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Younger Consumers’ Emphasis On Wellness Represents Shift In Entertainment Interests

Written By Derek Helling | Updated:
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The classic imagery around a high-value customer for casinos is a man in a VIP room, dropping thousands of dollars on single hands of a card game and consuming cocktails. As time passes, that situation becomes more the stuff of a James Bond movie than reality.

Data show that younger consumers in the United States are prioritizing wellness in many forms. Valuing wellness is guiding their spending choices, including their entertainment consumption. Casinos in the US would do well to take note.

Gen Z’s prevalence for US casinos

While members of Generation Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) might not yet represent the majority of the target demographic of brick-and-mortar casinos in the US, it won’t be long before that is the case. There is some interesting scholarship on the group’s preferences.

For example, Goldman Sachs Asset Management states1 that its research shows that members of Gen Z would rather spend their disposable income on experiences than physical possessions. This is good news for physical casinos in the US as experiences are exactly what they deliver.

However, it may not be sufficient to trumpet the availability of entertainment options built around the preferences of older generations. There’s a difference between offering experiences and offering experiences people want to pay for.

Wellness occupies paramount importance for Gen Z

There’s no better example of Gen Z’s prioritization of wellness in its spending than the group’s relationship with alcoholic beverages. Wellness in this regard applies to fiscal and physical health.

A February Lending Tree poll2 showed that 55% of respondents who are members of Gen Z have remorse over what they considered spending too much money on alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, the same pool of survey respondents denoted that alcohol consumption negatively impacted their finances at a 45% rate.

At the same time, other researchers have found that an emphasis on mental and physical health is also a factor behind a trend away from the consumption of alcohol. Dr. Akhil Anand, M.D., shared with the Cleveland Clinic 3 that concerns about the impact of alcohol on their health is inspiring members of Gen Z to stray from alcohol consumption in his experience.

Producers of alcoholic beverages have responded by introducing more alcohol-free options. Casinos in the US could benefit from taking a similar approach, both on a macro- and micro-level.

Should casinos start tailoring their offerings to Gen Z?

Diversification of options within amenities like beverage service might not appear pivotal to gaming operations on its face. That would suggest a lack of understanding of the importance of that component, though.

Kimberly Oakley, Blake’s Beverage Co. senior vice president of marketing, states that “casinos that switch up offerings to appeal to Gen Z — flavor-first alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic options, and delicious alternatives — will be the ones to grab Gen Z consumers. However, updating is required. The next generation is disinterested in some of the heavy, smoke-filled slot machines and need to have a real experience when gambling.”

Other data emphasize that while amenities in and of themselves may not be the greatest source of revenue for casinos, they could make the difference in which casinos produce gaming revenue.

Quality of amenities could determine traffic

A 2024 study by LaneTerralever for Tribal Gaming & Hospitality Magazine4 found that 80.5% of Gen Z participants denoted that non-gaming activities have a significant impact on their choice of casino. In essence, offering the best non-gambling experiences is pivotal in whether Gen Z consumers ever enter casinos’ doors, much less play during their visits.

Conversely, casinos that don’t invest in providing desirable non-gaming experiences may find themselves left behind as Gen Z becomes a bigger part of their potential customer base. Gen Z consumers’ wellness concerns and emphasis on memorable experiences should dictate those investments.

Following the example that beverage companies are leading with means providing social environments that highlight the experience and present gambling as just one of many options instead of the focus. Promoting gaming options within a context of responsible play is also paramount.

Casinos that continue to base their entire marketing strategy on the traditional high-roller aesthetic might someday turn around and find that they’ve been left behind. That isn’t a matter of if but when.

  1. Millienial and Gen Z values could change the economy ↩︎
  2. Over a Quarter of Drinkers Admit Alcohol Has Negatively Affected Their Finances, With 37% Planning to Cut Back This Year ↩︎
  3. Is Generation Z Drinking Less? ↩︎
  4. Non-Gaming Offerings Crucial for Casinos to Attract New Demographics, Build Loyalty; LaneTerralever Study ↩︎
Photo by AP Photo/G-Jun Yam
Derek Helling Avatar
Written 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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