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Tearing Down the Walls: From Brick and Mortar to Online Casino

Nick Hill, Chief Commercial Officer of EveryMatrix, speaks to Gambling Insider about the differences between land-based and online casinos and what it takes for an operator to build an online gambling business.

How different is the online business versus running a “brick and mortar” casino? Is it easy for a successful land-based casino to recreate in the online environment the accomplishments from the offline space? How can a land-based casino operator make the transition to online? These questions are a must to respond in order to understand the present tendency in the iGaming world to access the virtual world.

Online casinos, also known as virtual casinos or Internet casinos, are online versions of traditional “brick and mortar” casinos. But why are land-based operators interested in the online sphere of gambling?

The reasons to start an online gambling website are multiple and quite easy to guess by anyone familiar with the iGaming world. Online casinos enable gamblers to play and wager on casino games through the Internet. It is a prolific form of online gambling generating EUR 13 billion in revenues from the EU alone, which represents more than 15% of the EU’s gambling market. Recent reports show that there are around 10 million online consumers in the EU. This is a huge and growing market.

Operators are interested to reach and retain additional players that may not have easy access to a land-based casino. An online location is available all the time and players can easily access their favorite games at any moment and from almost anywhere. At the same time, online casinos offer larger game variations keeping players connected and entertained.

Last but not least, an online casino has lower operational costs. Online casinos come with much less expense, and therefore are predicted to produce a larger return than land-based casinos.

It is therefore not surprising the fact that land-based casino owners might want to enter this lucrative market as soon as possible. And this is a fact.

EveryMatrix has assisted a number of land-based casino operators take the step into the virtual space like Dragonara Casino and Royal Casino, to name just two.

Dragonara Casino, a beautiful and well-known land-based casino in Malta, has entrusted our company with the launch of their online operation featuring a strong selection of more than 700 popular casino games from producers like NetEnt, IGT, Microgaming, and more. Dragonara has decided to invest in an online platform as part of their general strategy of extending their operations throughout the European space. Royal Casino, a 25 years old stylish land-based casino in Aarhus/Denmark, also took this step in order to enter the omni-channel quest looking to provide a seamless customer experience for their players and reach additional audiences in the online segment.

Launching and running a successful online casino is not an entirely different ball game, though it is significant for any operator to truly understand how the online industry works. To assist any land-based operator access the virtual space, we believe the following matters should be approached with caution and attention.

Choose your markets and prepare accordingly

Land-based casino operators develop their activities on a number of licences which permit offering gambling services to players from a particular jurisdictions and countries so must adhere to local rules, regulations and taxation.

To deliver online gambling services requires a similar licence in certain countries and is ever changing as countries and jurisdictions look to capitalize on revenues via taxation. This is something that a new online entrant into a particular market must consider even if the operator is already physically present in that country with shops, arcades, slots halls or full casino, and this must be obtained before you launch into the market of your choice.

Adapt your marketing for the online space

The online space brings along its own challenges. Opening an online casino means that operators have to address a different type of audience, which requires a different set of communication tools to make your online presence known to players.

Though a land-based operator has this huge advantage of an existing player base, on the long-term they need to consider other promotional means that are suitable for the online world, such as building an affiliate base, social media efforts, search engine optimization and many other forms of online marketing and player acquisition methods available and adapt this for the target market.

Constantly reach out to new players

New-comers in the online space should remember that the virtual environment has its own rules and all online operators join a competitive race for players’ attention and loyalty. Thus, bonus programs are an essential part of the marketing and acquisition strategy. If we take a look at land-based casinos, we notice a list of “traditional” ways to keep clients happy, from offering free drinks, frequent flyer miles to serving complimentary meals, booking show tickets and sometimes free rooms in the attached hotel.

In the online space things are not that different. By following the general model from a real casino, online operators come forward with various programs, rewards and discounts for new players in order to increase the acquisition rate.

New players are welcomed on the site and popular types of bonuses to attract new players are also provided, such as sign up bonuses, deposit bonuses, free bets, with many different variations and promotional offers aimed at attracting new players.

Focus on retention

As any land-based operator knows, keeping your present clients is far easier than going out hunting for new ones.

If land-based operators are counting on providing a great service by employing the aforementioned methods, such as free drinks, meals or rooms, players in the online have a slightly different behavior and loyalty but are essentially the same so the retention efforts and tools need to be tailored to the audience in order to address their needs. Also an operator should start to think of convergence of players online and offline and implement loyalty and reward programs for frequent players that can be redeemed both online and offline whether that be free spins, FPP cash conversion or physical goods. No matter where the player plays the game or spins the wheel they should be rewarded.

So think and have in place common retention tools like loyalty programs offering incentivized bonuses to frequent players and high rollers that place bets on high stakes. In addition, having a constant communication with customers is vital. This communication may take different forms and shapes, from keeping players notified on new promotions, offering betting assistance to clients that need to know more details coupled with superior customer service and making sure that players can cash out instantly will enhance player retention because you are emulating what happens the physical location. By coming forward and responding to your players’ needs you place a sure bet on reaching a successful retention rate.

Offer your online players quality and engaging casino games

Online bettors are not easy to please. With so many available options in the online space, some of them shift from one gambling website to another in order to suit their changing needs and tastes.

So, how can an online casino operator cope with all that? To respond to players’ expectations, online casinos have to be visually pleasing in order to address different audiences and target multiple groups of players, while maintaining a robust user experience for all casino lovers. Online players are more likely to require playing games that deliver sophisticated visual effects and advanced graphic entertainment.
Therefore, at the end of the day, any land-based operator that wants to start an online business needs to decide what types of games should be offered and what casino games providers should be taken into account when addressing a specific market.

Expand your offering with an online sportsbook

Why offer only casino games on your website? Nowadays, players from all over the world place bets not only on casino games, but on sports too. So, why watch your players leaving to another website to place their sports bets when they can spend their money on your website site again enhancing player retention and increasing player life time value.

Though a land-based casino operator may not be used to the sports betting industry, choosing a reliable software provider that can implement and manage an online sportsbook on your platform may prove to be a lucrative idea.

Additionally, over the recent years, software providers have integrated new technologies that allow operators offer their clients a seamless wallet, which permits players run all sports and casino betting transactions from a single location.

You don’t have to walk alone on this path

Building an online gambling business is not a totally alien experience from running a brick and mortar casino. With so many players ready to access the thrilling world of casino games without hassle and in the safety and comfort of their own homes, or on the go using their mobile devices, you can build your online casino by contacting a software provider that can offer assistance in delivering the technical infrastructure and implement the required software platforms.

By following this route, the new online casino operators make sure they have improved their chances to succeed in the virtual world and their brand will continue to live on in this ever changing world.

Are you ready to step into the virtual space and place your bet on online?

A published version of this article appeared in the Gambling Insider Magazine, issue Sept-Oct 2016.

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