July 4, 2022 Tribal, Online, iGaming

TRIBAL NATION GOES DIGITAL

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As the star of digital continues to rise, tribal operators are adapting a pace. Gaming America spoke with Matt Primeaux, President at Hard Rock Digital, to discuss the future of this major segment of the industry.

What takes up more hours in theday at Hard Rock Digital – online sports betting or iGaming? Canyou describe this breakdown a bit?

Online sports betting still consumes the majority of our day-to-day operationsand, in general, is a more time intensivesector vs. iGaming due to the nature of its trading and operations. It also tends to have more customer touchpoints andcontacts vs iGaming, which requiresadditional headcount investment.

While our work and investment iniGaming might not be felt yet, we believewe’re building a great foundation to growand expand our footprint in the gamingspace in the US and internationally.We’re in the process of debuting some incredible products.

What can the designer of a sports betting app do to stand apart from the competition?

There’s no one right answer, but for us, it’s building the Hard Rock brand experience into our products and entertaining our players in a way no one else can.

Products have to be organic to their company, brand and its positioning, values and targeted customer segment, and Hard Rock is an entertainment and lifestyle brand that’s fun, user-friendly, inviting and approachable. We believe that our products will stand out if we stay true to those core fundamentals in development and design. Making that Hard Rock experience available anywhere, at anytime, is our focus across the company: from our design team simplifying the betting interface to our trading product team working to provide new and exciting bet mechanics, to our platform team reducing deposit and withdrawal friction. If our products provide players with that fun and engaging entertainment experience that Hard Rock is known for, they’ll consistently come back.

Can you give us some examples of what data analytics and AI can do to improve digital offerings?

We’re using all the tools at our disposaltooptimize the player experience, providinga more personalized and more secureinteraction with our product. One examplehas to be simplification, particularly in the context of sports. We offer hundreds of thousands of different selections for ourcustomers to bet on at any given time, ondozens of sports, taking place in hundredsof countries worldwide. Finding the rightbet at the right time is key. Personalizationand localization has to be top of mind fordigital operators to minimize the cognitive burden facing the customer.

Analytics and AI are also major drivers of security and responsible gaming solutions. Without AI augmented solutions, it’s impossible to accurately identify and take rapid action when customer behavioral patterns stray too far outside their statistical norms. These tools help to keep customers playing responsibly and protected from bad actors. 

How is Hard Rock Digital preparing for the rising tide of iGaming that is inevitable in the United States in the coming years? Do you see it as the next behemoth?

Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have been extremely successful at building one of the world’s largest casino businesses, and we want to replicate that success and experience online, both domesticallyand internationally. In New Jersey, onlinecasinos already make up almost 30% of theoverall casino revenue, and our continuedonline expansion will be a meaningfuland important avenue for diversifying and expanding Hard Rock’s overall revenue.

If iGaming indeed becomes more popular than land-based casinos, how can tribal operators – or any traditionally land-based operator – adapt to keep up with the times? What would the future of thecasino floor look like in a world dominated by iGaming?

You will always find a variety of preferences when it comes to entertainment and gaming,and the more engagement options you offer, the better experience you can provide to customers. Whatever the future casino floor looks like, we believe that Hard Rockis uniquely positioned for success, withthe legendary entertainment offeredat our properties worldwide and by building that brand experience into ourmobile products. A strong omnichannelapproach will allow Hard Rock to createunmatched integrated in-person andonline player experiences as well as provide an opportunity to entertain our players in  a way no one else can.

Speaking in a more macro sense,do you think tribal operatorsare adequately meeting the challenge of the digitalization of the industry?

Absolutely. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to digitization – some havechosen to build their own platforms,while others have entered into lucrative partnerships. When you look at tribaloperators across the country, all have provided solutions to their players and   are taking advantage of the opportunities available in their market.

Our partnership in Arizona withNavajo Gaming is a great example oftribal operators coming together tomeet this challenge by pooling resourcesand creating a customer-first model thatdelivers a best-in-class entertainmentand hospitality experience for our players.

Where would you like to see HardRock Digital in 18-24 months?

We’re excited for the future and believe we have all the key ingredients to be successful in the domestic US gambling market – our own technology, a team that can navigate the intricacies of the state-by-state market rollout, capital to invest in the high startup costs, and a ‘fight to win’ mentality. The combination of our team  at Hard Rock Digital and our partners at Hard Rock International and The Seminole Tribe of Florida embodies the complete package.

We strive to deliver the legendaryHard Rock experience to our players – anytime and anywhere – through ourproducts. In the next 18-24 months,we expect continued expansion withinthe Hard Rock footprint and throughstrategic partnerships, allowing usto provide integrated online and in-person experiences. 

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