Gambling Industry Talk: Dealing With Innovation And Stagnation

Written By Jessica Welman on September 29, 2017 - Last Updated on March 25, 2022
Pac-Man game controller

The Las Vegas Strip never looks the same for too long. The Nevada casino mecca is all about what is new and what is now. Not just in Nevada, but all over the country, the gambling industry is constantly hunting for the next new thing, the next new demographic and, most importantly, the next new revenue source.

This week, a look at some East Coast casinos struggling to get by reminds us how important innovation and growth is in the industry. However, a look at the industry will show you what kind of new projects are already in the pipeline, hoping for success.

Here is a look at some of those projects as well as some of the conversations about what the future of US gambling looks like:

Start spreading the bad news about NY casinos

To be fair, most people in The Empire State already know the trio of new upstate New York casinos are not performing as well as hoped. Thanks to a recent report from the Albany Union-Times though, it is now abundantly clear where each of the casinos is coming up short.

Each casino is running well behind projections, but Tioga Downs is the property which will come closests to hitting the $100 million in expected revenue this year.

Meanwhile the biggest property, del Lago, has generated only one-third of the projected $263 million in revenue. The casino is not exactly trending upwards in gaming slots and table games revenue either.

As for Rivers Casino,the property does have promise, despite the fact it will also come in well short of expectations. It is the only casino with a thriving poker room as well as the only casino capable of generating huge spikes in slots and table games revenue.

Are new innovations the answer to stalling gambling economies?

New York is not the only casino market struggling. Plus, even thriving casino markets like Atlantic City and Nevada are always looking ahead to bring in new customers. The big question–how?

Steve Ruddock of PlayNJ recently suggested the best answer is probably new gambling content. The NJ online casino industry keeps growing, but Ruddock thinks it cannot maintain that rate without expanding game libraries and perhaps launching more live dealer games like Golden Nugget and Betfair have done.

There is also room to expand. New gambling concepts are coming on the market all the time in the form of:

  • Daily fantasy sports
  • Esports
  • Skill-based casino games
  • Sports betting

So far the land-based casinos are struggling with skill-based games in particular. Perhaps though, the real soltuion is to get ready to offer skill-based games online in addition to sports betting, should the Supreme Court rule in New Jersey’s favor next year.

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New innovations from Hard Rock and Pac-Man

This week, the gambling world saw some of these new innovations launch.

Hard Rock Casino’s latest gaming expansion is not exactly gambling. The social game is a puzzle offering in the vein of Candy Crush. However, it is an opportunity for the already notorious brand to increase awareness to a newer, potentially younger demographic.

Meanwhile, Gamblit Gaming is going big with its next skill-based casino game offering. The company is launching a game based on the infamous Pac-Man video game.

The new real-money casino game hopes to capitalize on Millenial and Gen-X nostalgia for the video game. Konami attempted to do something similar with Frogger, generating unimpressive results. Perhaps though a more beloved game might fare a bit better.

Poker needs to focus on the recreational players

Speaking of growing the game, it would not be a discussion about gambling market growth without poker. Be it online in New Jersey or in live poker rooms in Nevada, poker seems relatively stagnant.

Inevitably the conversation always turns back to how to grow the game. US Poker tackled not one but two different elements of bringing people to poker this week.

The first takes a look at the upcoming Aaron Sorkin-directed film Molly’s Game. A poker movie always begs the question of how much interest in the game it will spark. This film is not just getting reasonable reviews for its titular star Jessica Chastain, critics are specifically praising the way it presents poker, so hopes are high this could be the next Rounders.

The other one takes an insular look at the industry. Namely, it addresses how those in the poker world might not be thinking the right way about recreational players. While some active soft stakes players want to get better and make money, there are still plenty of (neglected?) recreational players who just want to blow off steam and G.

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Written by
Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for A graduate of Indiana University and USC, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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