The Casino Blame Game

The Casino Blame Game

This is the first of my monthly columns talking about the casino industry both from a marketing point of view and as an operator. I just want to talk about the really difficult relationship between customers and the casinos they play on. I also want to put forward some thoughts on a different kind of mental framework around how to deal with that ever tenuous relationship between customer and casino.

Why casino is so fragile

Put simply, a casino operator and the customer are gambling with each other, however the operator has a small odds bias in their favour, typically around 5%.

Customers play on the casino to win money and casinos want customers to lose it. By its very essence this is an adversarial relationship. Other similar relationships are found in insurance for instance.

As a customer, if I win you lose, that’s okay. For the sake of discussion, if a customer won a huge amount of money and bankrupted a casino, will they feel sorry? I don’t think so. The customer intuitively knows that casino took a gamble and it lost.

The small print

Casinos, just like insurance companies have small print to keep everything under control. The catch with small print is the language ends up being very difficult to understand, because it has to be legally concise.

In order to cover every reasonable scenario there also has to be a lot of words.

There is a piece of research showing it takes around 76 days a year to read all of the privacy terms and conditions you accept as you surf the internet.  Therefore, it makes sense people just don’t read the terms and conditions.

On top of the adversarial relationship, the necessary labyrinthine terms and conditions, we also have customers in a heightened state because they’re gambling.

If they win, whatever that casino was, it’s a great one!

Where things go wrong is when they feel unjustly treated. This is where the parallels between casinos and insurance companies grow very close. Customers have expectations, small print says ‘no’, customer feels angry, powerless and desperate. It’s the perfect recipe for hate.

Reputation

Before doing this article I spent a few hours reading through Trustpilot looking at both casinos and insurance companies, seeing the common themes from unhappy customers.

For insurance it's bad ratings obviously come about because of payouts not being made and, coincidentally, for casino the bad reviews are about payouts not being made!

Altogether, casino is one of those sectors where customers are just very wary of the operator. This is a huge problem.

The epicentre for trust being built or broken is through customer services interactions. It’s easy to say customer services should do a better job and therefore everything will be okay, but you remember I spoke about the adversarial relationship between customer and casino?

People lie and they try and extract money out of their adversary. This makes customer services very difficult because sometimes it’s so hard to spot the lies.

If someone feels genuinely aggrieved, they will probably tell the world that casino is fraudulent and a scam. If somebody attempts a fraud and the facts aren’t 100% against them, they can do the same thing and attempt to tarnish a casino’s reputation. In other words, it’s a very muddy and intractable situation… kind of.

I think there’s a way out of this.

Who should you hate?

I had one of those random conversations with a friend of mine who is a successful German affiliate and he pointed out that it’s not the casino that loses you money. It’s the game.

If you’re not familiar with how games and casinos integrate, here’s a ‘casino 101’. Game providers design their games with a set return to player. Some providers like Netent, will typically offer a 98% return to player, whereas Betsoft might offer 96% return to player.

The games are tested by third-party companies and a casino gets a certificate saying the games are fair. Games get integrated with casinos, customer deposits money with casinos, they bet, they win or lose and the casino manages the transactions.

However, the main point is… casinos don’t make a customer win or lose. It’s the game. The casino is simply a banker who takes on risk. Just like any kind of banking, there is a return based on risks taken and services provided.

So what’s the answer?

That’s a huge question. I think much of it rests on having a clear message for customers: “Don’t hate us. You win or lose because of the games. We’re just people who look after the transactions and keep your service running.”

As a secondary message casinos should say; ‘Were trustworthy’, but this has to be backed up with real actions.

  • Assume people are basically truthful, even if you’re hit with fraud every so often.
  • Take the old Google mantra ‘don’t be evil’ to heart.
  • Invest in your customer services
  • Build your reputation footprint online, so people know you are trustworthy

What am I doing about it?

Since I own a casino, that’s a good question. I’ve already worked with our customer services team to be less ‘binary’ about cases, asking them to spend more time on cases which might be contentious.

I’m working on marketing ideas to separate us from the games, focusing on:

  • Oshi being a container for games
  • A ‘banking’ and technology service provider

I’m not sure how this will all turn out, but for any casino operator it’s so important to not get caught up in the blame game. After all, you don’t set the odds, the game providers do.

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