A Stanford University study that took place in 2008 proved that a natural link between sex and gambling existed. Articles reporting the evidence proclaim it to prove what we have known all along – that sex and gambling go together like peas and carrots. Certainly, Sin City earned its reputation on the back of both vices and where would a James Bond casino scene be without Rouletta Outinthat loitering around the craps tables in search of riches and fame. Yet, for all money that spins around the adult and gaming industries online, we’ve not seen this so-called natural partnership come together to make sweet financial love.
Strong iGaming establishments have tried, but even working alongside powerful and credible brands such as Playboy, Tila Tequila and Page3, they have struggled to reach beyond the example of a fleeting niche concept in to the realms of serious money spinning gaming. Even less credible brands such as Swank Poker have come and gone embarrassingly quickly for an adult site, and Roulette69’s conservative step towards a Microgaming facelift would please many an ageing porn star. The sum of all of this seems to indicate that sex and gambling’s online affair cannot grow beyond a casual fling.
The issue with the aforementioned examples is that the sexual aspect of their brand and product make-up was pure window dressing for what turned out to be from a player perspective, just another RNG casino or poker room. Sure the promotions could entail innuendo with $69 on offer here or there, but there is no genuine fulfilment to one of the two vices iGaming operations have tried to unite. They flattered to deceive their audience and consequently failed in terms of player volume and profitability.
The adult industry is the number one online industry in terms of revenue and volume – 25% of all internet searches are porn-related. Competitors work together far more coherently than in online gaming to ensure all round growth, and there is far more differentiation for discerning patrons and site visitors, things that are distinctly lacking in the iGaming world. What made us think that throwing a couple of models on to a homepage would tap in to this profitability?
Despite the natural link from a player perspective, there is currently too great a market intelligence divide for a quick fix to work. What it will take is an operation that can develop a far more intuitive product that allows players seeking adult-themed gaming to receive precisely that. Promotional strategy must go far enough to attract naturally tentative casino players linking from an affiliated adult site – this could transcend the unnecessarily great divide. Offering something that achieves this will no doubt receive significant attention from affiliate and strategic partners on both sides, interested in the opportunity of sending traffic to a repetitively yielding destination – not normally the case from an adult affiliate’s perspective, and in significantly higher volumes than a gaming affiliate would be used to.
From a future standpoint, both the adult and gaming online industries are reaching critical stages of their relatively young lives. Porn has traditionally gained success from the subscription based model, but is increasingly focusing on social networking in terms of outreach, with sites such as AdultFriendFinder gaining more and more traction. Mobile technology is also being adapted to cater for more personalised contact (apparently there is now a vibrating app for the iPhone) and virtual worlds, such as Second Life, are springing up and revelling in the demand for more targeted differentiation. This is all being down to safeguard the monetization of an industry that is technically in decline.
The proportion of people searching for porn related material online is growing at a lower rate than the overall internet population. When looking at the number of people entering the online world, there is less activity in the porn industry and more in social networking and communication. In brief, the Web is no longer the red light district it was in the mid-nineties and porn is adapting. Can the same be said of online gambling? If we cover the same areas, which carry as much resonance in terms of importance to gambling, we can see that the answer clearly understand the answer.
Without a doubt, gaming has yet to truly crack social networking sites. Mobile technology may or may not be at an advanced enough stage for secure, transactional gameplay to take place, but the gaming industry has yet to focus its attention on this ever-developing corner of the market and make it happen. Online communities are holed up in practical forums such as Casinomeister and TwoPlusTwo rather than venturing in to exciting new 3D virtual reality worlds. Sure, there will be critics out there who will question the demand for such evolution, but online gaming really should be at a stage where it is creating the demand through innovation.
This is an area where the multi-channel affiliate should be chomping at the bit, as the potential for effectively linking sex and gambling would create brand new keyword competition, a different audience and a potentially massive one at that.