Friday May 9,2014 : GAMBLING INDUSTRY NEEDS TO ATTRACT A YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC
And technology is the way to do it…
The Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Mississippi wound down this week with one theme standing out – the need to attract a younger demographic to gambling…and some opined that presentation, technology and online gambling may be the way to do it.
Slot machines designed to appeal to the baby boomers, who comprise the majority of the players in the land casinos now, do not necessarily have the same attraction for younger generations, and new games are essential, experts said, pointing to a need for the interactive and social elements that younger players prefer.
Matt Wilson, vice president of marketing for Aristocrat Technologies, was among several industry executives who said that manufacturers and developers are now pursuing the emerging gambling generations with better graphics, sound and even the style of the cabinet.
"Curb appeal matters," said Wilson.
Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said casinos study and know their customers better than any other business does. To entice younger players, he said, "…all the smart money is on technology."
The new gambling generations favour social gaming and do not see the traditional casino games as especially attractive, confirmed Joel Simkins, a senior casino analyst for Credit Suisse.
In giving the closing address, Geoff Freeman of the American Gaming Association, said that the industry needs to change in order to thrive, and that operators were going to have to find new products that connect with people. Casino floors also needed to evolve in order to appeal to a younger demographic, he opined.
Freeman, who was initially aggressive in the pursuit of legalised online poker when he joined the AGA as chief executive officer, appears to be taking a softer line following reports earlier this year that the AGA board wanted to "gear back" the rhetoric on the sensitive topic of legalization.
In his closing address Freeman said the AGA will work with casinos on common causes, including cracking down on illegal online casino sites and Internet cafes.
However, he added, the Internet gambling debate isn't something the AGA will get involved in, because it is divided into businesses that support federal regulation and those that believe in states' rights.
Instead, the AGA will focus on telling the success story of casinos and their value to communities.
"We will be a relentless champion of gaming," he said.