A recent study revealed some not-so-encouraging news that fewer U.S. adults are visiting casinos and not just because of the economic recession.

The study, conducted by data analysis firm Mintel International, states 30 percent of U.S. adults said they visited a casino in the past year, a drop from 35 percent in 2001.

“We're seeing a steady, gradual decline, not associated with the broad ups and downs of macroeconomics in the U.S.; the decline crosses two recessions and a boom in between them,” Mintel senior analyst Billy Hulkower said in a Marketing Daily report. “This isn't about economics. And we're talking about all casinos here, including local casinos.”

While the recession has kept people from spending on casinos, Mintel suggests the problem may be deeper – that in the United States, people are choosing other compelling entertainment options, such as HDTV, high-end gaming systems and the Internet, including illegal Internet wagering.

The study also suggests that casinos may need to boost loyalty marketing efforts.

It notes that while more than 60 percent of casino-visiting adults over age 55 belong to loyalty clubs, less than half of adults 21-44 are loyalty club members, according to the report. Just one in four players said they gambled at only one casino on an overnight trip.

The report’s findings should give casino operators plenty to think about as they try to woo regular players hard-hit by the recession as well as new customers. Casinos for years also have wrestled with how best to serve a younger demographic, while keeping their higher worth older customers satisfied. And they have been making strides, keeping abreast of the latest social networking trends and bolstered by slot makers who have stepped up their game to deliver more engaging, exciting content in entertaining ways.

You don’t have to go far to find evidence that casino gaming executives are taking heed.

Barona Casino Resort, MGM Mirage, M Resort, Harrah’s, Pechanga and many others are leveraging the mobile phone apps and social media sites to bring in customers. Companies such as GameLogic have focused on ways of captivating new and existing players online while helping drive them to the bricks-and-mortar locations with its PlayAway product that now integrates with Facebook.

But casinos and manufacturers must be prepared to do much more to keep pace with a younger generation’s seemingly insatiable appetite for the next new thing. GLI President James Maida eloquently addresses this challenge in his From the Laboratory column this month.

O, Canada

Gaming machine manufacturers may be looking northward to get a boost in orders, as Quebec this year will begin replacing its 12,000 video lottery terminals.

While the U.S. replacement market has been less than robust, the Quebec market should help manufacturers get some much-needed revenue.

Wall Street analysts have been revising earnings projections for slot makers since it became clear that a previously predicted replacement cycle was not panning out was well as hoped last fall. Despite some signs of a recovery, enough uncertainty remains about the economy to keep casino operators leery of investing heavily in capital purchases.

The ones who do invest in refreshing their slot floors, however, will be rewarded as the slot manufacturers’ latest crop of games is one of the best in a long time.