Highlights from the 2018 Global Gaming Expo #G2E

The 2018 Global Gaming Expo, otherwise known as G2E, got underway on October 8th, in Las Vegas. While the event opens with the Global Gaming Awards, which honors products, executives, suppliers and other industry notables who are making an impact, the week is also full of informational panels and other events. Participants can explore the floor of the Sands Expo and Convention Center where new games, slots and other casino management tools are being showcased. There is plenty to see and do and with the recent legalization of sports betting, you can be sure that it was a topic on everyone’s tongue. Here are some of the highlights from the first two days of the expo:

Are Casinos Ready for Blockchain?

There are a lot of blockchain enthusiasts around the world who want to explore the marriage of blockchain with gambling and casinos, but frankly, there is a significant knowledge gap about this technology. Businesses aren’t rushing to adopt a new technology that has not been tried and tested on a large scale. The idea of a decentralized banking system also makes some people nervous, but proponents like Jez San, the Founder of FunFair Technologies, thinks that there are huge benefits to be enjoyed for both players and casinos. His goal is to educate audiences at G2E and begin to convince some decision-makers that this avenue is worth exploring. It doesn’t look like casinos are quite ready, but the presence of blockchain discussion panels signals a certain amount of openness to the idea.

Millenials are Bringing Back Skills-Based Games

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At Gamblit Gaming, they deal with a demographic where the average age is 36, which means that they have to adjust to the wants and needs of a younger audience who might not be drawn to traditional slot machines that require little interaction or skill. As a result, the G2E is filled with bright skills-based games that also tap into nostalgic childhood memories of playing early video games like Pac-Man. Designers are also using the popularity of classic games to create Pac-Man and Galaga slot machines, which combine the best of both worlds.

It looks like game designers are also turning to celebrity names, movies and popular TV games shows and mobile games to draw in audiences to their slot machines. Partnerships with names like Deal or no Deal, Mad Max and Doodle Jump all point to a gaming world that is pulling from other markets to bring players familiar content.  This is a great way to tap into media that has an existing audience and provide them with a new, more interactive experience with their favorite brand names.

Rethinking Slot Booths

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Manufacturers are even rethinking the classic slot booth design and experimenting with different cabinet shapes and sizes. The goal is to keep players in their seat for as long as possible and designers are interested to see what design elements draw in and retain players. As you might imagine seating also plays an important role and has been a focus of redesigns. New models feature ergonomic seats that can rumble and move in conjunction with events on the screen for a more immersive experience. While designers understand that these elements influence player’s behaviors, they are still working to pinpoint specifics. The G2E provides the perfect opportunity to gather valuable data and feedback.

Sports Betting Takes Center Stage

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As expected, the big draw to this year’s expo is excitement around the new world of sports betting. Now that the Supreme Court has legalized sports betting, states are in the process of deciding how they want to handle this new revenue source and what kind of regulations need to be put in place. Educational panels, including a keynote address from ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, have been attracting packed crowds as the experts weigh in on how the industry can and should address this major shift in the industry.

JCM Global used their booth to showcase their software that turns slot machines into a kiosk for sports betting. They are also pushing monitors that display betting odds to casinos and nightclubs. One of the big challenges is that the average person, who may not have any prior experience with sports betting, can be intimidated by the sportsbook and simply stay away because they aren’t sure how to interpret the numbers and place a bet. It is going to be to vendors and manufacturers to make sports betting as accessible as possible if they want to appeal to a larger audience.

A Global Reach

Vendors and manufacturers from around the world flock to Vegas each year for the G2E. It is the perfect opportunity to network, get a feel for where the industry is headed and try out new products. This year, companies from Osaka, Dusseldorf, Sydney and other places throughout the world have met to enjoy the sites and maybe close some deals. With over 400 booths on the expo floor and 26,000 attendees, there is sure to be a diverse crowd that represents a wide swath of the gaming and casino community.

Management Solutions on Display

In addition to games, the event is being used to highlight management software that allows casinos to operate more efficiently and handle a complicated set of needs. Casino Schedule Ease is just one example of how software innovations are helping casinos to reduce their labor costs while also producing better results. This program is designed to help casinos schedule employees throughout the hotels, restaurants and gaming floors that can make up a casino. With a 24/7 operating schedule, it is especially challenging to provide adequate coverage, provide the best possible service and keep employees content. Casino Schedule Ease makes this delicate balance possible, while also free up time for the scheduling manager.

While sports betting continues to dominate the gambling world, there are a lot of other exciting happenings at G2E. You can check out their website and watch videos of all the celebrities, performers and other special guests who are making appearances. In the meantime, we will continue to track new innovations spurred by the expo and bring you the latest news.

 

 

Best Must-See Shows in Las Vegas

Nashville might be the music capital of the country and NYC is home to Broadway, but no one can hold a candle to Las Vegas when it comes entertainment. Guests can experience the best in big name musical acts who have been lured to the city with ongoing residencies along with the world’s premier magicians, acrobats and other performers. If you are still stuck on the idea that Las Vegas is for gamblers, you need to take a closer look at what casinos truly have to offer.

Major Acts with Residencies in Las Vegas

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In 1944, Liberace was the first musical star to be offered a residency in Las Vegas. Based on his success, the idea caught on quickly and was followed by residencies from Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack and Elvis Presley who performed 837 consecutive sold out shows from 1969 to 1976. After Elvis left the scene, Vegas went through a bit of a slump and wasn’t able to attract the same level of star power. All that changed in 2003 when Celine Dion signed a major contract that allowed her to create a unique show that took full advantage of the latest in staging and technology to provide concert-goers with an unforgettable experience.

Dion’s first residency brought a certain amount of legitimacy and respectability back to the idea of establishing a residency in Las Vegas. She effectively opened the door for other acts to follow suit. As a result, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and others have set up shop in Las Vegas for some period of time.

Here are just some of the major stars that are currently playing in Las Vegas or who have signed contracts to begin a residency:

Lady Gaga

In late 2017, Lady Gaga signed with MGM’s Park Theater to open a show that will provide a full review of her career. The first show is scheduled for December 28th, 2018.

Celine Dion

Dion returned for a second residency and her show continues to be a hot ticket item. While she has performed hundreds of shows, time is running out to see her in Las Vegas. Her residency is supposed to end in January 2019.

Cher

At 72 years-old Cher is still performing regularly and can be seen this October and November at the Park Theater at Park MGM.

Mariah Carey

No one quite embodies the term diva quite like Mariah Carey and you can catch her belting out all her classic hits at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Be sure to check the website for dates.

Other Must-See Shows in Vegas

While there are plenty of great concerts to choose from, Las Vegas is home to some of the most creative entertainment acts that can be found anywhere in the world. If you want to experience world-class, mind-bending acts, here are some must-see shows:

Absinthe

Las Vegas Weekly named Absinthe “the #1 greatest show in Las Vegas History.” This variety show mixes circus style performances with burlesque and vaudeville for a risque show that is definitely for adults only. It is a non-stop combination of comedy, danger, acrobatics and just about anything else you can imagine, all set on a circular stage in the middle of the theater. The audience is right in the action, which helps create a more immersive experience that everyone is raving about. Based on the success of the show, it will probably keep running for some time, but don’t wait to be the last to catch this groundbreaking spectacle.

Ka by Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil was started in 1984 by two street performers. By the 1990s, the traveling troupe of performers had gained a huge fan base and were performing shows all over the world. In Vegas, Cirque du Soleil  now has several permanent residencies, which host 9,000 people per night. Ka is one of the latest shows that features all the great aerobatic performances you have come to expect along with a more concrete narrative that takes the audience on a journey. While all of their shows are sure to wow, Ka is earning especially high praise as the company continues to evolve and improve.

Penn and Teller

This duo has been performing together since the 1970s. While they have appeared on the screen and stage, they are best known for their Vegas shows. In fact, they hold the record for the longest running headlining act on the strip. After decades of working together, their show is just as sharp, funny and entertaining as ever, making it well worth the trip.

Piff the Magic Dragon

You may remember seeing Piff the Magic Dragon on America’s Got Talent. His mix of comedy and magic impressed the judges and eventually led to a headlining show in Vegas. While Piff had enjoyed some success before the show, his appearance helped him become a headliner in one of the most competitive markets.  Today, his show is one of the hottest tickets in town.

Baz – Star Crossed Love

Baz Luhrmann, the director of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby and other intensely visual films has brought his talent to the stage with a show that pays tribute to some of the best musical numbers from his movies. For fans, the production captures that best of Baz and provides a stunning experience for all the senses.

Las Vegas is enjoying a true resurgence that is being fueled by entertainers. Musicians, magicians, acrobats and other unique performers have been able to find a home where they are welcomed by casinos and audiences alike. The sheer number of major shows also marks a more modern approach to attracting new and repeat visitors. The city is effectively adapting to modern tastes and working hard to respond to consumer behavior. Many of these efforts are made possible by new technology that allows for intricate staging, effective crowd control and better casino management. Everything from software, like Casino Schedule Ease, to infrastructure and competitive pricing have worked to attract the best acts and make Las Vegas the one destination where you can see all the best shows in one place.

Casino and Gambling News You Might Have Missed

In recent months, the news has been dominated with buzz around the legalization of sports betting in the United States. While this is certainly big news, there have been plenty of other big stories that may have not gotten the attention they deserved with all the excitement over sports betting. Fortunately, we have been staying on top of current events and so that you can quickly get up-to-date on all the latest casino and gambling news you might have missed.

Ocean Resorts Helps Hurricane Florence Victims

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Leading into the weekend of September 15th, hurricane Florence was on track to make a direct hit on the Carolinas as a category 4 storm. Fortunately, the hurricane lost steam before making landfall although thousands of residents along the east coast were forced to evacuate and head for safer ground. While some had a place to go, many were left scrambling to find or afford shelter. The Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City stepped up to the plate and offered free rooms to anyone that was being displaced by the hurricane. It remains to be seen how many people took advantage of this generous offer, but it was certainly a nice gesture from the casino.

Macau Casinos Reopen after Typhoon

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While residents in the Carolinas have been dealing with hurricane Florence, Macau, one of the biggest gambling and tourism destinations in the world, is just recovering from a devastating typhoon that shut down casinos and led to the loss of millions of dollars in revenue. Macau encompasses a small peninsula and two islands off the coast of China, making it the perfect location for vacationers while also exposing it to extreme storms. The government mandated shutdown began Saturday, September, 15th and  was the first of its kind since casino licenses were first issued in 2002. A total of 42 casinos were forced to shut their doors because officials predicted excessive flooding in the area. As of Monday, September, 17th, the casinos are allowed to reopen, but word is still coming in about how much damage the area has experienced.

The shutdown that lasted a total of 33 hours, is expected to create a loss of revenue of $186 million. What remains to be seen is how much money will need to be put towards repairs and just when the tourists will return in order to help create a steady stream of revenue once again. Hopefully, the area will recover quickly and the evacuation was able to save the lives of employees and tourists who would have been at risk.

Gamblers Always Like the Odds

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An experiment conducted by professors at the University of Waterloo in Canada set out to determine whether making players aware of the statistical probability that they would win at a slot machine would make them less likely to play. Going into the experiment, they had already determined that slot machines use marketing tactics to convince players that they will win. In addition, players almost always overestimate their chances of winning and think that a near miss just means that they are getting closer to a win.

The professors took cues from the Facts Up Front nutrition labeling program that is used in the US to design a program to test whether prominently posting winning stats would affect how players gambled. In the end, educating players about their chances of winning both big and small pots, did not influence whether they played or which machines they favored. For problem gamblers, the labels made people even more confident that they were going to be the statistical oddity and win big. It turns out that even the most conservative gamblers are always willing to play the odds.

David Peters is 2018 Poker Master Winner

A couple months ago, we took a closer look at how poker came to be one of the biggest tournament games in Las Vegas. Over the weekend of September 15th, Aria Resort and Casino hosted the 2018 Poker Masters tournament that included 25 of the top players from around the world. David Peters was the favorite going into the main event and he would eventually emerge victorious and take home a prize of $1,150,000. Peters is just 31 years-old and has managed to accumulate over $24 million in prize money over his career.

New Technology that Will Facilitate Sports Betting

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Even with other big stories breaking, it is hard to get away from sports betting completely. While each state is immersed in its own legal technicalities and working to decide how they want to handle sports betting, casinos are turning to the tech industry for solutions on how to smoothly integrate betting without disrupting other aspects of the business. Specialists in mobile technology have introduced the DraftKings and playMGM apps, with more to follow soon.

Meanwhile casinos are also dealing with other logistical issues related to expanding their offers and adding employees to help manage sports betting. In general, creating a schedule for a casino that runs on a 24/7 clock can be a bit of a nightmare, but when you throw a handful of wrenches into an already complicated system, things can go haywire quickly.

That is why more and more casinos are adopting Casino Schedule Ease (CSE) to manage all their personnel management and scheduling needs. This advanced software has been especially designed to address the challenges that face casinos and provide employees and managers with a simpler way to communicate and optimize scheduling practices. With the help of CSE, casinos managers are able to save time and increase employee morale while also improving the customer experience. This type of technology till continue to play a vital role as casinos work to adapt to new gambling preferences and customer demands.

In the coming months, casino and gambling news will probably continue to be dominated with updates about sports betting. Be sure to turn to us for the latest news that includes and goes beyond the latest in sports betting.

 

The Latest News on Sports Betting in the U.S.

Sports fans and gamblers alike are filled with excitement and anticipation over the recent legalization of sports betting. While individual states are still working to hash out their own rules and regulations about how to implement and manage sports betting, there have been some major developments worth noting. If you are eagerly waiting for sports betting to come to your neck of the woods, here are some updates on the latest developments:

Sports Betting in New Jersey

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Sports betting has been legal in Las Vegas since 1992, so industry watchers are keeping a close eye on New Jersey to see how the nation’s other gambling hub handles this new source of revenue. The official ruling that legalized sports betting was handed down by the Supreme Court on May 14th of 2018. By  August 1st, DraftKings Sportsbook had opened online sports gambling to anyone located in New Jersey. This quick action by the sports giant effectively created a temporary monopoly on betting.

Since then, other Atlantic City Casinos have been scrambling to launch their own in-house and online programs so that they can get their own slice of the pie. As of publication, the following establishments have live sportsbooks on premise:

  • Borgata
  • Bally’s
  • Golden Nugget
  • Harrah’s
  • Monmouth Park
  • Ocean Resort Casino
  • Resorts AC
  • The Meadowlands

When it comes to online sports betting, DraftKings has been joined by SugarHouse Sportsbook, which is associated with the Golden Nugget, and FanDuel Sportsbook, which operates in conjunction with the Meadowlands. While casinos in the area are sure to follow suit, they still have programs in the works.  Part of the problem is that  casinos and racetracks are required to have a physical sportsbook in place before they can launch an online version. This means that many establishments are scrambling to simultaneously create both in-house and online betting programs.

Reasons Behind Delayed Launches

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From a logistical standpoint, creating an online sports betting program that is user-friendly and addresses regulatory requirements is a challenging task. Now throw in cyber-security and risk management issues and you have a truly monumental set of challenges. Certain states are taking these potential threats seriously and being exceptionally cautious when it comes to rolling out online gambling opportunities. They want to make sure that citizens can safely enter their credit card information without having to worry about fraud and money laundering. The fear is that online gambling accounts actually create an ideal target for hackers. In a tech-based world where cyber-security experts and hackers are in a constant game of cat and mouse, these concerns are certainly well-founded. Sports betting fans in certain states may have to remain patient and state legislators and gambling organizations work to create an approach to security that everyone feels comfortable with.

Deciding on a Fair Tax Rate

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Many state governments are waiting and watching to see how online sports betting plays out in other states so that they can make informed decisions about how best to tax game play. Some estimates predict that this form of betting could earn $150 billion annually. In 2017, Nevada set a new earnings record with $248.8 million in revenue. For states who are looking to reduce budget deficits and provide for their residents, that kind of money could mean a healthy influx of tax money.

One of the big challenges is finding the right tax rate and deciding when is the right time to enter the market. Nevada has a long history of imposing a 6.75% tax, which includes income tax on winnings and an excise tax on casino revenue. New Jersey chose a 8% tax while Pennsylvania has imposed a 34% tax before sports betting and online gambling has even reached the state. Sportsbooks will also have to deal with the fact that major leagues and even individual teams are also going to be looking for a piece of the profits, which only continues to narrow their own profit margins.

When it comes to timing, early adopters have the greatest earning potential, but this high risk approach could also result in a series of glitches that could turn into a public relations problem. States that already have some experience with regulating gambling and taxing products that have previously been illegal, such as marijuana, will be the ones most likely to move aggressively on this opportunity.

Upcoming Launches

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States who are looking to move quickly on sports betting are also keeping in mind that football season is right around the corner. The Super Bowl is the single largest betting event and fans will be placing wagers all through the season. Launching before the first game may mean that money that was previously spent on illegal bets can now be taxed.

As it stands, Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi all have operational sports book. This fall, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will join the ranks. From there, we will have to wait and see how different states respond and handle this latest change in gambling legislation. Some may seize it as an opportunity while others are perfectly happy to take a more cautious approach.

Ultimately, the legalization of sports betting the the revenue earning potential of online betting are forcing casinos to take a closer look at how they are leveraging technology and protecting their patrons from cyber attacks. Establishments that can effectively onboard new programs and assemble a talented IT team will have the competitive edge and the chance to seize a larger portion of the sports betting business. This means forming new partnerships with tech companies and innovators who may hold the key to successfully moving with the pace of technology.

Already, casinos across the country are turning to specialty software providers like Casino Schedule Ease (CSE) to provide custom solutions that directly address industry related challenges. CSE provides users with the ability to easily schedule hundreds of employees and adequately staff casinos that operate on a 24/7 schedule. It also streamlines the communication process and allows managers to create a visual map of the casino floor. These types of innovations will become increasingly necessary as casinos partner with sportsbook companies and look to increase their online capabilities.

 

 

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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?

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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

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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

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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

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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.