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  • Gaming Innovation Spotlight: 2019-10-08 Casual Casino Mobile Apps Drive Real-World Brand Engagement

    The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) works to advance the interests of Canada’s gaming industry stakeholders. The Association’s five- year strategic plan, CGA 2.0, focuses on three primary pillars: Advocacy & Awareness, Research & Innovation, and Dialogue & Convening. In support of this plan, the Association’s business publication, Canadian Gaming Business, presents case studies that shed light on noteworthy trends and best practices within these areas of strategic focus.

    Executive Summary

    As gaming operators look for innovative ways to grow their business, a number of leading companies have turned to casual casino apps to engage new and existing customers. Among the top-ranked entries in this mobile entertainment genre, the titles developed by PLAYSTUDIOS are unique. The company’s collection of award- winning apps – myVEGAS Slots, my KONAMI Slots, and POP!

    Slots – are the only ones to offer an integrated loyalty program. This program allows PLAYSTUDIOS to offer its audience a rich collection of promotional awards, in exchange for their game play. These

    awards are provided by travel and leisure partners in exchange for promotional integration with the apps. As a result, the virtual gaming experiences drive meaningful, real-world visitation – along with incremental revenue – for the company’s loyalty program partners including Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, Cirque du Soleil, MGM Resorts International, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Learn more at www.playstudios.com.

    The Recreational Landscape

    Whether you enjoy the serenity of our vast open spaces or the buzz of our vibrant cities, Canada has much to offer. And casino gaming is an exciting part of our recreational mix. From an economic perspective, our industry touches every province, accounting for nearly 200,000 jobs and generating over $9 Billion in revenues for governments, charities, and First Nations’ initiatives. Our strong industry association, the quality of our business members, and the thoughtful regulatory environment in which we operate all contribute to our industry’s outlook.

    While the fundamentals of our business sector remain strong, we recognize that casino-style gaming exists within a broader, entertainment marketplace – one that is becoming increasingly competitive. As a result, gaming operators face new threats from recreational alternatives. Broadly considered, casinos compete with streaming entertainment services, shopping, dining out, and even social media, as they battle for a narrower and narrower slice of the consumer’s attention and wallet share.

    A more obvious business challenge now comes from online, real- money gaming. The convenience and availability of these new digital offerings makes them very appealing to a large audience. However, the regulatory frameworks that govern online gaming are complex and rapidly evolving. The resulting business risk has kept many of the established industry players at bay.

    A less complicated alternative to these online offerings is the free-to- play casual casino game. This popular style of mobile and computer app – while not actual gambling – does offer customers a similarly enjoyable experience.

    Casinos Get Casual

    In the US and Canada, free-to-play casual casino games are big business. On Facebook, social casino games accounts for 45% of the platform’s $1.6 Billion in total games revenue. On mobile devices, where games generate $83 Billion in revenue, 6% is attributed to the casual casino genre. According to industry analyst, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, “For trailing 12-months ending June 30, 2019, the social casino market grew +9.8% year-over-year to reach $5.4 Billion.”

    The robust scale and growth of this sector have attracted savvy operators from the entertainment, casino, and video game industries. Some have explored development partnerships, such as NBC | Universal and Activision / Blizzard. Some, like SciGames and IGT, have developed their own apps, in-house. And others have acquired existing apps, like Caesars Entertainment. But perhaps the most unique model is the one offered by PLAYSTUDIOS, who has partnered with a range of gaming and entertainment brands, including Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, Cirque du Soleil, MGM Resorts International, and KONAMI.

    PLAYSTUDIOS is an independent developer of three of the top ranked apps in the casual casino genre. What differentiates their apps from the other category leaders is that they each run on top of a robust loyalty platform called playAWARDS. This platform allows PLAYSTUDIOS to integrate its partner brands into its beautifully designed casual games, not just as advertisements, but as part of an overall entertainment experience. As a result, a large number of extremely receptive consumers engage with partner brands, frequently and over an extended period of time – ensuring that they remain top- of-mind. PLAYSTUDIOS is then able to drive traffic from its portfolio of apps into the real world by offering “gamified promotions” to its highly engaged players.

    Through the PLAYSTUDIOS apps, partners can extend promotional offers, typically free or discounted experiences, in a way that does not devalue their brands. Since players have invested time in the game to earn these offers, they retain their face value, and often achieve an increased sense of worth to the player, whose in app experience has been enriched by the offering.

    An Innovative Approach to Building Brands

    After working with a number of our industry’s most respected and innovative companies, PLAYSTUDIOS has demonstrated the value of its approach. Its partners have found the company’s mobile apps to be a cost-efficient way to reach a large and desirable customer base. The company’s nearly 2 Million daily users begin unlocking partner awards in the first play session and consume more than $30 million in real world awards every year.

    In addition, partners have found the platform instrumental in achieving other key marketing objectives, attracting new guests, engaging more deeply with existing guests, and even reactivating dormant guests.

    In June of 2018, PLAYSTUDIOS launched its partnership with Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited, one of Canada’s largest gaming companies. Carrie Kormos, the company’s Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications acknowledged that “Providing rewards through the PLAYSTUDIOS platform introduced us to an audience of over 2 million customers that may not be familiar with the food & beverage and entertainment offerings at our Gateway properties.”

    Beyond the in-app benefits of the PLAYSTUDIOS model, partners work in conjunction with company’s playAWARDS marketing team, to assist with platform onboarding and offer optimization, as well as social media outreach and community event activations. The company recently hosted a large gathering of loyal myVEGAS fans at the Starlight Casino in Edmonton. Those in attendance were treated to an evening of free food and drinks, interactive games, and prize giveaways, with plenty of opportunities for an Instagram moment with the myVEGAS team and game characters.

    PLAYSTUDIOS is a developer of engaging casual games for mobile and social platforms. Founded by a team of experienced gaming and technology entrepreneurs, their apps combine the best elements of popular social games with established casino gambling mechanics. Players enjoy ever-growing content libraries and the opportunity to earn an unprecedented selection of valuable, real-world rewards from leading hospitality, entertainment, and leisure brands. Current award partners include MGM Resorts International, Wolfgang Puck, Cirque du Soleil, Resorts World, House of Blues, and Royal Caribbean International. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.playstudios.com.