At the age of 59, I find myself considered to at the end of the “baby-boomer” era. Baby boomers are the casino industry’s bread and butter, with memories of the older age of casinos. Just think what has happened in gambling in our lifetime so far:
- Cashing out means getting a ticket instantly – no coins, no dirty hands, no hopper fills.
- Players Cards now not only track your gambling, and can provide the casinos data that is shared world-wide.
- In the 1970’s, two states had legalized casinos, and three states had State Lotteries – today, there are over 1500 casinos, horse tracks, dog tracks, resorts, and cruise ships in the United States, and 43 states now have casinos, if we include Massachusetts.
- The $9.99 is pretty much gone – the $29.99 is pretty much here to stay.
Ok, so, I get it – things change. And, we as baby-boomers may start to lose the attention from casinos we have come to expect, if they know what’s good for them. You see, there is a whole new school of fish to entice – the Millennials.
So, who are these “millennials” you ask? They are the largest demographic bubble, a member of the generation born from the early 1980s to late 1990s, especially in the United States and Canada, and a bigger group than the baby boomers. They are coming of age – the age that the casino industry needs to be aware of and shift their attention to. According to Andrew Cardno, Dr. Ralph Thomas and Alicia Hawkins in their article from Casino Enterprise Management, “This dynamic, socially active group has grown up using mobile devices and social media, and they consider the Internet old technology…..[we know] the money is in the 50-plus player. However, as we look to grow our business and to build for the future, it is the millennials we need to consider…..”
So what does this mean for casinos in New England and the expansion / competition in the next five years? Let’s see what Millennials prefer and try to prepose the changes needed for casinos to get an edge on this new gambling generation.
1) According to Paul Doucey, of CasinoJournal, Millennials tend to be “cool toward many mainstream social conventions and distrustful of people in general… preferring instead to form relationships through digital channels such as the Internet, mobile technology and social media…..This trend may not bode well for traditional land-based casino gaming, considering one of its primary attractions is the immersion into a live social environment.”
When considering the dependence Millennials have on social media, New England’s Casinos need to reinvent themselves. Checking out the use of social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc., I have to conclude New England Casinos in Maine & Rhode Island need to step it up. Trying to follow them on Twitter, for example, is like looking for a needle in a haystack – including very little to get Millennials to visit. An occasional tweet or post that Joe Shmoe just won a jackpot will not do it. And their websites are awkward and hard to get around, never mind giving little information that is constantly updated. Let’s remember how much we Baby Boomers are now becoming addicted to social media and smart phones – now consider those in their 20’s.
2) Millennials tend to be hit hard financially and most are not very solvent, with the recession hits and student loans beckoning their every dollar. And yet they tend to positive about the future, optimistic – and tend to like the casino experience, with ALL it’s amenities. Mr Doucey also says they “[defer] major life decisions such as marriage until they have their economic feet under them.” So, casino experiences have to be varied, fun and available for groups of friends putting off the responsibility of a family until they are financially better off.
So, New England’s Casinos can’t stay as they are. They need to move to the new generation, while keeping the older base of customers. MGM and Wynn both have the world-wide experience of dealing with all generations and will be in town “gunning” for every gambler they can steal away from the six casinos presently in RI, CT & ME. The club experience will be an important one to offer, and slots preference and play is changing. Making slot machines look and feel like popular video and social games is an obvious opportunity that manufacturers are starting to explore. Mobile gaming and sports wagering also appear to have greater appeal to this generation. At a recent G2E convention, Tom Hoskens, principal and director of strategic development for Cuningham Group Architecture, said “The gaming floor will be designed with social interaction in mind and feature open, multiple-level construction; boutique customer-focused experiences; immersive lounges and day clubs; and a sensory-overload of multimedia applications.”
All ten (and maybe more) casinos in New England will need to consider all of this to usher in the new generation of gamblers. Those that will stay with the tried and true needs of us Baby Boomers just might not be in business in 2020.
That’s all for now.