SaskGaming determined its current business needs were beyond what had been envisioned when its slot databases were originally created. Therefore, the first step in the process was assessing and cleaning the available data to enable a detailed categorization of relevant information to gain insights into slot performance to date.
The data needed to be reviewed and revised for consistency to allow the history of similar games to be tracked. This was a key challenge of the initiative because results of analysis can only be as good as the information that gets analyzed.
“It took a lot longer than we anticipated; in the end there were five iterations,” recalls David Koch, Analytics Specialist with SaskGaming.
Next, the team used this information to provide a best-case predictive forecast into how each game would perform in the year to come. In the process, it became possible to begin collecting insight into leading predictors of guest preference that would optimize profitability while supporting the integrity of fair and random play.
“Our databases lacked details about the attributes of individual games and machines,” explains Daradich, adding, “Now that we’ve seen what can be learned from this kind of information, we plan to redevelop and augment our data capture with an eye toward future analysis capabilities.”
Leveraging categorization and each game vendor’s market research, it became possible to isolate a surrogate to help it analyze options for new game purchases. Moving forward, the technology will allow SaskGaming to predict the potential impactofchangesonslotperformance based on ‘what if ’ scenarios. This provides much greater forecasting power than the traditional approach to decision making, which was limited to reports based on one variable, looking exclusively at historical data.
Finally, advanced optimization was utilized to determine the best approach to future business, considering factors such as physical space and budget. This information will help SaskGaming optimize its slot purchase options, including the analysis of which machines to replace and when to replace them, while also ensuring player experience is not hampered through down-time.
“In the end, the solutions offered by the test case promise a new perspective,” says Daradich. “Better yet, we were there to take part and see it happen. Every Friday as we met as a team, we considered the results and next steps together. It gave me the opportunity to become comfortable with, and have confidence in, the outcome.”
“To me, what’s different about this approach is no one is trying to isolate the one magic variable that matters above all else to customers and will make the business thrive for years to come,” adds Koch. “Rather, we’re simply identifying those games which customers find appealing even if we don’t know why. This solution has helped us to immediately improve our understanding of customer preferences. As our databases become richer with new game and machine attributes, we’ll also have stronger predictors of long-term performance, allowing us to make better decisions in the future.
Power in SaskGaming's hands
Competition in the entertainment market can be fierce. SaskGaming recognizes that with more competition for discretionary entertainment spending by customers, it needs to offer guests an entertainment experience that exceeds their expectations. As such, being able to make empirically sound decisions about which slots will best appeal to customers is more important than ever. The analytics solution enables users to move seamlessly through the entire process, from data collection to forecasting, prescriptive optimization, and reporting.
“To have the power to reasonably forecast future results and do those ‘what if ’scenarios at our convenience lets us make decisions about the timing and nature of machine replacements so as to achieve the most desirable business outcomes,” said Daradich.
An example for all
Using analytics, SaskGaming now has a new perspective on its games data, allowing the casino to use analytics to offer the right games, in the right locations to attract loyal and valuable customers. SaskGaming looks forward to considering the potential for slot floor analytics to improve its analysis capacity in other areas of its operations.
With flexible analytics solutions that can be implemented by any department at a casino from food and beverage to entertainment, it is easy for casinos to take a ‘sky’s the limit’ approach using analytics to transform the business planning process.
Craig Carothers is SAS's Canada Principal Demand Intelligence; Ivan Oliveira is SAS Director and Advanced Analytics Research and Development; and Emmanuel Pacheco is Gaming, Hospitality and Entertainment Sales Lead for SAS Canada. For more on SAS Canada, visit www. sas.com/Canada or contact Andrew Bowden, SAS Canada Marketing Specialist, at Andrew.Bowden@sas.com.