What the App is Omnichannel?


Omer Sattar, Co-CEO of Sightline Payments, says cashless and omnichannel experiences will unite the digital and physical worlds of gaming.

'Cashless' has been the new buzzword in the gaming industry for a while now. With interest being driven by the incredible success of payments in digital gaming channels, cashless gaming has also caused changes to overall consumer behavior driven by the pandemic. As a result, casinos nationwide are trying to determine the best way to bring cashless gaming to their properties. But cashless was never the end point – omnichannel is.

'Omnichannel' is increasingly becoming the gaming industry's new buzzword. It’s been popping up across both earnings calls and interviews with industry leaders – but no one seems clear on what it means. In countless discussions I’ve had with executives both in and outside the industry, they’ve asked me, “so what exactly is omnichannel?”

Omnichannel is how we live our lives today. We live within, and between, something that’s digital and something that’s physical. The example I give to many is: look at where we eat. These days, we all go out to restaurants, but we’ll also order takeout or delivery from the same restaurants via apps like DoorDash or UberEats. Just as the pandemic didn’t destroy our desire to go out for dinner, it also forced many restaurants to pivot and expand their takeout options. Simply put, customers want dining options that span both the digital and physical.

In other industries, omnichannel is how many companies have fueled tremendous growth. Just look at Target in retail, with its RedCard debit card; Starbucks in food service, with its gold-standard app; Amazon in ecommerce, with its enormous reach and even sports teams, with their new approach to direct-to-consumer streaming services.

Only 23 of the 42 states with casinos currently offer online sports betting, and only seven states offer online casino options.

Casinos should be no different, yet the current state of our country’s 1,000 casinos doesn’t reflect that. Only 23 of the 42 states with casinos currently offer online sports betting, and only seven states offer online casino options. However, these digital options drive 10% of all industry revenue. For many gaming markets, no digital gaming options exist at all, particularly those in Tribal gaming-focused markets, like California and Florida. The business opportunity available to the industry is clear.

But omnichannel isn’t only about connecting land-based gaming to digital gaming. It’s about reaching your customers wherever they are – be it either on your property or at home on their couch – and offering them more options with less friction.So how do you optimize omnichannel when online gambling opportunities aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as casinos?

Two ways: money and loyalty.

At Sightline, we say omnichannel is the idea that money and loyalty should follow you wherever you go. Money and loyalty are already the two primary things a casino customer really cares about. For the first, customers want to know where their money is and what it is doing. Are they winning? Did they close their tab at the bar? Do they have enough to do everything they want to do at your property? Is their money easily accessible?

At Sightline, we say omnichannel is the idea that money and loyalty should follow you wherever you go.

For loyalty, they expect to earn rewards for everything they do. MGM Resorts has done a great job telling this story with its billboards on the I-15 coming into Las Vegas. The point of the ads is that customers earn points for everything they do with MGM – eating, playing slots, betting on sports, staying at MGM properties and even by spending money with their rewards credit card. Consumers have come to expect loyalty rewards in other parts of their travel and leisure experience. They desire it for their casino experience, as well.

An omnichannel experience gives the guest the ability to spend anywhere, earn rewards anywhere and customize their experience. It’s like giving everyone who visits your property their own host.

And how are many casinos giving players that personalized experience? White-label casino mobile apps help a customer understand their comps, rewards and reservations while on property. While off-property, these apps deliver things like free-to-play games, which can also earn loyalty and targeted offers.

We’re already hearing successful anecdotes from earnings calls for key industry players who have embraced this omnichannel approach. MGM reported 40% of its rewards enrollees came directly via BetMGM and its digital channels. Caesars saw $200m in play from customers sourced through digital channels. Penn Entertainment’s experience with cashless gaming has shown a 10-15% increase in play from customers using those solutions. And this is only the beginning.

The concept of living between two worlds — the physical and the digital — will be the most prevalent theme in the casino business for the next 5-10 years. Our patrons will increasingly engage with our properties, our brands and our products via both in-person and digital, and they will want to make their own choices on how to do so.

Over the next few months, Sightline will be releasing a series of white papers on the omnichannel opportunity for the gaming industry. Starting the series is a deep dive into the success of omnichannel in other consumer sectors, and how the gaming industry can leverage many of those same experiences. As we increasingly see gaming as a mainstream form of entertainment, our offerings need to evolve to meet consumer expectations. The opportunities for omnichannel in gaming are nearly boundless. 

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