The online gambling fortune cookie principle

The online gambling fortune cookie principle

Lee Davy talks about his personal experience as a customer of Stan James during the recent migration to Unibet, focusing on Bernadette Jiwa’s fortune cookie principle.

How about this for a gritty drama?

The online gambling fortune cookie principleAn evil circus owner convinces a beautiful Mermaid to leave her salubrious sealike surroundings so that he can provide her with a nightly audience she can make weep with her beautiful voice.

The Mermaid falls for his charms.

She ends up living in a fishbowl in his private quarters.


It’s a children’s book. I know. Fucked up, right? And it’s not just kidnapped Mermaids. Goosey Goosey Gander met an old man at the top of the stairs, and because he wouldn’t say his prayers, she took him by the left leg and threw him down.

And don’t get me started on sugar.

Book after book selling the idea that cakes and cookies are like magic pixie dust.

So it’s little wonder when your child turns 13 and ends up in a Chinese Restaurant for the first time she eagerly devours the cookie, the fortune lost in the guzzle.

And that’s the same mistake that online gambling companies make.

The Fortune Cookie Principle 

Bernadette Jiwa churns out more books than a tattoo parlour churns out butterflies., and they’re all brilliant. In her latest, The Fortune Cookie Principle, the marketing genius talks about the lack of wisdom when it comes to the handling of the cookie.

In Jiwa’s view, the cookie is the commodity. If you’re Unibet, PokerStars or Stan James, this means your suite of online gambling products.

Then you have the fortune, the intangible aspect of the product or service that hooks a customer into buying the cookie in the first place. The fortune is the brand story. The heart in the hearts and minds. It’s the reason people buy the cookie in the first place. It’s the reason they buy every type of cookie the company pulls out of the oven over the next ten years.

Why do online gambling companies keep sending me cookies, and when I open them, there is nothing but air?

The Stan James Issue 

In 2015, The Kindred Group acquired Stan James in a £19m deal. Last week, the Swede’s killed Stan the Man, migrating all of their customers over to the Unibet platform.

As a Stan James customer, you would imagine I would be interested in this development. I use Virgin Internet, and if they decided to buy BT and migrate my custom to the worst company I have ever dealt with in my life, then I would like to know.

A few days ago, I received an email from Unibet regarding the change.

Here it is:

Hi Lee, 

Your account has now been changed and you can start your Unibet journey by betting small and winning big with our new Cheltenham giveaway. 



I want to hang myself. 




As a student of customer service, I don’t know why these interactions continue to surprise me. The online gambling companies are woeful when it comes to communicating with customers via email.

During a conversation with an online gambling communications expert recently, I was told that email was a dying medium. Twitch and Discord was the way forward.

I disagree.

And furthermore, it shouldn’t matter what medium you use; the fortune should be consistent throughout.

By using an algorithm that knows my name is “Lee” doesn’t bring me any closer to sucking your nipple. And we all know, once a baby starts sucking, it’s not easy to get them off.

I want to feel like I matter.

And I never do.

The PokerStars Player Puzzle 

There are some short-sighted benefits when you fail to understand the lives of your core customers. Take PokerStars for example. The decisions that outraged so many grinders over the past 18-months, leading to player strikes, failed to impact the bottom line because hardly anybody within the PokerStars community knew of the changes.

I am a PokerStars customer.

If you remove the literature that fell underneath my lashes in my role as a poker writer, I wouldn’t have known that PokerStars were changing anything. I would have logged into my email one day, looked at another shameful attempt to get me to sign up to this or that bonus and sent it to the trash.

Back to Bernadette Jiwa and the Fortune Cookie Principle. When she writes to me, I look forward to reading it. Her articles and wisdom rise to the top of my Pocket list.

I buy everything that Jiwa sells, and she never sells me anything.


She makes me feel seen and heard.

I want to taste the sweetness of her cookies because by the time one of them arrives in her store, her story (fortune) has driven me into a frenzy.

Online gambling companies spend far too much time trying to sell their cookies. I wish they would find a way to create a better fortune.