Online casinos are taking a significant share of the gambling market today, as recent researches show. For instance, in the UK online gambling made 15,8% from £ 11 bn gambling market gross win in 2010, taking the third place after the National Lottery and licensed betting shops, whereas the share of land-based casinos was just 7,5%. The situation in the UK, the leader in the European online gambling market, vividly reflects the general trend: rapid growth of the online segment continues leaving land-based business behind.
Many of the land-based casinos don’t ignore the tendency and instead of competing with online gaming, start penetrating this highly lucrative market and looking for an opportunity to combine both directions in one successful business. Indeed, having a named land-based casino provides valuable experience in gambling and some important adds-on, such as a ready player database, various marketing channels, sometimes a ready legal database, and last but not the least, a reputation of an established market player. Compared to an online casino start up with no prior experienced in the business, a land-based competitor exploring the possibilities of Internet has very good chances to take its market share.
However, it’s not as simple as it may sound. Experience in land-based business is not a guarantee of online success. Two markets still differ from each other in many aspects and there are quite a number of factors that the operator shall take into account in order to plan effective Internet penetration.
These are several things, which an operator of a land-based casino shall consider first:
1. Make sure that your legal base is ready.
Before starting an online casino, an operator of a land-based casino shall make sure that the existing license for land-based gambling activities would also be valid for online business. Not all countries and gambling jurisdictions offer the same licenses for offline and Internet gambling, so it’s better to get a qualified legal consultation to make sure that you are fully prepared.
2. Prepare to handle differences of financial planning.
Financial operation of an online casino differs from that of a land-based one. A land-based casino gets Net Profit. Net Profit is calculated as Total cash in – total cash out. This means, that all money spent by players for chips in the beginning of the day minus total winnings that players take out of the casino cashier at the end of the day make the profit of the casino. As simple as that.
In an online casino, the scheme is more complicated. A player may have a certain amount on his account, but the amount doesn’t automatically belong to the casino. It may stay on the players account for quite a while before it is actually spent on bets, lost, or won and withdrawn.
There are two main notions showing an online casino profit:
GGR (Gross Gaming Revenue) = total bets – total wins or also called Hold.
NGR (Net Gaming Revenue) = total bets – total wins – promotions – chargebacks – payment processing fees.
Payment processing fees are charged by payment providers and banks for processing electronic payment transactions between the casino and the player. The percentage differs depending on the type of transaction (cash in or withdrawal), means of payment (type of credit and debit cards, pre-paid cards, e-wallets, etc.), the currency of transaction, the transferred amount, etc.
Chargebacks are claims by players that they have not deposited funds in an online casino, so the money should be paid back.
Promotions is the bonus policy used by practically every online casino to attract players. It normally includes a no-deposit welcome bonus and a number of deposit bonuses that a player needs to wager in order to actually get the money given by the casino. One needs a profound understanding of the bonus policy to make a correct calculation of the casino spending and profit.
Other aspects that greatly influence online casino financial operation are affiliate programs, fees paid to third-party software and game providers, etc. None of them exists in land-based casinos, which makes their financial operation and statistics simpler to some extent.
3. Do not neglect marketing.
Marketing is essential in every business, whether it is new or established. Having a reputable land-based casino brand does not automatically guarantee that the same brand will be popular in the Internet. Large land-based casino networks do not necessarily succeed online. Only 20 – 50% of players from land-based casinos join the online part of the entertainment. This means, that without a proper marketing strategy and a sufficient marketing budget in place, a land-based operator can hardly hope to immediately have a large number of players bringing their funds to try out all the online fun.
The good news is that a land-based casino has a plenty of resources for successful marketing. The following prove to be the most effective:
– Advertising of an online brand in the land-based casino, publishing promotional flyers, putting visual ads.
– Organizing a learning center in a land-based casino where qualified employees will show on a tablet or a PC how to use the website and explain which possibilities it offers.
– Offering players at a land-based casino tablets connected to the Internet with easy access to an online casino and a bonus for trying it out.
While using wide possibilities of land-based marketing, the operator shouldn’t neglect the most effective means of online promotion, such as SEO, publications and reviews in the relevant Internet media, networking, affiliate programs and others.
4. Offer a variety of games for all tastes.
It is important to remember that the goal of an online casino is to cover both segments of players – its existing land-based visitors and new players from the online world. Games enjoyed by these segments are different: gamblers who regularly visit land-based casinos are used to traditional varieties such as simple slot machines, whereas online players know what the technology has to offer nowadays and thus require more sophisticated visual effects. Keeping this in mind, the operator shall make sure that the game portfolio goes in line with the modern online gaming standards and offers enough visual entertainment. The demanding players will always appreciate some eye-catching graphics and cutting-edge animation of cinematic 3D slots.
5. Take care of your online customers.
Any land-based casino has administrators, cashiers, croupiers, and other staff always available to answer any question and provide qualified help to a player. In the world of an online casino, a player is totally left to himself. It is ok for the experienced gamblers who actually appreciate the anonymity, but for novice players it can be quite frustrating to wander through the world of electronic payments, registration forms and bonus offerings. Wise operators use a variety of methods to comfort their users and accompany them through the whole process of play:
– Create pages like FAQ, Help, How to Play, Terms and Conditions with step-by-step instructions and easy explanations of how depositing and withdrawing works, what payment options the casino offers, how the user’s personal information is handled, etc.;
– Make sure your casino has intuitive design and such buttons as Deposit and Casino Games are easy to find;
– Organize first line customer support: invest into a 24/7 live chat and a call center where qualified employees will answer players’ questions. The more languages will be supported, the better.
6. Use cashier to credit online user accounts.
When players come to a land-based casino, they immediately follow to the cashier to buy chips. It is a good idea to offer them a possibility to deposit a certain amount of money to their online balance or withdraw winnings from the online account. It will be appreciated by those players who prefer dealing with cash rather than with credit and debit cards, and the percentage of such players in certain countries gets really high. Creating a single user profile for a land-based and an online casino also provides perfect user management opportunities and allows for planning and conducting effective marketing campaigns, sending newsletters, etc.
7. Use all opportunities to expand your service offerings through the combination of land-based and online business.
One of the good options is sports betting. It is often united in one single wallet website with an online casino as players like to have a one-stop service for different types of entertainment. Bored with slots, they eagerly switch to sports and bet on their favorite events, then going back to casino games. For a land-based casino that has not yet been involved in bookmakers business, adding a sportsbook to their online casino is a perfect opportunity to attract more players. Technical implementation can be different, for instance, you can provide players at a land-based casino with tablets which they can use to make bets, or even put special terminals for betting.
In conclusion, land-based casinos shall definitely pursue the possibilities of online gaming business, but they should not be over self-confident and take their success for granted. With all the similarities, online and offline gambling are two different worlds, each with its opportunities, peculiarities and bottlenecks. Careful research and planning allows creating an effective strategy of uniting these worlds into one. Having qualified internal resources responsible for the technical part and for promotion will also be an asset and help create an efficient working infrastructure. Coupled with external assistance from companies and agencies who have already performed a number of successful launches, it will guarantee high return on investment and make a popular online brand out of the land-based one.
Article by Maria Montik