In Retrospect: Ottawa Chapter Casino Night

By Arundati Dandapani, MRIA Emerging Leaders Blog, May 2016

MRIA Ottawa Chapter’s Casino Night or the signature event, “Cast your bet on Research: How research is transforming the lottery and gaming industry” took place on the 05th of May, in the labyrinthine Heart and Crown pub of Ottawa’s historic Byward Market. A power-packed four-member panel addressed an audience of researchers and gaming enthusiasts, shedding insights as they charted the evolution of gambling, named present-day challenges in Canada, and projected evidence-backed guesses from their long careers.

Richard Leigh-Bennett, gaming entrepreneur and owner of CAPR, Jeff Corcoran, the Executive Director, Marketing of the Lotteries and Online Gaming Corporation, Jose Tocasuche, Manager Market Insights, Canadian Bank Note, and Peter Fallis, Vice President, Marketing at the Canadian Bank Note chatted about how research was shaping trends in the gambling industry. They all shattered a few myths about gambling, and especially the one about how “boring” it has become!

Understanding gambler motivations is the key to generating useful and timely research insights in the gaming industries. And as is true for many activities and habits, motivations to gamble among the young differ markedly from their older cohorts, determined the panelists.

(L to R) Moderator and chapter president Jenneke Le Moullec and the gaming research panel of Richard Leigh Bennett, Jeff Corcoran, Jose Tocasushe and Peter Fallis

For example, Millennials are more likely to be preoccupied with other games and enticed by games of ability rather than chance, offered Tocasuche. Connecting to youngsters who are more preoccupied with video games, Candy Crush, Farmville and other games connected to their social networks is increasingly becoming a casino game-killer, even as the rise of online casinos gains popularity. Making lottery games relevant to young people is very difficult, agreed the panel. Millennials like video-games, and e-games better, even though e-games (such as betting on watching people play games) are more popular in other parts of the world than in Canada. “Lottery jurisdictions need to understand how different demographics play when targeting them,” said Leigh-Bennett.

As populations migrate to the internet, the growth of online casinos are a big draw for millennials constantly on their smartphones and other internet-enabled devices. According to a KPMG report “Online gaming: A gamble or a sure bet?” the online casino gambling market – including poker, lotteries, bingo and casinos – has grown 42% from 2008 to 2012, from $21.2 billion to over $30 billion in 2012. Further,Onlinecasinos.com states that one of the fastest growing sectors is online casinos, growing at an average rate of 15% per year since 2008.

It became evident that creating games that appeal to more groups with different needs is both a challenge and an opportunity.  Measuring the success or failure of a methodology is hard, because it’s hard to predict the success or failure of a product. Focus groups and panel online tracking studies are not foolproof.  Fallis offered the example of tic-tac-toe as a game that was initially considered a brilliant idea but bombed in the casino marketplace.  Moreover, some games take off, others don’t. Explaining the successes of one product or justifying the failures of another to management can be difficult, explained Corcoran, as results from different methodologies vary.

The audience nodded in agreement when the panel concluded on the words of Leigh-Bennett that all researchers should be paid more, and that there is no substitute for good market research.

After the panel, a hearty mix of gamblers and first-timers made their way to the black jack and roulette tables, motivated to win at games of chance! Lucky winners took home a bouquet of exciting prizes from generous local sponsors. A big thank-you to the engaging, globe-trotting industry panelists and sponsors for the Ottawa Chapter event! Stay tuned for more MRIA events locally and nationally on the portal space.

More resources in gaming research:

Arundati Dandapani was a Research Analyst Intermediate at Corus Entertainment and Director-at-Large, MRIA Ottawa Chapter at the time of this post’s publication.