We’re entering one of the busiest sports betting seasons of the year. The NFL playoffs are underway, and the Super Bowl on February 13th is quickly approaching.
Much like 2021, casinos are battling surging post-holiday COVID-19 cases and associated travel restrictions. It’s made the in-person betting experience uncertain once again and forced casinos to implement safety precautions.
But what’s different in 2022 is that casinos are ready — due to the combination of three crucial factors:
1. Technology as a necessity
As the pandemic limited physical experiences, casinos were forced to accelerate their digital transformation efforts and offer seamless and glitch-free online transactions. In 2021, they made significant investments into their digital capabilities – hiring teams of developers, architects, and consultants to upgrade their underlying technology architecture. As a result, casinos are now leveraging the elasticity of the cloud to not only reach more people in a more convenient way, but to handle the peak influx of users betting through apps on their phones as the NFL playoffs progress toward the Super Bowl.
2. Modernizing regulations
The regulatory environment for gambling is also modernizing quickly — with 18 states that now allow online sports betting. Nearly all these states legalized within the past three years, and more could be joining them soon. Already, more than 100 million Americans can place legal bets from their homes.
3. A demographic shift
Over the past two years, sports fans were isolated from in-person casinos and couldn’t attend in-person sporting events due to the pandemic; However, during this time, they discovered the benefits of online sports betting. For many younger sports fans, the switch from the physical world to the digital world was easy to make — and this demographic shift created a systemic change for casinos that previously prioritized in-person betting experiences and attendance.
These factors at present an opportunity for casinos to capture the US market’s sports fans through digital channels. While casinos are experts in serving in-person bettors with elite physical experiences and the resources to participate responsibly, the emerging generation of online sports bettors is a very different demographic. Addressing this new generation of bettors not only requires new tools, methods, and processes, but also a different mindset that is more in tune with their dynamism and expectation for seamless technology-based interactions across the virtual and physical world.
The make or break for casinos will be to achieve “digital parity” — bringing the digital experience quickly on par with the physical that’s been curated over many decades. To successfully complete this shift for major sports betting moments like the Super Bowl, casinos must take two key approaches:
-New Digital Engagement tools
While bettors expect their engagement to be active, emotional, rational, and explicitly ethical, just like in the physical world, the digital casino patron also expects a very different set of experiences and tools. Bettors want active applications that keep them constantly engaged and immersed in the sports betting experience surrounding the gaming experience. They believe their experience should move seamlessly between websites and apps, as well as their wearables like smart watches, speakers, and other digital devices. Digital sports bettors also expect these apps to easily integrate into their social conversations both in the real world and the metaverse. The transition from physical, to website, to app, to wearable, to metaverse requires massive transformation of not only the casino’s technology teams but also the thought process on how technology engages with the next generation bettor.
-Data-Based Personalization: At Scale
In the physical world, a guest at a casino may expect the concierge or property manager to curate an experience based on individual expectations. Now, casinos must evolve — by “listening” to patrons through their digital channels, and then pushing actions and insights from their data to curate digital experiences that are relevant and customized to the individual bettor. With data-based personalization, each engagement is personalized to the complex and differing expectations of each person–improving the efficiency and enjoyment of their interactions and supporting long-term customer loyalty.
The Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in the world — and one of the most betted on events, too — with options to wager on everything from the winner of the game itself to the coin toss result, and even how long the half time show takes. Add in the ability to make these bets on command through a smartphone while sitting in your living room, and the number of potential bettors seems endless. By investing in the right engagement tools and capitalizing on data for better personalization, casinos can reach more customers than ever before.