UNLV Study Finds Free Play Promotions Have Limited Impact

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A study run by Anthony Lucas of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV) has found that free play promotions in casinos are becoming less effective among some player demographics. The research found that scaling back free play incentives produced only very small changes to how often players visit and how much they spend.

Many casinos run free play promotional campaigns, offering players free credits or casino bonuses in order to encourage them to visit. However, Lucas, who is a professor at UNLV’s Harrah College of Hospitality, found that the promotions provide players with less of an incentive than previously believed.

Multi-Year Study into Player Behavior

For the study, Lucas examined several years’ worth of performance data from a tribal casino located in the Western United States. At the beginning of the study, 400 players were offered $15 of free play credits each week. In the following year, the participants were split into four groups with each group receiving a different amount of free play, from $0 up to $15.

The aim was to see how the amount of free play offered affected visitation frequency and the amount spent per visit. However, it was found that there was no significant drop in the amount spent after the free play was reduced.

While there was a 20% reduction in visitation among the group that received no free play, there was no similar drop in the groups receiving $5, $10, or $15.

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Free Play Promotions Not Achieving Aims

The research suggests that contrary to popular belief, free play is not essential for sustained player engagement. Casinos spend millions each year on free play promotions, but it seems that this money could be better spent, such as on customer service, renovations, new facilities, and so on.

Lucas has more than four decades of experience in the gambling industry and there is every chance that casinos will take note of his latest research. Casinos are continually looking for new marketing strategies and based upon Lucas’ findings, they may begin to invest money in some more innovative ideas.

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