During a Q1 2023 investor call, Caesars announced plans for a stand-alone casino app focused on slots. Details about the new app are sparse, but the company expects it to launch this summer. Several of Caesars’s largest competitors already have secondary products targeting the pure casino user, so this is becoming something of a trend.
Eric Hession, President of Caesars Sports & Online Gaming, was the first to raise the subject. He told investors:
Early in the third quarter, we will be launching a new standalone iCasino app. This exciting addition will allow us to drive better customer engagement through a dedicated application with a focus on increased game content, new proprietary offerings, and improved marketing capabilities.
Caesars CEO Tom Reeg also mentioned the plans later in the call:
Eric talked about the iGaming app that we will launch early in the third quarter. That’s going to improve our slot business in iGaming in particular, because our existing portal is through a sports-betting app and our existing iCasino business leans toward tables more than our peers. An iGaming forward app is going to change that for us.
(Quotes have been abridged slightly for clarity and readability.)
Oddly, until last month there already was a pure-casino, Caesars-branded online product. However, the company has just completed rebranding it with Tropicana Casino’s name. It’s a legacy site. Presumably, Caesars would prefer to start fresh and build a new casino audience with a more modern app.
The Turn From Sports to Online Casino
Just after mentioning the plans for the new app, Reeg described equalizing the company’s iGaming and sports betting presence as one prong of a three-part strategy to boost profitability.
It has been the theme of 2022 and 2023 that companies like Caesars are starting to deprioritize sports betting and look more at online casino gaming. Although sports betting is now legal in more than half of all states, the hype around it has started to fade. Companies are finding that the marketing battle is expensive, and the potential revenue often isn’t quite worth it.
Small, sports-focused brands like TheScore, TwinSpires, Fubo and SI Sportsbook have either been shutting down, leaving the US market or attempting to pivot to other verticals.
Among larger companies like Caesars, integrated sportsbook-casino apps were once the name of the game. Each company’s flagship app still incorporates both verticals. But now, all the biggest players have a secondary casino brand with little or no sports betting.
- FanDuel: Launched Stardust Casino in partnership with Boyd Gaming. Its parent company, Flutter, also owns PokerStars and will likely phase out the Fox Bet sportsbook associated with that brand.
- DraftKings: Acquired Golden Nugget Online Gaming, a former competitor that has always put the casino vertical first.
- BetMGM: Launched Wheel of Fortune Online Casino in New Jersey this year.
Not All Casinos Are Equal: The Slots vs. Tables Divide
As Reeg’s comment suggests, these secondary brands should focus more on slots than the integrated apps, where table games are important. Revenue data from Pennsylvania (which taxes slots and table games separately) makes it clear that the users of sports-focused brands have unusually high interest in table games compared to their pure-casino peers.
For instance, FanDuel’s licensing partner Valley Forge has seen 44% of its lifetime online casino revenue come from table games. By contrast, Parx, a local retail casino brand, has made only 14% of its online revenue from tables.