Long time readers of this column, and those familiar with me, know that I am a table games guy—player (craps and blackjack), former dealer and floor person, table games instructor, tournament producer, table games conference creator, new game promoter and advisor, table game consultant and industry observer.
None of that makes me an expert, but it does give me a unique perspective for what I am about to say; which will likely make table game executives cheer and slot executives depressed. So here it is: The only real growth we will see in the gaming industry in the next 20 years will be in table games.
Table game executives can become advocates for new
table games, and be willing to try them on their gaming
fl oors, rather than be ‘skeptical new game resistors’ who
will only trial a game after it is already a ‘home run.’
But it comes with a big “if.” Several, actually.
Before I address the “ifs,” let me say that I recognize the awakening and sense of urgency on the slot side of our business that we have to fundamentally change the slot experience if we are going to attract the Millennials and 20-somethings to slots in the future. So to you slot folks, I continue to urge research, innovation, risk-taking, experimentation with skill-based gaming, and all of the other tactics and strategies to insure a healthy future generation of slot players no matter what those slot devices and experiences end up looking like.
But you are about to get your butts kicked by the table games side of the business… “if.”
It may happen anyway, but I know it will happen if:
• Table game executives can leverage their key advantage (people!) and turn their table game staff from card pumpers and dice pushers and game hawkers to memory makers. You think these kids pay $500 a bottle for a cheap bottle of booze in a nightclub because they like the taste?
If the entire table game industry can get away from the stupid concept of hold percentage (how fast we make money in the short term) and focus on the gross win of the games in the long term (based on all of those short-term experiences where we didn’t take the money too fast or too robotically).
• Table game inventors can truly pump out new table games that are interesting, fun to play, unique, interactive and don’t drain the player’s bankroll to fast.
• Table game executives can become advocates for new table games, and be willing to try them on their gaming floors, rather than be “skeptical new game resistors” who will only trial a game after it is already a “home run.” How do you think slot executives found new revenue-producing slot games all these years? By trying them!
• Table game dealers can be turned into true relationship-based salespeople. They already are among the best paid frontline employees in a casino (OK, maybe “drink server” still rules in some places). Imagine how valuable they’d be if they had sales tools (comping authority, business cards, etc.), their own “books of business” (personal and developed customers), trained interpersonal skills (theater, comedy, conflict-handling, coaching, teaching, etc.), and a focus on creating true fun instead of mistake-free hands per hour.
• Table games can come close to duplicating the social experience of the best casino nightclubs (and some of the best casino nightclubs already have table games as a part of the experience). I mean, I’m an old guy, but even I see that much of that success involves booze, sex, music and “vibe.” C’mon table games guys and gals, you can copy that tried and true formula! And I don’t just mean with the obligatory and bland gesture of a “party pit.”
• We can stop “sweating the money” and start “sweating the player experience” and insure it is always a great one. Or put another way, if we can stop asking “how much are they in?” and start asking, “how many players are having a great time?”
If the table game industry can address all of these “ifs,” there will be no “buts,” except those of the slot executives getting kicked.