Real-time marketing for Casinos


The gaming business moves fast. Casinos serve a multitude of entertainment options to thousands of patrons 24 hours a day, a pace that results in a myriad of interaction points with their patrons. Competition in this service industry is fierce. If patrons at a casino do not feel that they are being offered something that they want, it is all too easy for them to find another entertainment option for their hard-earned dollars. Patron expectations are high. Casino companies have a lot at stake when they entice patrons through reinvestment in the form of free play, free meals, and even free accommodations. Making high-quality real-time decisions during each patron interaction is critical to the success of a casino.

However, managing interactions among patrons in real time comes with its challenges. Patrons today do not act in typical ways; therefore, it is difficult for a rules-only approach to be successful. Some patrons are there for gaming, some for shows and entertainment, some for dining or nightlife, some for spas, and maybe even some for golf. If a casino lacks a comprehensive understanding of their patrons’ needs and preferences, actions taken with patrons can fall flat.

When identifying the actions to take with a patron while he or she is in the casino experience, casinos need to manage the delicate balance between ensuring that the offer is attractive to the patron and maintaining profitability for the casino. Showering patrons with free food and drink, hotel rooms, show tickets, or even cash in a bid to maintain their loyalty can easily backfire. They can result in a direct impact on the bottom line, or patrons can start to feel that these treatments are meaningless to them. Predictive analytics can supply the much needed context to the patron experience. When coupled with real-time decision capabilities, a casino can truly enhance and personalize the interactions that they have with their patrons.

Real-time decisions are decisions that are made at a customer’s point of experience, using data captured from customer interactions as they occur, along with historical information and analytics output. Real-time marketing involves adding context to the channel through which the casino is interfacing with a patron. Context can be defined as the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. Therefore, for a channel to have context, it must provide facts that describe the patron’s current situation. Here is an example.

John Smith is a very high-value, high-frequency patron at a particular casino; however, he has not visited the casino in the last six months. John inserts his casinos rewards card into a slot machine on the casino’s gaming floor. The casino can then gather John’s preferences, his previous gaming history, his theoretical worth, his predicted lifetime value, and the identity of John’s casino host. Using the information, an alert can be sent to the host to suggest that he or she go and greet John, welcome him back to the property, and provide him with an invitation to an exclusive poker tournament.

Data about the patron experience can be used to determine an appropriate offer in real-time.
Data about the patron experience can be used to determine an appropriate offer in real-time.

This is an illustration of real-time decisions in action, or real-time marketing. Real-time marketing, or the ability to provide context to a patron’s interactions, enables you to provide relevant, insightful offers, recommendations, advice, and even service operation actions when they are needed the most. In the case of John Smith, the offer of a seat at a poker tournament is extremely relevant to him, based on his previous behavior and preferences.

High-value casino customers like John Smith are very accustomed to receiving preferential treatment based on their casino activity. In the larger gaming jurisdictions such as Las Vegas and Macau, it is not uncommon for a customer to have rewards accounts established at multiple casinos. Casino patrons value the high-touch service they receive once they reach preferential reward status with their preferred casino company. However, an unhappy patron only has to present his or her current player’s card at a different casino and he or she is very likely to be granted the same status with the competitor. Therefore, making high-quality, real-time decisions during each patron interaction while the patron is still in the casinos is critical to the success of a casino.

To execute real-time decisions, you need real-time data on patron interactions, historical data on your patrons and their preferences, historical information and predictive analytics scores, and a real-time decision engine such as SAS® Real-Time Decision Manager.

Real-time data is the flow of data captured from patron interactions as they occur. By using various technologies such as websites, kiosks, slot machines, iBeacons, and smart phones to track and interact with its patrons, a casino can collect data from consumers both explicitly (via forms and purchases) and implicitly (via web sessions and geo-location). When these systems are connected to networks, the data can be shared in real time with other systems within the casino. As a result, casino organizations can have access to a new level of detail about patrons as they interact. Any insights gained about the patron can be used in real time to create a response while the patron is still interacting. These offers can be more relevant because they can be targeted based on the current interest and status of the patron.

Real-time data lets casino operators know what the customer is doing now and lets them target their customers with offers when they are most likely to respond positively. Historical data gives the business users the ability to develop predictive models to help determine the likelihood that a customer will act a certain way, such a booking a hotel room or redeeming a direct mail offer. Combining real-time data, historical information, and analytic results into real-time decisions enables a casino operator to know which patrons will take particular actions based on the most up-to-date information and deliver decisions and recommendations that optimize every patron interaction to improve revenue, growth and retention.


About Author

Natalie Osborn

Senior Industry Consultant, Hospitality & Travel Global Practice

Natalie Osborn is the senior industry consultant for SAS Institute’s Hospitality and Travel practice, and an 18+ year veteran of hospitality and hospitality technology solutions development, specializing in revenue management. Prior to joining SAS, Natalie was the director, product marketing for Minneapolis-based IDeaS Revenue Solutions, where she worked from 2000 to 2011.


  1. Aamir ullah khan on

    The real time marketing is a great offer for the patrons where by casino operators are targeting their customers with offers for improving their revenue and growth. In real time decision staff is helping patrons giving advice. yes it is a good concept helps to retain guest.

    • Natalie Osborn
      Natalie Osborn on

      As you mention Aamir - the patron's experience and ongoing loyalty are of paramount importance for casino operators. A real-time marketing approach helps with identifying smarter responses to inbound communications with patrons.

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