WMS Survey Reveals Major Shifts in Gambler Preferences

WMS has a rich history of innovation through player-focused research. As part of the company’s ongoing efforts to better understand our most important constituents—the players—we recently completed the industry’s most thorough examination of trends shaping the marketplace of the future, and published highlights in the inaugural edition of the WMS Active Gambler™ Profile survey.

During the past few months, we have shared insights from this pioneering survey with CR readers. This month’s column examines the fourth force poised to transform the casino floor: the ever-changing social values and lifestyles of today’s active gamblers.

Trend Watch 4: Changing Lifestyles and Social Values
Gaming has evolved from a solitary experience to one that is significantly enhanced by communal interactions or the social phenomenon known as “togethering.” Today, eight in 10 (82 percent) active gamblers express a desire to “spend more time with family and friends,” and fully four in 10 (43 percent) express a desire to “visit places where they can get a greater sense of participation.” The result is increased interest in interactive gaming. We can expect this trend to grow with the next generation of players, many of whom grew up as active video “gamers.” And here’s why: Nearly half (49 percent) of Generation Y gamblers (ages 21 to 30), and almost as many (44 percent) Generation X gamblers (ages 31 to 44), favor entertainment venues that allow participation.

Active gamblers are seeking more control in their lives when it comes to the brands they choose and the loyalty relationships they maintain. The WMS Active Gambler™ Profile survey reveals nearly nine in 10 (89 percent) view “being in control of their life” as a sign of success, significantly more than the percentage observed in the general population (74 percent). Smart casino operators have, by and large, ceded control, enabling gamblers to play one game or multi-game products, solo or with others. Gamblers today set many of their own terms. In doing so, they have learned to negotiate discounts, wait for incentives to play, and enjoy more flexible options that meet their preferred wagering style.

Active gamblers are also highly protective of their leisure time. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) prefer to have two more weeks’ vacation time over two more weeks’ salary. As we know from our prior discussion about gamblers’ growing sense of Time Poverty, this is presumably also a direct result of their heightened sense of vacation deprivation. Almost half (45 percent) of active gamblers say they feel they do not have enough vacation time. This sentiment is one of the reasons why their tolerance for things going wrong on vacation is so low. Operators are therefore smart to assure the entire gaming experience is efficient and enjoyable throughout.

In a related finding, nearly six in 10 (58 percent) active gamblers seek ways to reduce stress in their lives, slightly more than the percentage observed in the general population (56 percent). For many active gamblers, gaming provides an “escapist” mechanism to relieve stress.

Gamblers’ desire for control in their lives coincides with another societal shift: the dramatic growth of Internet usage (fully 92 percent of active gamblers polled now have Internet access at home, a significantly higher percentage than observed in the general population). And the Internet’s rapid rate of adoption has heralded the arrival of another emerging trend: personalization. The popularity of personalization has grown to the point that 20 percent of Internet users are now willing to pay a premium to customize their online purchases. Active gamblers show an affinity for online personalization, with one-quarter (26 percent) purchasing some form of personalized online product or service in the past year. Casino operators can leverage this insight to create a greater sense of intimacy with their players.

To date, the industry has addressed the desire for personalization mainly through direct marketing and special services at casinos. Today, however, technology is facilitating the personalization of gaming products, too. Active gamblers have responded enthusiastically to innovations such as WMS’ Adaptive Gaming® products, which allow exciting new forms of player recognition. Other breakthroughs, such as WMS’ WAGE-NET®, create dynamic experiences tailored to the individual player. Networked gaming promises even greater opportunities that will allow not only personalized messages, but incentives and offers directly at the game level as well. It will also enable a new dimension of play centered on each gambler’s preferences and motivations.

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