12/20/11 : New Jersey gambling services firm looks at what's going to be hot in 2012
 
Spectrum Gaming Group, an independent research and professional services firm serving public and private sector clients worldwide, has listed 21 of the most important trends that the global casino industry should be monitoring in 2012.
 
This is the eighth year in which Spectrum has compiled its remarkably accurate list, addressing ongoing changes in technology, demographics, politics and regulation to determine the most significant trends going forward.
 
New Jersey-based Spectrum's expert analysts constantly monitor industry developments across the globe and consider progress when assembling the annual trend assessment.
 
"The three-way collision of Internet-based technology, a soft economy and politics is reshaping the gaming industry as never before,” Michael Pollock, managing director for Spectrum Gaming Group, observes in the preface for the current list.
 
"Some of these were also represented in our Top 21 trends for 2011, such as several angles on the likely onset of Internet gaming, increasing efforts to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, and the explosive growth in Asia. The list of course has many new entrants for 2012, perhaps none more intriguing than the convergence of social-network gaming and real-money gaming.
 
Here is the current assessment:
 
1. Atlantic City: With considerable state muscle and funding and the spring opening of Revel, Atlantic City will begin to rebound from its five-year slide, although this will lead to further erosion of revenue and financial instability for weaker operators.
 
2. Development: New-casino development will emphasise sensible, mid-scale size and design as gaming companies prioritise return on invested capital in a soft economy.
 
3. International: Development plans for the Primorye Gaming Zone in Russia, near the eastern port of Vladivostok, will come into focus, revealing its potential to become a prominent Asian gaming center.
 
4. International: Major US gaming operators will continue to scout Asia and other, under-served international markets to develop major gaming resorts.
 
5. Internet: Land-based US casino companies will continue preparations to immediately capitalise on the eventual legalization of Internet poker.
 
6. Internet: Offshore operators, particularly those who have never taken bets from American gamblers, will sign even more deals with US land-based operators in preparation for eventual legalization of online wagering.
 
7. Internet: Social networking and electronic gaming will make further, behind-the-scenes steps toward a convergence that could, at some point, be the "next big thing" in gaming.
 
8. Internet: Sweepstakes convenience gambling in storefront cyber cafes will continue to grow and negatively impact commercial casino revenue unless state and local governments enact stronger restraining legalization.
 
9. Las Vegas: Intense competition accelerates in Las Vegas locals market as local employment and housing markets remain weak.
 
10. Las Vegas: Las Vegas convention business continues its upswing, boosting midweek room rates and improving overall property margins.
 
11. Las Vegas: Las Vegas Strip operators focus on debt restructuring and property enhancements rather than new development and consolidation.
 
12. Lottery: More lotteries will face pressure to privatize or bring in private management, as they simultaneously move toward a greater online presence
 
13. Lottery: The convergence of traditional gaming and state lotteries will accelerate, in large part due to the prospect of Internet gaming.
 
14. Markets: Gaming operators will exert pressure to lower tax rates in high-tax markets to better compete against neighboring states.
 
15. Markets: Legalization efforts will continue in longtime casino-reluctant states such as Kentucky, New Hampshire and Texas, as those states seek additional revenue streams while trying to stem the flight of gambling dollars across state lines.
 
16. Markets: Major states where casino gaming is limited will continue to pursue expansion opportunities, such as in Florida, Illinois and New York.
 
17. Markets: Regional casino competition will continue to increase in both California and the Northeast as racinos, slot parlors and Native American casinos expand and add new upscale amenities placing added pressure on the destination resort cities of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
 
18. Native American: Expect the argument about opening up the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for Internet gaming purposes to get louder. Native American casinos, meanwhile, will dip their toes into Internet gaming with free-play poker sites
 
19. Operations: Server-based gaming will continue make only small steps as slot managers maintain their wait-and-see approach to the return on investment for such a system.
 
20. Sports Betting: The US Department of Justice will find be pressed to defend the constitutionality of PASPA legalization allowing only four states to practice sports betting in the face of state challenges.
 
21. Technology: The US economy will continue to struggle and unemployment levels will remain high through at least the next year, forcing US casino operators to continue to implement automated technologies and find operating efficiencies. This will lead to further reductions and restructuring of employment and payroll levels for casino operators.