Earlier this month, our Marketing Manager Erica Anderson and Head of Sales Sarah Robertson headed west to Vegas for this year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E), the US industry’s biggest annual event.
During the three-day conference at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Erica and Sarah took the pulse of US gaming. Based on their conversations with land-based casino and iGaming execs as well as platform providers and affiliates, these are their top takeaways.
#1 The End Zone: A Touchdown Soon for US Sports-Betting?
Before G2E, 20 states announced their support for New Jersey in its Supreme Court bid to legalize sports-betting, so the vertical’s future was unsurprisingly a huge focus for the conference. Everyone seemed to be wanting to get their foot in the door in anticipation of a major change in US sports-betting. It’s currently only legal in Nevada and three other states.
Sportsbook platform providers, including a number of European firms, were in Vegas to discuss their products with land-based casinos. Many of the casinos seemed to want to get ahead of the sports-betting curve by launching social sportsbooks.
The casinos’ strategy is to use a free-play product to position their brands for the future, if and when the real-money market opens up – similar to how they embraced social casino and poker a few years back.
#2 Keyed Up for the Keystone State: iGaming in Pennsylvania
Of course, a few years back – in 2013, to be precise – real-money iGaming began to re-emerge following Nevada’s and New Jersey’s markets going live. Progress has been gradual since then, but there was a lot of optimism at G2E that Pennsylvania will become the next state to regulate – and soon.
The consensus view in Vegas was that the Keystone State’s regulated online casino and poker market will likely replicate the New Jersey model. There was also the feeling that once legislation passes, the market will most probably launch and grow more quickly than the Garden State, given that New Jersey was essentially the test case for state-level iGaming.
Casinos in Pennsylvania are currently closely focused on building up their customer databases and marketing their social offerings in preparation for regulation.
#3 Going Mobile: App Development & ASO
The US casino industry may predate the digital revolution, but properties are bang up to date when it comes to app development. Many land-based casinos are today more focused on targeting mobile than desktop users.
This approach was also shared by standalone online brands at G2E, such as horse-racing wagering sites or ADWs. Given that Nevada sportsbooks are also very much focused on their apps, there was also much discussion about how local sportsbooks are integrating these with their retail offerings (ID verification among other aspects).
With apps a hot topic, app marketing and ASO was also of major interest to brands – especially as many operations have yet to build in-house teams for this channel.
#4 Affiliate Marketing: Getting in Quick & Quality Traffic
Mobile has also become the go-to channel for the small but significant group of affiliates at G2E, with one US-based affiliate estimating that 60% of their traffic comes from tablets and smart phones.
Like casinos and operators, affiliates in Vegas were all about the future. Savvy operators are aiming to gain a competitive advantage by being first to market in Pennsylvania and other regulating states – and forward-thinking affiliates are adopting a similar approach.
Such affiliates have already bought domain names for multiple states considering regulation. The prevailing mood among affiliates was that they need to get in quick – before it’s too late!
As in Europe, US-focused affiliates are increasingly nimble. They can vet – and deliver – quality traffic to brands. Connected to this, operators at G2E appeared impressed by the high ROI of affiliate marketing compared to other acquisition channels.