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Are Casinos The New Entertainment Value With Skyrocketing Costs Elsewhere?

With the skyrocketing cost of attending live concerts and sporting events, some people might be looking to casinos for entertainment.

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Derek Helling Avatar
5 mins read

Inflation in the United States is cooling. In some sectors of the nation’s economy, workers’ earnings are at an all-time high. Regardless, attending a concert or a sporting event has never been more expensive, and it’s historically costly by a large margin.

While there are simple reasons for that unprecedented sticker shock, one facet of the entertainment industry is ready to accept people who close the ticket apps in disbelief with open arms: brick-and-mortar casinos. They could offer a night out and a chance to gather with friends that don’t require guests to choose between buying tickets and paying the month’s mortgage.

‘Funflation’ hits US consumers’ bank accounts

It could be another impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; significant and tangible FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Demand for tickets to high-profile concerts has never been higher after the pandemic.

That’s part of what’s led to what Anne Steele and Robbie Whelan of the Wall Street Journal have dubbed “funflation.” The cost of event tickets has far surpassed the rate of general inflation in the US.

On a simple level, high demand for any limited and perishable good like an event ticket is going to naturally raise the price. There are other elements at play here, though. One of them is how the ticketing industry in the US works.

Ticketmaster, a holding of LiveNation, essentially holds a monopoly over that industry. It controls more than 70% of the inventory for all live events and over 80% for concerts. With that consolidation, it’s easier for people to use bots to acquire huge swaths of tickets to re-sell on the secondary market for obscene profits. That’s something Taylor Swift fans know “All Too Well.”

However, the issue isn’t all due to nefarious characters using technology for evil. When it comes to sporting events, elevated prices are by design. It’s all about attracting the right kind of fan to games.

Pricing out the ‘seat potatoes’ at sporting events

For sports entertainment organizations and their partners, there are limited chances to bring in revenue from live competitions. There are only so many seats in a stadium and the games end. That means a “seat potato” attendee can represent a significant missed opportunity cost for such enterprises.

A seat potato is a person who merely buys their ticket into the sporting event, foregoing any other spending during the game. While people who buy tickets but don’t attend represent a missed opportunity cost, it’s worse for seat potatoes because the event stakeholders are still providing them with a level of service agreed to in the ticket cost.

While it might initially seem counterintuitive, raising ticket prices can help separate the chaff for sporting events. The philosophy is that someone willing to pay the increased price to get into a game not only has the disposable income to buy concessions and merchandise but is inclined to do so.

Because of this and other factors, Team Marketing Report’s cost index for the past NFL season is up over $630. So, while you’re going to have to open your wallet further than ever to attend these events, there are other options. Casinos can represent a value but that can vary greatly.

Are casinos a better value than other forms of live entertainment?

The easiest answer to the affordability of spending an evening in a casino is similar to what you’re likely to get from a lawyer about any query; it depends. For example, how much you spend traveling to a casino will impact your spending before you even arrive.

The biggest difference, however, is that the consumer can be more in control of their spending compared to other forms of live entertainment. One obvious saving gives casinos a leg up on the competition when the night begins. You don’t have to buy a ticket to get in the door. Thus, you’re already up before you even start your evening.

At the same time, that savings can fade quickly depending on whether and how you choose to gamble. For example, through January of the current fiscal year, casinos in Missouri are averaging taking $128.93 from each player. Depending on what event you’re comparing it to, that might still represent savings.

If you forego gambling altogether, you still have your bankroll to spend elsewhere. Beverage and food prices at casinos can be comparable to what you’ll find at stadiums and other entertainment venues. For instance:

You’re probably getting a push at best with your dining at a casino compared with other entertainment venues. Treating a casino as the venue for your entertainment can represent the same effect.

Ticketed events at casinos might get you in cheaper

As with all ticket prices for live events, many factors determine price. Among them is the venue of the event. Live event spaces inside casinos can range greatly in their prestige and size. Additionally, there’s a consideration of how in-demand the event itself is.

Ticketmaster’s tentacles haven’t missed squeezing events taking place at casinos. Thus, you’ll likely still be dealing with the same “we got them, you need them, if you want them, you have to pay what we ask” factor. The following are for your consideration:

  • The least-expensive ticket for Chelsea Handler’s performance at the Hard Rock Live Northern Indiana on April 26 currently is $49.50.
  • A standing-room-only ticket to see Sean Paul perform at Harrah’s New Orleans on May 17 will cost $81.99.
  • Seeing Heart at the Seminole Casino Hollywood (Florida) on April 25 runs at least $105 per seat.

Casinos have some unique elements that warrant final considerations in this conversation.

Casinos might not be the best fit for reasons other than financial concerns

Many casinos offer rewards programs that can cover or defray the cost of beverages, entertainment, food, and parking. However, the amount of money you have to spend to earn those perks can be equal to or more than what you would spend on those goods.

There are several reasons why people may steer clear of casinos, even if they might represent a better value for a night of entertainment for their specific circumstances. While many casinos offer entertainment for people younger than the legal gambling age, some might perceive the presence of gambling on the property as off-putting in that regard.

For people who struggle with responsible gambling, a casino can be a poor choice to spend any amount of time. The bottom line is that whether you come out ahead, spending a night at a casino is similar to the gambling that happens inside those buildings. It’s all about the choices you make.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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