The march to the legalization of US Internet gambling has begun with states and the federal government grappling with how it will be legalized. It is no longer a matter of, if Internet gambling will be legalized in the US, it is a question of when and how will the legislation unfold. During this interim period of uncertainly many casino businesses interested in taking advantage of the new gambling law are pondering what they should do now to prepare for the eventual passage of Internet gambling legislation. The US land based casino industry is one sector that could benefit the most from the change in gambling law or potentially miss the greatest business opportunity of the industry's lifetime. Given the historical constraints imposed on land based casinos by legislatures and consumer groups the casino operators have done very little in the Internet space relying heavily on snail mail marketing, TV ads and the promotion of their entertainment venues to entice consumers to come to their properties. This leaves them at a strategic disadvantage relative to other business sectors that have sophisticated Internet marketing teams that understand the online space , conversation rates, cost of acquisition, consumer behaviour, etc. So what are the first steps they should take to explore the Internet space, preparing themselves and consumers for the big day?
Will Land Based Casino Patrons Gamble Online? - Clearly the answer to this question will significantly impact a casino's online gambling strategy. Speculating about the answer to this question is a big gamble in and of itself and should be answered prior to any investment in Internet gambling platforms, strategic gambling partnerships, etc.
E-mail Capture - Before a casino can assess their land based customers propensity to gamble online they need to able to communicate with them online. E-mail is the good old fashion way to do this. Most people have an account and will provide that to a business. Capturing that e-mail address at hotel registration time or perhaps at the cashier counter would be a good way to build a database of marketable consumers.
Survey - With the e-mail database underway an online survey would be a great way to connect online with the existing land based gambling consumer to ask them what their propensity to gamble would be and what a casino operator would have to offer to get them to gamble online with them.
Build An Online Marketing Team And Expertise - Much of the success of online gambling operations is dependent on how well the properties will be marketed online. In many cases the game content that will be offered by Internet gambling operators will be identical with marketing being the only differentiation between casinos.
Social Media - It is no secret that Facebook and Twitter rule the online world with just about everyone on the planet in Facebook or on twitter. Facebook will also be a strategic battle ground for US Internet gambling. Gambling will be hosted in Facebook. In preparation for Facebook gambling, to understand how to build community in Facebook ant to effectively market within Facebook requires an expertise different from standard Internet marketing. How do you build an effective Facebook page? How do you build a robust Facebook community, how do you advertise in Facebook and on other Facebook properties? How do you communicate with your installed base through Twitter?
Consumer Profiling - Profiling Internet gamblers is a sophisticated process that relies heavily on a number of data points such as Facebook activity, Twitter posts and communication, search characteristics, game play; social, casual and real gambling online and offline, E-commerce transactions, etc. Casino gambling operators should begin to determine how they will combine the profiling gathered from their land based operations with their online properties. This will provide them with an information data source that will help to optimize Online gambling operations.
These are some of the obvious and necessary first steps in the march to launch and manage a successful online gambling operation. In the next installment of this series we will address the question of buy, build, partner, etc. to obtain and manage online gambling games and content. That will be followed by the question should I launch a freemium, Facebook game and or mobile gambling games.
Kevin Flood is the CEO of Gameinlane, Inc. Kevin writes extensively about online games and their impact and integration into iGaming and E-commerce environments. Kevin is a frequent speaker at online game events and conferences in Asia, Europe and the US. Kevin and his Gameinlane team are currently working with online gambling, social gaming and e-commerce companies integrating social gaming with online gaming operations and integrate game mechanics into e-commerce applications.