What should be the casino floor of tomorrow?

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Walk into a casino today, and there’s a good chance it won’t be much different from what it was in the 1942 movie “Casablanca”, when Humphrey Bogart made his way through the streets. game tables in the smoky room.

Of course, slots are bigger, louder and flashier than they were back then. But the central fact remains that the casino floor of today is not that different from the casino floor of yesteryear.

What the casino of the future should look like is a question the gaming industry has struggled with for decades.

And he still doesn’t have definitive answers.

The topic was discussed Monday at the East Coast Gaming Congress, a major gambling conference in Atlantic City.

One big question: how do you get young people interested in what casinos have to offer.

“It’s hard to get this kid out of his parents’ basement, and casino games won’t do it,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, referring to young adults.

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The industry has tried several tactics to attract young players, with varying success rates. Six years ago, Atlantic City introduced so-called “skill-based” games for its casinos.

These were games in which a player’s ability to perform a certain task was taken into account in determining whether they would win or lose a game – a departure from the strict random games of chance that have been the backbone of the gaming industry since its inception. creation.

But they never really caught on, and most were quietly withdrawn in less than a year.

At Monday’s conference, casino executives and gaming equipment manufacturers agreed that young customers want a variety of experiences, more than the monotony of pushing a button and waiting and seeing if they are. have won or lost.

“The younger generation loves to do things,” said Rick Meitzler, CEO of gambling maker Novomatic Americas. “They like to play on their phones. In 10 to 15 years you will see this 25 year old grow into a 40 year old player and be part of our target audience.

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But can casinos afford to wait that long?

Jacqueline Grace, senior vice president of Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, said her company is constantly studying young players.

“What attracts them? she asked. “What keeps them going? They like games of skill, not games of chance. They like to eat. They like to travel. They love experiences.

Most casinos have adopted electronic table games, not only to save on labor costs, but also to provide a stress-free introduction to games, especially card games, which novice players might find. intimidating.

Panelists agree that sports betting and especially esports, or competitive video games, provide an opportunity to connect with younger potential customers.

Atlantic City and Las Vegas in particular have started to embrace esports as a way to fill their casinos and hotels with young customers primarily interested in playing games online against each other. But when they’re done, they order food and drink and engage in non-gambling activities that casino resorts offer.

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“We believe esports is the next big thing,” said Robert Heller, president and CEO of Spectrum Gaming Capital. “All the casino companies I have spoken to are interested. It’s happening.

Ari Fox, co-CEO of Gameacon, an esports tournament company, said the key is to reach young customers where they are.

“Younger people don’t go on Facebook; they don’t play on Instagram, ”he said. “They’re talking on Discord. The key to winning them over as customers is to gain their trust. He said gambling companies have to tell these customers, “This is not where your parents are going. This space is made for you.

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Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at @WayneParryAC

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