There’s no better time to stop and learn some new lessons than when you have nothing else going on in your life, and with not much going on in the American casino industry right now, it feels like the perfect time for the gambling industry to do just that. Day 4 of the ICE North America Digital conference was all about training, with three talks on how the industry can learn and improve.
The first session was on Responsible Gaming (RG), delivered by Sydney Smith, Founder of the RISE Center for Recovery. She spoke about the need for RG to ensure the safety and pleasure of customers, while also protecting the assets of the casino.
She began by noting that RG requirements are set by each state with regulated gambling, and operators should be familiar with what is expected of them. If they somehow don’t have strong frameworks already in place, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has one to follow, but National Council on Problem Gaming, Center for Responsible Gambling and Indian Gaming Regulatory Act also great examples to follow.
So what are some of the basics that can be implemented? Employee Training first and foremost, but casinos can also start public awareness efforts, implement self-exclusion programs, fund treatment and research programs, install property signage, and set limits on financial instruments.
The key is in recognizing the difference between someone just having fun, and someone with a real addiction. Recognizing the latter could save a property millions in the long run. Problem gamblers have a tendency to lie, steal money, and introduce other problems like alcohol and drugs. In all likelihood, large casinos have employees with gambling problems, which can cause absenteeism and theft problems.
But employee training is the first way to recognize these problems in players and staff. By making RG a part of the company culture, staff start to make it a priority in their routine and can stop problems before they start.
Smith ended by noting that with everything shut down, now is the perfect time to plan and implement an RG program. Even something as simple as brochures being put out could help.
Next up was Tina Thakor-Rankin, Principal Consultant at 1710 Gaming, who spoke about “From Casino to Sports: Turning Your Frontline Casino Champions into Sportsbook Specialties.” In other words, how to cross train your staff to improve business efficiency, and their own happiness.
Essentially, she noted that this is all about going back to basics. By multiplying your available resources through cross training staff, the business minimizes costs.
Thakor-Rankin spoke extensively about how casino dealers can easily move over to sports book windows to take bets. Roulette or Slots, for example, are much more difficult than understanding a fairly simple sports wager. Meanwhile, the sportsbook sees surges of action just before events, which cross trained employees can help manager, while reducing the need for hiring.
But this is also great for employee morale, as additional training gives the employee a better sense of self worth. They’ll be more motivated, and spread better word of mouth about the casino.
She also noted that this will create new opportunities with the next generation of players. Employees now knowledgeable on multiple offerings can cross sell players on them. Female dealers at the sports book window may attract more female sports bettors. And a more diverse representation across all products is generally more attractive to a diverse player base, as studies have shown.
Finally, the day ended with a talk on planning online strategies for the ‘New Normal.’ Jason ‘Wolf’ Rosenberg, CEO of America iGaming Solutions, and Itsik Akiva, Online Gaming & Marketing Consultant for the same company, spoke about how casinos can use the digital experience to stay connected with players and increase their potential monetization.
Now more than ever, casinos can’t stay as simply brick and mortar, they noted. There is an imperative to to introduce better ways to engage and monetize customer base, and that can be done in several ways.
The first, of course, is to introduce real money iGaming wherever it’s permitted. While this is the most lucrative way to stay connected to players, it’s also the most complicated and costly. But where its permitted, it’s certainly worth looking at.
The second option is to offer some type of social gaming option, like free play casino and poker games online. This keeps players connected to the brand, and provides an element of player education, so they can be more keen on certain games when they return to the casino.
It can also open the window to rewards programs. While a million digital chips might not be worth anything real, perhaps they could be traded in at the resort for a round of golf, or a free meal.
The third option is simpler digital engagement tools, like reward apps, web pages, loyalty cards and texting. By using these simple means to stay in the player’s consciousness, they may be much more likely to return to the casino and make it apart of their routine entertainment habits.
But to make any of this work, the operator has to have a top down strategy. Too many firms have competition across their locations, when they should be encouraging success across the organization. To really succeed at driving player engagement, casinos need to have it start at the CEO and Tribal council level, the duo noted, and foster cooperation between properties rather than competition.