by Andrew Cardno
A tribal casino’s customer database is an organization’s most valuable asset. The customer database leads the forefront of gaming operations, providing teams with actionable data to make decisions that improve relationships with players and the gaming experience, maximize a casino’s profitability, and ultimately improve the welfare of the tribal nation. Given the tremendous value of the customer database to a casino and tribe, special consideration should be given to areas the customer database can improve and ways to ensure its protection.
Advances in technology improving the collection of casino patron data have delivered a considerable increase in revenue for tribal casinos. Technology providing near-perfect collection of rated player data from slots has enabled player development teams to distribute rewards and offers to patrons and has dramatically improved the value of player’s club loyalty programs by increasing player wallet and player retention. Despite the now remarkable accuracy of slot ratings, there has been minimal advancement in the collection of table games ratings. This lack of visibility for rated table play leaves a blind spot in player activity across the gaming floor, and it also means that table games players are largely neglected from the benefits of the loyalty program.
The issue of constrained table ratings data and the largely unknown nature of the data makes it difficult to adequately distribute rewards to table games players based on their spend. The industry-wide challenge with player reinvestment relating to table games is constrained by ratings that are off by a factor of two. Consequently, a player development team is unaware of the true amount being spent by individual table games players, and those players are only getting about half the value the casino loyalty program should be providing.Therefore, those players are half as incentivized to play at the property than slot players, and are likely half as loyal to the casino.
Additionally, table games players generally have a larger wallet than slot players, so why is the industry continuing to neglect this potentially incredibly valuable segment of its customer database? Loyalty programs provide a casino with an approximate lift of 30% in revenue through increased player retention and wallet spend. Even though table games may only make up about 20% of a property’s gaming revenue, imagine the potential benefits a tribal casino would reap with the ability to adequately reinvest in and market to table games players – especially when considering those players tend to have the largest wallet.
Now consider these common characteristics among table games players: they are inherently social, as indicated by their preference for social types of games, and the segment primarily consists of younger gamblers. The industry has been under-rewarding and under-incentivizing table games players, neglecting potentially flourishing relationships with these social players, who are often easier to build a rapport. Operators have been furiously trying to solve the challenge of getting younger generations of gamblers into casinos. There likely is a much more significant portion of young players than realized due to low levels of player identification on table games, the very games young players are more inclined to play, and more can be done to encourage their retention.
Given the lack of available solutions to obtain accurate table games ratings, it would be favorable for an organization to continue strategizing and exploring potential solutions to achieve the ability to fully leverage table games ratings, ensuring those players receive well-deserved loyalty incentives and rewards. Winning the race to achieve accurate table ratings could provide a tremendous competitive advantage to a tribal casino.
Although the total value of table games players in a property’s customer database is unknown, the potential increase in revenue those players would provide the casino if they were given the same level of loyalty as slots players is undeniable.While the lack of advancement regarding table games ratings has been a challenge in the industry, increasing technological advancements, particularly in cyberspace, are presenting additional challenges. The growing cybersecurity threat is evident in the increasing prevalence of cyberattacks and ransomware attacks on the industry. It is especially important for a tribal casino to ensure the safety of its most valuable asset, the customer database, from these ongoing cyberattacks.
Tribal nations have continuously strived to overcome longstanding legal and policy issues. It is crucial to protect the customer database by safely storing it within the firewalls of the casino on tribal land. By doing this, the customer database will remain protected by tribal sovereignty.
Despite the prevalence of casinos moving customer databases to the cloud for benefits such as efficiency, this transfer of customer data into the cloud is highly inadvisable for tribal casinos. Doing so moves the customer databases to servers hosted by an entity other than the tribal nation, outside of its control. This could expose a tribal casino to risk by moving the location of the customer database outside of its tribal sovereignty. When data is moved to the cloud, the transborder data flows to often unknown server locations, and the legal governance becomes ambiguous, raising concern about whether tribal laws will continue applying to the data post-transfer.
The risk of putting customer data outside of sovereignly-governed tribal land is too great when operating in the cloud involves jurisdictional ambiguity; plus, it is still an emerging form of distributed computing that is only beginning to evolve and become standardized. Under the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, over 500 U.S. government agencies can access data, but not if the customer database is safely kept within the tribal casino’s firewalls.
Surrounding tribal sovereign immunity, there remains a caveat that the Federal Trade Commission is capable of exercising jurisdiction of over tribal activities that could lead to investigations and fines being imposed. Therefore, it is not only essential to keep a tribal casino’s customer database on-premise, but also to exercise tribal sovereignty around data privacy regulations and consumer protection. By provisioning well-defined means for patrons affected by a casino data breach to access remedies within tribal law, if the tribal casino does experience a data breach – a very real possibility in the modern world even despite comprehensive cybersecurity measures in place – their reputation for maintaining patron data integrity will not be compromised, and player trust and loyalty towards the property will remain.
The extraordinary value of a casino’s customer database is clear, and the persistence of cyberattacks facing the industry reaffirms that fact because patron data is a high-value target for cybercriminals. Consider this analogy: a bank robber chooses to rob a bank because that is where all the money is; cybercriminals are repeatedly trying to rob the industry of its customer data because that is where the prime value in a casino is located. Therefore, it is not only necessary to keep the tribal casino’s customer database protected with strict cybersecurity measures inside the property’s firewall on sovereign land, but to continuously grow and develop the customer database.
Andrew Cardno is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Quick Custom Intelligence (QCI). He can be reached by calling (858) 299-5715 or email [email protected].