Part 2 : Leading by example : How European land-based operators have engaged with igaming Building an omnichannel future for European casinos
“ It ’ s a business unit with a separate channel manager , and we have the land-based industry . I ’ d say that pretty much describes the situation at the moment , especially the prepandemic situation .”
The separation of the business units is compounded by the ‘ licence plus ’ system , which is in operation in countries such as Switzerland .
This allows casinos to obtain an online licence should they choose to apply for one , further cementing an online gaming offering as distinct from an existing casino business .
The licence plus system , similar to the tethering requirements prevalent across US states , prompts casinos to find a partner in the online gaming industry and adapt their games for a particular market , rather than extending their land-based experience to the web .
“ The land-based casino industry has a big interest in the future to be allowed to engage with existing customer bases in the field of online gaming , but that ’ s a long-term development ,” Pamminger says .
“[ It needs ] a change of gaming law . There must be a way that land-based casinos can extend their offers into the online world – especially with their existing customer base .
“ A good thing for the customer would be if they had an online gaming product related to the casino they know . They know who we are , they know where we live , they can come to us with any problems , we are directly
“ The ones that took the risk like Bwin just did it , came to the market and established their product . Now we ’ ve seen many years of online gaming . But the land-based industry is only now getting involved in this business ”
approachable . We will see what we can do and what the developments might be , and try and integrate more with the online gaming world .”
Pamminger adds that amid the Covid-19 shutdown “ online gaming websites were winners ”.
“ This showed the land-based industry that they had to think about it . We want to be more sustainable and we also saw that our guests , who we value highly , were seeking alternatives for their gaming habit ,” he explains .
“ They made the step during the pandemic to engage in online gaming and maybe for some operators that have a land-based site and an online site , it may make absolute sense to make their land-based guests sign up with their online gaming website to make sure they don ’ t look to a different brand on the internet .”
The ongoing global pandemic has played a major part in the clamour for online gaming services , with customers having no choice but to turn to the digital version from home .
However , it could be argued that land-based casinos may be at a disadvantage when compared to strictly online casinos that have had a head start in the market .
Such a weakness could become a strength , however , as there ’ s already plenty of existing framework of how to run a successful online casino . Diligent brick-and-mortar operators have the opportunity to take note of what works well and tailor the framework to their specific situation .
“ The fact that we are not digital natives is a disadvantage , but you can see there ’ s an advantage as well : when you haven ’ t done it for a long period of time you have to listen to specialists and what the customer expectations are ,” Lassiaz says .
“ That ’ s exactly what we do because we don ’ t know it . We are on a learning curve – we are still listening a lot but of course it will not give us the experience of the player . We are gaining some time because we are learning from other people , including pure players ’ mistakes . We ’ re starting at a disadvantage but the fact is we are learning fast from other people ’ s experience .”
Building an omnichannel future for European casinos
18 Part 4: Storm clouds ahead: The European regulatory climate Building an omnichannel future for European casinos gambling to casinos in five-star hotels. The municipalities benefit from a part review will allow some casinos (those of that tax levied on gambling in their whose licences were issued under the area. Bratislava is now left trying to plug old 1968 Gaming Act) to be permitted a hole in its annual budget. to offer more slot machines. The current The city government of Riga, Latvia, where slot arcades are ubiquitous has limit is 20 machines per licence. It would take a very brave minister been trying to reduce the number of to announce, as part of a review, an arcades and casinos (there is no real increase in the number of slot machines legal distinction between the two), in casinos when most in the anti- especially in the old part of the city. gambling lobby are expecting a further Gambling is now confined to five-star clampdown on the industry. I can hotels; when licences for gambling picture the newspaper headlines – and venues that are not in five-star hotels they will not be about a job well done. come up for renewal, the applications are being declined. Similarly, Spain, where the The last two decades have seen an enormous expansion in gambling opportunities throughout most competence for gambling regulation European countries. Online gambling resides with the regional governments, has been legalised and regulated and has seen an effort to close down some forms of land-based gambling salas de juegos (slot arcades) by not have seen relaxations. But that renewing their licences. Regions also expansion has come to a halt and we want to control where the arcades are are seeing the industry contract. located – not near schools or churches, for example. Italy and Spain have banned It appears to me that it is the amount of gambling that people see (in terms of physical locations, sponsorships gambling advertising and other and adverts) or hear (adverts) in their countries are following suit. There is everyday lives that causes the anti- pressure in many countries to stop gambling lobby to mobilise, and when gambling companies from sponsoring they do they can do it very effectively. sports teams. The upshot is that politicians and In the UK, the Department of Culture Media and Sport is undertaking a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, 1-3 February 2022 ExCeL London, UK Some operators are hopeful that the regulators feel pressure that they need to ‘do’ something about gambling. Today, the pendulum is definitely ostensibly in regard to online gambling. swinging back from expansion. The However, there is a risk that it will spill question is where does it stop before it over into the land-based sector, with swings back again? And what shape will affordability, ID checks at the door and the industry be in when that happens? I advertising likely to be scrutinised. am not wholly optimistic. Building an omnichannel future for European casinos ANDREW TOTTENHAM is managing director of Tottenham & Co, a business consulting firm specialising in strategic planning, market assessments, feasibility studies and project development for the international gambling industry. Founded in 1986, Tottenham & Co is one of the most prestigious management consulting firms specialising in the international gaming industry. Clients include blue-chip gaming operators and suppliers such as Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Groupe Lucien Barriere, LEK, Rank plc, Sun International, IGT, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and Alchemy Partners. Andrew has previously worked in executive-and board- level roles for the likes of Caesars Entertainment and JOA Groupe. July 2021 ICE is back! Join the global gaming community in London as it celebrates recovery and new opportunity in 2022… Position your brand to the largest gathering of global gaming operators