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Uncarded Opportunity

Uncarded players on the floor represent an underutilized resource for marketers

Uncarded Opportunity

The uncarded or “retail” segment of casino patrons represents a vast and often overlooked opportunity for revenue growth. While many operators focus on cultivating relationships with carded players, the uncarded segment comprises a significant portion of casino traffic and revenue.

By failing to recognize this segment effectively, casinos risk missing out on substantial revenue streams and potential customer loyalty.

The uncarded segment encompasses a diverse range of players, from casual visitors to seasoned gamblers who prefer anonymity. Moreover, the uncarded segment represents a fertile ground for customer acquisition, as these players may eventually become carded members if adequately engaged and incentivized.

I might argue that for casino operators to optimize their revenue and profitability, they need to be giving just as much attention to their retail customers. This segment represents a significant untapped opportunity that, if leveraged correctly, can drive substantial incremental visits and revenue in the form of gaming and non-gaming spend.

Conversations with various regional casino marketers show that, on average, uncarded players can make up more than 50 percent of gaming revenue. As a segment, these players contribute substantially. Yet, retail is often an afterthought in marketing plans, with most of the budget and resources dedicated to player development, loyalty programs and VIP initiatives.

The sheer volume of the retail segment means that even a modest increase in their visits and spending can have an outsized impact on the bottom line.

So, how do you go about tapping into this opportunity? The key is to start really understanding who your retail customers are, what motivates them, and how you can build lasting relationships with them. This process requires a shift in mindset from viewing them as a faceless, anonymous mass to seeing them as having needs, preferences and behaviors.

Start by segmenting your retail customer base. Look at factors like demographics, visit frequency, gaming and non-gaming spending, and psychographic data like lifestyle, interests and motivations. Doing so will allow you to develop tailored marketing approaches that speak directly to this group’s needs.

For example, occasional, leisure-focused visitors may be more responsive to promotions and experiences that enhance their entertainment value, like dining offers, live music or themed events. On the other hand, local, value-conscious customers may prioritize convenience, value and familiarity—things like free parking, loyalty rewards and familiar dining options.

Once you have a better handle on who your retail customers are, it is time to get creative with how you reach and engage them. Traditional advertising, like broadcast, billboards and print, can be highly effective. These channels should be combined with the power of digital and social media, as retail customers might vary regarding the stage of the marketing funnel they fall into. Geo-targeting, retargeting, influencer partnerships and user-generated content can all be powerful ways to connect with this segment.

It is also crucial to optimize your on-property experience to convert these retail visitors into loyal, repeat customers. Clear wayfinding, friendly and knowledgeable staff, convenient parking and dining options, and engaging non-gaming amenities can all go a long way.

Promotions and special offers can incentivize uncarded players to visit and explore your property. Carefully deployed free play, discounted dining or entertainment, and giveaways can pique interest and drive foot traffic. However, be mindful not to dilute the value of these offers. Strike a balance between being enticing and maintaining profitability.

Events and experiences are powerful tools for engaging the uncarded segment. Host unique and memorable events tailored to their interests, such as live music, comedy shows, or themed parties. Provide opportunities for social interaction and create a sense of community, as uncarded players often value the overall experience beyond just gaming.

Players card programs can also be adapted to cater to the uncarded segment. While traditional tier-based programs may not resonate, consider offering instant rewards, surprise bonuses, or exclusive access to events or amenities. The key is to provide tangible value and recognition, even without the ability to track individual play.

And don’t forget about the importance of data and analytics. Implement systems to track and measure the behaviors and spending patterns of your uncarded customers, just as you do for your loyalty club members. Understanding appropriate KPIs will allow you to refine your marketing strategies continuously and make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Modern advertising and data analytics provide powerful tools for understanding and engaging these players. By leveraging advanced tracking technologies, casinos can gather valuable insights into uncarded player behavior, visit patterns, and preferences. This data-driven approach is crucial for developing targeted strategies and optimizing the overall gaming experience.

This new approach to retail may require additional time, resources and budget investment. But I would argue that the potential upside far outweighs the costs. Even a modest increase in retail visits and spending can translate to millions in incremental revenue.

The bottom line is that casino operators can no longer afford to relegate their retail customers to the sidelines. This segment represents a wealth of untapped potential, and those who are willing to understand and engage with these customers will be the ones who emerge victorious.

So, I challenge casino marketers and operators to reevaluate how they approach their retail segment. Are you giving them the attention and focus they deserve? Or are you leaving a significant opportunity on the table? The choice is yours, but the rewards for getting it right could be transformative for your business.

Julia Carcamo has held property and corporate leadership positions at medium to large casino companies. She is the president of J Carcamo & Associates marketing consultancy and founder of Casino Marketing Boot Camp. Contact: julia@jcarcamoassociates.com.

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