March 14, 2022 Tribal, Online

Tribal Aspirations

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Gaming America sat down with Quincy Raven, Managing Director US at Aspire Global, to discuss tribal gaming.

Firstly, would you be able to go into some detail regarding Aspire Global’s approach to the ever-expanding gaming market in the United States?

The US market is enormous in scale. This can be seen by the level of advertising spend and huge bonus offers being put in front of customers by tier-one operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel. Our focus is on the segment of the market not controlled by the major market access players, which represents approximately 30% of gross gaming revenue in the US. One distinct advantage we have over the competition when vying for this share is our legacy as a B2C operator and our experience in providing operational managed services to many of our platform partners.

With our CRM suite, AspireEngage, we’re able to offer player engagement and retention services above anything else available in the US market. While many of the established land-based partners we are talking to cannot – and would not want to – match the marketing spend of the major operators when establishing a digital presence, it is crucial they focus on player retention in order to utilize the hard-won players they have built up over decades.

Tribal gaming is, of course, a massive part of the US; how are you planning on approaching the tribal segment? Does it take a different approach when compared to European and non-tribal US brands?

Without a doubt, opportunities within the vast tribal segment are plentiful and this is a key focus for Aspire Global. We have seen within financial reports issued by tier-one operators that they are burning hundreds of millions of dollars on virtually unlimited marketing budgets to acquire players. This approach is not sustainable for tribal operators and their focus, given their already-large player databases, must be trained on CRM execution with an eye on efficiency. One way of achieving this is by making sure they have all the necessary CRM components integrated within a single platform, instead of buying a particular iGaming or aggregation platform with a bolt-on CRM component; which could entail employing additional technology and marketing vendors.

How can tribal operators compete with the commercial giants that are growing in the US, or should they be looking to work in tandem with them?

There is enough space in the US market for every level of operator to find their niche successfully. For tribal operators, it is a case of taking a suitable approach, given their existing experience gained over decades, in creating and growing a loyal player base with the entertainment options they seek.

A perfect example of a state in which tribal operators are occupying the same space as big guns, with deep pockets and substantial media-buying power, is Michigan. Tribal operators might look at the swathes of TV ads and ask: how am I going to afford to keep up with that? But I believe the first questions asked should be, what am I doing for my existing players? A big marketing spend is great, but there is huge value in instead considering whether the VIPs an operator has spent so long looking after are still playing in expected ways; and if not, producing marketing and incentives around that. It sometimes pays to steer clear of the noise.

With that in mind, do you have some insight on how the tribal operators you work with feel about the growth of non-tribal gaming brands in the US?

If you take a broader view of sports betting and online casino in the United States, its growth can be beneficial for every operator. Evaluating the cost per acquisition, which is as high as $1,000 in some cases, gives an idea of the overall market’s potential in the long term. The rollout of sports betting is educating bettors about new and exciting products, which operators can use to add new forms of online entertainment and engagement. Tribal operators can tap into the evolving ecosystem to provide players, new and old, with an innovative gaming option. We are involved in talks with several tribal operators about how we can help them maximize their potential in the online gaming and sports betting space in North America; at a very exciting juncture in the growth journey of the industry as a whole. 

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