Are New Casinos Performing as Expected?

Over the past year, we have excitedly watched the opening of several new casinos along the east coast. For places like Atlantic City, these additions were expected to revitalize the city and mark a turning point in the local economy as the city responds to changing demographics and customer behavior. Cities further north in New York were also anticipating that the opening of the World Resorts Catskills location would be the key to bringing a virtually non-existent job market back to life. Now that these locations have been operating for a few months, it is time to take a look at how they have been doing and what the future might hold.

World Resorts Catskills Falls Still Gaining Momentum

www.hunter-mountain-catskills.jpg

Back in March, we took a closer look at how casinos were being used to revitalize upstate New York. The opening of the World Resorts Catskills was the culmination of over six years of campaigning by Governor Andrew Cuomo. He saw the casino as a way to provide the area with a much needed economic boost. After passing new legislation, the casino finally received the okay to begin building. Ultimately, the casino added over 2,000 new employees at wage rates well above the area’s average.

With the hopes of an entire region riding on the success of the casino, there has been a lot of pressure to succeed. Early numbers indicate a slow start, but these reports don’t necessarily tell the entire story. According to an earnings report that was filed in late June, the casino lost $58 million in the first five months. When the casino opened, they estimated revenue earnings at $250 million in the first year. A recent analysis by Moody’s Investor Service put that number closer to $150 million, however, the casino still has seven months to get on pace and meet expectations.

What the Numbers Don’t Say

World-resorts-catskills-in-debt.jpg

From the beginning, the resort and casino was designed to roll out in phases, so while parts of the casino opened in February, there has yet to be a full launch of all amenities. In December, a $33 million entertainment complex is on schedule to open, which should bring in additional tourists who may like to gamble, but also want to see a show and enjoy other forms of nightlife. This next phase of the project will include a hotel and other non-gaming amenities that will appeal to sports fans. Once this final portion of the casino opens, there is sure to be a significant spike in revenue.

The recent federal legalization of sports betting is also sure to provide a financial boon for the casino, which will help it meet projected performance goals. While New York state is still working out their own regulations, this major shift in legislation is expected to significantly increase revenue for existing casinos and act as a catalyst for all sorts of other betting operations.

Hard Rock Vs. Ocean Resort

hard-rock-casino.jpg

Further down the coast in Atlantic City, revenue numbers are looking more promising. While there have been some major closings in the past few years, the Hard Rock casino and the Ocean Resort both opened this year and the city has enjoyed its best month since 2010 with a revenue total of just under $300 million. These record breaking numbers are due, in part, to the successful performance of the Hard Rock Casino during its first full month or being open to the public. During July, the Hard Rock earned $32,386,465 which puts it in second place among a total of nine casinos.

However, these numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole story. The Ocean Resort opened a full 10 days into the month, giving them a real disadvantage in a head to head comparison. In addition, the Ocean Resort is one of the first casinos in Atlantic City to welcome regulated sports betting and this should be a major driver for revenue in the future. The casino that is able to most effectively leverage the popularity of sports betting may be the one that comes out on top.

For industry experts, it is no surprise that Atlantic City is beginning to pick up steam when it comes to earning revenue. The city has an established reputation and casinos have become such a part of the local economy that recruiting and hiring experienced workers is easy. They are also experts at running large casinos, hotels and restaurants that service thousands of people per day. With sophisticated technology and software like Casino Schedule Ease, they are able to easily organize workers and improve the customer experience by operating like a well-oiled machine.

When it comes to early reports on the World Resorts Catskills location, many are quick to negatively interpret the numbers, but it is important to keep in mind that after just five months in business, these reports don’t tell the full story. As the casino complex finalizes the last phases of construction, more amenities will be available to the public. A full-scale launch, paired with the introduction of sports betting, is sure to help the new casino meet initial expectations and provide an economic boost to an area that needs help.

 

What the New PA iLottery Means for Gambling

For years, online gambling and lotteries have been largely outlawed in the U.S. In the early days of the internet, online poker games were all the rage, but it didn’t take long for the government to shut down these types of games. Since then, gambling has been limited to casino environments or state run lotteries that require players to purchase tickets at designated retail locations. Now, technology and regulations have both advanced enough that some states are revisiting online gambling and using it to produce additional revenue. This most recent development clearly points to a future where casinos and states will be able to utilize technology to move the industry forward while also promoting responsible play.

Pennsylvania Launches iLottery

www.online-gambling-in-pennsylvania.jpg

On June 4th, 2018, Pennsylvania launched their iLottery, which is the first of its kind in the country. This program allows PA residents to play games on their computer or mobile device and win prizes of up to $250,000. The iLottery is designed to meet the demands of users and provide a more accessible mode of game play that can be used while on the go. In its first month, the lottery earned $21.6 million and hosted 45,000 new players. The extra revenue is slated to be used to support older residents in PA who need assistance.

Safeguarding Game Play

As mentioned above, the early days of online gambling were a bit like the wild west. The internet was a completely new tool and there was little regulation on any front. Ultimately, this left players open to dishonest companies looking to make a quick buck. It also meant that there weren’t any protections in place to help ensure responsible game play. Fortunately, all that has changed and the PA iLottery may provide a useful example of how states and other institutions can allow gambling while also protecting players.

The iLottery allows players to put certain settings in place that will help them adhere to customized limits and help them avoid spending beyond their means or getting too caught up in trying to win that big pot. Players can use time limits, spending limits and deposit limits to control their gambling. They can also opt to take a break for 30 days or even exclude themselves from being eligible to play for one to five years.

In addition, to play the iLottery, users must create an account and then make a deposit. Players aren’t allowed to use credit cards, which also helps reduce the risk that they will build debt through gambling. These safeguards should help mitigate any of the potential ricks associated with gambling and allow people to play more responsibly.

Opposition to Online Gambling

www.opposition-to-online-gambling.jpg

The road to Pennsylvania’s online iLottery has not necessarily been a smooth one. Even after the initial bill was passed, lawmakers showed strong opposition. Ultimately, they expressed fears that there wouldn’t be adequate regulations to ensure that underage people weren’t abusing the system. There was also some fear that the games would be addictive and people outside of PA would be able to access the system and participate illegally.

However, it appears that these arguments were largely unfounded. From the very beginning, PA’s legislation was specifically designed to avoid abuse and create an environment for safe and responsible gaming. We have clearly learned some lessons from the late 1990s when the internet was completely unregulated and people immediately looked for ways to make a dollar.

Perhaps the only real argument against online gambling is that it can become addictive. However, it is difficult to pin down any reliable statistics about how many people suffer from gambling addiction. There are so many organizations lobbying for their own interests that it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to gambling addiction. Those who oppose gambling on moral grounds have a tendency to inflate numbers and people within the industry downplay the problem. It doesn’t help that much of our information comes from self-reporting. We only know about incidents of addiction if the addicts themselves are willing to share their experience.

The most accurate estimate of gambling addiction indicates that it affects 1-3% of all Americans. Incidentally, gambling addiction is often paired with other addictions, such as alcohol and drug abuse. In order to help address concerns surrounding gambling addiction, the PA iLottery website prominently displays helpline numbers and other resources to help addicts deal with their problem. This is perhaps the best and only way to deal with addiction, which appears to simply be a part of human nature.

The Future of Online Gambling

www.the-future-of-online-gambling.jpg

Support for online gambling is picking up momentum in state’s across the country. As technology continues to improve, states are able to offer effective security, regulations and safeguards that solve many of the problems that caused online gambling to become taboo and illegal in the first place. As more states legalize online gambling, iLotteries and other forms of gaming that involve wagering and prize money, there will be increased pressure on the federal government to weigh in with an updated stance on the issue. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if we were to see gambling laws made on the federal level within the next few years.

The PA iLottery is just the latest noteworthy milestone in a larger trend that is seeing the casino and gaming industry fully embrace technology and what it might be able to do for business. Casinos are redesigning their spaces to accommodate large eSports arenas that can house hundreds of spectators. Traditional slot games are being replaced with more interactive games that encourage players to socialize. Behind the scenes, technology is reducing fraud and cheating and software, like Casino Schedule Ease, is helping casinos attract and retain customers by providing a new level of customer service.

After less than two months in operation, the PA iLottery has generated significant revenue and there haven’t been any problems with fraudulent use, etc. If the iLottery continues to demonstrate that the combination of technology and commonsense regulations can support safe online gambling, it won’t be long before other states adopt this type of gaming. From there, the sky just might be the limit when it comes to how technology can improve the casino and gaming industries.

 

 

 

How Poker Became an International Sensation

Now that the World Series of Poker has become a major sporting event with millions of fans and pots totaling well over $8 million, it is hard to believe that poker began at a single table at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas, which is now known as Binion’s Gambling Hall. From that small table, located between the bathrooms, the poker phenomenon quickly built steam over the years and is now widely played in homes and casinos around the world. Here is a look at how the game has evolved and become the international sensation it is today:

There is some  disagreement about the exact origin of poker. Some maintain that the  game is a direct descendant of  As-Nas, a popular 16th century Persian card game. Others trace the game back to French roots, but it is not entirely clear how our modern version of poker came into being. While early variations of poker have been played across the world for centuries, it wasn’t until 1970 and the inaugural World Series of Poker tournament that the game began its meteoric rise in popularity. Today, modern poker champions are household names and immortalized in the Poker Hall of Fame.

The first poker tournament attracted top players, but it was an exclusive club. Most of the players knew each other personally, which gave the event a special feel. Players treated the main event like a reunion and enjoyed the chance to face-off with familiar players and friends. By 1982, there were just 52 players in the tournament. Later that decade, satellite tournaments were introduced and people from around the world were given the chance to win their way into the tournament through local play. Today, the tournament features over 45 variants of the game and over 8,000 participants.

Poker Goes Online

During the 1990s,  poker went online and this move played a huge role in the exponential growth of the game in the coming years. Planet Poker was the first online poker gaming site and others soon followed. In 2003. Chris Moneymaker won his berth in the World Series game on the website PokerStars. He went on to win the entire tournament and spark the imagination of thousands of amateur players. His unlikely rise to poker stardom showed that it was possible to go from relative obscurity to become a millionaire player in the blink of an eye.

Legal Challenges

www.legal-challenges-to-poker.jpg

Online gambling in the U.S. was outlawed in 2006 under President Bush. After the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was passed, players had to settle for games that didn’t include any wagering or exchange of money. However, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and other organizations weren’t about to let this law stand without a fight. Over the years, lobbyists and organizations fought to bring back legal online poker.

The battle over online poker had many ups and downs over the years. By 2010, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a law that made online gambling a felony. In 2012, a New York federal judge made the ruling that poker should not be labeled as gambling because it requires a certain amount of skill and isn’t entirely up to pure luck. Since then, certain states have made the move to legalize online gambling and allow residents to play for money. Currently, residents in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania can legally play online poker.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice seized several major online poker website domain names, which also meant that the player’s accounts were frozen. A couple of the sites were charged with running a Ponzi scheme that took a reported $300 million from players. Some of the cases were settled when the companies paid some hefty fines, but this incident, which became known as Black Friday, meant that online poker was on the government’s radar.

The World Series of Poker may have introduced a larger audience to poker, but moving the game online democratized poker and allowed anyone to try their hand at winning huge pots. Players have been able to hone their skills from the comfort of their home without having to pay huge buy-ins to get access to legitimate tournaments that are a stop on the path to the World Series tournament.

The Future of Online Poker

www.dogs-playing-poker.jpg

Based on the popularity and revenue earnings of online poker in the few states where it is legal, it is likely that other states will begin to regulate and legalize online poker. This trend reflects both evolving ideas about gambling and a society that is more connected than ever before. There is no industry, including the casino and gambling industry, that has been untouched by advances in technology. As more aspects of the casino industry go online or become automated, it only makes sense that online gambling games, including poker, will also continue to become more prevalent and accepted across the country.

Online poker is part of the casino industry’s strategy to attract a new demographic of customers. Millenials are drawn to more interactive gaming experiences that include a social factor. As a result, casinos are moving away from solitary slot machines and changing their layout to provide an environment that feels more like a lounge. Even the backend of casino management is receiving a technology makeover with software programs like Casino Schedule Ease, which simplifies the usually complicated job of scheduling a full staff that is required to keep a casino up and running 24/7.

If you look at the rise of poker from unknown origins to a single table in Las Vegas and finally on to an international poker tournament that rivals other major sporting events, it may seem like an extraordinary story. However, when viewed in the greater context of advent of the internet and changing mores around gambling, the current popularity of poker and the prestigious World Series of Poker Tournament feels more like an inevitability. While there has been resistance throughout the years when it comes to fully legalizing online poker, it seems that advancements in technology are pushing the game and the entire casino industry forward more strongly than specific laws. As a result, more players will have the opportunity to break into the top tier of players, which is a truly unique aspect of poker that gives it an added draw.

 

 

 

What the Las Vegas Labor Battles Mean for the Future

Up until June 3rd,  about 25,000 MGM Resorts International employees were ready to go on strike and cause a major disruption to business along the Vegas strip. The company and the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 were able to reach a tentative agreement that will keep casinos open and employees off the picket line for now, but this latest dispute is indicative of a larger issue that Las Vegas and other gambling centers around the world will need to address in the coming years.  Casino workers are facing increasing job insecurity as technology and automation replaces workers and this is creating serious unrest and conflict that will only continue to build.

www.las-vegas-strike.jpg

Things first came to a head with the expiration of the existing contract, which was set to end on June 1st and negotiations for a new five-year contract seemed to be going nowhere. While the negotiations have covered wage increases and workload limits, they have also been used to express concerns about industry wide automation that is replacing workers with robotic technology. According to recent studies, casino workers have good reason to be concerned. In the next 15 years alone, 47% of all U.S. jobs will be at risk of being taking over by artificial intelligence and other automated technology. When researchers looked at just the Las Vegas job market, that number jumped to 65.2%, which means that over half of Vegas workers could lose their jobs despite steady industry growth.

Robots are Taking over Las Vegas

www.the-tipsy-robot-bar.jpg

One sign of things to come is the Tipsy Robot bar located in the Planet Hollywood Casino. While the theme of the bar was designed to create a fun customer experience, you can imagine that it is unsettling for bartenders to see robots creating perfectly poured and proportioned drinks at the rate of 120 drinks per hour. The robots even dance and entertain customers.

Robots are also taking over concierge and room service duties. Interactive robots can provide directions, information about local destinations and hotel services and wayfinding maps. Customers can also digitally place food and drink orders and their room service will be delivered by a robot. Clearly, the technology is available and hotels and casinos are beginning to embrace its capabilities and incorporate automated solutions into their business model.

How Can Casinos Protect Human Jobs?

www.protecting-human-jobs.jpg

Of course, the big drawback of relying more heavily on robots is the human factor. People will lose their jobs. Should casinos hold on to increasingly antiquated business processes just to save jobs that will only become increasingly obsolete as technology continues to advance at such a rapid pace? It is a tough question that simply isn’t going to go away.

Casino workers unions are making the argument that technology can be incorporated without totally eliminating human interactions. According to the Culinary Union Worker’s secretary-treasurer, “We support innovations that improve jobs, but we oppose automation when it only destroys jobs.” Another spokesperson made the point that workers should be retrained instead of completely laid-off and discarded. While this would certainly be an ideal solution, it remains to be seen whether retraining is part of the casino industry’s long-term plan for phasing new technology into all aspects of their businesses.

With all this talk of job losses, automation can begin to seem like a dirty word, but it is important to remember that much of this technology actually improves lives and makes businesses more efficient. For example, Casino Schedule Ease is a popular software scheduling program that streamlines and automates certain administrative tasks and ensures that employees are able to work their ideal shifts and easily request time off. In this instance, technology eases the burden on managers and improves the workplace for employees. Ultimately, this also creates a better customer experience. In this case, automating specific tasks benefits everyone involved.

Essentially, casinos and businesses across all industries, are being faced with a digital revolution and the way they handle it will have lasting consequences. Without a transition strategy, the switch to automation will feel sudden and brutal. However, there is the option to slowly and deliberately incorporate new technology as workers are retrained and given new employment opportunities. If nothing else, hopefully, these negotiations have made it clear to both workers and casinos that the tides are turning and now is the time to prepare for a future where robots and AI will replace workers. There is simply no use in continuing to fight this reality. Instead, everyone involved needs to acknowledge what is at stake and start developing a strategy that will protect workers while also embracing technology.

Where Negotiations Currently Stand

www.las-vegas-worker-negotiations.jpg

As it stands, MGM workers were able to reach a tentative agreement that provides an immediate raise along with yearly wage increases for the next five years. However, another approximately 25,000 workers, who belong to other unions and help keep 25 hotels running, have yet to reach a final deal and could still go on strike. There is no set day for the strike, but if it happens, it would be the first strike in the city since 1984.

For the City, a strike couldn’t come at a worse time. The Vegas Golden Knights have made the Stanley Cup play-offs in their first season in the league. The rest of the strip is also experiencing one of the most profitable periods in recent memories as more people are enjoying disposable income and taking advantage of all the city has to offer.  A strike would end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars a day, which gives workers some pretty strong negotiating leverage.

The tension between employees, businesses and technology is one that is happening in industries all over the world, but the recent contract negotiations in Las Vegas helped bring this problem further into the light. While it looks like things may be quieting down on the strip, there are still contracts being negotiated and the MGM agreement only spans five years. It is also clear that robots will become increasingly visible and workers won’t be able to fight off the changing nature of the workforce for much longer.

Supreme Court Ruling: Sports Betting Is Now Legal in US

On May 14th, the Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which had become a federal law in 1993 under George H.W. Bush. At the time, sports betting was already illegal, but the law took things one step further by preventing states from being able to regulate and earn tax revenue from betting. Nevada was grandfathered in under the law, which means that it has been the only state to allow sports betting over the past 25 years. New Jersey filed a lawsuit, claiming that the law was unconstitutional and in a 6-3 decision, the court sided with the state and effectively struck down PASPA. So what does this all mean?

www.us-supreme-court-building.jpg

How Big is Sports Betting in America?

Make no mistake about it; Just because sports betting has been illegal in 49 states, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a thriving industry. The underground market makes approximately $150 billion a year. Legal sports gambling in Nevada earns just $5 billion. That is a enormous amount of money that states want to the right to tax. States argue that bookies, who have been running an extensive black market fueled by the internet, are the only ones who have really been profiting off the law.

Who Is Against Legal Sports Betting?

www.football-player.jpg

You might be surprised to learn that the NCAA, MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA have all strongly opposed legal sports betting and supported the  PASPA as an instrument to protect the integrity of their games. In 1992, the sitting commissioner of the NFL, Paul Tagliabue, had this to say to Congress:

Sports gambling threatens the character of team sports. Our games embody our very finest traditions and values. They stand for clean, healthy competition. They stand for teamwork. And they stand for success through preparation and honest effort. With legalized sports gambling, our games instead will come to represent the fast buck, the quick fix, the desire to get something for nothing. The spread of legalized sports gambling would change forever—and for the worse—what our games stand for and the way they are perceived.

The major professional and amateur leagues fear that bringing more money into the sports arena will undermine the very things that make sports great and lead to more corruption and games that are intentionally thrown. Now that PASPA has bee declared unconstitutional, teams may be forced into partnerships and sponsorships with bookmakers or risk completely losing out on any slice of the financial pie.

Opponents of PASPA

Those who have long been opposed PASPA claim that making sports betting legal will actually make it more difficult to fix games. They argue that by bringing betting into the open, it will be easier to regulate and monitor. Leagues and regulatory agencies will be able to identify irregular behavior and prevent corruption.

From an economic standpoint, states stand to gain billions of dollars in revenue and some experts estimate that 1.4 million jobs will be created. Legal sports betting will also help money stay in the states instead of being shipped overseas, which is where a lot of gamblers place their bets now.

Finally, proponents of legalized sports gambling argue that addiction and other illegal activities related to betting will decline. Compulsive gamblers will feel less stigmatized and be more likely to seek out help. Gamblers will also be operating in a more regulated environment, which means more reputable bookies and more fair deals. While a lot of this is speculation, there is no arguing that individual states to stand to gain a lot from being able to regulate and tax sports betting without federal oversight.

What’s Next for Sports Betting?

www.new-jersey.jpg

Many states have already been pushing through legislation in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling. That means that they are primed and ready to pass sports betting laws and quickly implement the practice throughout the state. In fact, one sports bookie in New Jersey has already built a booth at Monmouth Park and is ready to open. Casinos throughout Atlantic City are also gearing up to incorporate sports betting in their locations. New Jersey has been preparing for this legal shift for some time, but other states up and down the east coast are also looking forward to benefiting from this new revenue stream.

Delaware is likely to be the next state to enact sports betting laws. They have been trying since 2009 to expand current sports betting options and are currently about 90 days from being able to enact specific legislation. Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are all expected to follow closely behind with a total of about 20 states legalizing sports gambling within the next year.

Don’t expect the Federal government to give up on their case though. Ultimately, the Supreme Court is only tasked with deciding whether a law is constitutional, not whether it is fundamentally right or wrong. This leaves plenty of space for Congress to go back and create another law that will pass constitutional muster. The fight over legalized sports betting is anything but over, however, it will be years before there are any major changes.

For now, states, bookies, casinos and major sports leagues have no choice but to adapt and find the best ways to move as quickly as possible to address the new challenges associated with a $150 billion industry instantly becoming available.

  • States will have to decide how they are going to regulate betting and enact laws that leagues, gamblers and venues can accept.
  • Bookies may be looking to expand their operations while also complying with new laws.
  • Casinos and other betting venues will have to hire more personnel, which means a greater demand on resources. Betting booths may need to be installed along with additional employees and hardware and software. Casino Schedule Ease could serve as a vital tool during this time of transition and expansion.
  • Leagues and individual team will need to consider whether they want to partner will specific bookmakers and what steps they will take to reduce the likelihood that money will play a factor in how games turn out.

While it remains to be seen exactly how the recent Supreme Court ruling will affect sports and the gambling industry, overturning PAPSA marks a historic decision and a new era.

 

Best Restaurants Located inside Las Vegas Casinos

In recent years, Las Vegas has become home to world-class entertainment with some of the biggest names in music taking up permanent residence. At the same time, the town has become one of the premier food scenes in the country as casinos look for more ways to attract visitors and offer a unique experience. Today, the strip attracts some of the biggest chefs and plays host to a wide range of restaurants that serve up gourmet food at a variety of price points. For those who want to enjoy some great food as they gamble, here are some must visit restaurants that are located right in Las Vegas casinos.

Michael Mina Seafood at the Bellagio

You know a restaurant must be good when it is simply named after the chef. Michael Mina is an award winning Michelin-star chef who has a clear passion for seafood. The menu features only the freshest ingredients and focuses on seasonal dishes and unique takes on classic seafood recipes. Many of the offerings come directly from Mina’s cookbook. To enjoy a well-rounded dining experience, consider ordering from the tasting menu and asking for wine pairing recommendations. This is the best strategy for sampling as much as possible and experiencing how the right wine can bring out the flavors of a well-designed dish.

Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand

Joel Robuchon has been dubbed the “Chef of the Century” and is the mastermind behind the only Las Vegas restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. His French cuisine can be sampled through a 6-course or 16-course meal. This is fine dining at its best, so be prepared for a more formal venue. Notable dishes include French classics like steak tartar and free-range quail.

Guy Savoy at Caesar’s Palace

Guy Savoy is a world-renowned French chef and owner of 5 restaurants. While most of his establishments are located in the heart of Paris, Las Vegas visitors have the unique opportunity to eat at his only restaurant outside of France. The location is small and intimate, which helps create a true dining experience. Be prepared to spend top dollar on your meal, but the cost is worth being able to eat at a two star Michelin restaurant right in the heart of Las Vegas. Don’t leave without sampling the famous artichoke and black truffle soup, which has helped the restaurant to earn the AAA Five Diamond Award and the Forbes Five Star Award.

Estiatorio Milos at the Cosmopolitan

If you aren’t a fan of French cuisine, then consider visiting Estiatorio Milos, a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant that prides itself on offering the freshest seafood available. Once you are seated and ready to order, you will be taken over to a cooler where you will be able to choose the exact fish you want to eat for dinner. Your choice of delicacies will then be expertly prepared and served up with fresh, seasonal vegetables and delicious sides.  Compared to other dining options, the prices are relatively affordable with entrees ranging from about $30 to $50. While you can always opt for the lamb chops or filet mignon, it would be a shame not to sample some of their fresh seafood during your visit.

Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas

Gordon Ramsay is probably one of the most recognizable names and faces in the culinary world. He trained under Guy Savoy and has hosted and starred in numerous television shows where he is known for demanding excellence and losing his temper now and then. While you might not want to work for him, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat one of his steaks at Paris Las Vegas.

The atmosphere is a little more loud and energetic than some of the other restaurants on our list, which gives it a more causal feel. The dining area is meant to evoke the atmosphere of busy London streets and includes a giant Union Jack flag on the ceiling. Whether you order the ribeye or Kobe beef cap, you won’t be disappointed.

Holstein’s at The Cosmopolitan

https://holsteinsburgers.com/

If you want to enjoy a hearty meal without having to worry about spending a fortune or putting on some formal attire, then swing by Holstein’s for what some say are the best burgers in Las Vegas. Keep in mind that these aren’t your average burgers.  They offer over 25 gourmet burgers with creative toppings and recommended beer pairings for a full dining experience. Also, be sure to save room for dessert because you don’t want to miss out on sampling one of their giant and famous shakes that come topped with all sorts of extras, including an entire donut.

The Buffet at Wynn

www.wynn-buffet-restaurant-las-vegas.jpg

No Las Vegas restaurant list would be complete without mentioning at least one buffet. The Buffet at the Wynn hotel and casino has long been regarded as one of the best options in town. The dining area is bright, colorful and full of beautiful flower arrangements that will make you feel transported to a different place. Food choices come from around the world and the buffet includes 15 live cooking stations and over 120 different dishes. You can sample new foods and enjoy your favorites as prepared by world-class chefs. If your brought your appetite to Vegas, then the Buffet at Wynn is worth checking out.

If you have never been to Las Vegas or it has been while since your last visit, you will be amazed to see what area casinos have to offer. As casinos work to attract new customers and stand out from the competition, there has been an incredible influx of technology along with entertainment and dining options. The casino floors are being revolutionized by new games, hospitality is being improved with management and scheduling solutions like Casino Schedule Ease and the biggest names in food, music and entertainment are taking up residence in Las Vegas. You don’t have to travel any further than the strip to experience some of the best food in the world.

The High-Tech World of Casinos

When you think of technology, places like Silicon Valley probably come to mind, but you might be surprised to learn just how high-tech gambling destinations like Las Vegas have become. With millions of tourists visiting every year and billions of dollars at stake, casinos rely on a wide range of technology to operate more efficiently, create a better customer experience, improve safety and encourage visitors to spend more money. Here are just a few of the technology based tools that help keep Las Vegas casinos on the cutting-edge:

Anti-Cheating Technology

anti-cheating-technology.jpg

You have probably seen at least one movie where savvy criminals are able to beat the house, but in real life, it is incredibly difficult. Almost all of the technology that is designed to prevent and catch cheating is completely invisible, so gamblers don’t even know they are being monitored. Surveillance begins the moment you pull onto the casino property with license plate scanners that match information against a database of cheaters and gambling addicts. Biometric face recognition can also be used to identify unwelcome visitors.

At the tables, both cards and chips are now commonly equipped with tracking information. A system called Angel Eye uses cards that are printed with unique barcodes in invisible ink. This prevents any card switching. Small homing chips can also be embedded in casino chips. Authorized chips will emit a signal that is detected by reading equipment at the cashing booth. Any counterfeit chips can quickly be identified.

Powerful Analytics

powerful-analytics-technology.jpg

In the past, pit managers made adjustments to the gaming floor based on their own observations and years of experience in the casino business. There wasn’t a system in place to test the performance of changes or measure results. Basically, what games were being featured and where they were placed was all left to educated guesses.

Today, casinos are using data and predictive modeling to measure specific ROIs and make more informed decisions. In addition to using data to determine the best placement of games, analytics are being used to decide which customers are offered special deals on hotels and meals. Customers who are more apt to gamble and spend a certain amount at the casino are offered a free dinner or a discounted stay at the hotel. By identifying customers who are more likely to gamble, the casino is able to practice highly targeted marketing and increase revenue.

Analytics can also be used to identify trends that might be an indication of cheating. TableEye21 uses an overhead camera and a variety of other technology to track what cards are being played and how much is being wagered. At the same time, advanced software is analyzing all the information and providing detailed stats that can reveal if a player is counting cards and if the dealer might be working with some of the players at the table.

IBM’s Relationship Resolution software is another analytics tool that can detect larger cheating rings. Using massive amounts of data, the software can identify relationships that wouldn’t be obvious at first glance. For example, the software might identify a playing trend only to discover that the dealer and winning player were college roommates. While casinos were the first to use this technology, the government quickly recognized its powerful implications and adopted the software following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Scheduling Solutions

casino-scheduling-technology.jpg

Software is also playing an important role solving scheduling challenges, which in turn improves employee job satisfaction and leads to a better customer experience. Imagine working as a scheduling manager at a busy Las Vegas casino. You have hundreds of employees with different skill sets and preferred schedules and a casino that needs a capable staff 24/7. The logistics of effectively trying to place everyone while also taking into account unexpected emergencies, is an organizational nightmare. That is exactly why Casino Schedule Ease was invented.

Casino Schedule Ease allows managers to work with a visual map of the casino floor and easily assign employees according to when they can work and where they perform the best. The software also streamlines the communication process by providing a single portal where employees can request days off and managers can see who is available to fill slots. Ultimately, this technology frees up time for managers while also working to get the most out of each employee.

Increased Safety and Security

casino-security.jpg

As discussed in a recent blog post, casinos are looking for new ways to improve security without introducing obtrusive solutions that take away from the fun environment and put visitors on edge. Having to walk through a metal detector doesn’t exactly provide a warm and welcoming greeting, but it is the most effective way to identify weapons and prevent them from entering the building. That is why more forward thinking casinos have already incorporated invisible metal detectors at all their entrances. These devices can’t be seen by visitors, but are constantly at work and being monitored by uniformed and undercover security personnel.

Enterprise Level Content Management

Paperwork and casinos don’t seem like two words that would go together, but the average casino produces 45,000 pages of documents a year. That is a lot to keep track of and manage. From human resources to accounting, casinos rely on many of the same departments and back-office components that any other average business needs to operate. That is why many casinos are going digital and getting rid of paper documents altogether. Not only does this approach streamline communications, it also reduces costs and provides better access to important information.

When it comes to casinos, the use of technology goes well beyond new games. Casinos rely on a wide variety of hardware, software and services to better manage their facilities and their employees while also constantly working to improve the customer experience. In fact, the items list above represent just a small portion of the technology that casinos use on a daily basis. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes so that visitors can have a safe and pleasant experience.

 

 

How Casinos are Working to Improve Security

Recent events have heightened anxieties over safety and forced hotels, entertainment venues and casinos to re-examine their security and emergency response plans. Mass shootings have been a harsh reminder that no one is immune from these seemingly random acts of violence and made it clear that the hospitality industry has to take additional measures to make sure that guests feel safe. The challenge is that the presence of metal detectors and uniformed guards can actually make guests more aware that safety is a concern and cause unease. This means that venues need to implement subtle security solutions that still allow guests to have fun and enjoy their stay without constant reminders of potential threats. It is a complicated issue and one worth taking a closer look at.

Casinos Could Be Held Liable for Shootings

It is an unfortunate truth that at this point in our history, mass shootings are considered “foreseeable.” This type of violence has reached a level of saturation that it is no longer acceptable to say that we didn’t see it coming or there was no way to prevent it. Essentially, casinos are responsible for recognizing and preventing this type of threat. In the future, it is feasible that casinos could be held legally liable for a shooting on their property. This puts added pressure on security teams to improve safety and institute preventative measures.

What’s the Best Security Solution?

At the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, where a gunman killed 58 people and injured almost 500 by firing into a crowd of concert goers from his hotel room, metal detectors and X-ray machines were immediately implemented. However, these extra measures are set to be phased out over time because they are simply too inconvenient. Guests don’t want to have to wrangle their luggage and go through security lines just to be able to check into their room. Hospitality is supposed to be about creating an enjoyable customer experience and while metal detectors might work on a practical level, they also present some real challenges when it comes to creating a fun experience.

Casinos and hotels have also relied heavily on security cameras to monitor guests, but these measures do little to actually prevent incidents. A camera might be a deterrent to some, but they certainly aren’t enough to identify someone with a gun and ill intentions. Consider the fact that the Mandalay Bay shooter was able to bring in duffle bags full of weapons and go completely unnoticed. High powered assault rifles can be broken down and stowed in suitcases, which wouldn’t raise any alarm unless they were identified by a metal detector.

Wynn Casinos Provide a Look at the Future of Security

metal-detector-for-security.jpg

Casino magnate Steve Wynn has been warning that Las Vegas is a perfect target for some years only to be labeled as paranoid. Despite this criticism, he has been quietly working to beef up security at his properties for some time and has managed to incorporate less intrusive solutions. While many of the measures are kept private, we do know that there are invisible metal detectors at every entrance and hundreds of undercover security personnel who are constantly patrolling the floor. These guards work on two hour shifts to prevent boredom and ensure that they continue to stay alert and vigilant. There are also trained handlers with dogs that can sniff out bombs and drugs. While many thought that Wynn was worrying too much, many casino owners may now be looking to him as an example of how to handle security.

Going Low-Tech

hotel-key-app.jpg

There is an app for practically everything, including new mobile room keys, but this technology is problematic when it comes to hotel and casino security. High-tech tools tend to eliminate the need for guests to interact with the staff, which means fewer opportunities to observe strange behavior or notice red flags. Well-trained hotel staff can be one of the most important security tools. This means that while the rest of the world might be going mobile, hotels and casinos are better off staying low-tech and encouraging more personal interactions.

Moving forward, casinos will have to think more like the secret service and be aware of vulnerabilities. This means monitoring rooftops, having sniper teams in place and organizing events so that there are clear evacuation plans. There has to be a clear plan for both preventing an attack and responding to a shooting in a way that limits the number of casualties and injuries.

Ultimately, the best way to improve security comes down to people. While there are some high-tech solutions that can be unobtrusively incorporated in a way that doesn’t distract or inconvenience guests, security personnel and hotel staff are the best line of defense. Casinos need to invest in targeted training that teaches staff what to look for and put in place a clear procedure for reporting any suspicious behavior.

poker-table.jpg

This also means that casinos will need to implement better staff management strategies to ensure that there are enough staff and undercover security personnel moving on the floor and stationed at entrances. Scheduling software, like Casino Schedule Ease, will serve as an invaluable tool when it comes to making sure that hundreds of employees are in the right locations. Software will also make it easier to constantly rotate security experts so that they can stay alert.

Las Vegas and other gambling hubs host millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, that also means that these locations are prime targets for people looking to inflict maximum harm. It is a sad reality, but one that can’t be ignored. For casinos and hotels, the challenge then becomes one of providing adequate security without introducing new levels of inconvenience. When it comes to technology based solutions, invisible metal detectors are some of the best tools available. However, the best way casinos can invest in and improve security is through staff training. Staff should be constantly interacting with guests and on alert for suspicious behavior. Without a well trained security team and staff, it will be easy for attackers to go unnoticed.

 

 

 

 

Casino News Round-Up: What You Need to Know

Things are heating up around the world when it comes to the casino and gaming industry. New regulations are being introduced, casinos are opening and existing complexes are expanding to incorporate more opportunities for shopping and entertainment. All of these happenings reflect emerging trends that are worth taking a closer look at, so we have gathered up some of the most important and revealing stories to help keep you up-to-date.

Russian Casino Turns Focus to Amenities

www.tigre-de-cristal.jpg

In many ways, Russia is a new market for casinos and gaming. In 2015, the Tigre De Cristal, which is owned and operated by a Hong Kong-based firm, opened in Murav’inaya Harbor and became the first casino in the region. The initial phase of construction included 121 hotel rooms and suites. Over the course of just a few years of operation, the casino has had trouble accommodating visitor demand and now plans to add 500 more rooms. This second phase of construction will also focus on adding other amenities, including: shops, a golf course, a ski resort, entertainment facilities, etc.

While this might not be breaking news in the US, it does give an indication of what customers and gaming enthusiasts expect from today’s casinos. Not only will casinos have to incorporate more sophisticated and modern gaming options, they will have to provide a more comprehensive experience that provides year-round activities. For some casinos, this trend may signal the need for a major shift in strategy.

Cherokee Nation to Open New Casino

www.chrokee-casino.jpg

Russian and Asian partners clearly have a vision for the future of the gaming industry and are taking immediate measures to ensure their new casino meets the changing demands of customers. The Cherokee Nation is also taking steps to upgrade their facilities and update their strategies in an effort to meet these same challenges. The Cherokee Nation has been operating casinos throughout the US for well over 20 years, but they also seem to be taking notice that traditional gambling models might not be the best approach in a modern world.

As a result, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is opening a new branch of their Tahlequah location that will replace the existing casino.  Construction broke ground on March 26, 2018 and the Cherokee Springs Plaza is scheduled to open in 2019. This new complex will feature more space for entertainment and dining along with a luxury golf course. The hope is that all the amenities will attract lucrative convention contracts.

Las Vegas Opens First eSports Arena

www.luxor-esports-arena.jpg

Time and again, we have talked about the evolution of gaming and its effect on the gambling. If you have been skeptical about how far Vegas-style casinos would stray from traditional games, then it is time to take a look at the first eSports arena located in the Luxor casino, which opened to the public on March 27, 2018. This 30,000 square-foot complex will allows visitors to participate in multiplayer games, creating a more competitive and interactive gaming experience. The arena will host classic games, like Pong and Pac-Man, along with more modern and sophisticated games.

The Las Vegas eSports arena is just one of six complexes that is the result of a partnership between MGM Resorts International and Allied Sports. Ultimately, the Vegas location is meant to be the flagship destination that will host championship events and televised competitions. For those who have been wondering about the future of gaming and the viability of slot machines in a market that is increasingly dictated by the preferences of Millennials, the eSports arena is a good sign of what is to come.

New Hampshire Won’t Join East Coast Gambling Trend

www.welcome-to-new-hampshire-road-sign.jpg

In recent years, we have watched as more states along the east coast have loosened restrictions on gambling and even passed amendments to allow for the construction of Vegas-style casinos, complete with hotels and entertainment. Typically, those pushing for new casinos are interested in improving the economic conditions for residents in local economies. However, these measures are often met with a lot of resistance.

Just recently, New Hampshire once again voted against legalizing gambling. State Senator Lou D’Allesandro has been a staunch advocate in favor of legalized gambling for the past 20 years. He continues to argue that New Hampshire is losing out on revenue while states up and down the east coast are capitalizing on this industry. While the vote was close, 11-10, the state will continue their ban on gambling, perhaps to the relief of neighboring states who don’t want to have to deal with increased competition.

What Does it All Mean?

There are some major takeaways from these stories and trends:

  1. Younger customers, who now make up the bulk of casino business, are more interested in an experience than simply sitting at the tables and slot machines. For casinos, this means providing more entertainment options and modernizing management tools in order to provide a more seamless experience. From adding golf courses to incorporating scheduling software, like Casino Schedule Ease, organizations are going to have to go the extra mile to win over new customers. Perhaps most importantly, this is true whether you are doing business in Russia, China or Oklahoma.
  2. When it comes to modern gambling, multiplayer is the name of the game. As we can see from the opening of the first eSports arena in Vegas, it isn’t too much about the game, but the competitive experience. People are flocking to the arena to play old-school video games like Pac-Man with the added draw that they will be directly competing against other players and can experience a fully immersive day of gaming.
  3. While gambling laws and restrictions are becoming more relaxed, especially along the east coast, there is still a lot of skepticism around gambling and resistance to making it legal in certain areas. In New York state, much of this resistance was put aside in the hopes that casinos would give a needed boost to areas that were suffering due to the decline of manufacturing. As the economy continues to evolve, we may see more states looking towards casinos and the hospitality industry to provide jobs and revenue to local economies.

 

 

 

 

How Casinos are Revitalizing Upstate New York

New York City may be one of the wealthiest and most populated cities in the world, but the New York state economy has been struggling to support its more rural residents. Historically, this region has relied heavily on manufacturing jobs. Combine the steady decline of this industry along with the affects of the Great Recession and you have an area that is experiencing real economic distress. While many states have been able to bounce back from these circumstances, upstate New York has been experiencing progress at a much slower rate. Fortunately, the area is about to get a major boost with the opening of the Resorts World Catskills casino. There are high hopes that this new casino will provide the jobs and spending power necessary to revitalize the area.

Up until 2013, New York only allowed limited forms of gambling. Basically, there were a handful of Indian owned and operated casinos in rural locations and slot machines were allowed at racetracks. However, there was a ban on full-scale, Las Vegas style casinos. Previous attempts to expand gambling were met by large opposition from religious groups. Beginning in early 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo began a campaign to amend the state’s constitution and eliminate restrictions so that more casinos could be built and provide a much needed boost to the economy.

nyc-skyline-jpg

When Cuomo first made his plan public, the opposition wasn’t as fierce as with past attempts, but there was an influx of lobbyists pushing for a variety of different special interest groups. After all, legalizing full-scale gambling isn’t a straightforward issue. Cuomo and the state legislature would have to decide how many licenses would be allowed, where the casinos could be built and what kind of tax rate would be placed on gambling.

Some of the biggest objections to the amendment came from tribes, like the Senecas, who were already running their own casinos in the state. While they were okay with NYC based casinos, they didn’t want to have to face competition outside the city. Previous deals had promised them certain exclusivity rights that they claimed would be violated by opening up gambling to more areas.

Ultimately, the residents of New York took to the polls and approved the constitutional amendment that came with a few key requirements. While many casino companies were hoping to be able to tap into the NYC market, the law permits only four new casinos and limits them to certain areas, most of which run along the New York and Pennsylvania border where the economy has been the hardest hit.

The Road to Upstate NY’s First Full-Scale Casino

Getting a constitutional amendment passed is no small feat, but it would take another five years before the doors of the Resorts World Catskills casino actually opened. During that time, economic development departments, local governments, professional analysts and a variety of other organizations were busy putting together arguments for why their city should be the site of one of the four new casinos. Ultimately, Sullivan County was chosen for the first build because it offered the greatest potential for a positive economic impact.

The average worker wage in Sullivan County is $31,483 a year, one of the lowest in the state. The casino is expected to raise individual earnings to around $36,237. Research studies estimate that $903 of that extra income will go directly back into the local economy. That means that local businesses will see additional profits and be able to enjoy a more stable and secure financial situation.

Perhaps even more importantly, additional jobs and higher wages will translate into a healthier community. Positive outcomes include higher graduation rates, better health and less crime. Ultimately, this also puts less of a strain on local and state resources. The casino is on track to be a real boon for local residents and offer far reaching benefits.

The Challenges of Staffing a New Casino

the-challenges-of-staffing-a-new-casino.jpg

One of the biggest concerns about building a casino in rural New York was that there simply wouldn’t be enough people to fill over 2,000 new positions. Local businesses also feared that they would lose their employees to the casino and have trouble staffing their own businesses. However, researchers were able to determine that based on the proposed location of the new casino, there would be plenty of qualified workers to fill the positions. As a result, Resorts World Catskills was able to fully staff the new casino without negatively impacting local businesses.

The next staffing challenge was to effectively and efficiently schedule over 2,000 new employees who all have different skills and schedule preferences. From a casino’s perspective, they want to be able to provide convenient shifts for their employees in order to keep morale high and turnover low. They also want to place individuals at tables and stations where they are able to perform best. At the same time, workers want a certain level of flexibility and a schedule that can accommodate their existing family responsibilities. The logistics of balancing all these different factors on a weekly basis can be daunting.

Fortunately, just as technology has helped to advance slot machines and gaming, it has also improved scheduling capabilities. Software like Casino Schedule Ease allows casinos to streamline the scheduling process from one, easy to use dashboard. Employees can easily communicate preferences and ask for time off and scheduling managers can view a visual representation of the casino floor as they work to fill spots. As a result, casinos can operate more efficiently, provide a better customer experience and keep employ satisfaction high.

It took a lot of effort from state and local governments, national gambling organizations, voters, builders and a long list of other participants to open the Resorts World Catskills casino. Fortunately, their efforts have paid off and five years after New York voters decided to approve full-scale gambling in the state, the first of four casinos has opened its doors for business. For Sullivan County in particular, this marks the beginning of a new era of economic prosperity as residents are able to enjoy higher wages and job security.