Eric Hansel

I am writing this as I recover from my second spinal fusion in the past 10 years, and am thinking about what my future holds for me. It occurred to me that my physical difficulties drew a sort of parallel to my favorite topic: large scale sustainability for the casino industry. You may be asking yourself what the common thread is between the two, and I hope to show you that the theory behind dealing with an industry whose sustainability efforts lag behind others and a chronic back problem are not that different.

I always need to be cognizant of how I’m moving around, bending, lifting, kneeling, and even playing with my kids. One wrong move means that the fusion might break which means another surgery and six month recovery time. Likewise, our industry needs to be cognizant of the moves that it makes, because one wrong move means lower revenue and profits and a negative brand image.

So in order to protect my back, I need to practice proper body mechanics to strengthen my “baseline”-I need to do things that will raise my baseline and make me more flexible and give me a stronger core. Our industry should look to do things that will reinforce its baseline as well, such as configuring the bottom line to weather recessions and make the business more financially stable. Decreasing excess has historically been something that works well for all.

Historically the way that gaming and most other industries have accomplished this is by getting rid of human capital, or by trimming customer facing programs that actually attract and retain a part of the revenue stream. What I have been asking you to do for the past few years is to look at trimming away some of the fat from areas of your business that negatively affect no one in your organization and will not leave any money on the table. Seems like that solution is some sort of magic bullet, but in reality, it is the most logical next step.

In the case of my back, thankfully I have lots of literature and exercises that will help me accomplish my goals-increasing my core strength, flexibility and stamina so I can build a good foundation for my “new” life. The guidelines are a sort of best practice for recovering from the trauma as a result of the surgery. This is not unlike the tremendous trauma that our industry has suffered the past few years; the non-stop hemorrhaging of cash. The last time the industry was coming out of a revenue-crushing recession, the fix was the development of the megaresort that we now find in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other jurisdictions scattered throughout the country-facilities that added space to create more amenities and generate greater revenue. I would propose that the best recovery exercise for the current economic injury hampering the gaming industry is to look inward instead of building outward-shrink the facility footprint and find additional revenue through valuable and cost-effective energy conservation measures.

As the chairman of the now completed ANSI standard for the sustainable development of electronic gaming machines, I would suggest that a great place to start your conservation program is by insisting slots in your facility meet these standards. Machines that meet ANSI standards guarantee energy savings for their properties. Manufacturers of electronic gaming machines and supporting components should also adopt the standards; they will help source sustainable products and lead toward building a more sustainable machines.

I understand that people may be hesitant to adopt energy conservation measures, but those that do will find little investment is required, retrofitting is fairly easy and ROI is almost immediate. It will also whet the appetite for larger and more complex energy conservation projects. These larger projects could include some form of renewable energy generation, and that is when you can start to see a new revenue stream for your facility, and for the truly inventive and forward thinking, many new revenue streams.