite the risks. Noting that his grandmother is now streaming on her iPad and phone, he said, “Streaming content is a barometer of entertainment. Consumer behavior is rapidly transferring to our floors.” But he cautioned, “The amount of time to failure and falling off the cliff is accelerating. Time is getting shorter and shorter.” He was referring to the lack of patience players have for weak games and their desire to seek maximum entertainment value.
Trevor Taylor, another Raving consultant on gaming operations, urged the audience to start looking at player behavior compared to their own earlier behavior.
“We’ve all had to roll up our sleeves and dive into the data. It’s about yielding the floor and I don’t think any of us realized how deep we have to dive in. I’m beating the drum on understanding the comparison of players to themselves.” In other words, looking at how players react to new games and products, compared to earlier behavior, and thus understanding how “to maximize their budgets. We need to get the right game for the right individuals.”
Mike Trask, VP of product marketing & global communications for Ainsworth, said, “Bet levels are rising post-COVID. The 40-coin game has quickly grown to 80-plus coin and higher. And we’re seeing players spend more time on the floor. We’re closely monitoring that trend to make sure it doesn’t go too high.”
Interestingly, he said that despite 40-plus competitors, “the leading pre-COVID games are still dominant today.” He said the greatest challenges to manufacturers are “gaining floor space and supply-chain issues.” He added that they’re carefully monitoring data on when players cash out and making sure they’re having a great experience without costing them too much.
All the panelists, including moderator Deana Scott, CEO of Raving Consulting, stressed the need for better and better analytics to understand the rapid changes occurring on our floors today and how best to take advantage of new technology.
Nayquonabe added, “We need to make sure that we are including the top slot executives to participate in our marketing discussions.”
Scott agreed and stressed the importance of avoiding silos. “We all need to work together.”