Historically in land based casinos slot machines entertained and distracted women while their husbands or boyfriends gambled at a favorite table game. Over time, as many women played these machines and became the dominant player base smart game developers began designing their slots to please female customers.
Today's players now expect multiple elements from slot machines, including sound, action, excitement, ease of play, a positive wager/reward ratio and to be able to choose from diverse gaming locations. While brick-and-mortar properties were once the exclusive gaming domain, online gaming's proliferation has created numerous games and playing options and a challenge to traditional casinos.
Only three American states- Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware-have legalized Internet gaming, but more states such as Pennsylvania are exploring similar programs. These three jurisdictions allow players the luxury of deciding where and how to play. Delaware and Nevada launched their cooperative program in March 2015, which permits residents from both states to participate in virtual online poker play. New Jersey's multiple casino-style games are linked to licensed land-based casino operators.
Since the 1930s, Nevada had the monopoly on American gaming, which gave rise to growth in Las Vegas and several northern Nevada cities. The state based its economy on tourism and gaming for decades, Then, New Jersey emerged as a second jurisdiction in 1978 and competed for the populous East Coast's dollars. Since the late 1980s, riverboat, tribal and racetrack gaming nationwide has opened hundreds of new brick-and-mortar playing opportunities.
To the north, the Canadian provincial and/or First Nations tribal gaming model operates under different regulations and sovereignty. Since 2009, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission of Quebec, which regulates All Star Slots has enjoyed a solid reputation for regulating online gaming and at the start 2016 had 89 online casinos sites as permit holders. This compares with only 3 land based casinos which the commission regulates, illustrating the rise in online casino’s popularity and a shift from traditional land based casinos to online ones.
Our online casino, All Star Slots has been a licenced vendor since 2009 and has combined innovative games from leading provider RealTime Gaming, frequent bonus options and great customer service to give our online gamblers an experience to match any in a land based casino. Through continuous outreach, we seek regular customer feedback and insight into what makes our gaming experience successful. Currently, our 120 plus game portfolio offers a range classic, video and progressive slots as well as a full line-up of blackjack, roulette, craps, bingo, pontoon, keno and 15 versions of poker. Without the need for our players to move we offer a much wider range of games than players could find in a land based casino.
The questions are...who is playing and what do they want? A 2012 Oregon State University study conducted by Professor Sandy Chen surveyed 1,000 frequent slot players. Their responses clearly discredit current stereotypes of these gamblers as uneducated, poor seniors using their Social Security pensions to win a big payouts. By contradicting that perception, Chen discovered that slot machine fans are predominantly female homeowners with some college education, ages 55-60, who earn over $55,000 annually.
Her research also revealed that by more than a 2:1 margin, video poker is more popular than video blackjack. Also, fewer than one-third of all slot machine players choose either progressive slots or themed/branded games.
From their analysis, Chen and her team concluded that most slot machine players fit four specific personality criteria. Where and what customers play often depends on which personality trait dominates and what they hope to experience while playing. Because players are not monolithic, online and offline casino operators should avoid a one-size-fits-all marketing plan since their various customers may be total opposites of one another.
How can slot designers and operators determine whether modern customers prefer online or offline gaming? The answer may depend on discovering what the players hope to gain from their play. Online and offline casino operations have different unique benefits, but players are slowly beginning to explore the versatility of online gaming.
Chen's concluded that there are four player types:
UTILITARIAN GAMBLERS- These players, often retired seniors, may be uncomfortable on a computer and want an outside, stimulating activity. Less motivated by winnings or crowd excitement, they do enjoy people watching. To them, the casino as a social destination is key and gambling is part of their fun making them prefer land based casinos.
EXCITEMENT GAMBLERS- These players prefer frequent, smaller jackpots over occasional larger wins. Online play allows them to win more often with online slot payout rates being between 95% - 98% versus 70% - 80% for offline slots. The extra bonuses available at online casinos are a definite pull for these player, however these players may also require the social atmosphere of a casino floor to get the most from their gambling experience.
MULTIPURPOSE GAMBLERS- Mostly younger, unmarried, less educated and at lower income levels, these players seek both entertainment and winnings. They also may not need the camaraderie of a gaming floor, so they may play more often online. Diverse games and the chance for a free play to find or practice on an appealing game is what attracts them. With our online casino allowing players to try games from free, rather than playing for real money and with the generous bonuses we give All Star Slots is perfect for the multipurpose gambler.
What is more; players with less discretionary funds may prefer online casinos that offer multiple ways to play and save at the same time. Most land-based casinos serve complimentary refreshments on the gaming floor, but online gaming saves costs by eliminating travel, outside food or hotel expenses. This benefits those with limited resources and anyone living in regions where weather may be an issue. Online gaming also stretches out the pace of play, maximizing customer control.
RELAXATION GAMBLERS- As the most educated and affluent consumers, these players view casino gambling as primarily a social, relaxing experience. They typically maintain specific bet limits-from 0.25 to $1-and use play to relieve stress rather than a method to win extra money. The escapism of the land based casino is definitely a large draw for relaxation gamblers who will travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to gamble as well as take in a show and take full advantage of the casino’s entertainment.
These player types from Chen are based on statistics which aren’t absolute, but do provide some generalizations. In general women prefer more social experiences, making land based casinos more appealing. However, the rise of social media has brought a social dimension to online gambling allowing wins to be shared and communities to be interacted with.
Men are more motivated by financial rewards, meaning the gaming environment is less important. Online gaming may suit them more because it eliminates casino distractions as well as any wait time for repairs or assistance. The higher payout rates of online casinos is also a large factor for male gamblers, as is the lower cost of playing. Men also seem to prefer the more private environment offered by online casinos where players can take their time making playing decisions, keep their strategies secret and concentrate on getting some wins.
There could also be generational factors behind a gamblers preference for land based or online casinos. Millennials, those born after 1980 have different behaviours to their elders. Gregg Giuffria of Las Vegas based G2 Games Design which manufactures land based slots has said, ‘45 and under are not going to play slot machines’.
This trend has also been identified by The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has also found that the gambling district is failing to attract Millennial visitors, with 64% of them saying they had no interest in visiting downtown Las Vegas. Its 2014 generational report also finds that Millennials visiting Las Vegas were more likely than the baby boom generation to visit the city for sightseeing and were the leading spenders at entertainment shows and spas of any demographic. According to the research Millennials are visiting Vegas to party and be entertained, which they are doing in other ways than at the slots or casino floor, and what is more they have a 96% satisfaction rate with their visit.
The trend away from Millennials visiting land based casinos in gambling cities like Las Vegas or Atlantic City to gamble does not mean that this generation is averse to gambling. Evidence from the UK and Canada show that Millennials are choosing to gamble online. Statistics from 2014 show that 32% of Canadian 18 – 34 years olds gamble online, an increase of 14% on 2013. This is supported by figures from a UK Gambling Commission report which shows a 4.4% increase in 18 – 34 years old gambling online between 2008 and 2014 and a 6.9% increase in all forms of gambling. A 2013 study into participation in gambling activities by researchers from Nottingham Trent and Londonderry Universities in the UK attributes online gambling’s rise in popularity to increased availability and social acceptance. Mobile gambling is expected to reach 40% of all gambling by 2017 according to yStats.com, with its anonymity, reduced security issues and availability appearing to be swaying the Millennial generation.
After more than 80 years of legal land-based wagering in the U.S, all generations of gamblers now have another pathway for their play. As technology advances and online gaming builds in more safeguards, it will continually grow as an alternative that complements traditional gaming. Both are primed to expand their player base. Online gaming may introduce new customers to brick-and-mortar venues; land-based can steer novice players to secure Internet betting. Together, they can create a substantial future player base. As Gregg from G2 has said ‘We’re going into a brave new world.’