Here are some observations regarding recent gaming industry news as I stay safely inside my apartment until spring arrives or the Corona Virus leaves…

  • Really, I probably should not be making light of the Corona Virus. It’s a truly frightening start to 2020, on both social and economic levels, and its impact will likely be felt for months to come. Here’s hoping the U.S. land-based casino industry avoids closures similar to what happened in Macau (I’m banking it does since governments are now aware of the sickness are doing much more to detect it early and mitigate its effects). I wonder if this event will finally spur online casino legalization in more states since it insures states can receive at least some gaming tax proceeds when land-based operation are down for whatever reasons.
     
  • It sure has been a tough few weeks for MGM Grand International. First, long-time chairman and CEO Jim Murren announced he is leaving the company. Murren had been with MGM for 22 years and accomplished quite a bit—overseeing the construction of  T-Mobile Arena which helped bring the popular Las Vegas Knights NHL team to town and heading up the effort to get MGM established in Macau and Asia. I’m pretty sure he will be missed, and hard to replace.

    On top of Murren’s decision to leave was the news that MGM Resorts suffered a cyberattack, and information such as birthdates, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers from as many as 10 million guests was hacked and eventually posted in an online hackers forum. MGM Resorts told NBC News that it takes protecting guest data very seriously and that it has “strengthened and enhanced the security of our network to prevent this from happening again.” Here’s hoping that is the case.
     
  • Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) has revealed the speaker lineup for its upcoming North American Regulators Roundtable, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and will take place this month at Tropicana Las Vegas. Keynote addresses will be delivered by NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer,  NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., and, futurist Gabe Zichermann,  will speak about gamification and artificial intelligence. The first day of general sessions will focus on the topic “Innovation,” and will include several insightful panels, including “2020’s Eight Top Gaming Innovations,” “Envisioning Greater Added Value for Your Customers,” and “Cross-Market Regulation of Sports Betting.” Day two brings a focus to “Security and its Impact” and will feature panels on “Solutions for A.I. and Data Collection Technology,” and “Unconscious Bias in Regulation and Security.” I have always found the GLI Roundtable event worthwhile, attend it if you can.
     
  • I admire the effort by the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) and the American Gaming Association (AGA) to highlight and combat the rapid spread of unregulated gaming machine activity in states throughout the U.S., the centerpiece of which is a new “Unregulated Gaming Machine Fact Sheet” that confirms the clear distinction between the regulated casino, lottery and distributed gaming markets and the unregulated segment that has been spreading at an alarming rate. I hope something similar is eventually created for legal versus illegal online sports wagering sites.
     
  • The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has released its latest gross gaming revenue report for the state’s three casinos. No surprise that all three are still underperforming to original estimates. What is interesting, however, is that table games revenues continue to outpace slot machine revenues at Encore Boston Harbor, with table game pulling in $24.4 million for the month of January 2020 versus $24.1 million for slots over the same period. It would appear the table game popularity trend still has legs, at least in Massachusetts.