Friday, March 20, 2015

Online Gaming News from Pennsylvania

On Wednesday, the 1st of a series of meetings took place about the merits and concerns of online gaming in Pennsylvania. It was held at Harrah's Philadelphia by the Pennsylvania Gaming Oversight Committee. This committee is chaired by state Rep. John Payne, R-106, of Hershey. HB 649 was introduced in February by the state rep. It would empower the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to explore online gambling options and to create regulations for any games it approves.

Jan Jones and Ron Baumann testifying before Gaming Committee

The hearing was provided with testimony from Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president of Caesars Entertainment Group. Blackhurst told the committee members that online gambling is already prevalent in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, even though it isn’t legal. Blackhurst stated,“Today’s reality is that Internet gambling is taking place in all 50 states, almost all of it illegally. It’s an environment that’s ripe for fraud and criminal activity and it provides no tax revenue. However, the online gambling experience in the states where it is legal, has been successful from a regulatory perspective. Minors can't gamble, the vulnerable are protected and consumer protections against fraud are in place." Ron Baumann, general manager of Harrah's Philadelphia ,also testified about the allowing Pennsylvania Casinos to increase agility and speed to market. Bauman also express interest in gaming tax credits that would be used as capital investment incentives. This is consistent with West Virginia and New Jersey.

The I Gaming views of Blackhurst and Baumann were shared on part of the regulatory framework and strong consumer protections to:

  • Prevent minors from playing, with robust age and ID checks
  • Ensure players within borders with strong geo-location technology
  • Tools to deal with problem gambling

In accordance with the report from Econsult for the Pennsylvania Budget and Finance Committee, the annual ongoing potential revenue would mean tax collections of approximately  $43 million applying a 14% tax. The industry is in support of a tax rate of 12%. I Gaming would take off quicker with the industry proposed rate. More promotions related to sign ups would increase the number of people that want to play. This would make Pennsylvania a more appealing place to play than Delaware or New Jersey. There are several additional meetings scheduled for April that will continue the conversation about I Gaming ,fantasy sports betting and gaming on mobile device.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March Madness is Crazy!!

I love this time of year. College basketball on television all day long into the late evening. Great match ups between teams that would never play against each other ordinarily. A one seed vs. a 16 is like David against Goliath. David can only win with divine intervention. The domination of a 2 vs. a 15 is not as prevalent. The 15 has pulled off an upset in the past. Ask Duke.
What I don't care for is the speculation of the last 4 in, last 4 out. The selection committee has to explain why certain teams were not selected. So to spend energy wondering who will get in and who will be left out a month before is a waste to me. No disrespect to ESPN and Joe Lunardi.
The best place to watch the tournament is in Las Vegas. If you can get a seat at the sports book. you are in a gambler paradise all day. The games start at 9:00am their time. You have to be up early but it's worth it. Some books let you reserve an area for your group for a fee.
I 'm not thrilled that some novice may be in line in front of me and not know how to bet. This is why they have parlay cards dude. Make your wagers the night before. You can do me a favor and be in line after me.
I am enamoured with the parity that the tournament has. Any game that is a match up from 4-12 thru 7-8 has a chance to win. This is straight up. If you are in Vegas, you may want to look at a money line bet if you like the underdog. Look at teams that have upper classmen and go seven or eight deep. The experience will prevail if the game is close.
What really makes me mad is I 'm not going to Las Vegas this year. 1st time in last 6 years, I 'm missing round one. If they had sports betting in New Jersey, this would be a mute point. I could ride down to Atlantic City or use a sports betting mobile app to pick my winners. But since I can't, I must resort to picking against other people. I'll be in a bracket pool that I won't win because someone will pick a 13 seed that will go to the elite eight. I will have that same team exiting in the 1st round. Then the block pool for the championship game will be won by someone who doesn't even follow college basketball. Another 20 bucks donated to someone I hardly know.

    Have you notice the range of emotions I have displayed writing this?  I'll close with a video.

                                         That why March Madness is CRAZY!!!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Online Gaming and Tropicana Atlantic City: Q&A with Luisa Woods - Executive Director of Internet Marketing


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'm convinced!
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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Monday, February 16, 2015

Poker or Fantasy Sports: Which one is the skill game?

Poker and Fantasy Sports are getting a lot of conversation. Both are receiving more consideration as games of skills and not chance. This interpretation makes both of them socially acceptable and widely popular. I decided to compare the two and give my assessment.

Poker has the statistics to determine probability of what may happen based on what cards you have. Stats in poker are constant and absolute. Psychology has a part to play, but a solid understanding of math and probability will increase your chances of winning. The hand and the chances of winning with it have a percentage that is comparable to the other players in the game. When watching shows like Poker Night in America , you are updated as what each poker player's chances are throughout.

Analytical variables are given to players in fantasy leagues that give them value based on past performance.  During the NFL playoffs, a prognosticator was giving predictions based on analytics related to the point spread. Variables in fantasy are subject to exponents that fall outside of the player's control. Weather, illness  and coaching decisions are things that can alter a fantasy player productivity. Think how many people wagered that Marshawn Lynch would score more than 1 touchdown during Super Bowl 49. We all know how that ended.

Poker is the true skill game of the two. I think that fantasy leagues will have a more diverse following that will include women. Poker is played predominately by males.  While there is a poker community that is established, there is not enough liquidity yet for it become profitable. Delaware Lottery reported a combine total of $600,000 for the year ending 2014. This number included casino and slot play. In 2014, several of the online gaming sites in Nevada and New Jersey shut down. Trump Taj Mahal just closed their poker room in Atlantic City. They anticipate reopening in the summer.

The acknowledgement of the professional leagues will build the support for more fantasy leagues. Fan Duel has commercials that air during ESPN telecasts.  DraftKings has added two more teams to its growing list of partnerships in the NBA . Shortly after announcing a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, DraftKings has struck separate deals with the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors.  There is also a  Daily Fantasy Expo this year in Miami. The Expo will focus on management, technology and marketing for the fantasy sports industry. Since 2006, fantasy sports has grown from USD $1.6 billion industry to a USD $15 billion industry. It's meteoric rise is considered the tip of the iceberg, given the new dynamic of Daily Fantasy Sports.

Imagine That!
The upside for poker is it can be played for low limits in the online gaming world.  Borgata and Caesars  are two of the top poker sites in  New Jersey. 888  is one of the leading software providers. Many states are talking about the legalization of poker. We will see who enters the game in 2015


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Monday, February 9, 2015

The Marriage of Sports and Gaming

In the past week, two news items piqued my interest regarding the legalization of a national sports betting platform. One was a statement issued by Adam Silver, Commissioner of the +NBA. He was recently being interviewed in +ESPN, The Magazine and stated that he was engaged in discussions with other owners about the possibility of allowing wagering on NFL,MLB and NHL games. Here is a quote from that interview.
Silver says, "I have talked to the commissioners in the other leagues about it, and I leave it to them to make any public statements they want to make on it. I will say that certainly all of them ... have assigned people in their organizations to study the issue intensively."
This is not the 1st time Silver has mention his interest in expanding the reach of the game into casinos and betting establishments. This is a sign that he is definitely serious about what his agenda to transition sports to fit the new wave of fans. A national platform will be easier to monitor and regulate. Traditional gambling sites with brand names could introduce a product  that is socially acceptable but largely illegal. It will also provide a revenue that is currently not being tax to help fund programs that we are in need of.
The second statement was issued by Senator John McCain, from the State of Arizona. Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.), speaking on "Capital Games" with ESPN's Andy Katz and ABC's Rick Klein, said Congress needs to hold hearings to discuss legalizing sports betting. The theme of the show is to offer the perspectives of policy makers on issues that relate to the world of sports

"We need a debate in Congress," McCain said. "We need to have a talk with the American people, and we need to probably have hearings in Congress on the whole issue so we can build consensus." giving his opinion on sports betting. Licensed sports betting, particularly on devices showing games, is the mechanism that will eventually allow all professional sports to profit.
Mobile and Live Betting Software

The timing of a Congress that is controlled by the party of a former presidential candidate gives the possibility of this getting past the discussion stage more of a chance than getting an interview from Marshawn Lynch. The probability of something being done this year is significantly lower than the likelihood of +50 Shades of Grey being the number 1 box office movie. However, several states have already introduced bills that will allow sport betting. They include New Jersey, New York, Indiana, South Carolina and soon, Minnesota. 
I have two suggestions that give the proposed marriage of sports and gaming consummation. I would like someone from the gaming world with a national profile to embrace the position of sports and gaming as being feasible. The state of Nevada has a blueprint that can be emulated nationwide. I would encourage the commissioners of the leagues to have a summit sometime within the next 6 weeks to give this concept traction. The NFL and MLB are not in season so the time is ideal for them. Include the MLS too. A tremendous large and diverse fan base with international proportions. Have the summit in  Las Vegas, Atlantic City or New York City. The logistics being the association with gaming and the location of the league offices.  I 'll revisit the status of this in a future post.

Happy Valentine's Day

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Super Bowl 49 - Marketing the Game

This year's game pits the defending champions Seattle Seahawks vs. the New England Patriots. Looming just as large as the game is the marketing surrounding it.

The soft TV ad market this year is extending even to Super Bowl XLIX, where NBC said in November ad sales were moving along slightly more slowly than in prior years. Automakers aren't crowding the field as much as they have lately, without as many new models that the game is well-timed to promote. Lexus and Mercedes - Benz are returning this year along with some perennial favorites.
Anheuser-Busch, which plans to run seven 30-second ads, and Pepsi, which is sponsoring the halftime show and has bought ad time for its Doritos brand. NBC has sought between $4.4 to $4.5 million a 30 second spots. The event is estimated at generating over $350 million in marketing revenue for the network.

There will be about 15 new advertisers in the 2015 game, especially in digital commerce and technology. This is a shift from traditional main stream marketing. One should pay attention to who these new players are. Take notice of what services they provide.
NBC has created a Tumblr page for Super Bowl XLIX advertisements that are shown during the game. One of them can be previewed now.

The Comcast-owned NBC-TV network will broadcast the game for an audience that could top 100 million - and 20 million subscribers can watch it on Comcast cable-TV and Internet network. This is perfect for NBC strategy of to promote the TV Everywhere platform - that is, watching the game on laptops, desktops or tablets away from the television. With "Super Stream Sunday," NBC will make the streamed game and related Super Bowl shows available for free and without authentication.This can be accessed at
This week, The Today Show, The Tonight Show and NBC Nightly News will be used to promote the event through various on-location programming at Super Bowl Central in Phoenix. Other programs such as Access Hollywood, E! News, The Dan Patrick Show, Pro Football Talk, NBC Sports Radio, NBC Sports Digital and NBC Sports Regional Networks will originate from Arizona during Super Bowl week.

Telemundo and Mun 2 will also be featured during cross promotional channels and social media platforms. Titulares Y Mas will have nightly coverage. Ritmo Deportivo will be at the hippest places in Phoenix, looking for the best Super Bowl Party.  This is a Spanish translation that promoted the game on Twitter on @Telemundo."Este primero de febrero llega el tan anticipado , la nueva cadena hispana de hecha contigo en mente."

Comcast hopes that the huge audience will experiment with TV Everywhere, boosting its usage. This will eventually change the way we watch the game. Katy Perry is the halftime entertainment.  She'll sing several songs . The roar of the crowd will accompany her.

Sub Plots -Wilson vs. Brady. Belichick vs.Carroll. Carroll is a former coach of the Patriots.  A great match up between the best defense and the top offense. Wilson is undefeated against Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.

Prop Bets- Will Marshawn Lynch speak to the media? How many times will the announcers mention #deflategate? How long will the national anthem take to perform?  Which team will score 1st?  The line is even and the over/under is 48. So who wins?

                                             Get my selections by following me.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

SugarHouse Poker Promotions include Guaranteed Money and more..

It's a New Year. So we can expect new promotions that create customer brand awareness from all the casinos. Look no further than the latest marketing moves from SugarHouse Casino in Philly. They have the newest Poker room in the region with the most accessible location.
Starting Monday, January 19th, they will offer guaranteed poker tournaments. These tournaments will be accompanied by an industry appreciation night. Casino employees can show their id cards and receive $10 in free food comps.

                                           Here is a break down of the poker related events.

If that's not enough then check this out. If you're a new player and you sign up for a player's card, you are eligible to win a 2015 Mercedes Benz. This is open to slots, table games and poker players. The key is that you are a new sign up. All new members are guaranteed at least $25 in free play. As a bonus, one new member will win the car by the end of April. This promotion is well timed with the Philadelphia Auto Show coming Saturday, January 31 – Sunday, February 8, 2015 to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Center is less than 12 minutes from the casino. Here is the app that breaks down the floor plan of the auto show if you plan to attend that event, after you sign up for your new players card. Get a glimpse of the Benz you may win.
                             Download for Apple Devices | Download for Android devices

The poker room has 24 state-of-the-art poker tables with a total of 240 player positions.  The staff is waiting to accommodate you.

Philly loves a Winner!

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