How to drive engagement with Gen Z in the casino
For Millennials and Gen Z consumers, Boxing, Horse Racing and Casino Gambling have been teetering on the cusp of the perception of being “your grandfather’s sports.”
The connection point with fighting sports has transcended the glory days of Muhammed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard and has been surpassed by Conor McGregor and others who brough MMA to prominence for a younger generation. And, how would a younger generation (Millennials and Gen Z in particular) become fans of casino gaming when their most vivid (maybe the only) point of reference is having watched all three “Hangover” movies?
Well, all that changed in 2018 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the law which effectively outlawed placing wagers on sports nationwide, resulted in 38 states and Washington DC legalizing some form of sports betting. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), sportsbook revenue in the US hit US$7.5 billion in 2022, up 75 per cent on 2021. Flutter, the parent company of FanDuel, estimates that the total addressable US betting market will be worth more than US$40 billion by 2030.
The democratization of sports betting has connected millions of consumers to the “game of gaming.” Millennials comprise the largest demographic of the modern bettor (42%) followed by Generation X (28%). For digital bettors, about 75% are male. The top three categories of sports betting are professional football (72%), basketball (53%), and college football (34%). Research shows that the older end of Gen Z bets mostly on professional basketball (66%) compared to 48% of Gen X and 35% of Boomers. Older Gen Z and Millennials are more than twice as likely to bet on MMA / UFC and soccer compared to older bettors.
The two most popular digital sports betting platforms are DraftKings and FanDuel. While these two platforms are nearly equal in market penetration, with DraftKings at 61% and FanDuel at 59%, the youngest bettors (ages 18-25) are reported to gravitate toward FanDuel.
Traditionally, casino gaming companies, especially those with a dominant presence in land-based operations have relied on older adults to fuel their business revenue. With the impact of the growing sports betting world, combined with off track betting (OTB) and social gaming, the demographics have changed significantly for the industry both in North America and internationally. To meet the demands of a younger player group, players under the age of 40, casino leadership across the industry must build new ways to communicate, engage, surprise and delight players to drive key business metrics.
David Slavick, Co-Founder and Partner Ascendant Loyalty Marketing covered the recently completed G2E industry even and shared these insights on what land-based casino operators need to do to adapt their strategies and tactics based on Gen Z influences:
- Rely less on free play as an enticement to enroll. As the player shops around for the best offer, trial might lead to enrollment without commitment. The result is unwanted inactives in the database and too many low frequency and low value players. A 2023 YouGov study of Gaming and eSports reported that US online bettors have an average of 3-4. Younger sports bettors (aged 18-34) have proportionally more accounts and about 2/3 of accounts are used weekly.
- Add a Loyalty program as a primary motivator for selection of which igaming sites to frequent. Players need to break the tie of seeking just the best odds across those very same websites.
- Reduce emphasis on physical property incentives. For most players, property based incentives are a disconnect. The digital gaming enthusiast enjoys the privacy and security that playing at home or from work provides and a visit to a land-based casino for free food, complementary room, or show tickets is not motivating nor generating satisfaction and referral.
- Establish a two-way dialogue with the igaming lover by seeking to understand their lifestyle, life stage and in turn provide experiences and benefits that match what is meaningful and motivating to them personally as well as to their family members.
- Expand benefits and experiences to include complimentary streaming services, trips to vacation properties affiliated with the igaming entity, free consulting services, including artificial intelligence tools to support the efficacy of their online betting enjoyment, cryptocurrency as an alternative method for placing bets. Also consider offering sports tickets, exclusive access to events for family and friends and content from trusted sports related sources and commentators.