Five ways to bring people back to casinos

By Andreas Marathovouniotis

KPMG LLP and the International Gaming Institute (IGI) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, recently reported the results of a survey of more than 1,000 casino customers, revealing that a significant number of them will return to casinos in the near term if health and safety measures are in place and are highly visible.  The survey effort also asked 50 casino industry executives to weigh in on the measures they plan to take to build consumer confidence and recover quickly.

“Our research indicates that customers want casinos to ensure a safe environment, and they want to actually see the safety measures in place,” said Rick Arpin, Las Vegas office managing partner, KPMG LLP. “In addition, as casinos reopen across the country, they need to plan for the future and identify how they will make their health and safety programs sustainable. Casinos should also build engagement points to attract new, younger customer segments while staying in touch with existing customers, who may not return to the physical property as quickly.”

Survey results pointed to five key insights for bringing customers back to casinos and attracting brand-new fans:

  • Make it safe, make it visible: To feel comfortable coming back to a casino, customers need to know that everything possible is being done to protect their health, and they need to see those actions with their own eyes.
  • Follow the money to focus the effort: Customers see varying levels of risk for different gambling activities, and for visiting different areas on the casino resort property. With these insights, operators can deploy their resources at the intersection of customer comfort and profitability.
  • Target tomorrow’s customers today: Older Americans have consistently represented the core of the casinos’ customer base. However, many are hesitant to return to their previous activities too quickly. Younger generations represent a strategic opportunity for operators to design new experiences and use communications channels with these customers in mind.
  • Understand the customer’s economic reality: Customers care about safety, but they also care about their wallets. Casinos need to adjust to a new reality where—even when health concerns are addressed—consumer economic and financial concerns remain.
  • Throw out the old marketing plan: Now is the time to find creative ways to engage customers, both current and new, with an emphasis on digital channels.

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

  • 79% of casino customers want cleaning to be visible or highly visible.
  • 34% of casino customers want enhanced venue cleaning; 33% want forced social distancing through spacing; 29% want forced social distancing with barriers.
  • Casino customers do not feel that online gaming will supplant in-person casino gaming, with 48% of respondents saying online gaming is “not at all” a substitute; however, 58% of Millennial and Gen Z customers believe online gaming is a complement to in-person gaming.
  • Customers who plan to visit casinos more often also show a propensity to have higher gaming budgets when they return – 91% say they will have the same or higher budget, compared to 62% for customers planning to visit a casino less frequently.

Plan the future, now

According to the KPMG report, casinos will need to make their programs sustainable and leverage technology – such as wearables, robotics and artificial intelligence – to be most effective. Beyond getting existing customers to come back, this is the industry’s chance to engage with entirely new segments of customers, in a whole new way. Survey results indicate that health and safety could be the next competitive differentiator – 66% of our survey respondents said that the casinos’ efforts to safeguard customer health and safety is a “very important” factor in deciding which casino to visit.

“This is an opportunity for the gaming industry to truly build bridges with other industries and to put innovation first. As we continue to serve today’s customers, we can welcome tomorrow's customers earlier than otherwise expected. It is crucial to 'innovate our way past' this challenge, and the leaders who do will win the day,” explained Bo Bernhard, Executive Director, UNLV IGI.

COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the casino business, but those companies that rise to the challenge and innovate can set a course for a greater future, if they plan now.

Survey methodology

During May 2020, survey responses were gathered from more than 1,000 individuals across the United States who had visited a casino within the last two years. Men and women were equally represented with an average age of approximately 52 and a median household income of $75,000. Opinions from 50 gaming industry professionals also were collected during the same time period.

 

To learn more about the findings of the survey or to arrange an interview with KPMG’s Rick Arpin, please contact Andreas Marathovouniotis or Henry Yu.

Download the full report

Biography

Rick Arpin

Rick Arpin

Office Managing Partner, Las Vegas, KPMG US

+1 725-224-6180

 

 

Andreas Marathovouniotis

Andreas Marathovouniotis

Associate Director, Corporate Communications, KPMG US

+1 201-307-7608

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