Will Expansion Mean Contraction? | Global Gaming Business Magazine

In this month’s Global Gaming Business, I take a look at what impact the expansion of casino gaming has had on mature jurisdictions:

But since then, further expansion has put pressure on “mature” gaming markets like Atlantic City, Mississippi and Delaware, which have seen revenues decline. This raises the question of whether further expansion will do more harm than good.

To get a better appreciation of where we are heading, I compiled a set of data with total annual casino and racino gaming revenues for all 23 states, and slot data for Connecticut’s two tribal casinos.

The results? Since 2001, the Northeast has increased its overall share of the nation’s gaming win, rising from 24 percent to 30 percent. The South and Midwest have remained relatively constant, with some weakening in the South despite the addition of Florida racinos to the mix. And the West, thanks to Nevada, still is dominant, though the Northeast is catching up.

via Will Expansion Mean Contraction? | Global Gaming Business Magazine.

This is the question that everyone’s asking now–I hope that looking at some hard data will help answer the question.

UNLVs High Roller | UNLV News Center

Thanks to the recent news that I’ve been named to the “40 under 40” list in Global Gaming Business, the UNLV News Center has posted an interview with me. Great questions:

David Schwartz is the ultimate Vegas insider. On any given moment, he can talk about gaming trends locally and nationally, casino security, the history of Vegas mobs, the tourism industry and places to take your kids when youre visiting Vegas yes, there are places to take the kids. After all, Schwartz is a researcher so hes bound to have good tips.It’s no wonder why Schwartz was recently named among the top 40 emerging gaming leaders by Global Gaming Business Magazine.

via UNLVs High Roller | UNLV News Center.

I liked getting the chance to think deeply about some of the issues we discussed.

Gaming Regulations Evolving in Global Gaming Business

I’ve got a pretty lengthy piece of the differing evolution of gaming regulations and transparency in gaming in Nevada, Macau, and Singapore in the latest Global Gaming Business Magazine:

Today, gaming is a truly global industry. Casino gaming, which was once a small-scale business confined to a limited number of jurisdictions, has blossomed into a multibillion-dollar enterprise with numerous competing markets. This not only means that gamblers get their pick of where they want to play; it also means that states, nations and special administrative regions compete with each other by offering regulatory regimes that best suit the growth of casinos.

Nevada, whose current regulatory regime is the longest-lived of the major gaming markets, may have some historical lessons for jurisdictions on the rise, particularly when it comes to the role of transparency in promoting the public—and investor—trust in the gaming industry.

via Gaming Regulations: Evolution and Transparency | Global Gaming Business Magazine.

Can you tell how eager I am for Singapore to start releasing monthly, or at least quarterly, revenue data?

That was a fun piece to write because it made me think about how Nevada, Macau, and Singapore are similar and different. It wouldn’t make sense to impose Nevada’s regulatory system top-down on other jurisdictions, but at 80 years it’s got the longest history of modern regulatory regimes (though Macau has had legal commercial gambling since the 1850s), so there are definitely going to be some lessons there for everyone.

CityCenter’s history

The 2010 issue of Casino Design, a supplement to Global Gaming Business, is out now. It’s filled with tons of great articles with many perspectives on how and why casinos look the way they do. I’d like to point you towards the cover story, a massive look at how CityCenter developed, from drawing board to opening. If you open the digital edition, it starts on page 22:

At the November 9, 2004 press conference that unveiled the concept, then-CEO Terry Lanni said that the CityCenter master plan represented “a significant new direction for our city and our company,” adding that it came at a time when the city was taking “the initial steps to becoming a major urban center in the western United States.”
At that press conference, MGM Mirage unveiled a idea more than a commodity. Only a few things were certain: Project CityCenter would be built on land between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo which the company had recently consolidated with its acquisition of Mandalay Resort Group. It would feature a four-thousand room casino resort, three smaller boutique hotels, and 1,650 condominium residences that would give the area a 24-hour, “city-like” ambience. The centerpiece was to have been an open-air shopping district—definitely not a mall—whose streets allowed both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Casino Design 2010

One of the things I found most interested was the way the project seemed to evolve along with the market until late 2007, when it became almost a work of defiance against what was happening around it.

In his editorial introduction (page 4), Roger Gros summed up, better than I could have, what I think the current legacy of CityCenter is: “Good design thrives on pushing the envelope,” he writes. “MGM Resorts is to be admired for taking the steps to advance the casino design industry to new levels.” If no one tried new things, we’d still be rolling bones in caves, eating antelope tartare in the darkness. That doesn’t mean that CityCenter’s necessarily going to point the way to the next stage in casino design: ultimately, casino patrons will decide that, and, as Gros says, that will take some time.

Good magazine all the way through.

Gambling Goes Mainstream | Global Gaming Business Magazine

At the “opening ceremonies” for Aria, U.S. Green Buildings Council CEO Rick Fedrizzi said that Aria was an example of what architecture should be, and that schoolchildren should be brought in to see the building for itself as an example of what the future would be.

“Wow,” I thought, “Bringing kids to a casino to to be inspired. That’s something I haven’t heard before.” So I thought that maybe this was evidence that gambling was becoming even more mainstream in American culture.

Around that time, NBA commissioner David Stern said that his league was now willing to talk about supporting legal sports betting. Again, this seemed like a historic shift in attitudes.

With a little editorial suggestion, I put these and a few other ideas together, did some additional research, and the result was a featured story in the March 2010 Global Gaming Business magazine:

If you're reading Global Gaming Business, odds are you're pretty comfortable with the idea of gambling as an acceptable leisure pastime for adults. You're not alone, and you haven't been for a long time: Since the past decade, about one in five Americans has visited a casino at least once a year. With legal casinos breaking out of Nevada in 1978 and spreading steadily across the nation, there has clearly been a tolerance-at first often grudging-for casinos.

Yet the past few months have given the impression that gambling has now reached unprecedented levels of public sanction that goes beyond toleration and reaches toward outright approval, a historic change in attitudes.

via Gambling Goes Mainstream | Global Gaming Business Magazine.

I’d say this is evidence that we’ll see more, not less, gambling soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see online poker be the next big domino to fall. There is a vague public support for it and a smaller group of devoted players who would be grateful to any politicians who voted for it, but more importantly there are well-funded parts of the industry now in favor. I’m not enough of a political scientist to say whether the current partisan politics will make any specific bill more or less likely, but looking at it from a general cultural and historical perspective it seems that in retrospect no one will be surprised when this happens.

Take Seven

For a while now, I’ve been dropping hints about an article on resort fees that I’ve been working on. I’ve been a little more mysterious than usual because the magazine I wrote it for hadn’t been published yet. Well, it’s out at last, in the debut issue of Vegas Seven magazine.

It’s the first in a weekly column series that I’m writing called “Green Felt Journal.” My beat is gaming and tourism generally, with a mix of current issues, historical perspective, and coming trends. It’s different from the column I write for the Business Press every two weeks, because the LVBP column is more reflective and observational, while Green Felt Journal is drawn more on statistical research and interviews.

The best way I’ve found to read the resort fee article is to go to the digital version of the magazine and flip ahead to page 34, where you’ll see the inaugural edition of the Green Felt Journal in all its glory. Vegastripping.com forum members will be glad to see that I used the topic thread on resort fees in the article, with users rockchickx51 and donnymac66 getting quoted in print. Thanks, guys!

But that’s not all. I’ve also got an essay in today’s issue about how the Wonder Pets can save Las Vegas. Yes, in all seriousness I wax philosophical on how Las Vegas should take some tips from a toddler TV show. Here’s a sample:

In a recent episode, the Pets fly to Las Vegas to aid the Rat Pack, a trio of bumbling performing rodents named Blue Eyes, Dino and Sammy who can’t get their act together. In honor of this mission, the heroes replace the mast and sail on their intrepid vehicle of choice, the Fly Boat, with a construction inspired by neon signs and showgirls’ headdresses. Just like that, the Fly Boat is reborn as the “Vegas Boat.” After departing the schoolhouse to a slot machine’s jangle, the Vegas Boat zooms past the Wynn and down into a pint-size re-creation of the Strip. There, in a makeshift rehearsal space, the Pets give the Rat Pack a lesson on working together when they dance. This works like a charm. To celebrate, they join Dino for some pasta and, though their work is done, Blue Eyes refuses to let them leave without having some fun.

Can the Wonder Pets Save Las Vegas?

Maybe I’ve been watching toddler TV for too long, but the show really says a lot about how most people view Vegas.

If you’re in Vegas, look for a copy of Vegas Seven on the street–I believe you’ll find them where 944 is distributed. [UPDATE: You can find them at 7-Eleven, Albertsons, Fresh N Easy, Whole Foods, Golds Gym, Hard Rock Hotel, the Palms, Lee’s Discount Liquor and Blockbuster]

If you don’t live in Vegas, you’ll have to content yourself with browsing the contents online. There are several great articles in there, including one about how Las Vegas is courting China.

For those of you who want to keep up with the rest of my work, I’m still writing a monthly historical column for Casino Connection, and have occasional longer pieces in Global Gaming Business–one about the mainstreaming of gambling should be out soon. In this month’s issue, by the way, there’s an excerpt from Eadington and Dolye’s Integrated Casino Resorts that is definitely worth reading. There’s also a look inside Aria’s surveillance room that is interesting, and much more.

As the Wonder Pets might say, it looks like my work here is done. How about some celery?

UPDATE: OK Schopenhauer, you asked for it. Here it is:

My favorite is the one at about 1:14. If you want a good introduction to the Wonder Pets, try this video from Parents magazine.

UNLV Gaming Podcast 15 (Roger Gros) is up

After about a week’s delay I’ve finally gotten the 15th UNLV Gaming Podcast up, featuring Global Gaming Business publisher Roger Gros. It wasn’t easy–midway through Roger’s Gaming Research Colloquium talk, my recording device cut out. Luckily, I was able to sit down with Roger and ask him a few questions that reproduced, with a few great additions, the last part of his talk and the q&a.

15-October 26, 2009
Roger Gros (Global Gaming Business)
Mr. Gros talks about his days as a dealer in Atlantic City, unionization efforts there, his early work on Casino Journal, the founding of the Global Gaming Expo and Global Gaming Business, and much more.

In a strange way I’m glad I got to sit down and “redo” the podcast, because we covered some very interesting territory. This is really good stuff, particularly for those of you who like to follow the gaming business–Roger has a great inside perspective. If you don’t already, you should add GGBnews.com to your list of check-em-daily gaming news sites.

For more info, visit the podcast page or check it out in iTunes.