If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
Jan 28, 2013
Online vs live
Land based casinos must compete with and through online gambling.
American land-based casinos witnessed a big revenue drop after the start of the financial crisis, but business has been picking up lately. The key driver is of course innovation.
Many casino resorts had been staging shows and sporting various recreational facilities even before the hardship hit. Lately, however, such features have become the key to survival and development as an increasing number of establishments are repositioning themselves as family entertainment complexes.
By last year nearly all US states have had authorized venues of legalized gambling, either tribal or commercial. The only exceptions are Hawaii and Utah. Considering that Utah will never accept any real-money gambling on its territory, it can be said that gambling coverage is nearly complete and there is competition for players all across the US.
Lawmakers have also recognized the potential economic impact of casinos. The impact is twofold. On one hand, having casinos in a state creates jobs, brings in tourist revenues and keeps players from taking their money to other states. On the other hand, not having casinos deprives state economies of these positive effects.
Although industry revenue has been growing, the number of competing establishments has grown faster. This has been a strong driver in the diversification of casino features, aiming to reach out to new customers as well as to bring in returning customers more often.
The main direction for further development is of course online and mobile casino gambling. Some analysts believe that catering to netizen needs would benefit all casino operators. Those that struggle to attract customers would get a lifeline thrown to them, while those that are already successful in attracting customers would have an added revenue stream to boost their profits further.
Others have suggested that competition in the virtual sphere would favor the experienced online gambling operators, some of whom have been eying or buying brick and mortar casinos. This could see continued difficulties for struggling casinos despite any online offerings, as well as dampening profit expectations from Internet casinos even for the most successful land based establishments.
One thing is certain, though: casinos will not be able to avoid the online competition. The sooner they get ready for it the better. The push to have legalized online gambling is on, and sooner or later it will succeed – if not on a federal level, then through intra- and interstate efforts.
While this newfound competition may be a scary prospect to the recovering industry, the latest casino strategy is no only to compete in online gambling, but also with online gambling, by offering players various personalized loyalty programs and incentives. VIP clubs and other frequent player perks, along with the extended entertainment role are being put forward by land based casinos with the aim of providing visitors with a grand experience.
At the same time there are technological developments that promise to blur the difference between playing in a casino or online. Such solutions would allow patrons to play the casino’s table games even from their room, the pool or the restaurant, using the portable devices.