Pennsylvania is one of the most mature and expansive gambling states in the country. Gaming activities involving online sports betting, PA online casinos, poker and land-based casinos are all available for Pennsylvanians across the state.
Pennsylvania operators that are live in other states are likely to have different customer acquisition and retention strategies. Certain plans for newly launched states such as Ohio and Massachusetts may not work as well for places like Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
However, as sports betting and online gaming has been legal for five years now, operators are shifting focus to enhance the customer experience. Improving the customer experience ultimately acquires more players and keeps them for the long-run, especially in mature states.
Creating differentiated customer experiences helps with retention
Rush Street Interactive (RSI) operates BetRivers Casino PA through its own partnership with Rivers Casino Philadelphia. A lot of the details discussed on the Q1 earnings calls for operators, including RSI, are around customer acquisition and retention.
RSI CEO Richard Schwartz said at the SBC Summit last week:
“Retention of players you can’t buy. You have a better chance of retaining customers by how you treat them.”
RSI’s online casinos in Pennsylvania are second in revenue YTD 2023. During RSI’s Q1 earnings call, Schwartz spoke to how, specifically the BetRivers product, offers differentiation that helps retain customers. Some of RSI’s differentiators include:
- Breadth and depth of content: Frequently first to market with new content. RSI platform offers one of the largest game libraries in the industry.
- Premium games: Live Dealer, progressive jackpots and exclusive content.
- Bonusing engine: Real-time algorithmic bonusing improves player retention.
- Community chat: Encourages player engagement with each other and lengthens active playing time.
- Multiplayer tournaments: RushArena online slot tournaments are now live in all active online casino markets.
On the call, Schwartz and CFO Kyle Sauers alluded to the fact that RSI is a lesser-known brand. It all comes down to customer experience. Schwartz said:
“Players that play with our product realize really quickly that even though we might have some similar games to other sites, there’s a whole lot of extra experiences that we’ve built in-house with a proprietary gamified promotional engine that creates an experience that’s unique.”
DraftKings sees higher customer acquisition and retention rates in Q1
DraftKings is a far more known brand than RSI, and experienced higher acquisition and retention rates in Q1 2023.
RSI and DraftKings each noted that marketing spend decreased in 2023. That has allowed them to be more efficient on the acquisition and retention aspects. DraftKings’ retention rate was so good, it accounted for approximately $195 million of revenue improvement.
DraftKings focused on its sports-first iGaming customers and saw better-than-expected retention after the NFL season. Some of DraftKings’ improved customer experiences included:
- Launching live same game parlays, first for NFL and NBA, and most recently for MLB. It’s supported by its in-house trading platform
- Homegrown games and DraftKings jackpots on DraftKings PA Casino
- DK Horse app
CEO Jason Robins believes better products result in better customer retention.
“Better products will create stickier customers,” Robins said on the Q1 call. “I think customer experience has been a big focus. We’ve had significant improvements in our CX year over year, including the introduction of chat and other things that I think have helped a lot. Our CRM on the marketing front has been optimized for several years now and I think we’ve made a lot of year-over-year improvements in that, especially as it relates to some of the post-Super Bowl retention and cross-sell into iGaming.”
Penn Entertainment upgrades loyalty program
Penn Entertainment has also shown higher customer retention rates through cross-selling.
The company has seen a 41% increase in customer retention due to cross-sell promotions between Barstool Sports’ sportsbook and online casino.
Penn Entertainment also introduced a new loyalty program, changing the name from mychoice to Penn Play, with several upgrades and changes. The new program has the following benefits, which better connects to the Penn Entertainment brand:
- More ways to earn and redeem across the ecosystem (retail and online gaming, non-gaming and partners)
- Growing network of leading partners to expand reach and provide additional value
- Reimagined play and promotions for differentiated benefits
- Digitally powered to acquire, engage and retain members
Penn Play has grown to 195,000 customers. It also received $104 million in total Penn deposits as of the end of Q1.
Putting Penn Entertainment’s numerous gaming brands under one umbrella has the company believing that will set itself up for future growth. CEO Jay Snowden said on the Q1 earnings call:
“Our effective cross-marketing efforts, combined with our ability to deliver a seamless best-in-class customer experience has led to a significant increase in guests who engage with us across multiple channels, which is the key to our future growth.”
Penn Entertainment migrating to own platform to better serve customers
In another adjustment to enhance customer experience, Penn Entertainment is moving Barstool Sportsbook and its online casino off Kambi’s platform to its own proprietary trading platform in Q3 2023.
Penn Entertainment has seen major success with its own platform already launching in Ontario. Barstool online casino had its ninth consecutive record month for revenue through March, and 26% higher online sports betting to online casino cross-sell than in the US. Once the migration comes to the US in July, Snowden said, it should enhance the customer experience for American players, including those in Pennsylvania.
“Having full control of our product roadmap in the US will enable us to connect with our customers on a more personalized level and quickly add new features in betting markets to the Barstool Sportsbook, while also enhancing our iCasino products with new content and bonus mechanics,” Snowden explained.
Creating experiences customers won’t forget is the key to keeping them.