Earlier this year, Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg told investors that spending on sports betting marketing would be curtailed “dramatically” following his brand’s successful launch in New York. Customers signing up had enjoyed a $300 welcome bonus, as well as a deposit match of up to $3,000 as part of what had been billed as a $1bn launch of the new digital segment.
The realization has swept across tier-one operators that such a strategy is simply not sustainable, or indeed desirable, in the long-term. Once the initial customeracquisition frenzy from operators with the biggest pockets has now died down, as the initial wave of sign-ups draws to a close, there has to be a better, more efficient way of engaging with customers in the long term.
But what does this all mean for the online betting and casino market outside of the biggest names in the US? Those operators outside the top tier may not be able to match the initial marketing outlay of their tier-one rivals, but that doesn’t mean they are out of luck – far from it, in fact.
The scale of the opportunity presented by well-established tribal operators who are looking to enter the digital realm for the first time is made clear by looking at the statistics.
Connecticut’s tribal casinos are perhaps the best known to the wider world, principally in the form of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort. However, examining the scale of tribal operations in other states provides a telling indication of the advantages they already possess in terms of customer databases. Take Oklahoma, for example: across 33 tribes including the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation and the Cherokee Nation, there are a total of 143 casinos in operation, one of which – WinStarWorld Casino and Resort – is the largest in the entire world. In Arizona, meanwhile, tribal casinos bring in around $2 billion in annual revenues, making it the fifth-large tribal gaming state.
With a vast experience of interacting with their enormous customer databases, these operators know the value of effective marketing. While there is no getting away from the fact that acquiring players is expensive – even without offering enormous deposit bonuses – tribal casinos know what makes their customers tick. While huge brands will inevitably expand their scope across the US as sports betting and online gaming continue to roll out, tribal casinos are not multi-state, national brands. Instead, they draw loyal customers from a local radius and have built an understanding of the different game types those players enjoy most, which varies from state to state. It is all about building the brand and keeping the player returning, month after month and year after year, and tribal operators with enormous, valuable player databases are acutely aware of the importance of effective, efficient CRM systems.
The right tools
At Aspire Global, we utilize a variety ofadvanced toolsets to address customers. Our data platform incorporates a wide range of services to deliver an improved player journey and greater customer satisfaction, with real-time top-level marketing capabilities that enable operators to sharpen their approach to player engagement. This encompasses key areas such as bonus management, personalized messaging and user segmentation. Our system also allows operators to connect their own existing CRM tools to the platform, in addition to providing an easy-to-use self-management interface.
Our own heritage in B2C operations teaches us that the fundamental principles are the same for all operators: offer the player the entertainment they want and provide them with the incentives to keep coming back. Truly engaging with the customer journey, providing them with anything and everything from slots to sportsbook to live dealer, is what ultimately creates loyalty. Our advanced engagement tools are designed to enhance that effort, bolstering existing brand loyalty.
I believe that the key to the opportunity for tribal operators who are moving online is to stick with the core principles that made them so successful in the first place. There is huge value, for example, in constantly analyzing and sourcing new ways to engage with an operator’s core VIP list, which may have taken years or even decades to build up. Are these players still playing in expected ways and if not, what are the incentives that can be produced around that? When it comes to online gaming, given the right system, compelling offers and suggestions can be made to players in real-time.
Tribal brands are already known and lovedby their players within their communities, across a vast portion of the US. Leveraging the deep knowledge of what makes their local customers tick through smarter marketing, rather than the issuing of lavish welcome bonuses, could ultimately dictate their success in the brave new digital world.