In late January, Parx Casino wrote a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board urging it to limit online gambling license holders to just one skin once final regulations for the state are set. It also wants the one skin to share a brand – or very similar brand – to the licensee. So Parx’s poker site, for instance, would have to be something like Parx Poker, not Small Straight Poker or something. In response, online gambling operator 888 wrote to the PGCB in mid-February to explain why licensees need to be able to have multiple skins.
The letter was obviously self-serving, as 888 used it to hype itself up and it clearly wants to not only partner with a Pennsylvania casino, but to have at least some of the casino’s sites bear the 888 brand. 888 is the only online provider that operates in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, so being able to extend its brand into Pennsylvania would be very beneficial.
All that said, 888 did make some valid points. 888 wrote, in part:
We believe that our proven marketing abilities, along with our trusted international brand name, will be an asset to any local partner seeking to take its business online. Unlike the local property’s reputation, which is now associated only with an offline offering, our brand name (and those of other online operators) comes with a proven track record in the online industry. Allowing our partner to use not only its own brand but ours as well, would allow our partner to benefit from our international brand-recognition and marketing efforts, and will also inform players that they will be enjoying a world-class and popular offering.
The letter continued, explaining how the strategic use of skins for marketing and targeting certain customers just makes sense:
Furthermore, allowing properties to offer their services through multiple brands, will allow them to create a multi-tiered offering, combined of different sites appealing to different target audiences, each with its own “look and feel,” marketing approach, suite of games, bonus and promotion conditions, etc. Think of this as a casino having different rooms for different types of players, each appealing to a different demographic and different consumer preference. Experience from other jurisdictions shows that a multi-brand approach stimulates healthy competition between brands, and ultimately increases overall market size, resulting in larger gaming duty income for licensing jurisdictions.
888 also counters Parx’s notion that allowing multiple skins per licensee will allow operators and service providers (like 888 or PokerStars) to effectively get around the license cap imposed by the law (currently twelve, which corresponds to the number of casinos in Pennsylvania, but that will increase by one with the construction of a new Philadelphia casino). The company argues that it would still be the license holders that would operate the skins, not the software partners. Thus, all marketing expenses will be on the licensee, just as revenues would go to the licensee. License holders would be able to decide for themselves how they want to approach skins and marketing, without being artificially constrained by a one skin per licensee rule.
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