“The Strip is at an all-time high in revenue. But gaming is lagging. That’s why we’re losing money.”
CNN reported this comment from Mike Lawton, senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board, earlier in 2016 that the US state of Nevada was struggling in terms of gambling revenue, making an annual loss for six straight years.
Instead, visitors were arriving to spend their cash on other forms of non-gaming entertainment, mixing live events with the delights of luxury restaurants.
It was anticipated that 42 million people would pay a visit to Las Vegas alone this year, with the prestigious sporting events ranging from the first and second leg of the Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz battle at UFC 196 in March and then UFC 202 in August, to box-office boxing star Canelo Alvarez’s fight with Britain’s Amir Khan in May.
Away from sport, there is always a healthy selection of superstar musicians performing somewhere, with Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd all enjoying concerts in December alone. The likes of Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Cher, Donny Osmond, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart and Ariana Grande are confirmed for the early months of 2017 too.
The obvious challenge for the casinos remains in the ability to piggyback onto the success of non-gaming forms of Vegas leisure by offering a reason to make an hour at the roulette wheels or blackjack tables a part of an evening’s entertainment.
Here are three strategies that may have a positive impact on casino revenues:
Give people free chips on arrival that can’t be cashed in
People love free stuff. There is no getting around the satisfaction a person generally feels when they have received something for nothing.
Some visitors may decide to take their free gambling chips home as a memento of their break, but most will gravitate to a roulette wheel and attempt to turn their chips into a sum of money to pay for something meaningful.
For example, putting the $5 chip straight up on a winning single roulette number will bring a win of $175, which will easily be enough to cover a nice meal at a restaurant.
However, once experiencing the thrill of the gaming floor, the excitement generated through roulette spins or the seductive sounds of the slots, many visitors may decide to stick around for an extra 30 minutes changing up their own spending money into chips.
By ensuring the freebies can’t be cashed in, people will be prevented from receiving their chips and heading straight for the cashier’s cage.
Spend X amount on chips and receive entry into a ticketing draw
For all of those Vegas visitors who do manage to get tickets for the most in-demand shows, there will be others who either can’t or would love to watch more than one.
An offer as simple as changing up and gambling $20 into chips in a specific time period to enter into a prize draw to win two tickets to a specific event on the same night may attract typical non-gamblers to have a flutter as a last resort.
This could stretch to a free meal up to $200 for two at a fully-booked restaurant or free entry into a popular socialising hotspot. People will risk a relatively small amount if offered something much grander as a possible reward.
The objective then is to make sure these players enjoy their time in the casino and so have an incentive to make a second visit.
Launch more skill-based games
Last month it was revealed that casinos in Atlantic City were incorporating a skill-based game called Danger Arena in their establishments.
It is a first-person action game where players have to fight off robots. If a player successfully fights off a particular number of robots, they win a certain amount of money. The more robots that are defeated, the bigger the winnings and a standard game is predicted to take between 60 and 90 seconds.
With many Vegas visitors sure to have flexed their gaming muscles on titles such as Tetris, Pac-Man or Call Of Duty, the opportunity to make money by climbing the levels on these games may appeal more than roulette and blackjack.
The challenge of bettering a previous high score or completing a particular mission will only likely increase the prospects of a player continuing to play the machine and ultimately spend more time and money in a casino.
The key for casinos is to ensure no game has pre-defined endings, so players always have a reason to keep going.