Posts tagged casinos

Crime and Perception | Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal, I take on a subject that some in the industry don’t like discussing–whether high-profile crimes mean the Strip is less safe than it should be:

When tragedy strikes, police and tourism officials are usually quick to stress that these are random events in an otherwise safe city. They point to the fact that crime rates on the Strip have been falling lately down in 2012 and early 2013 as proof that a Vegas vacation is fundamentally safe. Is this just public relations spin, or do they have a point?

via Crime and Perception | Vegas Seven.

Some feel that the best move is to ignore crime on the Strip, and to downplay incidents that get public attention as random, unconnected acts. I disagree; I think that by being honest with visitors about crime, and by educating them about how to better protect themselves, the city will get a much better handle on its crime problem by getting out in front of it than by pretending it doesn’t exist.

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 13, “The…

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 13, “The Burger King Revolution: Las Vegas bounces back for the first time,” of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition).

If you don’t see a video above, go here: http://youtu.be/SlyHlAfgxqM

This chapter covers the changes that tranformed Las Vegas in the 1980s. First, it deals with the forces that led to the mob’s decline and eventual exit from the ownership of casinos in Las Vegas. Then, it discusses the trends that led to a crisis for Las Vegas in the early 1980s, and how Las Vegas rebounded by remaking itself to appeal to mass-market and family vacationers.

Some casinos discussed include the Stardust, Riviera, Circus Circus, and Tropicana.

The History of Our Future | Vegas Seven

I’ve been wanting to write more about Macau, which is such a huge gambling story, for a while, and when given a feature slot for Vegas Seven, jumped on the chance to talk about Macau’s impact on Las Vegas. The result is this week’s cover story:

Back in the early days—2006 or so—American executives signing on for tours of duty in Macau felt like they were stepping into the Wild West. Street violence had subsided since the island’s 1999 reversion to mainland control, but there was still a sense that this was a frontier, a place where anything could happen. And when strangers rode into town—often from the former frontier town of Las Vegas—they went where strangers always go first: the saloon. In this case, that meant the Embassy Bar at what was then the Mandarin Oriental hotel. It was an admittedly upscale saloon, but for an expat executive it was an oasis, a free-port, a place to make crucial first connections and ease into Chinese life. It offered just enough reassuring familiarity, and just enough tantalizing strangeness.

via The History of Our Future | Vegas Seven.

At 4,000 words, this is a long magazine piece for me, but I think you’ll agree it packs a lot of story into those words. The great art really helps. I’m as proud of this as I am of anything I’ve written so far.

South Dakota antes up

In 1988, South Dakota voters authorized gambling in Deadwood. Originally, the stakes were limited to $5, with mandates on maximum casino size and requirements that casino owners be “bona fide” South Dakota residents keeping major Las Vegas-based operators out of the market.

You can read more about the proliferation of casinos across the U.S. in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Casinos in Canada

Casinos evolved quite differently in Canada from the United States, following a mix of the European statist model and the U.S. free enterprise one. Most casinos in Canada are owned by either a provincial government or run for charitable organizations.

Most of the charitable casinos are in Western Canada. The first provincially-owned casino in Eastern Canada, Quebec’s Casino de Montreal, opened in 1993, followed the following year by Ontario’s Casino Windsor, right across the border from downtown Detroit.

There is much more interesting material about casinos in Canada and everywhere else in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Me @ G2E: Social media insights

A little while ago I received an invitation to participate in G2E‘s conference track. Here are the details:

9:15AM – 10:15AM (Wednesday, October 05, 2011)

Social Media Insights, Part III: ROI

Although it officially costs nothing to tweet, the hard costs associated with staffing and content development are undeniable. This session will examine how casinos are using Facebook, Twitter and other avenues to produce a quantifiable return on investment. Experts will present statistics from casinos using social media to various degrees of success and discuss why approaches based on market size, target customers and similar factors may prove most effective.

Key Takeaways:

# Creating a quantifiable return on social media investment

# How to measure the real costs

# Finding the correct approach for your market

via All Sessions – Education & Conference Programs – Global Gaming Expo.

As soon as I get the names of the speakers, I’ll share them with you. Looks like I’ll be doing another Casino Twitter Study between now and then.

Inside the NJ casino overhaul

As promised, I’ve taken a deeper look at the recent casino regulatory overhaul that passed the New Jersey legislature. My comments are based on version of the bill that was current as of 1/10/11. You can find it right here.

First of all, the bill codifies into law the current existential angst the industry is facing:

(18) As recognized in the July 2010 Report of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports, and Entertainment, and as confirmed in subsequent legislative hearings held throughout the State, legalized casino gaming in New Jersey presently stands at a crossroads, facing critical challenges that jeopardize its important role in the State economy, and it is in the public interest to modernize and streamline the current outdated casino regulatory structure in order to achieve efficiencies and cost savings that are more appropriately directed to marketing and infrastructure improvement efforts while, at the same time, maintaining strict integrity in the regulation of casino operations.

(19) The ability of the legalized casino gaming industry in New Jersey to compete in an ever-expanding national gaming market requires a regulatory system that is sufficiently flexible to encourage persons and entities holding casino gaming licenses outside of New Jersey to participate in casino gaming in Atlantic City, to allow licensees to take full and timely advantage of advancements in technology, particularly in information technology, and business management, and to encourage the efficient utilization of resources between and among affiliated New Jersey licensees operating casinos located in Atlantic City and between and among a New Jersey affiliate and its licensed affiliates in other jurisdictions.

There are some small but interesting changes throughout the bill.

It broadens the definition of “family” to include domestic partners and partners in a civil union in addition to the traditional array of blood and marriage relations.

Non-cashable credits are explicitly defined as “not gross gaming revenue,” and therefore not taxable/

Adds a definition:

Multi-casino employee” – Any registered casino employee or licensed casino key employee who, upon the petition of two or more affiliated casino licensees, is endorsed by the commission or division, as applicable, to perform any compatible functions for any of the petitioning casino licensees.

Which suggests we’ll be seeing more cross-staffing in multiple-owner casino groups.

The bill changes virtually every mention of “commission” in the existing Casino Control Act to “division,” reflecting the big shift in regulation.

The bill gives the following responsibilities to the Division of Gaming Enforcement:

conducting investigative hearings on the conduct of gaming and
gaming operations and the enforcement of the casino control act;
issuing reports and recommendations to the commission on entities or persons required to qualify for a casino license, on applications for interim casino authorization, or on petitions for a statement of compliance;
examining records and procedures, and conducting periodic
reviews of operations and facilities, to evaluate provisions of law;
collecting certain fees and assessments;
issuing operation certificates to casino licensees;
accepting impact statements submitted by casino license applicants;
issuing emergency orders;
taking action against licensees or registrants for violations of the act;
imposing sanctions and collecting penalties;
accepting and maintaining registrations for casino employees and certain vendors;
receiving complaints from the public;
certifying the revenue of a casino or simulcasting facility;
creating and maintaining the list of excluded patrons;
and
using private contractors to process criminal history record background checks.

The Commission still actually issues licenses and hears appeals on Division decisions. One notable change: neither DGE agents nor Commission inspectors will have to be present in casinos anymore. I wonder what they’ll do with the CCC podiums in the casinos. Taking a cue from Vegas casino party pits, I suggest “cage dancers.” Bonus points if they dress in Commission garb before stripping it off. Extra bonus points if a patron interrupts their dance to file a dispute.

The Commission also loses the right to have an in-house legal counsel, and instead has to contract that work out.

The Division’s office must be in Atlantic City, although it’s allowed to have a secondary office in Trenton, too.

The amount of fines are doubled.

From its signing, the CCC has 90 days to make an “orderly” transfer of its powers to the DGE.

The moves will have a definite fiscal impact, but according to the fiscal estimate, the exact impact can’t be determined yet. The Office of Legislative Services offers some good reasons why:

It should be noted that estimating the cost or possible savings to the Casino Control Fund resulting from the transfer of various regulatory functions from the CCC to the DGE would require the Executive Branch to provide a strategic reorganization plan that details the functions and regulations being transferred and any changes in scope and importance of those functions and regulations. In addition, an estimate of the costs or savings would require the Executive Branch to provide a workload analysis describing how the functions that are transferred will be handled by the DGE in terms of staffing and position restructuring. For example, will the DGE hire new employees to perform the transferred functions, will the existing DGE staff absorb the new job duties by having their job duties expanded to include the new functions, or will some functions be eliminated entirely? Furthermore, because the bill changes the language in current law requiring the DGE to be principally located in Atlantic City, will the State incur new building or facility costs?

In other words, it’s anyone guess how all this will play out. It could save money, but it might cost money in the short term.

G2E evolves in the Las Vegas Business Press

In this week’s Las Vegas Business Press, I offer a long view of the Global Gaming Expo:

The conference panels are finished though they have been recorded for posterity, and the last of the exhibit booths have been disassembled at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It is an appropriate time to consider how the industry has changed since the first G2E — and how the conference has adapted to suit it.

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : Expo keeping pace as gaming evolves globally.

When you look back it, there really have been a lot of changes over the past decade. Many of them didn’t seem that game-changing at the time, but together they’ve made for a vastly different casino landscape.

Smoke free in SD

As a former casino employee, smoking used to be one of my major occupational hazards, so smoking in casinos in an issue that I’ve always been interested in. On one hand, governments telling people what they can do with their time and money seems like a manifestation of the nanny state. On the other, I’d like to think that everyone has the right to breath air free of carcinogens and all sorts of other nasty gunk. So I can see the merit on both sides of the pro- and anti-smoking arguments. Still, something inside me cheers to learn that, according to Smoke-Free Gaming, South Dakota casinos are going smokeless today:

South Dakota voters approved a law Nov. 2, 2010 that will require all casinos to be 100% smoke free. The law also applies to all bars and video lottery establishments. Tribal casinos, which are exempt, will become designated smoking casinos. The law goes into effect on Nov. 10, 2010.

In 2009, the legislature voted to extend the state's current ban on smoking in most workplaces, but a coalition of bars and gambling businesses gathered enough signatures to force a statewide vote.

Referred Law 12 will protect workers from secondhand smoke exposure which causes heart disease, lung cancer and many other illnesses and disease

via South Dakota Casinos Go Smoke Free! | Smoke-Free Gaming.

Smoke-Free Gaming also has a listed of states with complete or partial bans on smoking in gaming establishments that I thought I’d share:

California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Illinois
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Montana
Nevada– locations with 15 or less slot machines
Fernley Nugget–located in Fernley, NV is voluntarily smoke free
New Jersey—75% of the casino gaming floors are non smoking. Smoking areas are not enclosed and not contiguous
New York
Ohio
Pennsylvania–Up to 50% of casino gaming floor areas are non smoking. Smoking areas are not enclosed
South Dakota
Washington
West Virginia (Only the counties of Cabell, Calhoun, Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, Wood and the City of Parkersburg)
Puerto Rico–U.S. Commonwealth

Source: www.smokefreegaming.org

So this smoke-free trend seems to be gathering speed. Anyone want to guess when the last state will ban all smoking on casino floors?

It’s (possibly) a faaake!

Really good piece in the LV Sun today about the rise of phony online hotel reviews, and what travel sites are doing about them:

The rise of traveler-generated online reviews has forced hotel managers to contend with anonymous posts from angry or disappointed customers.

For people in the business of promoting Las Vegas hotels, it has also opened the door for sneak counterattacks in the form of bogus positive reviews created to boost their clients’ image among the traveling public.

via Customer may not have written that online hotel review – Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | 2:01 a.m. – Las Vegas Sun.

The potential for industrial espionage is just about unlimited with online reviews. With a lot of money at stake, I’m not surprised that some people would try this.

Looking at a few out-of-market hotels recently, I saw that one hotel owner responded to a negative review by claiming it was put there by rivals trying to ruin him/her. While that may have been true, it came across as paranoid.

When I look at online casino reviews, I assume that you’re always going to have a small percentage of cranks who aren’t happy with anything. Looking at all the reviews, though, you see trends emerge: if most people say that hotel is noisy, or has bad service, or has the best blueberry muffins in the state, it’s a fair bet that this is a genuine response.

As far as TripAdvisor goes, it judges just how happy guests were with their stay, rather than the amenities or value a property provides. For the top 20 Las Vegas hotels (as of right now), there are just 7 five-star hotels–the rest are 3, 4, and even lower.

That being said, unless there’s a widespread campaign to sabotage Aria, you’ve got to consider that they’re tracking far below the other resorts in their class on TripAdvisor–ranked at #66 in the market, they are below the Four Queens and Planet Hollywood. While some of this may be because guests at the Four Queens have lower expectations, the fact that other five-star properties are ranked sixty places ahead of Aria should be a red flag that there are, at the very least, customer service issues at the resort.

I’d agree with Professor Erdem that casinos should really be using the negative reviews to engage their guests. At the very least this will help to weed out the bogus reviews, and at best it will help them resolve some issues.