London Gaming’s top management has served as a trusted advisor and consultant to land-based casinos and online gaming companies. Maria Debrincat joins Timothy Cullimore, Operations Director for London Gaming, who is an expert specialising in gaming operations bringing over 10 years of experience to the table, to discuss the omnichannel approach to gaming.
Land-based gaming has cultivated a reputation as one of the most difficult verticals to run, especially during the pandemic. What’s your take on this?
Like all sectors of the entertainment and hospitality industries, the slowdown during the pandemic has been catastrophic but some operators have weathered the storm better than others. It is also heavily dependent on which jurisdiction it is situated in. The best have been the ones where they have been able to stay open the longest.
Continuity is key for the business and for the clients. I foresee the casinos which managed to remain open the most during the lockdown will come out of it the healthiest. The clients will be thankful to have had a venue to visit and this will create durable loyalty. It has been very hard for managers, often not knowing if they would have enough staff to open the gaming floors and restaurants.
Equally full attention to social responsibility programs has been very important during the pandemic as many players didn’t have the same levels of income than they had before and had more time on their hands to visit the casino, but conversely, at least here in the U.K., the incidences of problem gambling seem to have dropped.
What would you say to the companies that have been overlooking land-based gaming?
I have spoken about this before and have advised some online operators about widening their product base to include land-based live gaming. I predicted that the more adventurous online operators would move into land-based to have a bricks-and-mortar showcase for their products, which they have done.
As the move to online live gaming advances, it is logical to have your own live gaming to use instead of a faceless studio. This gives a lot of confidence to players who know that if they wished, they could visit the actual site where the games are being held. Providing the land-based operation is in a well-regulated jurisdiction there are no downsides.
Just make sure the management team is very experienced, running a successful online operation is not an education for managing a land-based casino as there are variables that do not exist online. The opportunity for cross-marketing is also very valuable, and as always casinos have a unique and exciting atmosphere that can never be replicated online.
Strangely I think it is strategically easier for online operators to move into land-based operations than the inverse. What they may not know about the daily nuts and bolts of the industry is outpaced by their far superior knowledge of marketing and swift adaptability.
What do you think the future holds for land-based gaming operators?
This is like asking what the future holds for cinemas or guitar-based rock music. Over the years we have been told that first VCRs, then streaming services would kill off the cinemas, especially after the pandemic, but now we see that cinemas are as popular as ever. They have revolutionised their product with better seating, sound and images, online booking, and superior food and drink offerings, with some serving gourmet food at the seats.
People want experiences. So, I see a bright future for land-based casinos, providing they offer a great product, take their duty of care to both players and staff seriously, embrace the need for transparency in the transactions with players, and continually
evolve to meet the ever-increasing demands of the clients. Despite everything we have been through Vegas is posting some of its strongest interim results ever. You can have all the fun you want playing slots, poker, or live games in your pajamas at home, but nothing beats the feel of a real casino.
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