Creating exceptional gaming experiences is WMS’ hallmark. It is deeply rooted in our Culture of Innovation and focused through the lens of our most important constituents—the players. We are committed to innovate with a purpose and driven to create value through creativity. By fusing new technologies and imaginative solutions, WMS always strives to produce unique and exciting gaming experiences that far exceed players’ expectations.
To appeal to a broad spectrum of gamblers, however, we make every effort to truly understand their preferences and how these tastes and interests evolve over time. Only with this type of direct input can we continue to create engaging gaming entertainment that excites the senses. Armed with player-focused research, WMS remains firm in its mission to lead the industry in the development of unrivaled products that celebrate the excitement of winning.
With an eye toward the industry’s growth and prosperity, we share with CEM readers another key insight of our 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile. With input from 3,450 adult active gamblers in the U.S. and Canada, this study is the most comprehensive survey of its kind. It was developed to increase our collective understanding of the major forces shaping casino player behavior today.
In the last two issues we shared key insights from this survey on the ways in which the recession and changing demographics have left their mark on gaming. In this issue, we examine the enormous impact of technology on our daily lives and the corresponding opportunities that result from a more connected, increasingly mobile society.
Trend Watch 3: Technology and Mobility
Active gamblers’ comfort with technology has undergone a dramatic shift as access to the Internet and greater mobility have created tech-savvy early adopters who view technology as an enabler in their lives rather than something to be feared or avoided. Consider these compelling statistics: In 1996, only one in 10 households in America had access to the Internet at home, while today, more than seven in 10 (70 percent) U.S. and Canadian households are connected.
Today, not only are North American gamblers more connected, they are spending an average of 21 hours per week on the Internet—remarkable growth from the average of 16 hours per week (2.3 hours per day) U.S. active gamblers spent online in 2005. Consequently, as you will see, media consumption habits and entertainment preferences have also undergone considerable changes.
Most active gamblers communicate and perform many daily tasks online, from shopping to banking/paying bills. More than two in 10 active gamblers (21 percent) report they even watch TV online. Increasingly, players are also active in social communities: nearly half share photos online or watch videos on YouTube. Approximately one-third of active gamblers read reviews on blogs/forums or social networking sites or download music online, while more than a quarter participate in online chat/discussion forums. Other online activities enjoyed by active gamblers include writing reviews on a blog/forum or social networking site (14 percent), uploading videos online, sharing music or video on a community-oriented site (10 percent) and tweeting on Twitter (8 percent).
Approximately three in 10 active gamblers (32 percent) believe that going online makes them feel more connected to others. Nearly the same percentage (28 percent) views the continued advancement of computer technology as a way to gain more control in their lives.
Mobility is the other major driver in the evolution of Internet usage. Extraordinarily, there are now three times more wireless phone subscribers in the world than landline customers. In a remarkable shift, a mere 6 percent of households in the country had a cell phone and no landline in 2004. Today, that percentage has jumped to more than one in five (23 percent) households in the U.S. and one in 10 (8 percent) in Canada. What’s more, among households headed by adults between 25 and 29 years of age, approximately half (46 percent) rely solely on a cell phone. Clearly, the next horizon of the Internet’s impact on contemporary life and leisure will be through mobile access.
The use of mobile devices is especially high among active gamblers. There are slightly more than 292 million cell phones in circulation in North America today, and the incidence of ownership among active gamblers is now 93 percent. Active gamblers have some of the latest phones, too. Specifically, 27 percent have a smartphone (e.g., iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, etc.) compared to just 18 percent of the general population. Almost half (44 percent) of active gamblers who own a smartphone have downloaded paid applications on their device, and more than two-thirds (69 percent) have played a game on their phone.
The demand for pervasive Internet access coupled with increasing mobility bodes well for our industry. The many hours active gamblers spend online engaged in rich, customized and increasingly social entertainment experiences make it clear they hold technology in high esteem. As early adopters, active gamblers will be among the first to use—and, in fact, demand—products that take advantage of the latest technology and extend the gaming experience.
At WMS, we believe technology is a channel to enhance the physical gaming experience, not dilute or replace it. Savvy operators can reap high rewards with focused web-based solutions. They can leverage WMS web service offerings, for example, to provide entertainment through new avenues, bring gamblers back to the casino and entice them to seek out specific games. Technology also offers new ways to cultivate player relationships and increase player loyalty through real-time comps and benefits.
The Internet can extend operators’ interactions with players into the home to re-engage customers outside the casino and prompt them to return. In a rapidly evolving world of both offline and online entertainment options, this additional connectivity with players will serve as an important tool to keep casinos and brands top of mind.
For more insights from the 2010 WMS Active Gambler™ Profile, visit our dedicated website, www.wmsactivegamblerprofile.com. Or, watch for an update in the next issue of CEM, where we will examine emerging trends in online casual gaming. As always, listening to the voice of the player forges the path to higher returns. Are you prepared?