It has been a while since I’ve written a column of random observations on the gaming industry.

It’s not that I haven’t been observing these things; it just takes some time to gather the scribbled notes on various casino cocktail napkins, plus re-visit the strange recesses of my mind from where these industry thoughts spring.

I know that some of what follows may be controversial and some of it may just be flat wrong (although I tend to doubt it). I don’t care, it is what gives these thoughts their “flavor,” or as some might say, their “acidic taste.”

So here they are… the latest, “old guy musings” from watching this crazy industry for the last 42 years.

  • I find the fuss about “games of skill” to be fascinating. Don’t we already have games of skill, commonly called “table games?”
  • I think I see a fundamental flaw in how newly developed games of skill are being marketed to the gaming industry. They are being sold to slot executives as an answer to the Millennial generation’s lack of interest in slots, but have to outperform current lucrative slot games to get any traction. They should be sold as a potential fix to any form of non-revenue producing casino hotel floor space. Bet they’d outperform a gift shop.
  • I see too many examples of casinos buying expensive new whiz-bang technology, without first understanding the full range of what their current technology can do for them.
  • I think I understand how online gaming is going to expand, now that New Jersey has a “real” online gaming business. Cash starved individual states and tribes will keep approving it, and then they will begin to share the expanding pool of online players.
  • New table games could be a revenue boom for table game operators, if those operators weren’t so reluctant to try new games and, when they do, insistent that they have hold percentages that are too high.
  • EZ Baccarat is instructive for how new table games can be successful—eliminate a table game time-consuming procedure, actually make the game slightly better for the players, and watch how increased “speed of play” makes the house more money.
  • Craps could be next. Make those sucker prop bets much more generous, but have the dice move quicker to pay for it. In other words, stop dice setters from negatively impacting the number of dice decisions per hour. (Who will invent the automated dice pitcher that gets 30 percent more rolls per hour?).
  • Customer service in casinos has actually improved a little. VIPs and “regulars” who tip might actually get pretty good service. It’s the strangers and first-timers that suffer mediocre, inattentive service.
  • I’ll say it again… the difference between a casino executive and a great casino executive is about 10,000 guest interactions.
  • This is worth repeating as well… any senior casino executive who doesn’t work at least one day on the weekend, when casinos typically do 75 percent to 80 percent of their business, is doing themselves and their employer a disservice.
  • We may start attracting Millennials to casinos when we stop making gestures and start making commitments to what they like.
  • A big missed employee development opportunity is teaching a casino resort’s team members various aspects of the resort’s operations. Call it cross-training, job enrichment or whatever. I call it keeping your best people engaged.
  • After megaresorts, conventions, family friendly, restaurant experience, retail, entertainment and pro sports, I’m waiting for the “new, new thing” for Las Vegas. Could it be marijuana?
  • Many casinos are trying to get off the “slot free play” train. Hard to do without extending time on device, or the “fee play.”
  • The player development landscape is rapidly changing in casinos and hosts are gradually becoming relationship-based sales people, like many other industries. Now the challenge is, based on inarguable success and met goals, to pay them like salespeople and not like glorified players club reps.
  • Best advice I currently have: leverage your best customers and best employees to drive new business and innovation.