Major Investments in the Casino Industry are Underway

A strong economy in 2018 has translated into a strong year for casinos and resorts. People have more disposable income and feel confident that they can spen a little money and not have to worry quite so much about hoarding it away for a rainy day. As a result, there have been some major sales and spending projects announced in the last few weeks by entertainment companies. As the economy continues to thrive, we can expect to see more construction, expansion and upgrades to casinos across the country. Here are some of the most notable recent events that signal casinos and consumers are ready to spend.

Dan Gilbert Sells Greektown Casino

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The Greektown casino in downtown Detroit was supposed to serve as a centerpiece of the city’s revitalization during the 2000s. When the casino first opened its doors in 2007, it initially drew in curious crowds from the suburbs, but the casino had difficulty turning a profit in the long-term. Part of the problem was that there simply weren’t any other businesses and restaurants in the area to help support the casino. It was a stand alone destination in a city that was struggling with crime and a dismal economy.

By 2013, the casino had undergone bankruptcy reorganization and  was purchased by Rock Gaming, which is owned by Quicken Loans and multi-billionaire, Dan Gilbert. In recent years, Detroit has experienced significant growth that began with small business setting up shop and eventually led to big investors taking on larger projects. This has been good news for everyone, including casinos. Despite this, Greektown Casino has a current debt of about $400 million.

To address debt issues and free up money to invest in other projects, Dan Gilbert sold the casino for $1 billion to Penn National Gaming and VICI Properties. On the surface, this sale may look like a sign of trouble, but ultimately, it may be a good thing for Gilbert, Detroit and the Greektown Casino.

Gilbert plans to use the money from the casino sale to invest in other projects throughout Detroit. These projects will create new jobs, attract new residents and bring in visitors. This influx of people into the city means a greater demand for food and entertainment.

New leadership may also be the thing to help turn the casino around and help make it profitable. With the right strategy, the new investors will be able to capitalize on the healthy economy, consumer confidence and a major metropolitan area that is experiencing newfound prosperity and growth.

Harrah’s to Get Major Facelift

Just over ten years ago, Atlantic City looked like it was on its last leg. Half of the city’s casinos shut down after revenue dropped by 50% and 10,000 employees were let go. This lead to a home foreclosures an exodus that left the city limping along and looking back fondly on the good old days.

Not many could have predicted the turnaround that has happened over the past ten years. The city is humming with new construction and casinos are experiencing unprecedented revenue growth. In August, gaming revenue for the state was up 24.13% over the same month last year. The legalization of sports betting is helping to propel these numbers, but casinos were already experiencing double-digit growth percentages in the months before sports betting was introduced.

While there are projects underway all over the city, Harrah’s is the latest to announce a major upgrade. Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation is planning a $56 million renovation project that will focus on improving rooms in the Coastal Tower. The entire project should be completed by the summer of 2019 and offer modernized rooms that cater to business people who need access to high-speed internet and other technology.

This upgrade is just the latest project from the company. In recent years, they have spent a total of $250 million building on new construction and upgrades that include the Waterfront Conference Center and the addition of the Gordon Ramsey Steak restaurant.

Choctaw Casino and Resort Expands … Again

Investments in casino and resorts haven’t been limited to major gambling hubs. The Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma just announced their latest expansions project, which happens to be the fourth since the casino opened in 2006. This latest project will add a 1,000 room hotel, lounge bar, conference facilities, restaurants and much more. Perhaps best of all, the expansion is expected to bring over

Casino Stocks Expected to Gain Strength

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In 2017, casino and gaming stocks enjoyed a banner year, which lead experts to predict that 2018 would yield similar, though not quite as drastic, results. Much to everyone’s surprise, leading stocks experienced significant declines with some dropping as much as 30%. These numbers were especially surprising considering the overall strength of the global economy and increases in gaming revenue.

It appears that investors have backed away from gaming stocks because they became skeptical about whether gaming could sustain the same pace of growth. Despite these doubts, the industry has proven that it is still building momentum. With new casino construction projects underway across the world, the rise of esports and the legalization of sports betting in the U.S., 2019 stock investing could end up looking a lot like 2017.

With a booming economy and major investments being made in casinos across the country, 2019 looks like it will be a lucrative year for the industry.  Looking forward to the next twelve months, it will be interesting to see how technology continues to affect the industry and which companies will join the ranks and begin investing in new construction and upgrades. As technology makes managing casinos more efficient and cost-effective, we can expect to see that money fed back into properties for further improvements. It promises to be an exciting time for the entire industry.

To learn more about the role of technology in casinos and the future of the industry, visit Casino Schedule Ease.

A Proposed Casino Raises Age-Old Question about Crime and Gambling

Bristol, Virginia is the latest site of heated protests against casinos and gambling. On October, 21, 2018, hundreds of local citizens gathered for a rally against a proposed casino and convention center. Several churches from around the area sponsored the event and local pastors gave fervent speeches against what they perceive as the slippery slope of gambling. The rally resurrected the age-old question of whether there is an actual relationship between the presence of casinos, gambling and increased crime.  You might be surprised to learn how much of this debate is based in assumptions, deeply held beliefs and emotions that don’t necessarily reflect the facts.

The Case of Bristol, Virginia

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The 550, 000 square-foot Bristol Mall off of Gate City Highway currently sits empty. Local businessmen have proposed turning the space into a resort and casino space complete with a hotel and conference center. In September, the City Council and School Board voted to support the project although it still has to be approved by the state’s General Assembly before construction can begin.

While the casino would make good use of vacant space and provide jobs and revenue to other local businesses, there has been passionate opposition to the project from the religious community. As Pastor Dewey Williams says, “I consider Bristol to be the buckle of the Bible Belt,” and many describe the casino as the devil’s work and view the addition of a casino as an assault on families and the community. They claim that the casino will increase crime, cause in influx of drugs and create gambling addicts. Throughout the years, these same arguments have been used to push back against legalized gambling, but how much truth is there to these claims?

Do Casinos Cause an Increase in Crime?

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On some level, it seems like commonsense that adding a location that offers 24/7 access, serves alcohol and attracts additional people into the area would cause an increase in crime. This logic also aligns with criminology studies that have determined that crime isn’t evenly distributed throughout communities. Instead, it is concentrated in what are known as “hot spots,” which “are often characterized by forbidden or specifically encouraged activities, such as alcohol consumption, in places of public access.” At first glance, a casino appears to meet the definition of a hot spot. In fact, it is a widely held belief that casinos increase crime and this argument has been used time and again at rallies and during legislative debates, but it doesn’t necessarily hold up under closer examination.

The most comprehensive and credible studies on crime and casinos examined trends in Atlantic City before and after the addition of casinos. In 1977, the year before casinos opened, there were 4,391 index offenses. In 1980, that number had jumped to 11,899. While that might seem like a clear indication that casinos increased crime, it doesn’t represent the whole picture. Scholars had to take into consideration the fact that the casinos added 27 million annual tourists to a permanent population of just 38,000 residents. They also compared crime rates of nearby communities during the same time period to determine whether there were more widespread trends. Ultimately, they concluded that “casinos have no direct effect on serious crime in Atlantic City, and that crime has risen due to factors other than the casinos themselves.”

To be fair, these studies were conducted in the 1990s and exclusively looked at crime rates in Atlantic City. The limitations of these early studies are exactly why researchers conducted a more extensive study that was published in 2003. This research compared crime rates of cities with casinos to control cities without legalized gambling facilities. They also took into account pre and post crime statistics in cities with casinos and looked at specific crimes, including: larceny, simple assault, drug violations, etc. The researchers found that “When examining the crime rates adjusted for population at risk, there are no crimes in casino communities that are statistically different from control communities.” As more people enter a certain area, the number of crimes will increase, but in casino locations the crime rate continues to be proportional to the population without any significant differences from similar communities.

Common Misconceptions about Casinos

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Those who are quick to buy into the assumption that casinos cause crime often have a distorted view of what a casino actually entails. For example, the proposed Bristol casino would only dedicate 10% of the space to gambling and games. The vast majority of the complex would be used to house a hotel and convention center along with restaurants and entertainment venues.

Modern casinos are vibrant entertainment centers that provide a variety of amenities that require them to run like well oiled machines. They utilize the latest in gaming, security and employee management technology to create a superior customer experience. It is also important to remember that poor security and crime problems would reflect poorly on the business, so it is in their best interest to go above and beyond to lay to rest any fears about an increased potential for crime.

It is also easy to forget that a casinos have the potential to bring thousands of high-paying jobs to communities that need them the most. Bristol has long been in need of a revitalization and the casino will bring 2,000 jobs in the first year and 5,200 by the seventh year. The developers are billing the casino as a “family friendly resort” that will be locally owned by long-time residents who are “committed making [it] a safe place for all in the region.” Opponents recognize the need for new businesses, but view the casino as a place that will encourage sinful behavior and be a plight on the community.

Ultimately, it is up to each community to decide what is best for them, but it is also important to separate fact from fiction during the decision-making process. The rally in Bristol has once again brought the debate about casinos and crime into the spotlight, but now there is more research than ever to demonstrate that there aren’t any clear and direct correlations between casinos and crime. To learn more about what makes modern casinos tick and how they can offer a superior employment experience, visit Casino Schedule Ease.

 

 

 

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.