Online gambling must be a thrill in itself

Two articles in last week’s issue (MW last week) caught my eye. First, “The party’s over for online gambling” quoted the downbeat forecasts and plunging share price of PartyPoker’s owner as evidence that the boom may be coming to an end. Second, the results of a Quickwise survey “A

question of trust for gamblers” indicated that punters preferred “bricks-and-mortar” brands. Meanwhile, it was announced last week that 888 Holdings, the latest internet gambling stock to float, has valued its flotation at up to &£714m – not a trivial sum.

What should we conclude? Has the bubble burst or is the party just beginning? If there is still money to be made from online gambling brands, how can marketing best contribute to their growth to maximize value for their shareholders?

Online brands with no high street sister operation have an important task to accomplish: establishing trust. Punters assume that Ladbrokes.com and William Hill.com will still exist after the last race or the final whistle, and that they will be able to collect their winnings. “Pure-play” online brands must work hard to level the playing field (as it were).

However, this is just for starters. Spirit IC has worked closely with Cantor Sport and Cantor Spreadfair and we have learned that instilling confidence is not enough. In order to persuade online gamblers to beat a path to our virtual door, the communications (above, below and online) must motivate and, most importantly, tap into the excitement of betting.

The immediacy of online as an interface offers excitement in itself, but for the gambler to truly engage, we must communicate the thrill of betting (win or lose). To quote: “You can’t bore people into buying your product.”

The internet and gambling work superbly well together. A lot more money can be made in this sector, so this will inevitably encourage new entrants into the market. The winners in the online gambling world will be those that succeed in reassuring and exciting their customers simultaneously. Now there is a challenge for their agencies.

Mike Berry

Managing director

Spirit IC

London SE1

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