Will the Evolution of Sports Betting Bring a Resurgence to the Strip? By Vlad Edelman

My most recent trip to The City of Lights was colored with inefficiency. While the predilection may be to blame travel, in actuality my flight went without a hitch. Thanks to the conveniences of modern life, I received the morning text alert informing me of my flight’s delay and adjusted my travel schedule accordingly, got to the airport on time via Uber, avoiding those pesky parking fees, checked in using a self-check-in kiosk, and, after clearing security quickly thanks to pre-check, ordered myself some wings and a beer using a tablet at one of the modernized lounge restaurants while I waited to board.

Perhaps it is because of these conveniences that I came to see Vegas for the first time without rose colored glasses. Don’t get me wrong - Vegas is an amazing city and very dear to my heart. But one thing it is not is digital at its core.

From the hotel check-in process to the products in my mini-fridge (anyone else have an aversion to nuts?), it became readily apparent that while the rest of the world is taking steps to embrace technology and evolving consumer trends, Vegas is lagging behind.

This has huge ramifications in terms of not only staying “relevant” but also staying alive and competitive. Most recently, the industry is aflame with the news that a few the Strip’s most renowned casinos are forecasting lower revenues in coming months and, consequently, are seeing their stock prices plummet.

But how can this be? Is Vegas losing its clout or is something else going on?

While some are pointing fingers at increased resort fees, paid parking, worse game odds, and other “nickel and dime” tactics, I believe something much deeper is to blame.

The reality is consumers’ experiences have changed, but most casinos have not. While this seems discouraging it actually speaks to a latent opportunity in the market to create an influx of new eyeballs that aren’t used to the party. The challenge lies, however, in solving a need that most brick and mortars are struggling to meet, which is the ease and simplicity of a mobile device.

Who else has ever heard something along these lines when trying to place a bet?

Please step out of the line, locate the number IDs of the teams you wish to bet on, document them, then get back in line, but you must go to the end of the line. If you are unfamiliar with this process, here is a pamphlet.

Sounds more like an interaction at the DMV than a fun outing with friends, doesn’t it? But to the average sports bettor, this type of interaction is commonplace, and the gamblers’ reality does not meet the millennials’ minimum expectation. And consumers are having none of it. To a new bettor, learning how to “play the game” is intimidating and the process is out of date. The only games that are relatively intuitive, easy to play, and simple to the point that you can click a button or pull a lever are the slot machines- not exactly an exciting activity to most.

So, what can be done? To put it simply, digitize the experience.

Step 1: Activate Network Audit/System Integration

This will be no easy task as to truly save the state of gambling, a collaborative audit and design of the future of sportsbook betting in the United States is needed. The ultimate result here would be a network of in-venue and on-screen capabilities culminating in an active and intelligent broadcast network that is data driven, reacting to and rewarding your guests for watching the game at the book.

This would also allow casinos to curate unique packaged deals and offerings. You can say goodbye to magazine ad 1-800 numbers, and instead cater to bet-makers with affinity analytics and incentives to participate in-venue, rather than sitting on their butts at home. Through the use of Sportsbook Tablets, you can maximize the guest experience with digital handbooks that provide in-depth analytics to pros and step-by-step guides for those looking to have fun, while employee tablets monitor the floor, activate triggers and cater to all guests.

Step 2: Embrace Next Gen

If you think millennials are your biggest problem, think again. Gen Y was brought up on smartphones, which means their demand for experiences that cross digital with real-life is even greater than that of previous generations. To fully get this group of individuals engaged, you are going to need mobile app integration. Thanks to automated, conditional marketing based on real-time data, guests who bet through the mobile app are incentivized to visit, and stay at the sportsbook and casino, i.e., bet more, get more.

The consumer of today wants to be able to place real-time bets and pair that with experiences. Thanks to sentiment technology, you can optimize gaming while also catering to celebration. Imagine being able to gauge that the active betters on the floor are starting to feel the hurt of loss, which normally correlates with tapping out and trying your luck elsewhere. Sentiment CX’s real-time marketing insights allows you to do this while also being able to provide an experience like, let’s say, a round on the house or free popcorn to boost morale.

These types of promotions don’t just live in the realm of loss. By pairing sportsbook data with real-time odds, active bets and live odds, you can propose daily and real-time specials promoting games and events to which you wish to drive participants.

Step 3: Give your Hardware, Software, and Operational Abilities a Facelift

Now that the groundwork has been set, we can think of the overall casino experience. If content at large is a multi-screen play, why wouldn’t your promotions be? The ideal scenario would be for the casino experience to be digitized, from self-check-in kiosks to customizable mini-bars, increasing the number of screens with which any given guest is interacting.

By installing new hardware, software and operational ability that are able to meet millennial expectations, you are increasing your opportunity to target key, interested consumers. Touchpoint Devices can be full-form kiosks for bettors and armed with sentiment technology and facial recognition, which would allow for even more personalized, not to mention secure, experiences.

These evolutions in tech and operations open up a whole new suite of customer engagement opportunities and a new level of insight and control of the betting experience. From live game offerings to affinity plays to room package deals, you are incentivizing the gambling experience. The only question that remains is, what are you waiting for?

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Vladimir Edelman is CEO and Co-Founder of HEROFi, which infuses physical places with the same speed, convenience, and relevance customers now expect from the digital world. He can be reached at vlad@herofi.com.