One of the issues hindering the progress of online poker and gambling legislation in the U.S. is that a number of Indian tribes throughout the country hold the belief that their land-based casino revenue will take a dive if people are able to remain in their homes to gamble. The logic employed behind this reasoning is why would anyone go to a casino when the availability of gambling is available at their fingertips with a few clicks of a mouse?
One need only look at the success of a free-play site opened by Maryland Live! casino to see that online gambling can be used to enhance the participation of live players and can actually bring more gamblers into the casino. The casino rolled out MyLiveOnlineCasino.com in April of last year just two months prior to the grand opening of its brick and mortar operation.
Although the online gaming launch was done without high expectations for its success, the results have caused casino executives to take a long, hard look at how to best operate their business. Initially hoping to merely familiarize themselves with online gaming in advance of regulation someday, the whole process required re-evaluation.
“As soon as we launched we started getting online registrations more quickly than anybody had anticipated, said Maryland Live!’s Senior Vice-President of Marketing Mario Maesano.
Player numbers have grown ten percent month-on-month to where the site has tallied over 165,000 registered players. Further inspection revealed that 85% of new online registrants return to play again and that 70% became regulars who access the site and play more than ten times a month, iGaming Business reported.
At first, casino officials believed that the overwhelming amount of sign-ups were the result of “pent-up demand” and Maryland residents feeling excitement about the casino’s opening. But when looking at the numbers more closely, casino executives discovered that the free-play site was bringing in a steady stream of customers to the live casino.
“Fully twelve percent of our online free-play database after opening their online account with us had then come into the casino to play for real money,” Maesano said. “Not only that, but these players were coming 40% more frequently, worth 20% more per visit to us and stayed 10% longer than the average patron during a visit.”
Maesano admits that he and his colleagues didn’t expect to get such numbers from an online site that was merely added on in conjunction with the grand opening of Maryland Live! The website has since become a marketing tool for the land-based casino complete with valuable data regarding the preferences and spending patterns of players.
One might say that the free-play online casino merely whet the appetite of a percentage of players who were prepared to play for real-money and couldn’t do so online, which resulted in live casino visits. That may be true to a certain extent, but when looking at the big picture, online websites and live casinos have a tremendous opportunity to work in tandem and complement each other.
The game of poker seems to be able to benefit from that more than other casino games. Running online satellites in which winning players move on to compete in live tournaments in the poker rooms of casinos is a fine example of that. The structure of tournament play lends itself to those types of promotions that can enhance live play participation as opposed to causing casino visitor numbers to decline.
However, there is no reason why sharp marketing professionals can’t devise some method of tournament play in other games such as blackjack or slots in which real-money online players can also be ‘winners’ who can be lured into live casinos. The point is, whether operating a free-play or real-money site, live casinos should work together with their website counterparts to attract players in all casino games. To say that online gambling would hurt the profits of land-based casinos is keeping a closed mind to the magnificent opportunity that truly exists if marketed properly.