I was able to meet with Luisa Woods,the director of online and internet marketing with Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City. Luisa is primarily responsible for overseeing the entire online remote gaming. She provides strategy, planning and budget guidance. Luisa also mentors her team across various online marketing disciplines dedicated to acquisition and retention of digitally-connected customers.
Luisa was part of the Mobile and Tablet Summit in Atlantic City and participated in a panel at the G2E 2014.
Luisa made time for a series of questions about the 1st year of online gaming in New Jersey. These 8 made the final cut.
1). What are the positives about the 1st year of online gaming in New Jersey?
New Jersey has historically been a pioneer in the gaming industry. The state looked to maintain its leadership position by taking a step forward into i-gaming. The NJDGE had an enormous challenge to bootstrap a new industry vertical in a very short period of time, with a series of constraints that have not existed previously in other markets. The fact that we have demonstrated that a region can successfully operate online gaming within its physical borders is a big success.
An additional positive outcome is the growing evidence we’ve built to demonstrate that online gaming is not leading to cannibalization. This is most evident in the poker vertical, since online is a relatively larger piece of the market. In the aggregate, revenue from poker has grown with the launch of online poker. For example, monthly poker rake in Atlantic City for October of 2013 was about $2.9M versus about $4.3 million in October of 2014.
Another success we are seeing is the creation of both jobs and expertise in the i-gaming industry in the state. When other markets are ready to launch, they will be able to look to New Jersey for best practices in successfully implementing regionalized regulated gaming.
2). What were the challenges during the 1st year and where is the industry now in relation to those concerns?
The biggest challenges the industry faced in our first year dealt with ensuring that only eligible patrons were permitted access to the system. Eligible patrons are individuals over 21, physically located in New Jersey, who are not on any restricted gaming lists and who are who they represent themselves to be. There have definitely been challenges with executing against all of these requirements that have slowed the rate of adoption and industry growth, and of course we err on the side of caution. It is critical that no one gains access to the system who should not be permitted to do so. But the industry as a whole continues to innovate and push forward. Our geolocation solutions are improving all the time, as well as our expertise in assisting patrons who do encounter problems to navigate third party systems to be able to successfully play.
3). Tropicana has shown consistent growth with the online numbers. What do you attribute that to?
Our growth should really be attributed to a lot of hard work by many talented people. It’s been a combination of effort and focus on the customer. Gamesys, our technology partner, have been a huge part of that success. Their product delivers what our patrons want. In addition, the land-based marketing team here at Tropicana has worked side by side with the i-gaming team to offer a seamless customer experience. And that results from a leadership team that has always supported the vision of i-gaming as an extension of our commitment to deliver more to our patrons.
4). Do you see Poker, Slots or Casino games as the cornerstone of the online market?
Poker needs liquidity to be successful, which makes it challenging in a market with limited population. But ultimately, customers have their preferences. I don't see any one area dominating the others. We as operators respond to the demand of our patrons. We bring them familiar games that they know from the property while introducing new games and experiences like our popular Community Jackpot feature that can be triggered by any spin on any game. It pays out a jackpot to the person who won it, and a shared jackpot to all of the other patrons who have played for real money in the previous hour. We believe that market leadership comes from giving our customers what they want.
5) How did the Mobile and Tablet Summit heighten the awareness about online gaming?
Every time professionals in the industry come together, they not only share knowledge, but bring attention to the industry. The fact that people like you attend, and share what you see and hear is a huge boost for us. The many facets of expertise, including legal, government, banking, security, marketing and software, all impact each other. We need to maintain an ongoing dialogue. This conference brought positive attention to our industry and is a win for the participants.
6). Has online gaming grown your customer base?
The 1st year of i-Gaming has definitely brought incremental growth for Tropicana Atlantic City. Of course, the majority of our revenues come from our land based resort. But many patrons who are choosing to play online are not existing TropAdvantage members, so they’re completely new patrons to us. That number is holding steady at around 60% of our online patrons. Of the remaining patrons in our system, about half are active players at the property, and the other half have not been to the property within the last year. These are people who are returning to the brand.
7). What mobile device (if any) is the preferred medium of your clientele?
Without giving away any proprietary details, I can tell you that we’re seeing trends very similar to what is happening in the marketplace as a whole. More and more of our patrons are adopting mobile, both as a way to join our online casino, and a way to play. We do see a higher level of play on Apple devices over Android, which I would attribute to the fact that Apple has permitted us to put our app in their online store.
8). I am a customer that only plays in your brick and mortar casino property. I love to come down to dine at Cuba Libre twice a month. How would you convince me to play online?
First of all, we would take the opportunity of your visit to make you aware of our online product. When you come to the property, you would see signage everywhere. If you’re staying with us, it is even on the room key when you check in. Next, we focus on trying to create synergies between online and offline play. We leverage the resources of the property as rewards that patrons can earn or win. And to top it off, you'll earn TropAdvantage tier points that benefit you when you visit the property.
I want to thank Luisa for her time. She showed her excitement with her answers and stated she is extremely happy to be working for Tropicana. She cited the leadership of Tony Rodio and the power of Tropicana's brand as components for success.
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