Sometimes in our day-to-day jobs, it can be difficult to look beyond the work that is lying right in front of us on the desk or the issues immediately outside the office door. That is especially true now as a new year begins and all the plans and actions discussed during the previous year now have to be implemented and managed.
So as a service for those of you who are now so busy you wish you were still at home drinking eggnog, here is an attempt to identify some current gaming trends that could impact the casino space over the upcoming year.
- The mess in Macau: For much of the past decade, the gaming news out of Macau has been nothing but positive, with ongoing casino development and year after year of gaming revenue records. But it has been a different situation as of late in what is now the world’s largest single gaming market. An unexpected corruption crackdown from the Chinese government has severely curtailed casino visitation and, as a result, profits. What once looked like a short-term setback is now likely to stretch into the first half of 2015, according to analyst firms, with the government recently advising the enclave look for business expansion beyond casino development going forward.
- Las Vegas revival: While Macau goes through the paroxysms of its first real casino slowdown, the fortunes of Las Vegas, which have been on something of a roller coaster ride over the past 10 years, are definitely on the upswing again. The city’s economic situation has improved to the point that massive new projects, such as Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas, are planned and in the pipeline. In the meanwhile, non-gaming amenities such as the LINQ and its iconic High Roller ride and the new MGM Resorts International/AEG sports arena are either opened or under development, and boutique casino resorts continue to pop up to meet spot infill opportunities.
- Entertainment first: Las Vegas is not the only gaming community actively pursuing amenity development. Atlantic City, Biloxi and a host of other locales are augmenting their casino cores with added entertainment-based projects such as ballparks and retail centers, to both diversify their economies and add another level of attractions to entice increased visitation. This trend is also taking place on a micro-economic level in many gaming facilities, as non-gaming features are either added or improved to better compete against neighboring properties.
- Eastern exposure: Casino expansion within the U.S. has traditionally taken place in the West, South and Midwest regions—areas with numerous gaming tribes, depressed urban and rural communities, or plenty of cheap land to entice massive resort development. Now, the hotbed for gaming expansion has turned to the East, specifically New England, with its enticing high-population base. Massachusetts will eventually be home to three new resort casinos and very large slot parlor schedule to open this year. New York is in the process of adding four commercial casinos to various locations within the state. Pennsylvania recently cleared the way for an additional casino license in Philadelphia. Last but not least, there is talk of casino expansion in both Connecticut and New Jersey.
- Sporting chance: There’s been a slight thaw in the prohibition on sports wagering within the U.S. The popularity of fantasy sports and offshore sports wagering sites has led some leagues, most notably the NBA, to call for national legalization and federal oversight on sports betting. However, for this slight movement to become a rolling tide, the NFL will need to join the party, and that does not appear to be in the cards, at least for this year.
Well, that’s my list…for now. One good thing about the gaming industry is that it’s always vibrant and surprising; I’m sure there will more trends for me to address going forward.