The unprecedented negative impacts of the economy dominate the 2009 edition of the Top 21 Trends in Gaming, an annual list compiled by Spectrum Gaming.com, an independent research and professional services firm in the United States.
This is the fifth year in which Spectrum has published its list, which addresses ongoing changes in development, operations, consumer behavior, markets, politics, technology and other aspects concerning the casino industry worldwide.
Eight of the 21 trends concern the unprecedented economic downturn in which land casinos are now operating. With economic experts predicting that meaningful recovery will not begin until at least 2010, gaming operators and their stakeholders are faced with difficult conditions and decisions.
New Jersey-based Spectrum list the main trends for 2009 alphabetically:
* Advances in technology that impact revenues and cut costs will continue to be attractive to operators even in an economic downturn.
* Continued conversion of racetracks to racinos, as well as non-gaming expansions to existing racinos.
* Continued elimination of jobs, both through cuts and attrition.
* Continued moratorium on development of big-box gaming resorts due to economic downturn.
* Convenience-based gaming continues to achieve better year-over-year results than destination-based gaming.
* Corporate and property debt restructuring in wake of declining revenues.
* Eastern Europe countries will increase their efforts to meet EU regulations, including smoking ban.
* Gaming companies increase efforts to export their brands globally.
* Gaming equipment manufacturers continue to invest in games that appeal to a younger demographic, including lotteries, bingo and server-based technology.
* Increased legislative acceptance of allowing the deduction of issued electronic promotional gaming credits from the gross revenue tax/fee calculation.
* Increased use of electronic games, including the emergence of scalable electronic table games in which players at different locations on the floor wager on a single outcome.
* Increasing alliance between commercial gaming operators and outside investors, as well as between commercial and tribal operators.
* Internet gambling in USA will be a hot federal issue for the new administration and Congress; gaming companies will fund lobbying efforts on both sides.
* Major gaming operators commence deleveraging by selling off properties to emerging operators.
* More pronounced shift in market share among suppliers as operators attempt to shift away from IGT participation games.
* Native American tribal gaming revenue estimates remain on track to surpass US commercial gaming totals.
* Prices for hotel rooms, shows and food and beverage will return to lower levels at large gaming resorts as operators need to fill their properties.
* Slow but continual advancement toward server-based gaming, as operators remain skeptical as to the potential financial returns on investment.
* States consider expanding or legalizing casino-style gaming to help fill state budget gaps.
* Support from China to ease visa restrictions, increasing flow of visitors into Macau.
* Uncertainty in various European countries concerning regulation, thus increasing cases being referred to the European Court of Justice.
"It's no secret to anybody watching this industry that 2009 is going to be an extremely challenging year," Spectrum Senior Vice President Joseph Weinert said. "This is the first time the industry has really felt the impacts of the national economy. We don't see any catalyst for the industry to reverse its fortunes until the economy at large reverses its fortunes."
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