At WMS, our mission is to lead the industry into the future with exciting new levels of player entertainment. Our vision of next-generation gaming is shaped by a firm commitment to understanding player expectations. The gaming industry is constantly changing, fed by new technology, the global economy and heightened competition. Innovation supported by player-focused research is critical to staying ahead of the trends that determine success in the ever-changing marketplace.
With this end in mind, we are proud to share with CEM readers summary findings of the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile. This in-depth report explores the lifestyles, social habits and gaming preferences of active gamblers. It is our latest effort, not only to refine our own business strategies, but also to provide readers with an understanding of the dynamic forces shaping our industry, as revealed by the emerging habits and intentions of today’s active gamblers.
Research for this year’s report was conducted during the fall of 2009 and based on a representative sample of 3,450 adult active gamblers in North America. In response to reader feedback on the inaugural 2009 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile, the 2010 edition contains important enhancements. Among other things, it expands the scope of the inaugural survey to include questions about the economy, emerging technology, online gaming, social media and social values/lifestyles.
Based on this rich data, the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile reveals five distinct forces transforming our industry. They are: 1) the growing sense of financial pressure caused by the current economic environment; 2) rapidly changing demography; 3) the dramatic impact of mobile technology and the growth of online gaming; 4) remarkable transformations in media consumption habits, including the explosive growth of social media; and 5) shifting social values and lifestyles.
In the coming months, this series will highlight summary findings for each of these forces, providing CEM readers with an invaluable forecast. We invite you to harness the power of our player-focused research and leverage its insights to forge new paths for continued growth. This month, we will focus on the trend that impacts all the others: the Economic Environment.
Trend Watch 1: Economic Environment – The New Normal
While North Americans are still expected to gamble, they are likely to make significant modifications in their spend and frequency of gaming trips, the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile reveals. Approximately nine in 10 active gamblers (86 percent) took an overnight leisure trip that involved gambling during the past 12 months, the survey found. The good news is that the majority of active gamblers (61 percent) expect to take the same number of overnight trips to play at a casino during the next 12 months—up significantly from the 57 percent recorded in 2008. However, only one in 10 active gamblers expect to spend more gambling on day or overnight trips during the next year, while twice as many expect to spend less.
For those who indicated they planned to take fewer trips to gamble or spend less on gambling in the upcoming year, the most frequently cited reasons were linked to the current economic environment. Most active gamblers (61 percent) indicated they were reducing their spending on entertainment overall, and more than half (57 percent) said they were generally concerned about the economy.
Clearly, today’s players are experiencing a growing sense of economic pressure. This sentiment is highlighted by the fact that nearly six in 10 (57 percent) reported the need to find ways to reduce their stress level—a significant increase from the levels recorded in last year’s report. Further, nearly one in five (19 percent) feel they have too much debt.
Without doubt, the Great Recession of 2008-2009 has left its mark on consumer spending habits, including spending on such leisure and entertainment activities as gaming. Many have accepted the more radical changes in consumer spending as the new normal, not just a cyclical occurrence.
Staying attuned to player preferences is crucial to understanding the longer-term effect of these changes in consumer spending behavior. Priority must be given to evaluating players based on factors beyond gaming spend. Today, for example, younger gamblers (Millennials) spend more of their disposable income on other amenities, such as entertainment and meals. The 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile reveals that, if given an extra $100 to spend on entertainment, nearly six in 10 (59 percent) active gamblers would use it to dine out, see a movie or go shopping rather than spend it to play in a casino. Knowledge of gamblers’ spending patterns across all activities will be critical to ensure operators capture fair share of wallet. Emphasis may not be just on gambling, per se, but on the overall casino experience.
Historically, companies that continue to invest in product and service enhancements during challenging economic times emerge from recessions with opportunity for greater market share and in a more advantageous competitive position. Armed with insights from the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile, we will continue to invest in innovative and engaging products, such as networked gaming solutions and adaptive technologies. Our goal remains to develop exciting gaming experiences that deliver compelling earnings for operators while increasing player visitation and lifetime value to fuel our industry’s growth.
In the next few issues of CEM, WMS will explore the other key insights of the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile. Readers can also find a summary report online by visiting our dedicated website, www.wmsactivegamblerprofile.com. You’ll see how having a keen understanding of the forces transforming the casino floor can set the stage to keep current customers returning, while also cultivating dynamic new markets for continued success.
Are you prepared? WMS—Max Your Edge®.