For the last decade, I’ve been watching a number of companies and individuals looking to take advantage of a variety of business opportunities in the gaming industry. And as gaming markets have matured and gotten very competitive over this period, the opportunities have gotten fewer and more challenging.

For casino operators in North America, there aren’t many new market opportunities in unserved or underserved gaming markets, either in commercial or tribal gaming. Sure, there’s still Texas and Massachusetts, but most states and jurisdictions have all the gaming they need (or want).

There are usually opportunities to purchase existing casinos, but these typically involve properties that are closed or gone bankrupt, need a capital infusion or whose business has struggled and are in need of a strategic plan that may be hard to find. Some bigger casino companies seem to be finding opportunities in carving their companies into “real estate” and “operating” components. A few operators have found a little success in “strategic alliances,” aka “sharing customers,” but that opportunity appears mostly limited.

Many thought that online and social gaming would create significant business opportunities, but that has yet to really pan out. Some individual entrepreneurs are still finding success with technology, process innovations, new game inventions or bold new concepts. And of course, gaming vendors still find revenue in new game titles, software packages or in buying each other.

Yes, even if they have shifted or are harder to find, there are still business opportunities in the gaming industry. But there is one huge opportunity that I believe everyone is missing.

Now as much as I hate giving this opportunity out for free, I’ve decided that I may not get to it myself or, what the heck, someone might want my help in pursuing it.

So here it is: The Branded Turnaround Casino Operation Built Squarely Around Customers and Employees. For brevity, I am going to call this the “Raving Casino.”

Rather than try to capture the philosophy or guiding principles of a Raving Casino, I thought perhaps it might be more instructive to talk about a few of the innovative things that would happen there. Unfortunately, these are not commonplace in most casinos today. But in a Raving Casino:

  • Department heads and senior managers would not have offices and would spend 75 percent or more of their day on the gaming floor, positively impacting the guest experience. They would work weekends as a rule, not an exception.
  • Every casino team member would be a salesperson, with the skills, training and incentives to drive business for the property in very measurable ways.
  • There would be no ATM fees.
  • Every game would list the house advantage on it, and casino employees would be trained in teaching players the most mathematically efficient way to play the games or locate the slot or video poker games with the lowest house advantage.
  • All player rewards would be made known to all players, with no “secret” or “discretionary” accounts that management controls and administers.
  • All team members would be hired for their ability to create a fun experience, rather than for their particular technical skills or “years of experience.”
  • Best employees and best customers would be regularly interviewed and asked how their working or playing experience could be made better.
  • Casino promotions would have lots of winners and give away what players really want.
  • Every customer complaint would be dealt with by asking the question, “What can I do to make you happy?”
  • Every month, a cross-section of employees would be asked, “What do you need to do your job better or give better customer service?”
  • There would be no threatening signs, policies or “rules of conduct,” only warm messages of welcome and gratitude.
  • Employees would routinely cross train across departments and job functions, and be able to perform numerous duties in order to help a guest.
  • You would never hear the words “I don’t know” uttered to a guest.
  • The casino would give its guests a piece of its heart, instead of just a piece of its wallet.

Yes, I can envision a Raving Casino. If you want to pursue that dream, count me in.