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IGT shuns convergence for social solution

10th September 2012 9:37 am GMT

DoubleDown Casino has gone B2B but where does it fit into the big picture?

While its competitors sell converged land-to-online free-play solutions to bricks and mortar clients, IGT is going social with DoubleDown Casino.

It could end up paying $500m for Double Down Interactive if all the earn out targets are hit. It was bought as a B2C site, no doubt upsetting some casino clients, but during Q3 it revealed four B2B deals in quick succession.

First came Casino del Sol in Arizona, quickly followed by California’s Golden Acorn, Jacobs Entertainment’s five hotels across California and Nevada and finally the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.

So what are these casinos getting? They are getting the DoubleDown Casino embedded on their website. It does not integrate with anything else. It is not linked with the Facebook version of DoubleDown, so casinos are unlikely to see any of the 1.5m daily users visiting IGT’s Double Down Casino. So what is the point?

IGT chief marketing officer Staci Alonso explains: “Our casino customers are always looking for ways to extend the relationship with their players. Once they leave the property it is about extending that relationship.

“Our first partner [Casino del Sol] launched less than one month ago and they are very enthusiastic about the results to date. Additionally, a big part of the overall benefit is in the extended entertainment value and extended time patrons are spending on the site. The program has many benefits to the operator in addition to the sharing of revenue. At this time we haven't had the timespan to gauge how much revenue our customers might expect, since the program is in its initial stages of operation.”

Apparently, casinos will be able to flash marketing messages in the frame around the DoubleDown Casino but there is little evidence of this yet on Casino del Sol’s site.

Alonso says IGT has chosen to offer the social gaming product rather than free-play games offered by the likes Bally or Aristocrat.

“It can be the next version of free-play,” claims Alonso. “Casinos have a choice. Social gaming is the fastest growing segment of our industry and operators want to offer their customers the latest trends and the most exciting content.”

The DoubleDown Casino is not customisable but Alonso says customers are excited about being associated with the DoubleDown brand - plus it is the only way they can currently get popular IGT games such as Cleopatra and Da Vinci Diamonds online.

So has DoubleDown become IGT’s online vehicle of choice?

“We think that there is continued growth from social gaming and if interactive gaming is regulated we have our interactive casino offering,” says Alonso. “Right now, the two things are very different markets.”

This is not a convergence play in motion. Informed sources claim neither IGT’s casino, (formerly WagerWorks), nor its poker product, (formerly Entraction), are easily integrated into land-based systems. Alonso does not know if this is the case and a spokesperson was unable or unwilling to follow up with an answer.

If this is the case, it is a shame, because the cloud-based systems solution that it trialled earlier this year with Liverpool’s Gala Leo Casino looked ideal for integrating online solutions.

Alonso says the company is waiting for regulation before offering anyone its interactive product, which could leave it a long way behind its competition.

“A lot will depend on the timing of online regulation. We have an extensive interactive product line and offering as well as social. We have a platform for each market,” says Alonso.

IGT’s competitors would argue that free-play converged land-to-online systems prepare bricks and mortar casinos for a regulated market as well as educating them and their customers about online. There are additional marketing benefits too.

IGT has bought the complete portfolio of online products but it seems to have problems linking them together. The B2C DoubleDown Casino on Facebook will, no doubt, go from strength to strength as IGT’s world class casino games are integrated into it but as a B2B product it is almost unfathomable.


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