Casino environments and trends change, and in the last ten years, evidence shows a change in how players gamble, what players gamble and where players gamble.
At last year’s Global Gaming Expo, John Acres said “Gambling at last is dead.” For support, the man who has been in the casino business for more than 30 years and invented the modern players-club card cited the plummeting appeal of spinning-reel machines for just about everyone under 40.
Many others are worried, too. Which is why, in the past five years, companies have been so eager to latch onto online gaming as a way to connect with new audiences. Even in New England, there is more and more interest in online gaming, since casino gambling isn’t necessarily producing the revenue needed. But, as Acres pointed out in his talk, an old product in a new bottle isn’t really a new product, as new as it looks.
Could betting on video games be the last chance for gambling? In 2009, Woody Levin debuted BringIt.com, a website that let gamers open accounts and bet against each other on a host of Xbox, PlayStation and Wii games. Accepting bets from $1 to $100,000 per matchup, the service appealed to hardcore gamers and soon attracted more than 100,000 users. But encountering some technical challenges, Levin chose to shift emphasis toward the social-gaming space, hosting mini-games where players competed for virtual currency. But he believes that wagering on video games has an enormous potential.
Well, you might think, Levin’s just a fanatic gamer with delusions of video-game grandeur. But it’s worth mentioning that, in February 2012, Levin’s startup—the one that let players bet on video games—was acquired by a large company.
The name of the company? IGT. As in, the biggest slot-machine manufacturer in the world, a company that will live and die with the popularity of gambling.
Casinos, of course, are slow to change. “In 25 years,” Valerio says, “when casino attendance is suffering and for-money video games are thriving, there may begin a period of synergy. Casinos will want new blood and fresh business roaming the floor and video-game makers will want a unique ‘live’ experience, and easy access to people wandering around eager to spend money.”
Casinos might jump in soon if only because so many of them find themselves in dire straits. Atlantic City casinos recently received permission to run their own fantasy-sports leagues. When your revenues are down 40 percent over the past six years, it’s not so much about taking risks as trying to survive.
So, it’s not difficult to imagine video gaming becoming the next online poker, with casinos providing facilities and a guarantee of fair play in return for a cut of the pot. Table games ran most casinos until the first slot machines. The first reel slots gave into video slots, and table games began to wane a little. Today, young people visit casinos for entertainment, food and especially clubs – evoking the affect of social media.
Things change. Casinos must change with the times. New England must continue to change with the newest gambling, entertainment, and dining trends, or gaming saturation isn’t what the only problem facing New England Gaming.
That’s all for now.